A luxury watch is a wearable work of art that tells time and history. This article will cover the different types of watch movements, watch terminology you need to know, the history of watchmaking from the most iconic luxury brands, and the most popular watch styles by luxury brands. It’s important to note here that nearly all luxury brands assemble watches in Switzerland.
Cartier is one of the most prestigious jewelers in the world, a symbol of luxury and sophistication. Louis-François Cartier founded Cartier in Paris, France in 1847 by designing jewelry for kings. In 1910, Cartier revolutionized the watch industry with the invention of the folding clasp. Today, Cartier’s watch business today has six production sites in Switzerland and is world-renowned for their iconic watch models like the Tank and Santos. Cartier started with bespoke jewelry and timepieces, now they are a piece of history.
Most popular Cartier watches:
Ballon Bleu De Cartier
Clé De Cartier
The first Chanel watch was launched in 1987 with the Chanel Première, a bracelet watch band with classic Chanel chain and woven leather and an octagonal watch face. The Chanel Première’s unconventional design was inspired by the Place Vendome, the iconic square in the heart of Paris, and the top of a Chanel perfume bottle. With the success of the Premiere, the J12 Collection watch was released in 1999, shocking watch aficionados everywhere with the use of ceramic as its core material, a new material in watchmaking.
Most popular Chanel watches:
Hermes has been tinkering with watches since 1912 with custom leather watch straps for pocket watches. La Montre Hermès develops its own independent manufacturing resources to create every piece of their luxury watches in Biel, Switzerland. Between 1978 and present, Hermès rolled out some of its most popular watches, including the Clipper, the Cape Cod, the Medor, and the Heure H, with design details inspired by their ‘H’ logo and their popular Kelly bag.
Most popular Hermes watches:
Rolex is a Swiss watch brand that has a legacy that spans the globe with its pioneering watch technology and iconic designs. Rolex began with the invention of the first waterproof wristwatch, the Oyster. Rolex watches are conceived, designed, manufactured, and tested in Switzerland. Rolex uses 904L grade stainless steel, which is more resistant to corrosion and has a beautiful luster when polished. Rolex has developed a range of iconic timepieces that can be found on the very highest summits to the deepest oceans on pioneers, artists, athletes, and Yoogi’s Closet co-founder, Simon.
Most popular Rolex watches:
Louis Vuitton watches
Louis Vuitton released its first collection of luxury timepieces in 2002 with the Tambour collection. Like all of Louis Vuitton’s designs, each timepiece features an homage to the brand’s origins in travel with sophisticated complications and design details such as monogram flower motifs or LV initial.The watchmakers of La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton in Geneva use their mastery of watchmaking to create men’s and women’s timepieces. The Tambour Horizon collection marks the first smartwatch made by a luxury brand with customizable apps and exclusive LV content.
Most popular Louis Vuitton watches:
Tambour Horizon smart watch
Audemars Piguet is one of the oldest fine watch-making manufacturers, founded in 1875 by childhood friends Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet when they created the first-minute repeater wristwatch. Pronounced aw-duh-mahs pea-uh-jay.
Most popular Audemars Piguet watches:
Chopard is a Swiss watchmaker that has been family-owned and privately run since 1860. The company was originally known for its ultra-thin pocket watches.The Happy Diamonds collection was a revolutionary design when released in 1976, featuring diamonds held between two sapphire crystals that move freely around the dial.
Most popular Chopard watches:
Founded in 1833, Jaeger-LeCoultre is Swiss luxury icon of watchmaking, with over 200 patents and more than 1,000 different calibers. Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of the most innovative in watchmaking history with achievements including the world’s smallest movement and a clock with near-perpetual movement (the Atmos clock). The unique Reverso design features a unique swivel case to be swiveled in its carrier to protect the watch glass.
Most popular Jaegar-LeCoultre watches:
Breitling began with a focus on on chronographs, which were increasingly in demand at the time for industrial, military, and scientific applications. Breitling made one of its most groundbreaking advancements in watchmaking in 1969: the invention of the self-winding chronograph movement.
Most popular Breitling watches:
Van Cleef & Arpels
Van Cleef & Arpels is known for exquisite timepieces that are transformed into jewels. In 1918, Van Cleef & Arpels released their first timepiece, a jeweled chatelaine that was attached to the waist of a woman’s dress. Van Cleef & Arpels created its first wristwatch, a white and yellow gold piece with a leather strap in 1923. Many VCA pieces appear as secret watches, like bracelets that open to reveal the time of day at the touch of the wearer, or timepieces hidden in the bracelet like the Cadena.
