Four Watch Brands (That Aren’t Rolex)
Pardon the pun, but what gift is more timeless than a well-designed, much-deserved watch? Since the 1570s, watches have been a popular accessory to dress up any outfit, classic and symbolic at the same time. Special events like graduations, milestone birthdays and weddings are great occasions where watches can be an amazingly significant present. If you’re not sure where to start, check out these brands that you should know about.
A Quick History Lesson
You will notice that all of these watchmakers are Swiss, and that’s no accident: Switzerland is the world’s hub for watch and clockmaking, its first shop dating as far back as 1554. This time period coincides with a timeframe of when Huguenot (French Protestant) refugees were fleeing religious persecution in France and ended up in Geneva — lucky for jewelry makers and watchmakers in the area at that time. Although their religion did not allow them to wear showy displays of wealth, timepieces were considered modest. During the winter seasons when Genevian jewelers had idle hands, they found themselves able to hone their craft down to a science, giving real meaning to the term “Swiss made.”
Antoine LeCoultre was the inventor of the machine that could cut steel into the tiniest of pinions, making it perfect for creating watch pieces. The Swiss designer had a small watchmaking shop in his home country in 1833, but became a well-known name all over the world after Queen Elizabeth wore a Jaeger LeCoultre watch on her coronation day. The brand prides itself on innovation and ingenuity, making beautiful timepieces that call back to the early days of clockmaking with exposed gears and moving pieces.
If stars like LeBron James and Jay-Z come to mind when you hear this brand, it’s for good reason; the sleek, simply cool look of this brand’s design makes it highly desirable for celebrities and everyday people alike. It was also founded in Switzerland, but by childhood friends Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet, who both grew up to be watchmakers before going into business together. Pushing the boundaries and always reaching higher, Audemars Piguet is best known for what is widely regarded as the first luxury sports watch in the world, the Royal Oak line.
A prestigious name in the watchmaking industry doesn’t need to necessarily begin with an R. Although Rolex watches are given a lot of weight for their luxury, there are plenty of other names in the business that are equally luxurious — and Patek Philippe is one of those names. Well, two of those names, technically, as the company was founded by friends Antoni Patek and Adrien Philippe in 1845. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, notable owners who wear the brand on their wrists include British royalty, worldwide politicians and big names in the art world.
Painstaking love and attention to detail are put into every step of Blancpain’s watchmaking process. The company was founded in 1735, making it the oldest brand on the list. Deeply complex inner workings make these pieces highly sought after by collectors worldwide. All pieces are crafted by a single master watchmaker, who knows how to take all those tiny bits and pieces and create something incredible out of them.
Luxury No Matter What You Choose
In the end, whatever brand you decide to go with is going to be the best choice for you. When you’re shopping for watches, taking the time to research the brands and decide which best suits the style of the gift recipient is worth it. Some styles appeal better to different people, and if you’re going to be spending money then ensure that it is money well spent.