Fashion trends come and go, but one fashion statement that has remained a constant for many years and has endured the tests of time is a high-end timepiece. Wristwatches did not come in to fashion for gentlemen until World War I when soldiers found that pocket watches, the previously favored instrument for telling time were impractical on the battlefield. Prior to WWI, wristwatches were known as “wristlets”, and were considered to be more of a woman’s accessory.
Despite men’s wristwatches not gaining tremendous popularity until WWI, some of the best known luxury brand watch manufacturers founded their companies earlier in the 1800’s. Some of these brands include Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe & Co. To this day, these brands are still wildly popular, especially with Luxury Bazaar’s customer base. In 2011 the previously stated brands were some of our bestsellers, along with newer, yet equally popular brands such as Richard Mille and Hublot. These brands are the top of the line, and we predict will remain so for many years to come.
The earlier mentioned older luxury brands are still popular to this day because they were some of the first brands to produce high-end mechanical complications for timepieces, they were able to adapt to economic obstacles that arose over the years, and they are still as innovative as ever.
Audemars Piguet, one of our most lucrative brands, has gained tremendous popularity via the web according to statistics. Audemars has the world’s most searched watch; the Royal Oak. Also, out of the top luxury watch manufacturers, Audemars has the highest number of Twitter followers, the third highest discussion rate on Twitter, and the third highest volume of Facebook fans.
One reason Audemars Piguet is such a hot seller is they have many lucrative limited edition models, many of which have a high profile ambassador to represent the particular timepieces. They chose a variety of ambassadors so that the watches would appeal to a wide customer base. Audemars has numerous top athlete ambassadors, including basketball star Lebron James and racecar driver Jarno Trulli. You can also find one of their luxurious timepieces on the wrist of politician/movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, a long time ambassador for the company. Schwarzenegger has multiple watches made in his honor, including the extremely popular Royal Oak Offshore Arnold Schwarzenegger the Legacy.
Audemars’ have also become prevalent in pop culture, and they have ambassadors such as music mogul Jay-Z who has a Royal Oak Offshore made in his honor, and superstar Quincy Jones who has a Millenary watch made in his honor. Another marketing technique Audemars utilizes is to make limited edition models which commemorate special sporting events, popular sports teams, various countries, etc.
Over a hundred and twenty five years after its founding, Audemars Piguet timepieces remain popular, and impress with their top of the line mechanics, high-class appeal, and for those who want to be unique, rare and limited edition watches.
Another well-liked brand we carry, that also happens to have the second highest market share out of the top luxury brand watchmakers is Patek Philippe. Patek Philippe watches are extremely popular with horology buffs and those that appreciate a posh, well constructed timepiece with some of the best micromechanical engineering the horological world has to offer. Patek Philippe’s timepieces differ from other high-end watch making brands because 100% of their mechanical movements are awarded the “Official Hallmark of the Geneva Seal”. This highly regarded award is given to Swiss timepieces that uphold the criteria for quality excellence.
The quality of Patek Philippe’s timepieces is extraordinary due to the extensive process it takes to make a watch. Each individually hand-assembled timepiece has over 1,200 separate and distinct operations that must be completed before the piece is complete. It also takes three to five years to manufacture each movement, and once this is done, each piece has to go through six hundred hours of quality control checks followed by thirty days of assessing every operation.
Two younger brands, Hublot (founded in 1980) and even newer Richard Mille (founded in 2001) were able to make an impact in the horological world very quickly, and became just as popular as their predecessors Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe. These brands rose to fame quickly by breaking away from previously utilized watch making micromechanics and creating new and exciting innovations.
Hublot’s claim to fame is being the first company to bring together a precious metal and rubber on a timepiece. Ever since, a hallmark of Hublot watches is a porthole shaped case made of a precious metal and rubber and a natural rubber strap. Similar to Audemars Piguet, Hublot has found its place in the limelight, and favor with many celebrities. A perfect example of this is when mega-producer Dr. Dre gave hit rapper Rick Ross a $100,000 gold and diamond encrusted Hublot.
Hublot, similar to Audemars Piguet draws in customers with special limited edition timepieces that commemorate high-profile sporting events, such as the Big Bang Fifa World Cup Winners, sports teams such as Manchester United, countries such as Mexico, etc. Recently, to the surprise of their fans, Hublot unveiled the world’s most expensive, and limited to one piece watch; a 5 Million Dollar white diamond encrusted timepiece.
Richard Mille watches rose to fame by utilizing innovations with the technology and the materials they used to produce their timepieces. Instead of using traditional mechanics, Richard Mille watches utilize technology inspired by aeronautics and from the racing car industry. The brands founder and namesake Richard Mille also took advantage of materials new to the watch making world such as carbon nanofiber and aluminum-lithium.
Mille is a technological trailblazer in the watch making world. He pioneered advancements in shock resistance with his employment of flexible tourbillon and barrel bridges. He also used a rotating spring barrel that rivals the smoothness of a luxury vehicle’s engine. Richard Mille watches differ from previously mentioned brands because their timepieces are produced in extremely limited numbers and are very exclusive.
Not only are Richard Mille watches popular for their mechanics, but they are becoming en vogue with celebrities as well. Richard Mille has some very popular celebrity ambassadors including Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal, who is also the fourth top horology ambassador.
For the upcoming year, we suspect sales trends will remain relatively similar to the trends we saw in 2011. However, we did see some new and exciting things when we traveled to this year’s BaselWorld Watch and Jewelry Show. Keep a look out for our blog post where we share our travels, and the awesome pictures we took at BaselWorld!
And please feel free to browse our wide selection of luxury Swiss watches at Luxury Bazaar!