Most popular Van Cleef & Arpels watches:
Different types of watch movement
The beauty of a luxury watch is in the movement: how it actually tells the time. It’s basically the engine of the watch. There are three main styles of watch movement in modern watches: quartz, automatic, and mechanical.
Mechanical watches are wonders of engineering. Most mechanical watches today are automatic, or self-winding, which means they’re wound by the wearer’s natural movement. The second hand in a mechanical watch moves in a smooth sweeping motion. In order to activate those moving parts and keep the watch accurate, mechanical watches store power mechanically without the aid of a battery, then releases power in a controlled manner to turn the gears.
The movement of a mechanical watch must be regularly maintained and inspected in order for it to perform at its optimum level. Models equipped with a mechanical movement should be serviced at least every three years.
An automatic watch is a mechanical watch that makes manual winding unnecessary. A watch with automatic movement is self-winding, using the movement and energy from the wearer’s wrist is transferred automatically to cause a rotor to rotate and power the watch.
A quartz watch is powered by a battery and a tiny synthetic quartz crystal. The battery emits an electric current, which oscillates the quartz crystal at a precise frequency. While they are more accurate than mechanical timekeeping devices, quartz watches lack the intricacy of a mechanical watch.
Basic watch terminology you need to know
When you’ve decided which style of watch you want, you might want to learn what all the words mean. The world of watchmaking and watch terminology is very complex, so we hope this helps!
A bezel is an outer ring of a watch that protects the crystal. Dress watches might have a small, plain bezel, while sportier watches such as divers and aviators might have larger, rotating bezels capable of measuring elapsed time.
The bracelet is what attaches the watch to your wrist. When made out of leather, it’s referred to as a strap. In order to be considered a bracelet, the band must be made of metal.
The case of a watch is the housing for the dial and movement. Watch cases are most often made of stainless steel. Watch cases come variety of different shapes and sizes, but the most common is round. Case width and thickness are two common measurements to look out for.
A chronograph is a special feature on a watch that offers stopwatch and timing functionality in separate windows on the watch face. Designer chronographs can have either automatic or quartz movement.
Complications are elements of a watch dial that offer functionality outside of the basic time display. A date display, usually positioned at 3 o’clock, is an example of a complication. A chronograph is also considered a complication.
The crown is the small knob on the side of a watch, usually positioned at 3 o’clock, that’s used to set the time and date.
Crystal is the transparent cover material that sits above the dial, usually a highly scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, designed to protect the watch from dirt and water and reduce glare. Most modern Swiss timepieces have sapphire crystal.
The dial is the face of the watch, where the hands and markers live.
An escapement is a mechanical link that periodically releases the gear train to move forward, advancing the clock’s hands.
Typically Arabic numerals, Roman numerals, baton or dot markers to indicate hours from 1-12.
The hands are the markers on the dial that indicate time. Most watches have at least three hands to show hours, minutes, and seconds.
A geometric line pattern on the etched dial of the watch.
These are small sapphires or rubies that act as bearings for the gears to help reduce friction. The jewel is in the movement of a watch.
Many watches have hour markers and hands that glow-in-the-dark, allowing the wearer to see in murky or dark spaces like the deep water or night skies.
Lugs are the pieces of metal extending from the 12 and 6 o’clock positions of the case that help hold the watch strap or bracelet to the case.
This keeps track of the current phase of the moon including full, half, quarter, and new moon; sailors used it originally to gauge tides.
This is the watch’s engine. It powers the watches functions and keeps its time, and is located within the case.
For automatic watches, this weight uses gravity to help wind the watch. As a user wears it on their wrist, the watch continues to wind without manual intervention.
This is the most complex calendar available on a watch. It features the month, day, date, year, and even takes leap year into account.
This is an attachment to the case that would control the watch functions, such as a date adjustment or chronograph.
A subsidiary dial, or subdial, is any smaller dial within the larger dial. Chronograph watches often have two or three subdials, which measure running seconds, minutes, and hours.
Sweeping Seconds Hand
Instead of jumping with every tick, a sweeping seconds hand moves smoothly across the dial or subdial. Most mechanical watches, like Rolex, will have a sweeping second hand.
This is a feature on a watch that allows the user to measure speed and distance.
The tourbillon is one of the most valued features in luxury timepieces. The tourbillon (French for “whirlwind”) is used to average out the effect of gravity when the watch is stuck in different positions. The escapement is housed in a rotating cage that constantly moves.
To wear a luxury timepiece is to own a piece of history. All of our items are authenticated by our in-house experts, so you can shop with confidence for designer watches at Yoogi’s Closet.