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Monday, 30 May 2016

Current Top 5 Luxury Watches

As a man we are limited on the way we can accessorise. I believe when it comes to jewellery for men, less is often more and a good watch is the only essential men’s accessory that boasts strong heritage and masculinity. On days I forget my watch, my outfit feels incomplete, like it's missing something; a watch can really tie it all together. Wristwatches were once a necessity, or else you wouldn't know the time of day. Nowadays people are more than able to find out the time on their smartphone, but a watch represents time much more than a smartphone does, it reminds you that time is always moving: the hour, minute, and second hands are not going to stop moving, you better get living and doing all those things you're planning...

I believe many people buy watches for all the wrong reasons. It is very easy to own a watch on a very superficial level, but there is a lot that goes into the heritage and craftsmanship of watchmaking, and to understand that you have to put the time into researching brands and their history. Much like the clothes I buy, I don’t like to buy a garment without being well informed on the context and story behind the brand/product. Understanding a watch and its background, and being able to wear that luxury holds tangible benefits for the wearer that go beyond telling the time… whilst knowing the time is also quite helpful! Watches will always be something that I aspire to have and collect, and whilst I have a very long list of the timepieces that I aspire to afford some day, I have chosen my current top five from my wish list, all of which are available at Xupes.

2009 | 38mm x 50mm | Automatic

At the turn of the century Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont (officially called the ‘Father of Aviation’ in Brazil) was one of the most famous men in the world thanks to his pioneering work with airships and controlled flight. Before Santos-Dumont took to the skies, most gents would carry pocket watches, however Santos-Dumont wanted a timepiece that could be worn on his wrist allowing him to check the time whilst piloting his madcap planes. In 1904 Louis Cartier granted his friend’s wish and delivered the Santos, this was Cartier’s first contribution to gentlemen’s wristwatches. The Santos is respectably thought to have been the original true gent’s wristwatch; although Patek Philippe had invented the wristwatch decades before, women mainly wore itAfter a world-famous flight in 1906, Santos-Dumont emerged from the cockpit wearing the wristwatch and the admiring crowd and media were fascinated; an industry was born. Santos-Dumont is one of the most important figures in the history of watchmaking due to his assistance in popularising the use of wristwatches among men. For the Santos’ 100th Anniversary, Cartier brought back the iconic timepiece in stainless steel, a heavier more overtly masculine version: the Santos 100Amongst pilot watches, the Santos is secure in its identity, knowing that no other watch can usurp its historical supremacy. It has nothing to prove, the Santos was the first pilot’s wristwatch and arguably the first wristwatch to be worn by men. This XL Santos 100 features a rubber bezel and matching strap, whilst I equally appreciate the fully stainless steel version, I do like this unique rubber model and believe it makes a masculine classic slightly more casual and practical.

2015 | 43mm | Automatic

Older than Patek Philippe, Audermars Piguet and Brequet: L. Leroy was founded in 1747 and has a rich royal history. By the 19th Century, Charles Leroy was the most prestigious watchmaker in Europe and was appointed the royal watchmaker by Louis XV, Queen Elizabeth and the King of Portugal. L. Leroy has been a favoured brand by many famous historical figures and is the watch-brand that has supplied the French Marine for the longest period of time ever, and boasts an outstanding 384 gold medals in international chronometer contests. L. Leroy is a rare partnership between the French and the Swiss, the brand is built on precision and throughout history and today’s production this is still their primary aim. To maintain this they submit its entire exclusive production to the Besançon's Observatory, the only institute in France entitled to certify a timepiece as a chronometer. This long and precise production process means limited quantities adding exclusivity to L. Leroy over most commercial easily available luxury watches. Despite being the most expensive on this list this L. Leroy is allusive whilst boasting precision, elegance and a rich history. Whilst I personally tend to prefer a sterling silver watch made from steel, Leroy’s tasteful execution of this 18K Rose Gold embellishment turns a sophisticated piece of history into a stylish statement piece.

