The Watchlist

Below you’ll find a list of some of the most famous and respectable watch brands so you can read a bit about their history and figure out which brand speaks to you the most! Watches are practical but can also act as a topnotch piece of jewelry and accessory. If you choose the right one, you’ll never regret having invested in a designer timepiece.


Hans Wilsdorf came up with the name Rolex  in 1908 as he wanted to give his watches a name that was easy to remember but which also looked good on watches.

In 1910 a Rolex watch was the first wristwatch in the world to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision – making Wilsdorf’s dream of a precise wrist watch come true. Rolex has also since 1914 been synonymous with precision as a Rolex wristwatch was rewarded with a class “A” precision certificate which up until that point only had been reserved for marine chronometers.

Rolex is the company behind the first waterproof wristwatch – the Oyster. At the time the Oyster was described as “too complicated”, “too fragile” and “ill-adapted”, but Wilsdorf stayed true to his vision and finished the watch and the blueprint for all future Rolex watches – precise, robust and able to withstand all conditions. The Oyster was launched and patented in 1926 and has since spurred the Oyster Perpetual Collection – an Oyster watch with a Perpetual rotor.

Photo: The Vintage Bar

The Oyster has, since finding its definitive form in the early 1940s, gradually evolved into a collection of watches with new functions and innovative technologies. Today the collection consists of more than 14 ranges including the Classic watches – Datejust, Day-Date and Sky-Dweller – and Professional watches – Explorer, Submariner and GMT-Master II.

Rolex has, as a company, played a massive role in developing tests and protocols to guarantee reliability and robustness of every timepiece produced. These tests include testing the battery, so it stays reliable through both “everyday” shocks like clapping and “accidental shocks” like being dropped. The colors are tested via aging tests, so the color of the dial won’t change as the watch is worn in the sun and the metal bracelets are tested, so they don’t scratch where they’re connected.

The polish of a watch is one of the most telling stages in the making of a Rolex watch as it gives the metal surfaces of the watch the perfect sheen and smoothness. To be able to become a polisher – now known as a termineur, a finisher – one must undergo a three-year apprenticeship in order to learn the trade, the techniques, get to know the tools and materials and gain the ability to implement the principles.

A Rolex watch passes through a lot of hands from start to finish, and these hands belong to watchmakers, engineers, designers and more so you’re sure, you’re getting the best product out there.


OMEGA is a Swiss company founded by Louis Brandt in 1848 as the young watchmaker – only 23 years old – opened a small workshop in the village La Chaux-de-Fonds in the family villa. 

Brandt was very passionate about precision and wanted to develop the most accurate watch possible and it only took a couple of years for the brand to be known for its high quality within Switzerland and shortly after in the rest of Europe. 

Louis Brand died in 1879 but his two sons – Louis-Paul and César – took over the family business and helped change the industry forever. At this time the company was called Louis Brandt & Fils and was growing with rapid speed. Louis-Paul and César therefore decided to move the company to the larger town of Biel/Bienne in 1880. 96 Rue Jakob-Stämpfli is still the home of OMEGA today. 

Five years after the move, the brothers decided to launch their first series-produced caliber called the ‘Labrador’. This new movement was of excellent quality based for its time. The ‘Labrador’ provided the base for future OMEGA projects, like the 19-ligne caliber that would change watchmaking less than 10 years later. 

In 1892 the brothers went on to create the world’s first minute-repeating wristwatch. The complex caliber chimed the hours and minutes and was a miniaturized version of existing pocket watch movements. The watch is the only of its kind and has been highly admired since its release. 

In 1894, 10 years after the release of the ‘Labrador’, the 19-ligne caliber was released, which has famously become the company’s namesake. The watch is extremely accurate but it’s also made in a way that every component can be replaced by any watchmaker in the world. The winding and time-setting via the stem and crown was groundbreaking and is still widely used today. The brothers crowned this achievement OMEGA and because of the success surrounding the 19-ligne caliber as well as the company, they decided to change the name of their family business to OMEGA Watch Co. 

OMEGA was awarded the Grand Prize at the 1900 Universal Exposition in Paris. This is the greatest honor given to any brand at the time. By 1903, OMEGA was the largest manufacturer of finished watches in Switzerland.

The Watchlist



The jeweler was founded by Louis-François Cartier in Paris in 1847 but it was actually his three grandsons – Louis, Pierre and Jacques –  that made the name into what it is today.

Cartier was launched into Parisian high society by Princess Mathilde, the cousin of Emperor Napeleon III, as she bought and wore a Cartier creation. 

Louis joined the maison in 1898, was head of the Paris branch and is behind the mystery clocks, the colorful ‘Tutti Frutti’ jewels and many more well-known Cartier items. Louis Cartier was a close friend of the Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont and in 1904 designed him a wristband, as Santos-Dumont had complained about flying using a pocket watch. The Santos watch was named after the famous aviator and was Cartier’s first wrist watch for men.

Cartier London created the Crash watch in 1967 which is special as it appears to have been hit by a car. It’s an original and bold interpretation of watchmaking which shows that Cartier never stopped evolving when it comes to watches. 

Cartier hasn’t stopped thinking of and developing new watches since. The Panthère de Cartier, the Pasha de Cartier and the Tank Française are just some of the watches the maison has come up with in the later part of the 1900s.

Photo: christinasurdu

TAG Heuer

The company was founded by Edouard Heuer in 1860 and relies on two foundations – family leadership and technical innovation. Edouard Heuer opened his watch making shop in Saint-Imier at age 20 where he mostly produced silver pocket watches. 

Heuer was already changing the course of watchmaking only nine years after opening his shop. In 1869 he was granted his first patent with a crown-operated, keyless winding system. 

By the 20th century, precise timing was needed for a lot of new things – industrial production, transportation, science and medicine as well as athleticism. Heuer & Co. took this opportunity to develop instruments for new means of transportation and ultra precise stopwatches. 

After this, Heuer & Co. decided to focus more on wrist watches as their catalog of stop and pocket watches was really comprehensive at this time. One wrist watch was the Solunar. It was a colorful watch for sailors and huntsmen as they could track the moon as well as the high and low tides. 

1958 marked the start of a new era for Heuer & Co. as Jack Heuer became the fourth generation to take over the family business. In the coming year, the company came out with the Autavia, the Carrera and the Monaco models. Heuer & Co. have always been good at going with the times and moved from the classic black and white from the 1960s and adapted to the vibrant colors of the 1970s. 

In 1985, the company changed its name to TAG Heuer as they were acquired by Techniques d'Avant Garde (TAG) known for their high-tech products. This meant that TAG Heuer would move from being a brand associated with mechanical chronographs to a company designing watches for the modern world. The watches designed in the 1980s are the mainstays of the TAG Heuer catalog of today. 

TAG Heuer’s portfolio of watches consists of a nice balance between historic watches and continuous development and incorporation of leading-edge technology that perfectly encompasses TAG Heuer’s past and future.

Written by Alberte Gram
Alberte Gram is a fashion writer based in London.
The people pictured are not associated with The Archive
or The Vintage Bar, and do not endorse the products shown.