A watch has become an everyday item that many just use to tell the time, but there is so much more to a beautifully crafted timepiece. A watch is an extension of a person’s personality and is often a great conversation starter. So choosing the perfect watch is essential, but there are so many to choose from in their different levels. But what are the levels of watches?

There are six distinct levels that watches have been categorized in. They are Ultra Luxury Watches, High-End Luxury Watches, Luxury Watches, Basic Luxury Watches, Entry Level Luxury, and Consumer Watches. The different styles of watches are Dress, Casual, Luxury, and Fashion watches.

Read on to discover the different watch levels and their differences, the top ten watch bands, and who makes the holy trinity of watch brands.

The Different Watch Levels

Owning a timepiece is not just a fashion statement anymore! The watch you decide to wear on your wrist or keep in your pocket displays who you are and what you value. This is not to say that the more expensive the watch is, the more you value your money, but instead that you are successful.

There are many different watch types available, but all these types fall into only a few watch levels. The watch levels are divided into groups that fit specific criteria, such as quality, exclusivity, price point, and demand. The different watch levels are:

  • Ultra Luxury Watches – $40,000 +
  • High-End Luxury Watches – $10,000 to $40,000
  • Luxury Watches – $5,000 to $10,000
  • Basic Luxury Watches – $1,500 to $5,000
  • Entry Level Luxury – $500 to $1,500
  • Consumer Watches – Less than $500

Ultra Luxury Watches

The Ultra Luxury Watch level is reserved for high-end watch collectors. These magnificent timepieces can range from unique one-of-a-kind to very limited production numbers. An Ultra Luxury Watch may not always have the most unique movements or bezel but rather an interesting history and heritage. Below is a list of attributes that define an Ultra Luxury Watch.

  • Superb Heritage/Pedigree
  • Exclusivity
  • It may not have the best resale value
  • Small niche boutiques
  • Impeccable Handmade Craftsmanship
  • Brand recognition in horology circles
  • Complex Automatic In-House Movements
  • Precious Metals and Stones
  • Sapphire Crystal

Watch Brands that have the attributes to be classified as Ultra Luxury are:

  • A.Favre & Fils
  • Anderson Genve
  • Breva
  • Bovet
  • Jean Dunand
  • Julien Coudry 1518
  • Pagès
  • Sarpaneva
  • Urwerk
  • Voutilainen

Non-Swiss Watch Brands

  • Atelier deMonoco
  • Bexei
  • George Daniels
  • Jacobs & Co
  • Konstantin Chaykin
  • McGonigle

High-End Luxury Watches

High-End Luxury watches are for those individuals who appreciate the quality and uniqueness that these watches offer. These watches will have a high resale value and are more readily available at most dealers. Often made from precious metals, these watches are more of an investment than a fashion statement. The attributes that define a High-End Luxury Watch are:

  • Superb Heritage/Pedigree
  • High resale values
  • High Quantities
  • May have famous, very expensive rare pieces
  • Brand recognition
  • Complex Quality Automatic Movements, most In-House
  • Impeccable Craftsmanship, often Handmade
  • Precious Metals and Stones
  • Sapphire Crystal

Watch Brands that have the attributes to be classified as High-End Luxury are:

  • A.Lange & Söhne
  • Audemars Piguet
  • Blancpain
  • Dewitt
  • Fabergè
  • Jaeger LeCoultre
  • Patek Philippe
  • Romain Jèrôm
  • Vilbray
  • Vacheron Constantin

Non-Swiss Watch Brands

  • Beckes & Strauss
  • Daniel Roth
  • Rolf Lang
  • Keaton Myrick

Luxury Watches

The Luxury Watch level is similar to the High-End level, but these watches are less exclusive. The price range for this level of watch is more affordable to most and not limited to the super-rich. A Luxury Watch can be worn daily and will be a talking point in any environment. The attributes that define a Luxury Watch are:

  • $5,000 – $10,000
  • Respected Heritage/Pedigree
  • High resale values
  • Mass Production, some rare pieces
  • Quality Automatic Movements, some In-House
  • Great Craftsmanship
  • Some Precious Metals and Stones
  • Sapphire Crystal

Watch Brands that have the attributes to be classified as Luxury are:

  • ArtyA
  • Breitling
  • Bueche-Girod
  • Clerc
  • Corum
  • Cuervo Y Sobrinos
  • IWC Schaffhausen
  • Montblanc
  • Omega
  • Panerai
  • Rolex
  • Sarcar
  • Strom
  • Vulcan

