Watches have the unusual privilege of being one of the few fashion accessories that are neither useless nor uncomfortable – and therefore, much cooler than ties. In addition, they are small mechanical marvels that offer countless design opportunities and ever-more amazing hidden perks.
While any watch (or even your smartphone) can tell you the time, a precise and beautiful timepiece can offer much more to those who are willing to pay the price. On the other hand, a high-quality watch is also an irresistible way of letting the world know you are both a professional and a gentleman. This is why so many of us who rely on first impressions rarely have a hard time justifying the expense.
The 15 models outlined below all combine quality and beauty, and will be easily cataloged as a “good investment.” Now it’s just a matter of finding which one meets your style best.
If a watch is already meant to stand for old-world style, why not take this concept up a notch and head straight for a timeless hand-wound mechanism? Patek Philippe is the kind of luxury horology house that is ready to stand behind the taste and the manufacturing standards of all its watches, many of which end up becoming family heirlooms.
The Grand Complications uses 18K white gold and a fine handmade strap made from alligator leather. These luxury materials are just the case for a superbly-made analog dial that is also equipped with a perpetual chronograph and a tachymeter. In addition, it has three delicate sub-dials displaying seconds, half-hours, and the moon phase. You can admire its soft rhythms through the see-through back case, and remain confident knowing that it is water-resistant up to depths of 30 meters.
Armani has been just as successful in establishing itself as the ultimate luxury tailors as they have been in their forays into horology. They have accomplished this with careful partnerships with Swiss watchmakers while still remaining true to their quintessential Italian poise.
The Armani Exchange EX watch combines a smooth silver dial and platinum accents on a bed of deep ocean blue. The stick hands are visible without looking excessively thick, and yet manage to provide good visibility and readability.
The watch’s case is made from stainless steel and has been pressure-closed to keep the mechanisms safe at underwater depths of up to 50 meters. The silent seconds and calendar dials complement each other perfectly, while the chronometer function is surprisingly easy to operate. Finally, the leather strap has handstitched tonal accents and a smooth buckle for closure.
The Radiomir is perhaps the best-selling model by Panerai, in addition to being the brand’s first call to fame. This model was originally created following a special request by the Royal Italian Navy in 1936 and was meant from the get-go to be a diving-resistant watch that Navy officers could wear in public.
The polished steel case is equipped with a patented system of removable wire loop strap attachments. At the back, the see-through sapphire crystal provides a curious view of the harmonious internal mechanisms. The silver and black color pattern of the case and dial do not let the luminous dials and numbers stand out too obviously; they will simply become visible when the time is right. This watch can be submerged to depths of 10 bar, or 100 meters.
Omega needs little introduction, and out of all their models, the Speedmaster is perhaps the most iconic collection. That doesn’t mean that the many features of this luxury watch are not worth repeating. The first thing worth a mention is the automatic movement, which has a 52-hour power reserve and is made from a high-precision Swiss mechanism.
The black aluminum bezel offers a beautiful contrast when placed against the silver indexes and its miniature sub-dials. These include a chronograph, a date display, and a half-hour display. The case back is barely 40 mm thick, which helps the watch feel light and refined without crossing into the dainty territory. Finally, the deployment clasp can be easily opened with its push button, which is ideal if you ever need to put in quickly and without help.
This watch was created for a nearly impossible and elusive target audience but has now become a statement of intent. It combines the clean lines of contemporary design with a classic aviator aesthetic that drives the imagination back to the golden days of commercial flight. The result is the perfect accessory for anyone who is seeking entrance to the Jet Set club – those who travel with an equal amount of cleverness and style.
The subtly textured analog mechanism features a date window and a second sub-dial showing an alternative time zone. The black leather band has been carefully worked and softened to ensure no skin irritation, even when worn on a dry cabin for 12 hours straight. Finally, the quartz movement and sapphire crystal window will ensure this investment piece’s long life.
Bulova has always preferred a sportier kind of elegance, at least when compared to equivalent brands. However, their internal mechanisms are just as reliable, if not even studier. Their overall designs can also be just as beautiful, although not always tie-worthy – but who wears ties every day nowadays?
The 962329 Military Analog watch features a slightly thicker case that dramatically increases water-resistance and resilience. This watch can easily withstand a good snorkeling trip, and its superbly soft nylon buckle and band will keep their color after being exposed to seawater.
Inside, you will find a fine Japanese quartz movement mechanism and a date window. Although they chose not to include a separate sub-dial for seconds, they have integrated the seconds hand into the main dial and provided it with an irreverent red tip. This offers a nice and cheeky contrast against its deeply rich green background.
The Audemars Piguet Man’s series was created as part of a well-studied effort to recreate the glamor and excess of the roaring ’20s, a simpler time full of shorter lives. However, the watch itself is definitely not meant to be short-lived: its Royal Oak color scheme is clearly meant as a lifelong poem to Art Deco aesthetic, while the watch’s internal self-winding mechanisms are clearly heirloom material.
The watch is enclosed in a stainless steel case, carefully coated in white gold. At just 41 mm long, it appears to be much more delicate than it really is; the sapphire crystal cover will resist more than a few blows, and it can easily be re-polished back to its original perfection. Finally, this watch can withstand submersion of up to 50 meters.
