Choosing the very first timepiece to start off a luxury watch collection can be a daunting task, what with the bewildering number of options available. Collectors who are starting out are often looking for a few common things though, such as versatility (it’s the first watch, after all), an accessible price, and a well-regarded brand. Fret not! We have picked out some options for you to consider, based not just on their prices, but also the merit of each individual watch and the strength of their respective brands. Each entry here is a storied classic that doesn’t just make for a good starter, but will also be a worthy addition to your growing collection of luxury watches.
The Speedmaster is Omega’s claim to fame for being the chronograph that the brand sent into space – and to the moon. When the doomed Apollo 13 had to make a manual course correction to correct its trajectory and return its three astronauts to Earth, the 14-second long firing of the rockets was also timed by a Speedmaster.
First introduced in 1957, the Speedmaster’s hallmarks include a hyper-legible tri-compax dial, the baton indexes (with two dots marking 12 o’clock), and a thin bezel printed with a tachymeter scale. Numerous variations of the watch have been introduced over the years for different purposes, including experimental models such as the “Alaska Project” meant for even more extreme environments. The most well-loved model remains the Speedmaster Professional “Moonwatch”, which has remained practically unchanged since the revision of its movement from 1968, down to its acrylic Haselite crystal.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII
The Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII traces its lineage back to the observation watches produced by IWC in the 1940s, and bears the same design codes of the original. Bold sword-shaped hands, large Arabic numeral indexes, a triangle flanked by two dots at 12 o’clock, and a stark white-on-black colour scheme all serve to make the watch extremely legible – a crucial requirement for flight navigators who issued with the originals.
The Pilot’s Watch has evolved with the times though. At 40mm, it’s an infinitely better fit on the wrist compared to the original’s 55mm sizing. The addition of a simple date window at 3 o’clock is another reflection of the zeitgeist, as is its self-winding movement.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay
Introduced just six years ago, the Heritage Black Bay collection was a major reason for Tudor’s resurgence, and it’s easy to see why given its tastefully designed, well-made, and competitively priced watches. Our vote goes to the original dive watches that started the collection, specifically a later reference in red, with gold accents. The watch epitomises Tudor’s greatest strength as a brand – the ability to draw inspiration from the historical models of its past, and imbue in these ideas a modern sensibility that makes the watch suitable for wear today.
Originally created with polo players in mind, the Reverso was designed with its iconic reversible case to protect its crystal from impacts during a game. Its aesthetics, meanwhile, reflected the Art Deco style that was in vogue in the 1930s when it was conceived.
Today, the Reverso is a major pillar within Jaeger-LeCoultre’s product line-up, and holds its own as a shaped watch in a market that remains dominated by round watches. Many variants of the watch exists, from dual time models that display the time zones on two separate dials, to artistic ones showcasing metiers d’art, and even several equipped with high complications like multi-axis tourbillons. For a no-frills classic, however, consider the Reverso Classic Medium Small Second shown here, which has a plain case back that can be decorated by Jaeger-LeCoultre to make it unique to its wearer.
TAG Heuer Autavia
The Carrera quickly became a classic within TAG Heuer’s watch line-up from its introduction in 1963, back when the brand was still known as just Heuer. Designed by Jack Heuer, the great-grandson of the company’s founder, its defining feature was its simplicity, which contributed to the chronograph’s legibility – an important feature given how this watch was designed with motor racing in mind. The watch heralded a new generation of chronographs from Heuer that defined some of the brand’s best work well into the 1970s.
The latest generation of Carrera timepieces have been given various updates. The model shown here comes with TAG Heuer’s in-house chronograph calibre, Heuer-01, which was first introduced in 2015. Various detailing contributes to the watch’s technical look, from the red column wheel visible from through the case back, to the skeletonised components. Other premium appointments include a scratch-resistant ceramic bezel, which has been given a polished finish here, as well as faceted indexes, applied just like the original.
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