Elegance, Function and Style: The Three Keys To Quality Wristwatches

A wristwatch with moonphase set against a backdrop of the Universe
Moonphase wristwatch aligned with the Universe.

A Brief History of the Wristwatch

Women have used bracelets to accessorise their wardrobes for centuries, from ancient Egypt to the Viking era. These pieces of fine jewellery were often custom-made rather than mass-produced, crafted from gold or silver and sometimes adorned with gemstones. It's not surprising that the traditional pocket watches (initially considered men's watches), later transitioned into ladies' fashion items, following in the footsteps of the bracelet.

Who invented the wristwatch?

While pocket watches have been in existence since 1524, the wristwatch didn't come into being until centuries later. Invented by Patek Philippe at the end of the 19th century, the original wristwatches were, in fact, women’s accessories. However, the wristwatch had its reputation transformed by Louis Cartier (French maker of fine jewellery) in the early 20th century when he created a leather-strapped man's version for a friend. The onset of the First World War launched the mass popularity of men's watches when battlefield officers in all branches of the military found it much more convenient to check the time with a watch on their wrists than a watch in their pockets.

During this time, men's and women's watches were considered pieces of fine jewellery that were out of the financial reach of most lower and working-class citizens. As materials became increasingly less expensive and as new technologies were developed, watches moved from their strict standing as elegant timepieces to affordable and trendy fashion items.

Fine Jewellery or Disposable Electronics?

Depending on your budget, watches can be purchased in virtually all price ranges. Rolex and Chopard are world-renowned watchmakers who specialise in creating beautiful timepieces that are viewed more as fine jewellery. However, a reputation for precision undoubtedly belongs to Hamilton Watches and The Illinois Watch Company.

Phases of the moon on a wristwatch face
Phases of the moon on a wristwatch face

Not everyone, however, is in the market for jewellery. Many are looking to follow current fashion trends or to sport watches that reflect their lifestyles. For instance, Casio is a discount watchmaker that features low-cost watches in traditional styles as well as vibrant colours with both digital and analogue displays for only a few dollars/euros. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the Omega Speedmaster watch, costing thousands, which was selected for use by both the U.S. and Soviet space agencies.

According to U.S. and World News, high-tech is the trend for watches with the most popular sellers incorporating calculators, slide rules, health monitors, and displays for multiple time zones. Other “on trend” watches include smartwatches that resemble higher-priced watches such as Rolex.

Mechanisms of Men's and Women's Watches

Regardless of the style, watches will use one of three types of mechanisms: mechanical, electronic, or radio-controlled. Watches with mechanical movements are viewed to be the most collectable as they are the most precisely engineered. Oddly enough, they are poor timekeepers. Mechanical watches are notorious for losing time and being prone to failure.

Watches with electronic movements have few (if any) moving parts. Making use of a tiny quartz crystal, these watches (often called quartz watches) are stable and highly accurate. Developed in Switzerland, the first quartz watches entered the marketplace under the brand name Seiko.

Radio-controlled watches can synchronise themselves with an external source. Linking via radio waves with atomic clocks, GPS transmitters, and others, these watches are considered the most accurate and reliable.

Celebrity Endorsements: Influencing Watch Trends

Often watch manufacturers secure endorsements from celebrities to promote their watches. Paul McCartney and Lady Gaga have both endorsed Raymond Weil watches, Sidharth Malhotra is a brand ambassador for Movado, Charlize Theron is the front for Breitling, while actor Ryan Gosling and champion surfer Maya Gabeira have both represented Tag Heuer.

Top 10 Wristwatches: A Curated Selection

These wristwatches showcase a blend of craftsmanship, style, and innovation. From renowned luxury brands to durable sports watches, this selection epitomizes excellence in timekeeping

      1. Rolex Submariner: Known for its timeless design, durability, and water resistance, making it suitable for both everyday wear and diving adventures.
      2. Omega Speedmaster Professional: Famous for being the first watch worn on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission, showcasing exceptional craftsmanship and reliability.
      3. Patek Philippe Nautilus: A luxury sports watch recognized for its elegant yet robust design and impeccable mechanical movement.
      4. Tag Heuer Carrera: Celebrated for its association with motorsports and its sleek, sophisticated design, offering both style and precision timekeeping.
      5. Breitling Navitimer: Renowned for its aviation-inspired design and functionality, featuring a slide rule bezel for various calculations.
      6. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak: A groundbreaking luxury watch with its distinctive octagonal bezel and integrated bracelet, symbolizing innovation and prestige.
      7. IWC Portuguese: Known for its timeless elegance and intricate complications, appealing to those who appreciate classic watchmaking.
      8. Cartier Tank: A true icon of style and sophistication, characterized by its rectangular case and elegant Roman numeral dial.
      9. Seiko 5: A legendary entry-level mechanical watch offering exceptional value for its reliability, durability, and timeless design.
      10. Casio G-Shock: Revered for its toughness and durability, featuring innovative technology and a rugged design suitable for extreme conditions.

Smartwatches: Blending Technology and Style

Smartwatches have emerged as a fusion of technology and style, offering features beyond traditional timekeeping. With functionalities such as fitness tracking, notifications, and voice commands, smartwatches have become versatile accessories for modern lifestyles. Brands like Apple, Samsung, and Garmin lead the market, catering to the growing demand for connected devices that seamlessly integrate into everyday wear.

Time will tell

At some point during the day, everyone will need to know what time it is. Whether digital or analogue, mechanical or electronic, classic or trendy; men's and women's watches are more than jewellery accessories. Watches are symbols of our personalities and staples of life that have grown from luxuries to absolute necessities.


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