We have been photographing premium wrist watches in a multitude of different ways in studios and on location. Being photographers & humans, who spend a good part of each day trying to make things look prefect, we have all formed our own opinions about what makes the perfect looking watch…… and being humans we could not all agree on what was the best or what was better than what…. until we took the time to look at watches, discuss them and write this review. Several months considering candidates for this “best of the best” list and endless talking about the merits, aesthetics, and relative style of our favourite watches we have come to an agreement over a definitive list of the world’s Top Ten watches . Luckily the girls here at photography-factory all like to wear mens watches from time to time, so we had a full house when it came to our long and passionate best watch discussions…. We also often asked our photographic subjects to make suggestions (these are mainly very rich people and celebrities who are super busy and utilise every second of their day and really need their timepieces) and some of our expert clients (design supremos and top people from fashion and manufacture who notice when they see something exceptional) So we asked them if they owned or had seen a watch that struck them as being “truly beautiful”. We were really surprised how many of people liked the some of the same timepieces that we had decided were top candidates for our “best of the best” list. Slowly after a year of tinkering, we present the final list to you…
How we got the idea:
A good client promised me a special bonus; any watch from his flagship Bond Street “collectable watches” shop, But (there is always a “but” with amazing gift offers) “only, if your photography increases my sales” OK it was a bit of shameless Incentivisation. Still, I was pretty comfortable that my arty photos would outclass the plastic looking Rolex advertising shots he currently used for his advertising, and that buyers would feel better about his quality and integrity….. Cherrrrchiiiiiiiiiiing – he sold £137,000 more watches from just one shop in the first week after publication and the images going into the windows. (Yes!!! the power of great pictures). (a bit if shameless self promotion)
As soon as I heard, I played it cool, I did not gloat or boast or run back with my greedy hands outstretched, in fact I did not call or say anything about his offer. I stayed calm, my dream watch was possibly going to come into view 10 years ahead of plan. I left it about two months, almost like I wanted to prove him a liar, but all the time I was slowly getting more and more interested in watches I could not afford, until the day felt right and I just happened to be passing with a freind who loves watches (really loves). The sales had stayed at a high level and his nearby competitors were doing a fair bit worse so it was now or never…. As we walked into the shop passing a big classy security guy (who was looking at my messed up trainers like they were scuba flippers). The tall owner was talking to a very well dressed client across a table of glittering bling, he stopped talking and smiled a big big smile, he looked 100% happy to see me. He stood up and gave me a massive handshake and then though about it and gave me a big hug too, and slowly without a word, pointed to the huge security safe on the back wall of the shop. After a few seconds he stated: “you can have anything you like from the shop or my safe…… only nothing from the top self as those are the property of a Sultan and are here for their annual servicing and a couple that I am keeping for my children”, considering the fact that there was a £100,000 fully iced Hublot on the next shelf down, and the shop window had a platinum Rolex with a solid platinum bracelet; it was a pretty generous offer. All in all we took about 2 hours in that shop and looked at almost everything half way decent trying to choose a single watch from about £20,000,000 worth of stock, it was not easy. That pretty difficult 2 hours was the birth of this article.
In the end I plumped for a 1963 Omega Constellation pie pan dial with a black face and chevron shaped indictors, in stainless steel (“only” worth a few hundreds of pounds). I left all the platinum Rolexes for him to sell to tasteless bankers and footballers. I still think what I took home, is my humble opinion, it is one of the best looking watches of all time…. unfortunately when I got back to the studios not all my colleagues agreed, everyone said they would have gone for a different watch (if it was about the best looking watch and you were not just grabbing something heavy and iced with diamonds to sell (we are not like that here at Photography-Factory, we do great and are not short of money for toys and stuff))… over the following weeks everyone decided to prove ourselves right by argument and example, and over the course of a year everyone bough new watches and it all became the group obsession, slowly we whittled our selection to these, the 10 beautiful mens watches, cost no object.
More buttons = better “watch”…… In most areas “inovation” is the way to better products, but in some things it just gets in the way. Wrist watches have been with us a century now, there must be 5 million styles out there and some of them really do everything. Honestly it has had one result in my opinion: all that choice has helped and the aesthetics reach every point on the looks compass, in a hundred years watch design has have time to settle down and reach a kind of perfection. The mans’ wrist watch has reached a kind of aesthetic peak, (though soon it looks like Apple may produce something that will “change the game” agin.)
