Most Expensive Watch Brands and What They Cost

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Over the past 5,000 years, since the ancient Egyptians created the sundial, the concept of measuring time has remained essential, but has become a lot more decorative — and even luxurious. For centuries, wristwatches have served not only as handy accessories, but also as fashion statements and as status symbols

Watches have also gotten “smarter,” with companies like Apple making watches that feature all the modern conveniences of internet connectivity and then some. Though these technologically enhanced timepieces are a massive hit, they’re not the most expensive watches on the market — not by a landslide. 

Most Expensive Watch Brands

The most expensive watches are made by some of the most expensive watch brands in the world, including Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Jaeger LeCoultre, Breguet, Louis Moinet, Piaget, Roger Dubuis, Vacheron Constantin, A. Lange & Sohne and Patek Philippe.  

10. Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet was founded in 1875 in the small Swiss village of Le Brassus by childhood friends Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet. The brand started as, and has remained, a family-owned business. These watches are produced in very low quantities and as such are considered rather rare — but not to the point of costing millions. The most expensive Audemars Piguet watch is the Royal Oak Complication Audemars Piguet Watch, valued at $869,000. 

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9. Roger Dubuis

The Roger Dubuis brand is a bit of a latecomer in the world of watches, having been founded in 1995. Its timepieces are famed for both their intricate design and avant-garde styles. The most expensive Roger Dubuis piece yet is the 2013 Excalibur Quatuor — a piece that takes 2,400 hours to build and costs $1.1 million to own. 

8. Blancpain

Blancpain was established in 1735, when Jehan-Jacques Blancpain created a watchmaking workshop at his home in Villeret, France. It’s believed to be the oldest watch brand in the world. Touting the tagline “innovation is our tradition,” Blancpain is a pioneer in the watchmaking space while sticking close to its handcrafted roots. The most expensive Blancpain piece is the Specialites Tourbillon Diamonds Watch, worth $1.34 million.

7. A. Lange & Sohne 

A. Lange and Sohne was founded by Adolf Lange in 1845. Prior to his successful career as a watchmaker in his own right, Lange was an apprentice under J.C. Friedrich Gutkaes. Every A. Lange & Sohne piece is crafted in Glashütte, Germany, where the brand was born. The A. Lange & Sohne Grand Complication is the priciest watch — and its most complex, hence the name — that this house has produced. It goes for $2,497,000. 

6. Jaeger LeCoultre

Jaeger LeCoultre, also known as La Grande Maison, was founded in 1833 by Antoine LeCoultre, a Swiss watchmaker who invented a pinion-cutting machine and a new winding mechanism — both revolutionary in the world of watchmaking. Jaeger LeCoultre has continued to develop groundbreaking technologies for its timepieces, including making the Calibre 101, which, made of 74 parts, weighed slightly over a gram. This exclusive watch was donned by Queen Elizabeth II. The most expensive Jaeger LeCoultre piece is the Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie, priced at $2.5 million. 

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5. Piaget

Founded in 1874 by Georges Edouard Piaget of Switzerland, Piaget was initially focused on making pocket timepieces for other timepiece companies of high repute. Eventually, the business was taken over by his son. The company was acquired by Vendome in 1988. The most expensive in the Piaget collection is the Piaget Emperador Temple Watch, at $3.3 million, which features 481 brilliant-cut diamonds and an emerald-cut diamond.

4. Louis Moinet

A most-respected pioneer in the watchmaking space is Louis Moinet, who holds the record for inventing the chronograph, which was unveiled in 1816. 

The chronograph’s balance pumps at 216,000 vibrations an hour, making for a striking frequency of 30Hz — more than 5 times that of the average wristwatch. Back in his day, Louis Moinet was known as the father of high-frequency time measurement, only to have his record beat 100 years later. The most expensive Louis Moinet watch to date is the Meteoris, priced at $4.6 million. 

