A short essay on statement watches

According to, to make a statement means: ‘to create a certain impression; to communicate an idea or mood without using words.’  An apt definition and exactly what statement timepieces are designed to do: stand out with bold and distinctive designs by utilizing unconventional shapes, intricate details and eye-catching features. 

Unlike minimalist watches that prioritize simplicity, statement watches do the exact opposite and are designed to be noticed from across the room.  These watches are engineered for maximum visual impact but, unlike most pieces of elaborate jewelry, statement watches are more than mere prominent fashion accessories, they convey the time as well.

For better or for worse, these statement watches usually belong to brands at the top ultra-luxury watch category.  And that’s not because they are bejeweled with diamonds (although in many cases they are), or are they made of precious metals or high-tech materials (although in many cases they are too).  No, statement watches stand out because of designs geared to catch your attention.

These designs are often elaborate and intricate and incorporate unique case shapes and employ complex dial arrangements that border on the conceptual, or even the artistic blurring the line between timekeeping and wearable art.  These watches prioritize artistic expression over practicality and employ unconventional time displays to get their “message” across.

Just look at anything created by Maximillian Büsser & Friends, more popularly known as MB&F, or any timepiece created by the avant-garde partnership of designer Martin Frei and watchmaker Felix Baumgartner, more “commonly” known as URWERK.

The watches from these two maverick watchmakers are big, bold statement watches with larger case sizes compared to traditional watches, which are all the better to stand out with; and more often than not utilize the most exotic materials like specialized alloys, carbon fibre, or ceramic that, not only allow them to stand out from the crowd, but also bring a technical benefit.

Characteristics also shared by Richard Mille, a French watchmaker that creates some of the most expensive sports-oriented watches in the world.  To see a watch by Richard Mille is to see a statement watch tailor built to take the pounding of a specific sport, such as golf or tennis, sports that will break any mechanical timepiece that isn’t a Richard Mille.

Other watchmakers that make statement watches focus on complications and materials.  Watchmakers such as Greubel Forsey and Roger Dubuis, for example, are known as experts of the tourbillon, and have created elaborate movements enhanced by eye-catching architecture designed to display one, two or even multiple examples of the escapement.  But unlike the maverick watchmakers mentioned above, which look more sci-fi-like in their execution, the timepieces from these two watchmakers often toe the line between the traditional and the avant-garde, with a healthy dose of the traditional for Greubel Forsey, and a nice dollop of the avant-garde from Roger Dubuis.

On the other side of the technological equation are watchmakers like Jacob & Co., which recently presented the most expensive watch ever made with the unique, museum-worthy Billionaire Timeless Treasure, or the French fashion powerhouse Van Cleef & Arpels, which creates the most unique statement watches that are so imaginative and whimsical they deserve to be in a category all their own.

These are just some of the many watchmakers that have made some of the most stunning statement watches ever created.  Their watches run the gamut of horological wizardry and aesthetic opulence, and even if these watches seem to have no other reason for being other than to stand out, they are actually test beds that showcase the various capabilities of these watchmakers, capabilities that trickle down to us regular consumers.