Here are our top ten, even if you do not agree with us, our heavily researched list contains watches that are some of the finest examples of man’s quest for perfection, we feel that here are ten watches that will never fall out of desire completely. let us know what you think in the comments below, this list may not be final…
When the japanese create something special (especially in steel) they do it with a certain style, often drawing on their glorious past as inspiration. This watch is not a super complex mechanical tour de force, it is just a simple tool to do a simple job, built as well as possible. It has an elegance of function, excellent materials and an evolved design. To us (and bare in mind we are arty pro photographers), the sharply pointed hands resemble two Japanese medieval daggers, think “in a constant tragic battle with the unconquerable element of time” and you are probably starting to understand how seriously the guys who built the GS took their work. Want more? “A short simple poem that has to last eternity” I can come out with these all day long, it comes of spending 8 hours a day trying to make the best photographs humanly possible of washer dryers and shotguns. People who own this watch, do not usually own another top quality watch, they generally will not be swayed to another model in a couple of years, they buy this watch to buy once, they and the GS seem to have great loyalty to each other- a rare quality in our era of fashion. This watch was built to continue to serve you for as long as the current technology allows, the designers were impervious to the concepts of changing style for no reason and built in redundancy. Your great great grandson will wear this on Mars if he feels like being a little retro, probably a good idea to get it engraved phonetically so he can try and pronounce your name in his future-world Englneesehindi accent…
Ideal buyer: Man who has nothing to prove, a modern samurai waiting for a cause.
Very few watches are worth a solid platinum case, or even look/feel right with one (looking easily like cheap silver and heavier than lead). Nothing you can wear should cost that kind of money but… here it is and as you may have guessed this is a kind of ultimate in the watch builders art inside and close to perfect outside….. Each and every night, people who work in the watch business dream of having one of these on their wrist.
Ideal buyer: People who cannot stand compromise, and inherited or stole their wealth.
There are several versions but this is the one. It has a very clever movement considering what had to be accomplished under very difficult conditions in 1960’s russia and a dashing looks with a little hint of “soviet space future” . The guys or girls who designed and built it need a lot more credit. If Russian oligarchs had good taste (of their own), aaa condition examples of these would go on ebay for $20,000.
Ideal Buyer: Someone who has style irrespective of era, fashion or cost and knows the square root of 169 (but would pretend not to if in polite company)
This is a modern/vintage looking watch. Made of solid titanium by an American company who humbly describe their indestructible masterpiece as a “titanium field watch”, but sometimes, so rarely, there is great beauty in a thing that does what it is intended to do with the true precision, that of perfect functional design. If you work or play outdoors this is a truly great watch.
Ideal Buyer: A person who quietly knows what is really beautiful in this life: Nature, and likes to roam around in it.
I photographed some of these and so I brainwashed myself into liking them…. But when I wore one out for the night after the shoot (the guys from the agency took us out and let us wear whatever we liked from the shoot) several people (girl friends and cool randoms) mentioned my beautiful watch, I guess it looks really really nice?
Ideal Buyer: Women buy these for great looking men. (please don’t: they have enough luck anyway without out looking rich and stylish)
Anything else will with Rolex written on it just looks like a fake…..
Idea buyer: People with a good tan in winter. But crucially they did not buy it, they borrowed it: “my grandfather left it to my brother, but he does not like Rolexes, so I took it from his dresser and left him my beach swatch.”
Something special about the people who choose this watch… they all seem relaxed in some secret knowledge that they are cool. It is a bit of an action man watch, but you rarely see it without a lot of tasteful other stuff, Maserati etc ….
Ideal Buyer: Italian James Bonds, Ferrari test drivers, brilliant plastic surgeons – People with great taste and a great deal of money, money they earned by being very good at something difficult.
My personal favourite watch. If you can, get one with the 564 movement… just look at it and then look away and then look at it some more and the day will have passed.
Ideal Buyer: World’s Top Photographers
We all love this watch, but none of us have one? I guess no one can be bothered to wind them up.
Ideal Buyer: Someone who would drop everything and be a hero if asked once. 1960’s pilots & 70’s spacemen who gave their originals away.
One of the prettiest things man has yet invented, and it has a nifty little alarm too. About as well made as a thing can be, in a crazy way it is not bad value… considering what goes into producing one. Is it for everyone? Thank God, not. I was not sold on it myself until i saw one, then I knew why so many people had told me this was the best looking watch they had ever seen. Magical.
Ideal Buyer: A popular man who knows what looks good without needing anyone’s advice, consent or approval.
Want to quote this article? thats OK, but we need you to put a link to this page to help us a little.