Choosing just 10 watches out of the thousands that are on the market is a significant undertaking, but one that is a lot of fun, too. Not only do I get to showcase some amazing products, but you can also debate my inclusion or exclusion of certain pieces. What’s undeniable is that the 10 picks on this list are absolutely iconic watches and would be excellent additions to your collection.
Santos de Cartier
Cartier is famous for being one of the most refined brands in the world. The Santos de Cartier was their first wristwatch creation, and its legend lives on to this day. Many consider it to be the quintessential dress watch, and I’d have to agree that it is undoubtedly one of the best options out there. It has a timeless design, excellent quality, and a certain mystique that is unmatched in the industry.
In a similar vein, we have the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. This watch is attractive for two primary reasons. The first is its simple and luxurious design. The second is the fact that you can turn the watch face over and hide it, hence the name “Reverso”. Add in its rectangular shape and rich horological history, and you have a watch that is as iconic as they come.
Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
Many consider Patek Philippe one of the finest timepiece brands in the world. That is high praise, but they truly deserve it. Their craftsmanship is off the charts, and you really can’t go wrong when choosing them. The most charming aspect of this particular piece is its perpetual calendar, which doesn’t need to be reset for 200 years. Overall, this watch is historic, iconic, and a “holy grail” addition to many watch enthusiasts’ collections.
The Breitling Navitimer is a watch that appeals to a variety of collectors. The first thing you notice about it is its size, which is well above average. Next, you see how crowded the dial is. Between chronographs, a slide rule, and a variety of other functions, this timepiece has an unheard-of amount of capabilities. The final piece of the puzzle is its attractive and robust appearance. While this watch isn’t for everyone, it has a cult following and is considered a true icon.
The Rolex Submariner is one of the most sought-after watches on the market right now. You really only have three options if you want one. Spend up to two years on a wait list, pay thousands over retail price, or “know somebody”. That insane amount of demand isn’t all hype, though. Instead, the Submariner is a fantastic timepiece that nearly every collector wants to purchase.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Generally, when a watch is released, it doesn’t turn too many heads. The truth is that most products look pretty similar to what is currently on the market, meaning that “innovation” is usually just a marketing phrase. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is an exception to that trend, as it genuinely rocked the watch world when Audemars Piguet released it. This piece is so iconic that AP is considered one of the top brands in the world despite almost exclusively selling just one model of watch.
Tag Heuer Monaco
Speaking of highly original designs, the Tag Heuer Monaco is another watch that shocked the horology community. I think what really made the difference was its square-shaped case and subdials. There just wasn’t anything like this timepiece before the Monaco came out, and it cemented Tag Heuer as a premiere Swiss manufacturer.
To be honest, the Rolex Datejust doesn’t have the most eye-catching design, nor does it have some gimmick that sets it apart from other pieces. Instead, it is simply an elegant watch that is simultaneously incredibly tough. Sometimes less is more. This synthesis of positive attributes has made it the favorite of powerful individuals throughout history.
If you were on the wrist of the first astronauts to go to the moon, then you deserve to be included in the most iconic watches of all time. That is precisely what the Omega Speedmaster did, and it is incredibly popular even to this day. Aside from historical achievements, this watch is also very well made and packs a lot of value into its price point.
Patek Philippe Calatrava
Lastly, we have a timepiece that will never go out of the style. The reason is that it is incredibly minimalistic and elegant. The Patek Philippe Calatrava’s design is simple, its craftsmanship is excellent, and it has one of the top Swiss brands in the world creating it. Combine all of that, and you have a can’t-miss product.
There you have it: 10 most iconic watches of all time. Whether you agree with the list is, of course, up to you. But you can’t argue with the reputation of these pieces. Each of them has a rich history, exceptional quality, and serious notoriety in the watch world. If you’re in the market for a new timepiece, you can’t go wrong with any of the options on this list.