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Best Classic Watches of All Time


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Numerous great watches from the long and illustrious history of horology have, in a way, influenced the present market. As a result, when the discussion turns to the most famous timepieces of all time, it remains a fascinating subject.

It’s usually a subjective issue, but dozens, if not hundreds, of highly legendary, significant, and historic watches deserve a spot. Here are thus some of the timepieces that we believe are among the most iconic in watchmaking history:

  1. Cartier Santos

The Cartier Santos was among the earliest timepieces ever made. It was created in 1904 following the request of the Franco-Brazilian pilot Alberto Santos. Before this, Santos found it challenging to track the time while flying because it was not easy to take out his pocket watch and maintain the stability of the plane at the same time. However, Cartier Santos swiftly resolved this issue, which finally revolutionized the watch industry.

 

Photo: Getty Images / Jake Gyllenhaal

 

Generally, it’s not just Santos’s illustrious past that continues to captivate watch connoisseurs today; it’s also the timepiece’s timeless elegance. The Santos-Dumont and Santos 100 series, which both captivate with an attractive allure and recount a narrative of revolutionary history, make up the present Cartier Santos range.

  1. Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

With the sole intention of protecting the watch display in polo tournaments, Jaeger-LeCoultre created a stunningly beautiful timepiece. British Army officers who participated in polo contests in the 1930s required a watch suitable for the activity. The task was to design a watch with a reversible casing that shields the dial to prevent any mallet blows in a polo game from damaging it. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso was thus developed in response to the situation.

 

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The watch’s Art Deco style provided a unique look and novel perspectives on watches. It demonstrated a fantastic example of design and function coming together, meeting halfway between geometry and beauty.

Overall, the Reverso stands out thanks to its beautiful square shape in an environment where all devices are circular.

  1. Rolex Submariner

The Submariner was the inaugural diver’s timepiece with up to a 100-meter water resistance limit since it was unveiled in 1953. Before the model’s debut, Rolex generated significant interest and recognition since meticulous field testing was carried out to ensure optimal performance.

When the watch was unveiled to anxious fans, it had an unrivaled innovation: a Twinlock screw-down crown mechanism. The design also had a significant impact on the wristwatch world and was even worn by Sean Connery, the first actor who portrayed the sleek M16 agent James Bond.

 

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Today, the Rolex Submariner is the wristwatch that immediately springs to mind when talking about exploring the undersea realm. Besides, it is regarded as the greatest dive watch.

  1. Omega Speedmaster

One of the most well-known watches in the world, the Omega Speedmaster, often known as “Moonwatch” or “Speedy,” was introduced more than 50 years ago. It was first designed as a specialist wristwatch for the race, but it ultimately underwent arduous NASA assessment and was named the space company’s watch.

 

Photo: Bob´s Watches

 

In addition to being Speedmaster, the inaugural watch to be carried on the moon’s surface, it also helped NASA astronauts survive the 1970 Apollo 13 expedition. The watch has since been enhanced with modernized movements, but the looks have not undergone any significant changes.

  1. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

When the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak first debuted, it was a cutting-edge watch that upset the market. Known for its high-quality components and classic designs, Audemars Piguet struggled financially through the quartz catastrophe. Hence, it decided to launch a wristwatch that would completely change the definition of a premium watch.

The visionary Gérald Genta then created the Royal Oak. It was made of sturdy stainless steel, a compound that was essentially unknown in the realm of fine watches, and was prompted by a classic diver’s headgear. The watch was also first displayed at the Basel Watch Fair in 1972 and quickly gained international popularity.

 

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The octagon shape and visible screws that made the watch distinctive haven’t altered over the years. This is despite the small architectural and technological evolution of the clock.

  1. Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms is yet another renowned diving watch pioneer. It was designed to survive vast water levels, which most people at the time could not do when it was first released in 1953. As a result, the range stood out among divers thanks to this stylish Swiss clock.

 

Photo: Watchesandculture

 

There haven’t been any significant design alterations to the Fifty Fathoms in over 65 years. This renders the timepiece among the most enduringly beautiful pieces that serious watch connoisseurs can acquire. Furthermore, this vintage wristwatch is distinguishing because of its rigid military construction, which enables it to survive even the harshest environments.

