A short look at the timepieces worn by the rich and famous

Watches come in many forms and sizes.  Watches also come in various price points, and just like any consumer product this world has to offer, the more expensive the watch, the more elaborate and of better quality it will be.  And just like high-end automobiles, the mantra, “better, stronger, faster” applies here as well.  This is why watches have long been a symbol of luxury and status making them perfect fodder for the rich and famous who, unlike the rest of us, can easily purchase some of the most expensive watches the industry has to offer on a whim.  This is why some of the biggest (and even many of the not the biggest) celebrities in the world have a collection of watches that run the gamut of some of the most sought after high-end luxury brands in the watch industry.

There are, however, many watch brands that pay celebrities to become “ambassadors” to wear and promote their wares.  So, there’s nothing wrong with these brands per se, they just may not be the first choice by the celebrities that wear them.  And these include Rafa Nadal and Bubba Watson for Richard Mille; Daniel Craig and George Clooney for Omega; Novak Djokovic for Hublot; Brad Pitt, Adam Driver, and Charlize Theron for Breitling; Ryan Gosling and Patrick Dempsey for TAG Heuer, Tiger Woods (and almost every other major athlete) for Rolex; Benedict Cumberbatch and Anya Taylor-Joy for Jaeger-LeCoultre; and Kate Winslet for Longines just to name a few. 

For the record, many, if not all of the brands mentioned above are some of the best watch brands in the world and are indeed constantly seen on the well-heeled wrists of the rich and famous.  Just not in this case.

And we should also consider omitting the most ultra-luxury brands, as well.  These brands go well beyond the paces of the norm, and are so beyond high-end they actually belong in their own category.  Brands such as Voutilainen, Urwerk, MB&F, Louis Moinet, H. Moser & Cie, Greubel Forsey, De Bethune, Jacob & Co., Konstantin Chaykin, Atelier de Chronométrie, and Ferdinand Berthoud just to name a few. 

These brands are often only seen or heard of in some of the most high-end auctions and watch competitions in the world, such as Only Watch, a biennial charity auction of luxury timepieces organized by the Monegasque Association Against Muscular Dystrophy, which is under the patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco for research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy; or during the Fondation du Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, which is the most important awards gathering in the watch industry also known as the GPHG.

These brands are beyond the reach of even “casual” celebrities and reside on a different stratosphere altogether.  These brands, in fact, are often only considered by people who already breathe the same rarified air: the one percent of the one percent.  In other words, individuals who shun the term “celebrity” and who often prefer the anonymity their immense wealth affords them.

For the rest of us “normal” people, however, there are the watch brands that reside in the lower atmosphere.  The level that is actually still attainable by the most hardworking of us.  Don’t get us wrong, these are ultra-luxurious, high-end brands as well, you just won’t need to sell your home, your organs, your life or sell your children to slavery to buy them, and they make up some of the what’s-what brands the watch industry has to offer.

Brands such as Rolex, which is a real no-brainer if there ever was one.  Hans Wilsdorf’s iconic brand has been the premier aspirational watch brand for most humans for decades, and for good reason.  Rolex watches are known for their no nonsense toughness and durability, which the watchmaker has leveraged from a single, iconic design that has become an industry standard.  There is no mistaking a Rolex.  In fact, Rolex is the brand most other watchmakers want to be and has been seen on the wrists of a veritable who’s-who.  In Hollywood alone, Rolex watches have been spotted on the wrists of Sylvester Stallone, Tom Cruise, and musician John Mayer.

Another no-brainer on this list is none other than Patek Philippe.  Where does even one begin to talk about one the best-made watches ever?  First of all, the brand is known for some of the most exquisitely made complicated watches in the world, and makes some of the best calendar and chronograph watches the industry has ever seen.  This has resulted in some individuals buying nothing but Patek Philippe watches.  Individuals like musician Eric Clapton, whose collection of Patek Philippe watches is legendary. 

Audemars Piguet is another highly regarded brand in the watch industry, and their most famous models, the Royal Oak and its “sportier” version the Royal Oak Offshore, is one of the most popular watches among famous athletes and Hollywood glitterati.  LeBron James, for example has been spotted wearing different models of the watch, as has Serena Williams, Michael Schumacher and Jay-Z.  Hollywood legend Tom Cruise has been photographed wearing different Audemars Piguet watches on various occasions, while Arnold Schwarzenegger is so in love with the brand, he actually collaborated with them to create a signature model just for himself.

Vacheron Constantin has the distinction of being the oldest Manufacture in continuous operation for almost 270 years, making it one of the most respected brands in the industry.  Revered for their exquisite craftsmanship and their ultra-refined and elegant timepieces, Vacheron Constantin has been a left-field choice for many and is known for not being the first aspirational watch brand to come to mind.  Those who know, however, know, and Vacheron Constantin timepieces have been seen on the wrists of former Presidents like Barack Obama and Donald Trump; (again) music mogul Jay-Z; and actors Hugh Jackman, Jamie Foxx and (again) Tom Cruise.

Another popular but equally left-field choice is Jaeger-LeCoultre, most especially the JLC Reverso and its many variants, which is one of the most unique and distinctive traditional watches ever created.  So distinctive, in fact, that it has been spotted worn by a diverse selection of popular figures like Madonna, Christian Bale, and Prince Albert of Monaco.

Cartier is another classic watch brand often seen on the wrists of celebrities. The Cartier Tank, for example, is one of the brand’s most popular models and is so iconic, its rectangular case and elegant design has become timeless.  Indeed, the Tank is so iconic it has been seen on the wrists of a wildly diverse selection of celebrities, including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Andy Warhol, Tom Holland (who owns several models, including a Cartier Santos) and Princess Diana.

One brand that does not usually come up in articles like this but that has been seen on many celebrities’ wrists is Casio, more specifically the Casio G-Shock.  That’s right, the little-watch-that-could is the tough and durable watch created by Kikuo Ibe four decades ago, the different models of which have been seen being worn by the likes of Eminem, Kanye West, Usher, Pharrell Williams, and Rhianna.  The G-Shock’s popularity has proven to be so enduring, in fact, the brand shows no signs of slowing down with Casio recently releasing a whole new wave of G-Shock models.

These are just a few examples of the watches worn by the rich and famous, and as demonstrated by the G-Shock, the choice of timepiece often vary based on personal preference, style and availability.  But in the world where price is no object, the latter seldom ever matters.