2000 | 38mm | Automatic

The Town of Glashütte is the birthplace of German watchmaking and has a strong horological history dating back to 1843. The prestigious German watch industry flourished so much that Glashütte watches started to be copied by dishonest watch companies that would add the words "System Glashütte" to their timepieces to increase sales. In response to this, in 1921 Glashütte watches started using the word "original" to indicate they really were from Glashütte. At the end of World War II, Glashütte was unfortunately bombed, and was victim to extensive damage. Furthermore, reparations were demanded of Glashütte including their machinery, materials and tools. The Glashütte watchmaking industry had suffered badly, and it seemed like recovery in the near future was unlikely; however they’re saving grace: they never stopped making watches. Surprisingly, this initially difficult time furthered Glashütte in the long run. The watchmakers in Glashütte had been forced to depict how to make absolutely everything themselves, as they could no longer use external suppliers. It wasn't merely a marketing venture; it was a means for survival. It was the government’s decision that lead to the combining of all existing watchmaking companies in Glashütte into one later renamed “Glasshütte Original”. The beautiful Panoreserve originally caught my attention due to the characterful dials: with the unique off-centre time indicator, the power reserve gage and fittingly placed date, they are all positioned in a harmonious organisation with a perfect amount of balance. The Panoreserve boasts impeccable elegance, a fine attention to detail from a brand with a history of hard work and craftsmanship, demonstrating how justified the strong reputation is. 

2013 | 42mm | Automatic

Founded in 1865, the luxury Swiss watch manufacture Zenith conceived the idea of the El Primero in 1962. While the Russians and the Americans were racing to be the first on the moon, Zenith was in a battle against a consortium of Swiss makers and Seiko in Japan to break through a frontier that had eluded watchmakers forever: the ability to power a chronograph with an automatic movement. Not only did Zenith wish for the chronograph to be automatic but also they wanted to create a higher-than-normal movement frequency at 36,000vph (vibrations per hour, referring to the movement’s accuracy), allowing for a smooth sweeping second hand and improved accuracy. The chronograph function was to measure time down to a tenth of a second making it far more precise than standard movements, which oscillate at 28,800vph, all of this innovation and hard work delayed the project. On release in 1969, as hoped, it became the most accurate chronograph movement ever made. Over time, the El Primero movement would find its way into many high-profile watches: including an array of TAG Heuer models, and for more than a decade at the end of the last century, it was the movement of choice for the Rolex Daytona, if that doesn’t make the El Primero extraordinarily reliable, I don’t know what does! The El Primero is just as striking on the outside as it is on the inside. It combines discrete elegance and practicality in an integrally masculine and sporty case. The array of sub-dials, hands and dial markings, constitute the chronograph function; showing its power to do stuff. Furthermore, this reflects well on us as consumers, as it makes it look like we know how this stuff works! Retaining the title of the world’s most accurate series-produced chronograph this iconic watch is up there with watchmaking’s most legendary movement.

2009 | 40mm | Automatic

A brand that needs little introduction due to its long history of quality, reliability, precision and strong marketing: Rolex is arguably the most famous watch brand in the world, and it wouldn’t be possible to feature this list without a Rolex in it. The greatest contribution to Rolex’s fame is its connection with diving: part of the Swiss watchmaker’s Oyster Perpetual line (“Oyster” meaning it is waterproof, and “Perpetual” means that the automatic watch winds itself whilst you wear it therefore doesn’t require a battery and doesn’t need to be wound by hand) the iconic Submariner launched in 1953 and was the first water-resistant timepiece designed by Rolex as well as the first divers’ watch waterproof to a depth of 100 meters. The Submariner is a timeless design that is instantly recognisable, and I believe should be in every watch enthusiast’s collection. Worn by Steve McQueen, and Sean Connery (as James Bond) this classic watch design, from a prised brand is a respected investment that retains its value. Furthermore, particular versions of the model actually can increase in value over time (if you’re lucky!)

This post is in partnership with Xupes


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