Embarking on a journey into the world of luxury watches can be as thrilling as it is daunting, especially when starting with the very best. Speaking from the nexus of information science and popular style trends, we dig into the luxury Swiss watch industry data. According to the Morgan Stanley LuxeConsult ranking, a comprehensive analysis that evaluates Swiss watches’ performance and market share, these five brands are the top Swiss timekeepers, each with a unique story and appeal. For this introduction to luxury watchmaking, we highlight the top 5 brands of 2023 and discuss popular models from each brand.


Rolex Submariner, reference 124060 – $11,700 CAD

Rolex, synonymous with prestige and performance, stands as a monumental icon in the world of luxury watches. Founded by Hans Wilsdorf in 1905 in London before moving to Geneva, Switzerland, Rolex has been at the forefront of watchmaking innovation for over a century. Rolex was the first to develop a waterproof wristwatch. The company continues to dominate the market with a substantial share of 30% of all Swiss watch sales, highlighting its enduring popularity and the demand for its models, particularly the Submariner, which has seen production increases.

As far as Rolex goes, its Submariner model remains one of its most highly desirable timepieces. The Rolex Submariner’s rise to popularity is a fascinating story of practical design and cultural significance. Introduced in 1953, the Submariner was one of the first watches designed for diving, with a water resistance of up to 100 meters initially, which was a significant achievement at the time. Its practical features, including a rotating bezel for tracking dive times and luminous hands and markers for readability underwater, made it a favorite among professional divers.

The Submariner’s popularity soared beyond professional circles, partly due to its association with James Bond. Sean Connery wore a Submariner in several early Bond films, starting with “Dr. No” in 1962. This connection not only elevated the Submariner’s profile but also cemented its image as a symbol of suave sophistication and adventure. In the original James Bond novels by Ian Fleming, James Bond wore a Rolex Oyster Perpetual. The choice of the Oyster Perpetual in the novels reflects a more subdued, though equally sophisticated style compared to the more adventure-focused and functional Submariner seen in the films.




Cartier Tank Must Watch, reference WSTA0042 – $4,600 CAD

Founded in 1847 in Paris by Louis-François Cartier, Cartier is famed for its exquisite jewelry and precision watches. The company gained fame with royalty and celebrities, cementing its status when King Edward VII of England referred to Cartier as “the jeweller of kings and the king of jewellers.” Cartier is also credited with many iconic watches, including creating the first men’s wristwatch in the Santos-Dumont, but its Tank watch is both a piece of history and a statement of fashion, worn by icons from Princess Diana to Andy Warhol.

Andy Warhol famously wore a Cartier Tank watch, which he cherished not only as a watch but as a piece of art. Interestingly, Warhol was known to have said that he didn’t wear the Tank to tell the time; in fact, he reportedly never wound it. To him, the watch was a greater statement about aesthetic and personal image than its functionality despite its reputable watch status.

A printing of a Polaroid self-portrait by Andy Warhol. Warhol wears a Cartier Tank wristwatch, c. 1970© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.


Omega Speedmaster Professional, reference 310. – $9,500 CAD

Omega was established in 1848 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. It has a reputation for innovation and quality, known for its precision and durability. Omega’s Speedmaster, famously known as the “Moonwatch,” was part of all six lunar missions, endorsed by NASA in 1965 for every manned space mission. This is a testament to its reliability in extreme conditions. Omega is perfect for those who appreciate both history and technology. The Speedmaster is celebrated for participating in the lunar missions, giving it a unique place in history.

The most defining moment in the Speedmaster’s history occurred during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, when it became the first watch worn on the moon. Buzz Aldrin wore his Speedmaster as he and Neil Armstrong made their historic moonwalk, while Armstrong’s own Speedmaster remained in the lunar module as a backup timer. Another notable chapter in the Moonwatch’s legacy was during the Apollo 13 mission when an explosion crippled the spacecraft. The astronauts used their Speedmaster watches to time critical engine burns necessary to correct their trajectory and safely return to Earth.


Patek Phillippe

Patek Phillippe Nautilus, Reference 5811/1G-001 – price on request

Patek Philippe was founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1839. The brand is synonymous with prestigious high-end watches. Patek Phillippe epitomizes craftsmanship, innovation, and refinement, producing some of the world’s most coveted and expensive watches and mentioned many times over by musical artists from Drake to Jay-Z and beyond.

The Nautilus was created by Gerald Genta, one of the most influential watch designers, and was revolutionary at its initial release in 1976. Its unique, rounded octagonal bezel and porthole case design were inspired by maritime themes, which was a novel concept in luxury watch design at the time. This distinctive look set it apart from other luxury watches and cemented its place as a design icon. The Nautilus has also become a notable financial investment. Most models of the Nautilus have appreciated in value over time, attracting not only watch collectors but also investors.


Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet, reference 15550ST.OO.1356ST.06 – 23, 800 CHF (approx. $35, 900 CAD)


Audemars Piguet, also known as AP, was founded in 1875 in the Vallée de Joux, Switzerland. The brand specializes in complex mechanical watches. Renowned for introducing the Royal Oak in 1972, the world’s first luxury sports watch made of stainless steel, the company has been at the forefront of using materials typically reserved for high-performance sports and industrial applications.  Most of their watches typically appreciate over time as well.

Gerald Genta also conceived the Royal Oak, which stands out with its innovative designs, distinctive octagonal bezel, and integrated bracelet. It broke all the rules in 1972 and continues to be a symbol of modern luxury. Since its inception, it has been referenced in many songs by stars such as Lil Wayne, Meek Mill, and Rick Ross, among many others.


Written by new contributor Patrick Molicard-Chartier