The Watch Collector's Holy Grail: Timeless Icons

The humble watch is so much more than a basic tool with which to tell the time. Wristwatches are cultural monuments in their own right, with meaning and import vastly beyond their initial, stated purpose. There are numerous reasons for this elevation of the timepiece as a concept, with the expert engineering behind timeless watch designs one key constituent part.

What Makes a Watch Iconic?

Today, watches are status symbols and valuable assets, as well as fashion statements. Various well-regarded brands vie for attention at the top of the market, with household-name familiarity and to enjoy between them. But what are these iconic brands, and what exactly is it that sets them apart?

What Makes a Watch Iconic?

The makings of an iconic watch are not altogether simple. History plays a big part in the ascension of a given brand from workhorse to cultural mainstay; some brands have the pedigree simply on account of having provided high-quality products for time immemorial. Indeed, a handful of these brands have been responsible for feats of engineering that redefined watchmaking, earning them an eternal seat at the helm of the industry.

Other brands have carved out a space for themselves on account of style, almost entirely. Well-designed watches are one thing, but designer watches with a sleek aesthetic are another entirely! Each brand brings something unique to the table, though, with timelessness granted for any number of bespoke reasons.


Rolex is one of the most recognisable watch brands in modern times. The brand is responsible for a number of timeless wristwatch designs, and older models continue to fetch a high price in today’s pre-owned markets for that self-same reason. Amongst the classics are the likes of the Cosmograph and the Submariner, but Rolex’s influence runs the gamut from subtle watch faces to maximalist chronographs.

Tag Heuer

Tag Heuer has positioned itself as the sports watchmaker de rigeur. Its affiliation with Formula One and other motorsports is longstanding, cementing its public image as the timekeeper to keep for sports purposes. Tag Heuer watches are highly functional Swiss pieces, that ooze elegance even through more practical models.

Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet is another Swiss brand, and another that produces vitally elegant models of watch. Their designs are a little chunkier on average, with thicker watch cases firmly holding sleek, minimal faces. The colour schemes are far removed from those of their competitors, with a regal nature that is hard to replicate.

Patek Philippe

Finally, we come to Patek Philippe – yet another Swiss brand, and this time Genevan. Patek Philippe’s most recognisable watch is the Nautilus, a simple design with an instantly recognisable non-circular form factor. The brand are also responsible for the Grand Complications, an intricate affair with a great deal to admire in its face and in its construction. Though there are flashy items amongst Patek Philippe’s models, these watches are comfortable informal affairs.

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Tags:watches, Rolex, Patek Philippe, Tag Heuer

About the Author

Stella Cooter

Journalist, traveller and mother, Stella writes about fashion and style, luxury and adventure.

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