Unlike most of life’s possessions, a beautiful watch truly has the power to be all things to all men: a symbol of status, a smart investment, a meaningful heirloom, and a gorgeous object to be cherished for a lifetime. Luxury watches have been a relevant talking point for generations of enthusiasts and collectors, and the right piece still has the power to go well beyond current fashion or trends. Here’s a guide to just a few of the most elegant and enduring styles to define luxury watch culture.
The Timeless Stainless Steel Watch
A favorite among enduringly classy men’s watches, the stainless steel case and band is perhaps the most classically recognized design for men’s luxury timepieces. While brushed or satin finish stainless steel is arguably the dominant variation, elements of other metals such as gold, silver, and platinum are often featured as a twist on this timeless design. This type of watch is exemplified by models like the Omega Seamaster, the Rolex Submariner, or more contemporary iterations from the likes of Maurice Lacroix.
The Enduring Appeal of the Pilot’s Watch
Whoever said elegance can’t be a bit rugged needs a history lesson, specifically extending at least back to World War II. This is when aviator watches gained widespread popularity, as well as some of their most notable features, such as the ability to track multiple time zones simultaneously. However, the earliest pilot’s watches date back to the very beginning of the century and the inception of aviation itself, which gives this style a special degree of meaning and timelessness.
The Iconic Allure of Minimalist Watch Design
In contrast to the classic yet complex visual appeal of diver’s and pilot’s watches, one of the most elegant and enduring watch styles is all about minimalism. This type of design highlights expert craftsmanship (typically Swiss in origin), and a timeless policy of “less is more.” These watches typically forego any extraneous visual data (often to the inclusion of numbers) and frequently feature neutral-toned alligator or leather for the band. While there are certainly a number of more expensive iterations, one of my personal favorites is the classic Eternity watch from Eterna.
The Classic Dress Watch
Perhaps no subset of enduring timepiece designs is as ubiquitous among luxury aficionados quite like the classic dress watch. Despite its name, classic dress watches lend themselves well these days to more casual and formal attire alike. As far as basics are concerned, you should look into brands renowned for their long-lasting quality instead of mere prestige. If you’re looking online, do as much thorough research as you can on watch collectors’ forums. Or, if you’re browsing in-person either at an auction, estate sale, or in a boutique, be sure to inspect your potential watch’s components, its mechanisms, and materials. Is the strap made from a premium leather? Do the watch’s dials move elegantly? These are some questions you’ll want to consider as you make your decision.
If you’re in the market for a more premium vintage model, opt for timeless staples such as the Art Deco-inspired Cartier Tank which can start at around $2,500 or a gold-accented Patek Philippe for a truly heirloom-quality piece that can be passed down through generations of timepiece enthusiasts. Or, if you appreciate a timepiece that can be carried with a sense of distinction and history, you’ll never go wrong with a ConstantinVacheron. This watchmaker has been around since 1755 and its designs still have an air of sophistication and its name is synonymous with premium Swiss quality to this day.
Finding Your Own Timeless Self-Expression
As you look for the perfect piece, either for yourself or as a gift, there are a number of reasons to opt for a time-honored design. Truly great watches often make outstanding legacy pieces, increase in value over the course of generations, and as the Wall Street Journal has noted, the concept of the classic watch as a status symbol still has an enduring allure. Above all, selecting an elegant timepiece is a matter of affirming and reflecting your own personal taste with a watch that you’ll love for years to come.