A look at 10 of the most essential collectors' watches

From Polo players and Navy marines, to Hollywood stars and astronauts, the people who love fine watches are as varied and fascinating as the intricate and beautiful designs of the watches themselves.

Below, we take a look at some fine watches that should be essential considerations for any watch collector, examining their innovations and the cultural impact they had upon their release.

The Polo Player's watch

The Jaeger Le Coultre Reverso is a stylish, square-faced watch created for polo players in India, in the 1930s. It performs a remarkable trick: the face can be slid across and flipped over in order to avoid it being scratched or damaged during the rigours of play.

Patek Philippe made simple

Patek Philippe Calatrava
Patek Philippe Calatrava

Patek Philippe make arguably the finest and most expensive watches in the world. However not all of them are just for millionaires. Like the Calatrava, for instance.

The popular Calatrava features a pleasingly simple design, typically with just a date window, while maintaining the Patek elegance.

The Marines' watch

The Blancpain 50 Fathoms first appeared in 1953. It has become the standard issue watch for divers in the US and French Navies, and was popularised when worn by Jacques Cousteau in the inconic Palme d'Or winning film "Le monde du silence" (1956).

A Rolex for the stars

Rolex Daytona Cosmograph Steel
Rolex Daytona Cosmograph

A Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Steel is a self-winding, three sub-dial chronograph. It has been worn by a number of stars including Brad Pitt and Paul Newman (a slight variant is sometimes referred to as having a 'Paul Newman' dial). It is recognised all over the world, and has good appreciating value.

The first automatic watch

The Tag Heuer Monaco, released in 1969, was the first watch not to be manually wound and featured a remarkable forward-thinking design. It graced Steve McQueens's arm in the classic racing film Le Mans (1971) - suitably enough, as the Monaco was named after its legendary F1 track.

The space-tested watch

Omega Speedmaster Professional
Omega Speedmaster Professional

The Omega Speedmaster Professional is the only watch that is cleared to be worn outside a spacecraft by NASA.

It was extensively tested along with several other finely engineered, high-level watches.

The Speedmaster has a fine pedigree: Apollo 11's Buzz Aldrin wore one during his pioneering walk on the moon, in 1969.

The sportsman's luxury timepiece

While audiences could admire Steve McQueen's Monaco wristwatch on the silver screen in 1971, they could also admire the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak in the retailers. It was designed by the great watchmaker Gerald Genta, and marketed as being the only beautiful watch for an active man.

The Italian Navy watch

The Panerai Radiomir, featuring a Rolex winding action, was originally worn by Italians in the late 1930s. They are highly sought after as vintage watches - although modern ones are available for those who feel uneasy about the original pieces' association with Mussolini.

Tag Heuer Monaco
The first automatic wristwatch: Tag Heuer Monaco

The first great wristwatch

The Cartier Santos-Dumont was named by creator Louis Cartier after his Brazilian friend Albert Santos-Dumont. Dumont, an aviator, had been griping about how difficult it was to check his pocket watch during an active flight.

Although Cartier's watch was not the very first wristwatch created, its design convinced the world that the pocket watch had been surpassed.

The Military Classic

Since its first models were introduced in 1955, the Ingenieur remains IWC's best known watch. It was initially loved by military officers and engineers, and later as the first anti-magnetic watch offered to the general public.

The above classic fine watches were chosen by Debonair and Hodinkee magazine


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