We’ll admit: It can be a bit tricky to create a list of the ten best or most popular watch brands. How would you even begin to put together this kind of ranking? Would you use the company’s sales numbers or financial performance on Chrono24? For today’s list, we’ve decided to skip the numbers and put a top 10 together based on what we see and hear. What watches are people talking about? Who are the small independent brands making waves recently and that rightfully stand alongside the industry icons? Let’s jump right in!
Rolex continues its reign as the undisputed king of watch brands, and the demand for timepieces from this Genevan company continues unabated. We’ve seen a steady rise in prices for popular models like the Submariner, GMT-Master II, and Daytona on Chrono24. But even the brand’s less popular models have picked up steam when it comes to demand and price. The Datejust, the recently introduced Oyster Perpetual models, the Explorer and Explorer II, and even the quirky Milgauss are seeing stronger demand. Will these prices continue their ascent, or will things be settling down a bit in the coming months? For now, it’s safe to say that the crown will continue to sit securely atop the head of the rightful king.
Another incredibly popular brand is Omega. The brand from Biel, Switzerland has created some of the industry’s greatest icons. The Speedmaster is, without a doubt, the company’s most famous watch. The introduction of the new Moonwatch with an updated design and new movement sees the brand begin another chapter to the collection’s legacy. Speaking of Moonwatches, the latest Speedmaster Snoopy model is the most sought-after among the Speedmaster special editions. Omega has also launched the new Seamaster 300 line of watches in their catalog. This retro diver also taps into the brand’s rich heritage, combining it with the highest standards of modern watchmaking.
Ever since former IWC CEO Georges Kern took over at Breitling, the brand has shown a renewed energy that has generated some amazing results. Breitling has received praise for creating some of the best re-issues of iconic models from their past. Examples include the AVI ref. 765 1953 Re-Edition and the Navitimer ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition. Want even more? Breitling has also introduced new versions of the iconic Chronomat, the Top Time, and the Superocean Heritage ’57. And the popularity of the brand’s greatest icons continues with collectors. It makes Breitling one of the most well-known, sought-after names at the moment.
Patek Philippe is undoubtedly the most recognized and popular brand when it comes to haute horlogerie. The Genevan company creates some of the most spectacular timepieces out there, combining the absolute highest levels of watchmaking technique, design, and finishing. The brand’s greatest hit is the Nautilus, followed closely by the Aquanaut. Watches from their Complications and Grand Complications collections are also in high demand. Patek Philippe has announced the discontinuation of the popular steel Nautilus 5711/1A, so it will be interesting to see what happens to the prices of this icon designed by Gérald Genta. What timepiece will follow in its footsteps?
Any time you hear the brand name Audemars Piguet, you probably immediately think of the Royal Oak. While the brand from Le Brassus, Switzerland also boasts other collections (such as the Code 11.59 and Millenary) for the wider collector audience, AP still is all about the Royal Oak. Another Gérald Genta creation, this industry icon debuted in 1972 and continues its run as a legendary piece of watch heritage. Whether it’s the iconic Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin, the Perpetual Calendar, the Royal Oak Offshore, or the Royal Oak Concept, the popularity of and demand for these timepieces remain incredibly high. Having said that, Audemars Piguet CEO François-Henry Bennahmias has revealed the retirement of the Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin. It will be interesting to see what step the brand will take next and what new models will emerge.
The year 2021 has seen Cartier make more than a few waves with their new introductions, the most important of which is the Tank Must SolarBeat with its special photovoltaic movement. It’s a solar-powered Cartier Tank that is hard to tell apart from its automatic and manual counterparts. At the same time, the brand released three limited-edition Tank models in monochromatic colors: burgundy, blue, and green. Another new release came in the Ballon Bleu de Cartier collection. This relatively young series has been hugely popular since its introduction in 2007 and welcomed a 40-mm update in 2021. With great new releases like these and a heritage that’s second to none, Cartier is doing as good as ever.
Tudor has grown into one of the most popular brands over the last decade, enjoying an ever-growing base of fans. Ever since introducing the Black Bay line of watches, Tudor has stepped out of the shadow of its bigger brother, Rolex. This year, Tudor surprised us with a 925 silver and 18-karat yellow gold version of the incredibly popular Black Bay Fifty-Eight. Additionally, we saw the release of a solid bronze boutique-edition Black Bay Fifty-Eight and a solid black ceramic Black Bay with an in-house COSC-certified movement. It’s remarkable to see how Tudor continues to delight with smart new releases that combine great quality with affordable prices. These are factors that have made Tudor one of today’s leading industry brands.
“Affordability” is definitely not something you’d associate with Richard Mille. The modern luxury watch brand produced some of the most popular, incredibly sought-after high-end watches. Richard Mille’s philosophy is to create cutting-edge watches that combine high-tech materials and incredible watchmaking craftsmanship for use in extreme conditions. The brand has developed watches for famous sports stars like Rafael Nadal, Bubba Watson, and numerous Formula 1 drivers, including Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris. Richard Mille delivers mind-blowing horological creations that often demand far their list prices.
H. Moser & Cie
H. Moser & Cie. is an independent business that has been making waves ever since its re-introduction in 2005. Recent years have been particularly successful for this company from Schaffhausen, Switzerland. The small independent brand has turned heads with their popular Streamliner collection, featuring the Streamliner Flyback Chronograph and Streamliner Center Seconds. This year, H. Moser & Cie. added the Streamliner Perpetual Calendar to their line-up, demonstrating the brand’s ability to produce some of the most impressive in-house timepieces currently out there. The H. Moser & Cie. Specials collection contains some of the most impressive concept watches, including its spectacular Venturer with its Vantablack® dial as the absolute highlight.
The last name on our top 10 list is F.P. Journe. Founded by and named after François-Paul Journe, this small brand produces only 800 timepieces annually. And these are among the best and most special watches the industry has to offer. F.P. Journe is incredibly popular with high-end collectors; just about all of their 800 pieces sell out in a matter of minutes. The brand currently has six collections in its catalog, which includes a timepiece that has truly emerged into a fan favorite in the watch world: the F.P. Journe Élégante 48. This remarkable titanium quartz watch is a perfect example of Journe’s philosophy of creating ingenious solutions to timekeeping challenges. Just one in a series of available models, it has made F.P. Journe the talk of the watchmaking town and the rightful holder of a spot on this list.
So there you have it: our picks for the top ten brands right now. All of them are turning heads thanks to their ability to keep surprising us with the best the watch industry has to offer.