Non-Swiss Watch Brands

  • Alf Lie
  • Arnold and Son
  • Bulgari
  • Dior
  • Tiffany
  • Zenith

Basic Luxury Watches

The Basic Luxury Watch level is aimed at individuals that appreciate a quality timepiece. Basic luxury watches are more affordable than the high levels, thus allowing for the ownership of more than one watch. This is the starting level for those wanting to be entered into the elusive Rolex waiting list. The attributes that define a Basic Luxury Watch are:

  • $1,500 – $5,000
  • Average Heritage/Pedigree
  • Mass Production
  • Good Automatic Movements, frequently ETA
  • Good Craftsmanship
  • Occasionally use Precious Metals and Stones
  • Sapphire Crystal

Watch Brands that have the attributes to be classified as Basic Luxury are:

  • Manzoni & Filks
  • Armand Nicolet
  • Ball
  • Barthelay
  • Bedat & Co
  • Brellum
  • d.freemont
  • Doxa
  • Ernest Benz
  • Fortis
  • Horage
  • Longines
  • Milus
  • Oris
  • Paul Picot
  • Tudor
  • Vaucher
  • Wyler
  • Zeno-Watch
  • ZRC

Non-Swiss Watch Brands

  • Alain Silberstein
  • Alpina
  • Auricost
  • Bell & Ross
  • BRM
  • Cavengo
  • Concorde
  • Dodane
  • EternaItay Nay
  • Louis Vuitton
  • Meridian
  • Minase
  • Porsche Design
  • Tag Heuer
  • U-Boat
  • Zannetti

Entry Level Luxury

The Entry Level Luxury Watch is a mass-produced timepiece for everyday use. These watches are not always sold by authorized dealers and hold little to no retail value. This is due to the quality of the components used, but there are many examples of watches at this level that are worth owning if you are a collector. The attributes that define an Entry Level Luxury Watch are:

  • $500-$1,500
  • Some Heritage/Pedigree
  • Mass Production
  • ETA Automatic Movements, some Quartz
  • Basic Craftsmanship Quality
  • Usually Sapphire Crystal

Watch Brands that have the attributes to be classified as Entry Level Luxury are:

  • Atlantic
  • Aviator
  • B Swiss
  • Bomberg
  • Catena
  • Claude Bernard
  • Coinwatch
  • Edox
  • Hamilton
  • Lanco
  • Marvin
  • Mido
  • Philip Morris
  • Raymond Weil
  • Sevenfriday
  • Straton
  • Tissot
  • Victorinox
  • West End Watch Co
  • Xemex

Non-Swiss Watch Brands

  • Andersmann
  • Baltic
  • Bomberg
  • Botta
  • Crepas
  • Detroit Watch Company
  • Elgin
  • Eza
  • Gucci
  • Kemmer
  • Jardur
  • Nike
  • Sisu
  • Vostok
  • Weiss Watch Company
  • Zodiac

Consumer Watches

The Consumer Watch level is your everyday watch. These can come with all the bells and whistles but are less refined than entry-level watches. Sports teams, celebrities, and other popular brands often endorse these watches for marketing. The attributes that define a Consumer Watch are:

  • < $500
  • Fashion / Sports Brands
  • Mass Production
  • Quartz or Automatic Movements made in Asia
  • Average Industrial Craftsmanship Quality
  • Usually have Mineral Crystal
  • Usually not worth servicing except for the battery

Watch Brands that have the attributes to be classified as Entry Level Luxury are:

  • 88 Rue Du Rhone
  • Balmain
  • CK
  • Gorilla
  • Nivada
  • Luch
  • Swatch
  • Swiss Military
  • Traser
  • Wenger

Non-Swiss Watch Brands

  • A-Line
  • Apple
  • Armani Blancier
  • Breed
  • Bulova
  • Calypso
  • Casio
  • Chronosport
  • Deep Blue
  • DKNY
  • Diesel
  • Dolce-Gabbana
  • Eone
  • Fossil
  • Guess
  • Hugo Boss
  • Lacoste
  • Nixon
  • Philip Watch
  • Pulsar
  • Rotary
  • Seiko
  • Timex
  • Zepplin

Click here for a complete 2022 watch rankings list with all 688 watch brands.

The Holy Trinity Of Watch Brands

The holy trinity of watch brands consists of Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, and Audemars Piguet. These three watch brands are the best in the industry and offer top quality, unique movement, and exclusivity.

Patek Philippe

Patek Philippe was the first to invent the wristwatch and has become the most sought-after brand in the world of watch collectors. They have become the best when it comes to mastering super complications in their timepieces. They created a watch with 24 complications, known as the Graves

Supercomplication. The watch took 8 years to research and design. The watch sold for $11,000,000 in 1999.

