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A Brief History of Iconic Watch Brands

Did you know that watches have been around for centuries? Clockmakers began crafting miniature versions of their timepieces clear back in the 1400s! Of course, there have been quite a few changes since those earliest watches. For one thing, we wear them on our wrists now. The oldest and most historic watch brands, or “miniature clock” makers, were worn as a rather large pendant on a cord or chain around the neck.

Listed below are five most iconic watch brands of heirloom quality. Each one has a long history of exceptional craftsmanship. They all have well-deserved reputation’s for being one of the best watchmakers in the world. With at least a century of perfecting their craft behind them, these long-established brands epitomize quality Swiss watchmaking.

1: Blancpain

This is the oldest watch brand in the world, having been founded in 1735 by Jaques Blancpain and handed down through his family for nearly 200 years. It had a somewhat on-again, off-again history until it became a part of the Swatch Group. This luxury watch brand has now partnered with the equally luxurious car brand Lamborghini and appears to finally be around to stay.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

2: Breguet

The Breguet company, a historic watch brand, was started in Paris by Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1775. By that time, the 28-year-old Breguet had apprenticed with several well-regarded French watchmakers. In 1810, this progressive company invented the world’s first wristwatch for Caroline Murat, the Queen of Naples. Marie Antoinette and Napoleon Bonaparte were just two of the many other world leaders clamoring for the new wristwatches.

Breguet Marine

The Swatch Group acquired this highly-regarded and historic company in 1999.

3: Longines

In 1832, Auguste Agassiz founded the Longines watch company in Saint-Imier, Switzerland. Longines is the oldest unchanged watch brand name registered with WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). In 1868, the company was instrumental to the industrialization of Swiss watchmaking after sending a representative to the Universal Exhibition in Philadelphia. Famous aeronautical pioneer Charles Lindbergh worked with Longines in 1931 to create the Lindbergh Hour Angle watch – a forerunner to modern GPS!

Longines HydroConquest

Like Blancpain and Breguet, Longines is now part of the Swatch Group.

4: Patek Philippe

Polish watchmaker Antoni Patek originally paired with Czech partner Franciszek Czapek from 1839 until 1844. In 1844, he met French watchmaker Jean Adrien Philippe when Philippe won a Bronze Medal at the World Fair in France for his key-less winder. Philippe hired Patek as his head watchmaker and made him a partner in 1851 when the firm officially became the historic watch brand, Patek Philippe.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut

Since 1932, this Swiss company has been privately held by the Stern family.

5: Vacheron Constantin

Vacheron Constantin isn’t the oldest in the world (Blancpain holds that honor) but it is the world’s oldest continuously operating watch company. That remarkable achievement began with its founding by master watchmaker Jean-Marc Vacheron in 1755. François Constantin joined the company in 1819 and the name was officially changed to Vacheron Constantin. For over 250 years, this company has produced watches of exceptional quality and desirability. To celebrate its 260th anniversary in 2015, the company produced Reference 57260. This watch currently holds the record for the most complicated watch ever made. It has fifty-seven complications along with 2,800 decorated components. The value matches its intricacies – €8 million (that’s over $8.8 million)!

Vacheron Constantin Overseas

The Richemont Group acquired this iconic brand in 1996.

Collecting These Historic Watch Brands

When you hold a watch from one of the oldest treasured watch brands, you’re holding history in your hands. Centuries of brilliant innovation, exquisite craftsmanship, and loving tradition have gone into each watch. Whether you treasure a vintage watch or take pride in the newest model, you can’t go wrong when you add a watch from one of these venerable brands to your collection. Like fine automobiles, these watches appreciate in value even as they age.

Fortunately, at WatchShopping.com we can regularly offer both new and classic models of these fine watch brands to our most discerning customers!

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