Expensive watches are often associated with famous people, ranging from businessmen and celebrities to royals and queens. But what makes them so special? From the materials they’re made from to the ways they work and even their history, here are 10 fascinating facts about expensive watches that you might not know but definitely should!
1) Luxury watches are timeless
There’s a reason why luxury watches are still in high demand—for nearly 100 years, these timepieces have been considered some of the most coveted items on earth. Not only are they beautiful, but they’re incredibly well-made and built to last for decades. Some people have even worn their expensive watches from birth through death, passing them down from generation to generation as family heirlooms! Here are 10 fascinating facts about one of life’s little luxuries.
2) Luxury watch brands have deep history
Did you know that Audemars Piguet has been making luxury watches since 1875? Or that Richard Mille started his own brand in 2005, but owns one of Switzerland’s most successful watch retailers? These brands are part of a larger group called ultra-high-end, which is typically characterized by complex movements and high price tags. We love ultra-high-end watches here at WatchTime—but what about their history?
3) Rolex leads the watch market by value
Rolex SA is a Swiss watchmaker founded in 1905 by pioneering watch manufacturer Hans Wilsdorf, and from 1909 created wristwatches. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2012, Rolex was ranked 186th on the Fortune 500 list and is publicly traded on both Euronext Paris and as American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) on OTC Markets Group Inc.’s OTCQX International Premier Exchange.
4) Traditional watchmaking materials are gold, steel, and leather
Few people realize that expensive watches are not made out of gold and diamonds, which are often simply for show. Expensive watches are made with traditional watchmaking materials like gold, steel, and leather. The steel in a high-end timepiece is from special alloys containing tungsten and titanium that make it stronger than standard steel.
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5) Rolex Milgauss was designed for a line worker in power plants
The inspiration for Rolex’s most expensive watch, which costs a whopping $15,000, came from power plant workers in Europe. In 1956, employees working on electrical transmission towers in France and Switzerland told Rolex that their watches stopped working when they were near magnetic fields.
This inspired Rolex to create a watch that could withstand even more electromagnetic activity than any other existing timepiece. The result was what is now known as the Milgauss (named after a unit of measurement for electromagnetism).
6) The Breitling Emergency was inspired by the Apollo 11 launch pad fire
During tests, a fire broke out on one of NASA’s Apollo launch pads. The safety teams rushed in to put it out, but when they tried using their water hoses, none of them worked—the fire was too hot.
7) The world’s first wristwatch was created in England in 1810
Its key feature was a second hand—which helped railroad workers to coordinate their clocks. Before then, pocket watches were worn on chains and carried in waistcoat pockets. With wristwatches now so popular, it’s easy to forget that they didn’t become fashionable until well into World War I. Indeed, before WWI, it was considered uncouth for a gentleman to wear his watch on his wrist; he instead carried it in his pocket or around his neck with a chain.
8) James Bond wears an Omega Seamaster 300m Master Co-Axial Chronometer on screen
Before Roger Moore’s portrayal of James Bond, Sean Connery wore an Omega Seamaster 300m Master Co-Axial Chronometer on screen. At the time, it was noted to be one of most accurate watches in existence. Over half a century later, it still is.
9) Jaeger LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica features eight complications
The most impressive feature of Hybris Mechanica is its 8 complications. What is a complication? A complication adds more functionality to a watch. Most watches can tell you only three things: The time of day, how many hours it is past or before noon, and maybe whether it’s a.m. or p.m.
10) Patek Philippe 5974A Annual Calendar costs over 1 million dollars
It’s safe to say that most watch connoisseurs will probably never own a piece from Patek Philippe 5974A collection. Why? Well, because one of these watches’ costs approximately $1.4 million (also known as 1.4 millon dollars in American English). This timepiece can be yours for that price, provided you’re willing to spend your hard-earned money on a watch whose only goal is to tell you what time it is!