Patek Philippe held the record for the World’s Most Complicated Watch, the Calibre 89, with 33 complications. But the record was lost to Vacheron Constantin. Other models by Patek Philippe are Nautilus, World Time, Calatrava, and Twenty-4. Patek Philippe is one of the most expensive luxury watch brands, a well-deserved title.

Audemars Piquet

Audemars Piquet has been manufacturing watches since 1875 and has delivered some amazing timepieces. The brand became renowned after launching its Royal Oak series. This was the first luxury watch to be priced with the brand name and movement complexity rather than the precious metal used. The Royal Oak was made with stainless steel and was sold at the price of a solid gold watch.

Being able to price a timepiece this way was a game changer for the luxury watch industry. AP went on to design several variants of the Royal Oak, all with great success. The Royal Oak series is one of the most sought-after luxury watches for collectors. No collection will be complete without an Audemars Piquet.

Vacheron Constantin

Considered the most prestigious of the holy trinity, Vacheron Constantin has been creating watches since 1755. Their wealth of experience led them to hold the World’s Most Complicated Watch record. The Vacheron Constantin Ref#57260 has a total of 57 complications and is valued at well over $8,000,000. They took the record from Patek Philippe, who managed only 33 complications with their Calibre model.

Vacheron Constantin has become a recognized watch brand worldwide due to their horological achievements in the industry. Notable models from their collection are the 1972, Malte, the Overseas, the Harmony, and the Les Historique.

The Top 10 Luxury Watch Brands

Watch collectors and enthusiasts are very knowledgeable about the top watch brands and what they offer. Each watch brand has its own unique offering that makes it special, whether it is its movement, styling, or scarcity. The brands are not listed in any particular order but are all top-tier timepiece manufacturers.

  1. Patek Philippe
  2. Vacheron Constantin
  3. Audemars Piguet
  4. Rolex
  5. Ulysse Nardin
  6. Blancpain
  7. Jaeger-LeCoultre
  8. Omega
  9. Glashutte Original
  10. Tag Heuer

The Different Types Of Watch Movements

There are three mechanisms that watchmakers use to create their timepieces. This is called the movement of the watch, and it can be mechanical, automatic, or quartz.

The Mechanical Movement

The first watches were all mechanical and are known in the industry as classical. It has intricate mechanical components that use a mainspring to power the watch. The spring is tightly wound and slowly releases the built-up tension of a specified period of time. The built-up tension, in turn, activates the wheels and components. The spring will require regular winding. 

The Automatic Movement

The automatic movement is a self-winding or perpetual motion watch. The watch has the same internal component as the mechanical watch but has self-winding capabilities. The automatic movement works with kinetic energy in the form of the wearer’s arm swinging as they walk or any movement the watch is subjected to.

The Quartz Movement

The quartz movement is the new way of powering a wristwatch. It is much simpler in design and uses a battery. The battery causes the quartz to resonate at a specific frequency to accurately calculate time. This simplicity makes the watch price significantly lower than a mechanical or automatic watch.

The Different Watch Styles

The watch style is important as it will say a lot about the individual’s personality. Several styles are available, so let’s break down the most popular watch styles.

The Casual Watch

This is an anytime, any place watch. It will work with regular activities such as running, walking, and shopping. A Casual watch is not well suited for a wedding or other formal events. But think of it as your favorite pair of sneakers, comfortable, reliable, and can take a beating if needed.

The Dress Watch

This is more suited to formal and semi-formal events. It will complement the outfit and will be a great conversation starter.

The Fashion Watch

This is a watch that is meant to be attractive and is often made by a fashion house brand. These watches fulfill the function of keeping time but are often more fashionable than practical.

The Luxury Watch

A luxury watch is made by a reputable watch brand with a long history and rich heritage. They are made from the finest materials and precious metals. A luxury watch is made with carefully crafted components that will last a lifetime and are often handed down to families. A luxury watch can range in price from a few thousand to exceeding the six-figure mark.

The Different Complications Of A Watch

A watch complication is an additional feature available on the watch besides telling the time. There are many different complications available with certain manufacturers specializing in one or two. Below are the most common complications that can be found on specific watches.

  • Chronograph – A very accurate analog stopwatch feature
  • Perpetual Calendar – displays the day, month, and year while taking leap years into account
  • Moon Phase – Displays the different moon phases
  • Power Reserve – A display showing the power left in the spring of a mechanical watch.
  • World Time – displays all 24 time zones corresponding to a city. This will allow the wearer to tell the time from anywhere in the world.


There are 6 different levels of watches available. These are Ultra Luxury Watches, High-End Luxury Watches, Luxury Watches, Basic Luxury Watches, Entry Level Luxury, and Consumer Watches. The holy trinity of luxury watch brands consists of Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, and Audemars Piguet.


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