The Best Luxury Watch for Every Luxury Budget

Six thousand? One million? We got your wrist covered.

By Ed Estlow

Watch
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07 March 2017

“Time you enjoyed wasting is not wasted time.”

Extremely loose translation: If you’re gonna buy a nice watch, make a statement. And have fun with it.

Herein, the best luxury timepiece for every luxury budget, be it six thousand or one million. Most importantly? Zero judgments.

Enjoy yourself. It’s your time.

Nomos Zurich Worldtimer True Blue ($6,100)
If you’re a traveling man, or have clients eight or nine time zones away, it’s tough to beat a world timer. And these days, blue is the new black — with watches anyway. The Nomos Zurich Worldtimer True Blue combines both.

Nomos has gained a huge reputation for being minimalist in the Bauhaus tradition. Among other things, the Bauhaus tradition means thin — really thin — hands that are still quite visible, along with highly readable white printing on the blue dial.

The Worldtimer features a smooth, polished steel case that’s 39.9mm in diameter and a few ticks under 11mm thick, meaning this piece’ll fit nicely under a dress shirt cuff. It’s got an in-house movement to boot, and straps to your wrist with a nice black leather strap.

Rolex Deepsea D-Blue Dial ($14,195)
This gnarliest of gnarly Rolex dive watches is water-tight to well over two miles deep. That’s plenty of overkill for your next snorkeling trip to Fiji.

The unique, patented (well, everything on Rolex is patented) 44mm case is 17.7mm thick, meaning you might as well count on always wearing a short sleeved shirt. It’s held down with an Oyster bracelet and Oysterlock safety clasp with Glidelock extension system (which is, yes, also patented).

This diver also features a helium escape valve. That means you can live for a week or a month in the helium-rich atmosphere of an underwater habitat, and the Deepsea won’t explode when you decompress on your way back to the surface. A nice feature, don’t you agree?

Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A-010 ($31,995)
If you’re going to play in the Patek sandbox, you’d better learn to memorize reference numbers.

Now, the Nautilus comes in several different configurations, including travelers and chronographs. The 5711/1-010 is the basic three-handed steel version. It’s got the trademark horizontal embossing on the blue dial and remains true to the design Gerald Genta sketched on a borrowed sheet of paper in a restaurant in Basel, Switzerland in 1974.

This one’s got a 40mm case, integrated bracelet with alternating polished and brushed surfaces, and a self-winding movement with a 45-hour power reserve.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 40 ($62,500 in platinum)
Blue dial again. But the dial on the platinum Day-Date 40 is blue for a different reason: Rolex does that with their platinum pieces. And if you’re a nice conservative up and comer, this might be the watch for you.

The original Day-Date appeared in 1956 — your Grandpa maybe wore one. This is the updated, scaled up version of that watch, and it’s only available in precious metals. This version carries a smooth bezel – much sportier than the fluted bezel Rolex is known for.

It’s worth noting the Day-Date 40 — and all current Rolexes — carries the Superlative Chronometer designation. Rolex has redefined this to mean -2/+2 seconds per day performance. That’s roughly twice as accurate as a COSC certified chronometer.

The upside? None of your buddies will be wearing it. The downside? It’s platinum — unless you counterbalance it with something on your opposite wrist, count on weekly chiropractic visits.

Lange & Sohne Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar ($332,500 in 18K rose gold)
Finally … no blue dial. Instead, a silver dial with a big date, and rose gold hands, contained in a Rose gold case on a brown alligator strap. Under the hood, an automatic perpetual calendar movement.

The German-made Lange 1 is 41.9mm in diameter — a bit big for a dress watch, but at only 12.2mm thick it’ll still fit under a well-tailored dress cuff. This one’s got a display case back too. It’s the only way you can see the tourbillon, for which most watchmakers carve a hole in the dial.

For us, there’s quite enough happening on the dial, thank you. The big date is upper left, small seconds and moon phase is at lower left. The time is in a large sub-dial on the right, with retrograde days of the week at left. The crowning achievement is the rotating outer chapter ring with months, with the current month being indicated by a wedge-shaped window that also displays leap year.

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 ($988,500)
The RM 50-03, produced in partnership with McLaren, has no dial, period. It’s a skeleton. But the strap and trim are red, with a touch of green and yellow.

The skeleton movement — a hallmark of Richard Mille — comes complete with split seconds chronograph function and a tourbillon. And skeleton though it is, the bones are dark and dense enough that the light colored hands are quite visible against them. And no automatic here — the rotor would weigh too much. This thing is hand cranked to a power reserve of 70 hours.

And that’s the real thing about the RM 50-03. Due to the use of Space Age materials, the piece weighs significantly less than two bucks worth of dimes (only 38 grams). Don’t bother using it as a counterweight to the Rollie Day-Date 40 above.

Even at 38 grams, this one’s a big one too. 44.5mm x 49.65mm x 16.1mm. But you wanted to wear a short sleeved shirt anyway, right? Just be sure to color-coordinate.

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