Citizen may not be a luxury watchmaker, as they have resisted every attempt to make them create anything beyond $1,000. However, they are definitely a nice watchmaker, and their lack of pretentiousness mixes exceedingly well with their commitment to sustainability and eye for detail.
Furthermore, their Eco-Drive model was set out to become a classic from its very beginning. The cooly-casual white dial and sea-blue hands evoke the same purity of nature that the brand is trying to protect with its groundbreaking solar movement. In addition, the watch features two silent sub-dials: one meant to indicate seconds and another one that replaces the standard calendar window with a pure, clear circle.
The case is made from a 42mm stainless steel box, covered with mineral crystal. The Japanese quartz movement remains the most accurate one ever invented in the solar section. The materials used are all environmentally friendly and vegan, although this meant replacing the standard cowhide leather band with a synthetic leather one. Worry not: it’s for a good cause.
Do you want a nice watch? Then look at the Rolex catalog first and then work from there. In the world of luxury watchmaking, Rolex is THE brand – both when it comes to Old World prestige and recognition from the masses.
The Perpetual Explorer Model dates back to 1953 when it was first commissioned to commemorate the first time humanity conquered the peak of Mt Everest. We would not reach the moon until after a decade later, and at this time, this was the highest point in the history of humankind. It makes sense that the Perpetual Explorer attempted to be the highest peak in its field as well.
This watch was fully made with 904L steel; this encompasses both the main case and the strap. This type of steel offers high resistance to both corrosion and shock and can keep its polish for decades. The main black dial keeps the typical Rolex numerals and layouts, accompanied by luminous material. The movement is highly calibrated thanks to the use of Parachrom hairsprings and proprietary shock absorbers.
When Montblanc says urban, they usually mean something different than when the news reports use that word. A quick look at the Urban Edition of their Timewalker model will show exactly what they mean: a disc of perfect black with an air of unending mystery sprinkled with a bit of business savvy and a good dose of well-nurtured charm.
The revolutionary features of this watch don’t stop there, however; the choice of materials also shows a clear love for industrial-chic and technological advancement. The bracelet strap is made from a black carbon fiber that feels like leather but lasts longer, bends silently, and required no animal suffering in its creation. The stainless steel case and sapphire crystal are meant to resist shock, scratches and water alike, as well as submersion down to 30 feet. There is also a date window at the 3 o’clock position.
Daring and smart, just like everything from Fossil, this watch is just as worthy of a wild rock concert as it looks nice in a corporate boardroom. The black-on-black aesthetic manages to look radically different from its tuxedo-worthy companions thanks to the quintessentially youthful look of its white logo and number lines.
The main design was inspired by the futuristic-aviator aesthetic found in the Texas Flight Museum. In addition to the main dial, this watch features three sub-dials, a calendar window, and a smooth outer tachymeter bezel. The crowns are raised and the side buttons give a very satisfying click that helps measurements feel precise. The silicon band looks remarkably dressier than it should, thanks to the smart inclusion of white stitch-like details to the sides.
Rolex is well-established enough as a luxury watch manufacturer that it usually evokes lofty country clubs and velvety comforts. However, most of their watches are actually designed to withstand a fair deal of pressure, while others (like the GMT Master series) are clearly meant to survive the apocalypse,
This model dates back to the 1950s, although the second edition reinvented itself with several subtle tweaks to its design. Its main feature is the rotating bezel, created to allow quick time zone calculations for people who believe international business is a lifestyle. This is further enhanced by the diffuse “black into sky blue” case and bezel, which blends nicely with the silver case. The Oystersteel bracelet is remarkably resilient and almost perfectly smooth. The movement uses a proprietary Rolex cal. 3285 mechanism.
No, just because a watch is casual doesn’t mean it leaves the nice category. This is particularly true if said watch was created and designed by Guess, which has always specialized in an effortless type of elegance. But this is not the only way in which this watch hits an odd sort of equilibrium. The materials and colors are also a bold choice that looks surprisingly classy; blue silicon and rose gold coating are rarely seen together, yet here they appear as if they belong right next to each other,
The risky design choices have paid off just as much as the effort to ensure all mechanisms are top-notch. The three sub-dials are highly precise and are kept separate and legible thanks to a discreet difference in the dial’s background. The side wheel can be turned smoothly and is slightly textured to ensure a good grip, making the watch easier to adjust.
At first glance, the Hamilton Khaki Field watch offers a classic and timeless design that sticks to the essentials. Upon closer examination, however, you will begin noticing a deep pool of rich details that can turn this watch into a conversation piece.
The 38mm stainless steel case provides a smooth background for a classic white-on-black combo. In addition, the crystal is finally texturized on top of the number wheel, which will help you find its luminosity (and the calendar window) even in low light conditions. This watch works with an automatic self-winding mechanism that requires very little maintenance. The inner gears can resist immersion of 100 meters, although the leather strap may not react as keenly to seawater.
French fashion house Maurice Lacroix is responsible for establishing its own country as the place to go for timeless beauty. With this watch, they have sought to combine that spirit with a minimalist and luxurious accessory that can be relied upon for decades.
The case material and bezel are both made of stainless steel, which has been finely polished and treated to protect it from corrosion. The main dial has a platinum background with finely carved black letters, which are then awarded a dash of personality with a spark of red on the needles. The logo is displayed right below the 12 o’clock position and offers finely tuned details and reliefs. Finally, the leather band is made from supple and painstakingly treated cowhide leather.