3. Breguet 

Since its inception in Paris in 1775, Swiss manufacturer Breguet has become known as a master of innovation. Breguet’s biggest invention is the tourbillon,  which sees the escapement and balance wheel fixed in a cage that rotates. The purpose of the tourbillon, a truly scientific breakthrough, is to work against gravity to prevent errors in balance and weight. Among famous Breguet wearers are Marie Antoinette and Napoleon Bonaparte. The most expensive Breguet to hit the market is the Breguet Grande complication Marie, valued at $10 million. 

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2. Vacheron Constantin 

Founded in 1755 by the then-24-year-old Swiss watchmaker Jean-Marc Vacheron, Vacheron Constantin astounds timepiece lovers with its antique aesthetic and modern sensibility. This brand also doesn’t make many pieces, which only drives up its exclusivity factor. The most expensive watch in this collection is the Vacheron Constantin Kallista, which, created in 1979, goes for $11 million. 

1. Patek Philippe

Founded in 1839, Patek Philippe reigns as the most expensive watch brand in the world. The Commemorative Collection Grandmaster Chime by Patek Philippe will set you back over $26 million — but that’s actually not the highest price a Patek Philippe timepiece has gone for; in 2019, a Grandmaster Chimes model sold at auction for $31.9 million. 

Which Is the No. 1 Most Expensive Watch Brand in the World?

The No. 1 most expensive watch brand in the world is Patek Philippe, originally named Patek, Czapek & Cie back upon its establishment in 1839. There are a few reasons why this brand is so incredibly expensive — its priciest timepiece and the most expensive watch to ever sell, to date — sold for $31.9 million. First and foremost one must consider the extreme artisanship required to produce just one Patek Philippe piece. Secondly, there’s the fact that Patek Philippe uses incredibly sophisticated technology to render its pieces; and thirdly, the luxury brand is far from prolific, manufacturing some 62,000 timepieces a year.  

Is an Expensive Watch a Good Investment?

Some luxury items are a waste of money. A luxury designer watch, on the other hand — or other wrist — is a wise buy, not just in the sense that it is timelessly trendy and ever-fashionable, but because if well preserved, its value can elevate over time. This is especially true if you’re purchasing a limited edition or rare, one-of-a-kind watch.   

Buying a watch made by one of the most expensive watch brands in the world is a task that should not be embarked upon lightly. There are a lot of fake luxury watches out there as well as plenty of con artists. If you’re serious about making the investment, you’ll want to do the following: 

  • Decide what kind of watch you want. Do you want something for everyday use or for special occasions only? This can inform whether you want to go big on the bling or focus on something more simple that is concerned more with functionality than with rare gemstones. 
  • Set a budget. Determine how much you can reasonably spend on these exclusive luxury items. Bear in mind that even a great investment isn’t worth going into debt over. 
  • Find the right places to shop for a watch. It’s best to only buy from a verified dealer of the brand. To find one, go directly to the brand’s website. Make sure it’s the official website.  

FAQ

  • Which brand has the most expensive watch?
    • The brand with the most expensive watch is Patek Philippe. In 2019, a model of its Grandmaster Chimes sold at an auction for $31.9 million, becoming the most expensive watch ever sold.
  • Why is Rolex so expensive?
    • Surprisingly, Rolex isn't on the list of most expensive watch brands -- which is perhaps why so many people have a Rolex -- the brand mass produces between 800,000 and one million timepieces a year, which is high compared to Patek Philippe, which makes 62,000 a year.
  • What is the most expensive Rolex?
    • Rolex's most expensive timepiece to date is Paul Newman's Rolex Daytona, which sold for $17.8 million in 2017. Though in pretty good condition, this Rolex Daytona isn't especially special in and of itself -- but it's got a legend attached to it. The watch was gifted to the award-winning actor and all-around icon by his beloved wife, Joanne Woodward, while Newman was filming "Winning."
  • What is the cheapest Rolex you can buy?
    • Currently the cheapest Rolex watch for sale is the Oyster Perpetual, which goes for as low as $5,300. This one is "cheap" for a couple reasons: it doesn't contain any precious metals and does not feature an all-steel finish.

Information is accurate as of Oct. 28, 2022.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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