In order to make a list of must-have watches that are affordable for anyone interested in elegance and style, we asked nine watch collectors to submit their top choices at different price points.
Horological trends come and go, but the real style is timeless. Cartier is arguably one of the most stylish and timeless jewelry business in history, responsible for the push on wristwatches, which is one of the brand’s key products to this day. Launched in 1933, much like Cartier’s partner Jaeger LeCoultre’s Reverso, the Basculante catered for sports and other situations where the wearer needed to protect the watch’s glass.
The original Memovox was first introduced by Jaeger-LeCoultre in 1950. The two separate crowns allowed you to manually wind and set the alarm and timekeeping parts of the movement separately. Our favorite is a 2019 Polaris Date 1,000 piece limited edition, with a lovely blue dial.
Patek Philippe Nautilus
There is no watch list nowadays without Patek Philippe Nautilus. This classic timepiece is more popular than ever. Originally unveiled in the mid-1970s and designed by the legendary Gérald Genta, the Nautilus (ref. 3700/001A) has become a veritable horological icon thanks to its pioneering role amongst high-end, luxury sports watches. We recommend the original Ref. 3700, Tiffany edition Ref. 3800 as well as the Ref. 5711.
The Speedmaster had initially been worn on many of the pre-Apollo NASA manned space missions after satisfactorily passing exhaustive tests. The first American to walk in space Edward H. White wore a Speedmaster during his Gemini 4 spacewalk, for example. What we really love is the versatility of the Speedmaster as no other watch looks this great with different straps and links.
Swatch 'Golden Tac'
What's good for the late Sergio Loro Piana, Count Gelasio Gaetani d'Aragona, and Mr. Michael Hill, is surely good for us. Whether you believe it is reverse snobbery or the global Covid-19 crisis whereby Rolexes and Pateks look out of place - we love when an elegant man wears his 15-year-old bespoke suit with a 60 euro Swatch. Swatch 'Golden Tac' goes well even with a tuxedo.
The original Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso was one of the first sports watches in the world. Back in the 1930s, it was a watch not meant for elegant sit-down dinners but to take a daily beating by polo players, divers, explorers or adventurers. However, notable customers like Amelia Earheart and King Edward VIII were drawn to the Reverso for other reasons such as to engrave with whatever designs they pleased on its back.
There is something about stainless steel watches with integrated bracelets. The usual suspects are of course the Patek Philippe Nautilus, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo, the Vacheron Constantin 222, and the original IWC Ingenieur. The Rolex Oysterquartz Datejust Ref. 17000 belongs to these watches. The Oysterquartz movements are amongst the most beautiful quartz calibers ever made. The designs are equally elegant, wearable, convenient, and reliable. A perfect entry-point Rolex in our opinion.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
First launched by Audemars Piguet in the 1970s and designed by Gerald Genta, who also designed the Patek Philippe Nautilus amongst others, the Royal Oak Ref. 5402 has become a cultural icon due to its distinctive features and its role as a pioneer for high-end luxury sports watches. This steel, Royal Oak A-series watch is the perfect balance between utilitarian function and elegant design.
Cartier Tank Louis Cartier
The last watch in our series was introduced almost 100 years ago and is without any doubt still as elegant and as relevant today. The Tank Louis Cartier, launched in 1922 and worn by the likes of Ralph Lauren, Andy Warhol, Mohammed Ali and Yves Saint Laurent has retained its popularity despite the oversized timepiece fashion in recent years.
Bonus Video: A true connoisseur of the finest watches in the world unmasks a small portion of his remarkable collection for the very first time. Talking Watches With John Goldberger by Hodinkee.