  1. Breitling Navitimer

Another watch with a fascinating history is the Breitling Navitimer. Since its introduction in the 1950s, this timepiece has become a favorite among aviation professionals. Breitling was already a well-known manufacturer of watches for numerous airlines at the time of its release. As a result, the Navitimer’s debut attracted much interest from aficionados, pilots, and the entire public, which increased the piece’s reputation.

Breitling has continuously added new features to the Navitimer throughout the years in an effort to maintain the buzz about the watch. Now, including more than 40 variants in its portfolio, it is among its most renowned series.

 

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Overall, Breitling did an incredible job of publicizing this classic item, and most collectors and aviator watch lovers still consider it a must-have to date.

  1. Patek Philippe Nautilus

There are several watch enthusiasts, and Patek Philippe is a popular choice. The items they sell have every feature a buyer might want: a solid return on investment, classic style, unmatched craftsmanship, a whiff of uniqueness, and brand awareness.

In addition, Patek Philippe is well aware that exceptional collectible pieces may be made from uncommon and highly desired watches. Many people thus consider the Patek Philippe Nautilus the most coveted watch made by the company and still in production.

 

Photo: Getty Images/ Lionel Messi

 

Gerald Genta essentially created this iconic watch, which was unveiled in 1976 and advertised as the first high-end sports timepiece in steel. Because steel variants were not widely popular then, they garnered a lot of attention, marking the start of Nautilus’s long history of fame.

Currently, owning a Patek Philippe wristwatch is everyone’s desire.

  1. IWC Pilot’s Watch

The watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen has a close connection with the aircraft sector. When the company created a watch modeled after a plane’s cockpit instrument, it significantly influenced how aviator watches are created. Since then, several companies have begun releasing versions of IWC’s renowned pilot piece.

 

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The impact that has persisted from its introduction to the present renders this IWC Pilot’s Watch a truly collectible item. Along with influencing individuals working in the aviation industry, it also provided watch collectors and aficionados with a novel appearance to enjoy.

Generally, if anyone like timepieces with a rich history or those motivated by aviation, this is the perfect pick for their collection.

  1. Rolex Daytona

This is a unique Rolex version that is regarded to be among their most recognizable and sought-after timepieces. It was first made available to the market in the 1960s and was created especially for racing pros. This implied that it had a chronograph movement that was outstanding at the time and has only improved since.

 

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Generally, the Rolex Daytona is a superb valuable item for individuals who have chronograph or automobile-influenced watch portfolios, in addition to having significant resale value. This, thus, makes it an attractive purchase for many enthusiasts.

  1. Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921

One of the oldest luxurious watchmakers on the globe is Vacheron Constantin. They have served as a dependable company for decades and have seen how the watchmaking business has changed through the years. They also have a stellar record in the watch market due to their tenacity and dedication to the highest standards of artistry. They are frequently referred to as members of the “Holy Trinity” of timepieces.

 

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It should be obvious why Vacheron Constantin watches make excellent collectibles once you read everything about them. They are a well-known and reputable company selling only the best watches. Additionally, they have significantly impacted horology via the design of their classic timepieces.

In addition, the Vacheron Constantin Historiques line also features updated versions of the company’s vintage, iconic timepieces from years ago. It’s thus a wonderful addition to everybody’s antique collection.

  1. Zenith Chronomaster Original

Zenith is a company that is overlooked in contrast to other well-known brands. One of their timepieces would be the ideal gift for anyone who appreciates calm, understated quality. But it isn’t the only factor contributing to the Zenith Chronomaster Original’s popularity as a collectible watch. The brand’s line also includes a sizable portion of pieces for people who respect and consider quality movements while shopping for classic timepieces.

 

Photo: Getty Images / Nicolas Cage

 

Zenith, a recognized leader in watch production, created the renowned El Primero movement. It was introduced in 1969, more than fifty years ago, as an integral chronograph caliber with remarkable precision.

Many of their pieces still employ the El Primero, representing the company’s century of expertise and serving as its pinnacle. The Chronomaster Original, a contemporary timepiece using the exact mechanism, illustrates this.

 

Bottom Line

Everything you decide to buy as a collection item is entirely up to you and your desires. However, these watches represent a few of the most iconic timepieces worth investing in. Furthermore, there are still a number of different models available that might make great adds to a person’s portfolio.

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