As is true of all accessories, watches fall into categories based on price, brand, material and complexity. Casual watches, for instance, tend to be relatively inexpensive and simplistic in design. Fashion watches may fetch higher prices due to brand recognition but are often manufactured with inexpensive parts. Digital watches boast more bells and whistles but sometimes lack creativity in design.
Fine watches, however, are in an entirely different category of timepiece altogether.
A fine watch is an investment in the exceptional.
A representation of style and class.
An ode to craftsmanship and complexity.
Fine watches encompass all these characteristics. Fine watch brands toe the line between technological advancements and the highly respected age-old art of watchmaking. The goal is always to create a timepiece that looks as good as it performs, a delicate balance indeed. A fine watch is likely to set you back a pretty penny because it serves as much more than a stylish piece of wrist wear.
We’re talking specialized dial mounting. Lengthy power reserves. Specialized in-house movements. Finishing techniques that require master skill.
If you’re a watch enthusiast, the very mention of these elements speaks to your very soul. If not, read on to see how some of the top fine watch brands seriously level up your wrist wear.
Richard Mille: Flyback Chronograph Richard Mille RM 11-03
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. loves his Flyback Chronograph Richard Mille RM 11-03 watch so much, he wore it during the team’s 2019 season opening game against the Tennessee Titans. His is the limited edition version resulting from a partnership between Richard Mille and McLaren Automotive, which debuted at the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show. Just 500 of these beauties were created, so it’s easy to see why Beckham wants to flex it everywhere he goes – even on the field.
This watch is fully tricked out as much in function as form. It boasts a skeleton design, so you can see all of the intricate moving parts inside. Additional features include:
- Automatic winding movement with variable-geometry rotor, so you can tell time in hours, minutes and even seconds
- Flyback chronograph
- 60-minute countdown timer at 9 o’clock
- 12-hour totalizer
- Oversize date and month indicator
- 55-hour power reserve
The baseplate of this watch is made from Grade 5 titanium (which is probably why Beckham felt comfortable wearing it during an NFL game).
The real flex is that those first willing to drop the $189,000 necessary to get this watch were offered the option to match their watch edition number to their McLaren Senna when the collection first debuted.
The Swiss luxury watch brand is heavily influenced by race cars – from their sleek designs to the way the cars move. The materials used in Richard Mille watches are as high-quality as any titanium used in a Formula 1 racecar or in precision surgery. The brand even created its own version of automatic calibrated movements for its timepieces.
Omega Seamaster James Bond Limited Edition
Some luxury watches are pure arm candy – shiny, expensive and classy; others are all about function and complexity. Omega offers that all-too-rare combination of both in its Seamaster Diver 300M watch. Omega recently released a newly designed limited edition version of this watch in homage to the James Bond classic On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The Omega brand has been a mainstay of the fictional movie character since the mid-1990s.
The watch carries a cool $6,500 price tag, a small price to pay for Bond-style elegance. The casing of the watch is 42mm stainless steel with a black bezel, PVD-coated black ceramic on the dial and Bond’s signature spiral bullet design at the center. The “7” on the watch is the same font as that of Bond’s “007” logo and the there is a hidden feature at the 10 o’clock mark that only shows up in the dark.
And this watch doesn’t just look good; it functions with the kind of precision for which Omega is known. Features include:
- Magnetic resistance of 15,000 gauss
- 55-hour power reserve
Initial production of the watch was limited to 7,007. Each timepiece was given its own limited edition number, engraved on the 18K yellow gold plate.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Openworked Grande Complication
Audemars Piguet marries watchmaking with stunning artisanship and births unparalleled luxury timepieces from this union. Few luxury brands can boast the longevity of the Swiss watchmaker, which has been a family-owned enterprise since 1875. The Royal Oak wristwatch line was introduced in the 1970s and remains a standard-bearer even in amongst the technologically advanced luxury timepieces on the market today.
The Royal Oak collection boasts fans like Justin Bieber, who dropped a cool $50,000 on a vintage version as a wedding gift to himself. And even that watch is not as luxurious as the Royal Oak Openworked Grande Complication.
For perspective, this Royal Oak version retails for upwards of $600,000.
So, what makes this watch so special aside from the credibility and class of the brand that manufactures it? To start, this is no mass-manufactured timepiece. It’s “hand-crafted by a single master-watchmaker” in the company’s own workshop.
But it’s the complexities that justify the investment. Consider this:
- Counter/seconds/split-seconds chronograph hands
- Perpetual calendar with moon phase
- Small seconds
- Grande complication
- Minute repeater
- 648 parts
- 45-hour power reserve.
And that’s to speak nothing of the design, which includes black inner bezel with white minute circle, sapphire dial, smoky counters, titanium bracelet, 15 mm case thickness and slate grey movement.
Vacheron Constantin Metiers D’Art Copernicus Celestial Spheres 2460 RT
Vacheron Constantin is a fine watch brand older even than Audemars Piguet. This brand was founded in the 1700s and has evolved to include contemporary complexities in its timepieces as well as art-inspired nuances that make each timepiece unique.
Exhibit A: the Metiers D’Art Copernicus Celestial Spheres 2460 RT wristwatch.
Like other watches offered through Vacheron Constantin, this one bears the Hallmark of Geneva certification. An automatic timepiece, the case and bezel are 18k white gold. It boasts a transparent caseback, measures 43mm in diameter with 352 parts and 27 jewels.
It also offers a 34-hour power reserve and three bar water resistance.
The price tag for this beauty is somewhere around $67,000, which is well worth the cost for anyone looking to have an exquisite piece of art with which to tell time.
Patek Phillipe 5327G Grand Complications
The unique thing about the Patek Phillipe luxury watch brand is that is appeals to consumers both traditional and contemporary. A connoisseur of fine watches is as likely to find a watch to love as easily as a young hip-hop artist looking to show-off the finest wrist wear available. The 5327G Grand Complications watch is a star within a brand with plenty of shine.
Features of this watch include:
- Perpetual calendar
- Day/date/month/leap year indications by hands
- Water resistant to 30m
The price point is right in the middle of fine watch territory, coming in at just over $90,000.
So, what makes this watch so special?
Just look at it.
The dial is a brilliant royal blue sunburst. The numerals are gold applied Breguet. The white gold case gleams with luxury and the alligator strap is hand-stitched in a deep and bold navy blue. It’s anything but typical in terms of design, and that distinction is part of the enduring quality of this fine watch brand.