The Best Men's Watches Nobody Knows About; The Best Luxury Watch Brands and Models

Tim Mosso’s “Watches Tonight” isn’t shy about explaining the world of luxury watches. This evening’s episode focuses on Rolex watches and ways that Rolex breaks away from the conventions of the watch industry. From the way Rolex fashions men’s watches to its attitudes toward branding and promotion, the most famous brand in luxury watches lives by a code of its own design. Whether you’re a committed Rolex collector or a “never-Rolex” contrarian, tonight’s show helps to lift the veil on norms at the watch industry hegemon from Geneva.

Rolex doesn’t play games with novel materials or cases. Whereas other watchmakers and brands use forged carbon fiber, titanium, ceramic, and even sapphire to build watch case and bracelets, Rolex sticks to steel and precious metal. Aside from ceramic bezel inserts and the titanium caseback of the Deepsea Sea Dweller, Rolex is traditional to a fault. While the senior brand in the Rolex-Tudor empire hews to tradition, Tudor Watch experiments with Black Bay 58 cases in sterling silver 925, the 43mm Black Bay bronze, and ceramic Black Bay 41mm divers. Tudor acts as the more audacious and experimental brand while Rolex sticks to design evolution.

While the watch industry loves limited editions, Rolex rarely indulges. The first 100 Rolex Datejust models in 1945, the 1,000-piece 1964 Rolex King Midas, and the 1,000-piece Rolex 5100 beta 21 quartz of 1971 are believed to be the only limited edition Rolex watches offered to the public. Other watch brands — even august names including Patek Philippe — have no such qualms about building and promoting limited edition watches.

Rolex has not interest in “high horology.” Let’s define that term as “hand crafted arts” or “high mechanical complication”; it’s clear that only Rolex gem-set watches remain truly handcrafted. Otherwise, Rolex has no interest in enamel dials, skeletonized movements, or engraved watches. Likewise, there will be no Rolex tourbillon or Rolex minute repeater now or ever. The brand fathers at Pont Hans Wilsdorf understand that Rolex’s brand equity is build on scarcity, consistency, and refinement of simple products. A Rolex Cellini perpetual calendar likely wouldn’t achieve more for the Rolex brand than the Daytona and Submariner already do.

Rolex keeps its brand ambassadors and sponsorships at arm’s length. While other watch brands including Omega, TAG Heuer, and even Audemars Piguet have no qualms about putting the names, signatures, and trademarks of their commercial partners on the dials or casebacks of watches, Rolex never subsumes its brand to another. Roger Federer, Jackie Stewart, Jack Nicklaus, and Jean-Claude Killy are featured in advertising, but the watches they endorse never betray visible signatures of their celebrity owners. Even film director James Cameron, whose Challenger Deep dive inspired the Rolex Deepsea D-Blue, never had a chance to put his name or mark on the watch he inspired.

Rolex works through authorized dealers and avoids factory boutiques. While joint ventures or flagship salons in Switzerland aren’t unheard of, Rolex overwhelmingly leaves the business of selling and stocking watches to independently owned watch dealers. In a watch industry overflowing with factory boutiques, the Rolex approach remains uncommon; only Patek Philippe among top watch brands relies to the same extent on licensed third parties for final sales to clients.

Finally, Rolex avoids re-edition watches and retro watches. Rolex products like the Cosmograph Daytona, GMT Master II, and Submariner are considered evolved products, not retro. As with many other Rolex models, these three have evolved from their original 1950s and 60s forms without any breaks in production. As with the Porsche 911 or the Jeep Wrangler, the Rolex catalog mostly consists of models built for eons and refined through multiple generations. In contrast, competing watch brands such as Omega and Breitling repeatedly revive long-discontinued versions of their mainstream models. While other watch brands attempt to sell modern watches that resemble vintage watches, Rolex sells modern versions of evergreen model lines.

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  1. I'm so sick of this Rolex parade. Just forget every watch in the world. So everyone yaps about ROLEX!!!

  2. A very cheap swiss quartz watch beat the other cheap quartz watches and in the process saved the whole of the swiss mechanical watch industry! Ask Hayek Sr. and Swatch!

  3. We’re on the same page Tim, I recently picked up a brand new Rolex two-tone Skydweller which cost £14,200… I’m flipping it in a straight swap for a Girard Perregaux Vintage 1945 perpetual calendar, equation of time, moon phase in solid rose gold…. which was $103,000 ten years ago!

  4. Hi Tim, great video. I think the watch future is in good hands with the younger generations growing up etc. It's take time to be able to afford and understand the watch market. So starting anywhere is great, when you are young its all so new and interesting. I agree with your views, there is always a few older grumpy people, but they forget they were young once.
    I also love my cars (69 mustang fastback) and its great to see the young kids loving the older cars as well. Most modern cars are so similar looking.
    I love driving my old car wearing my VC overseas chronograph blue dial, and best of all virtually no one recognises the watch.
    Keep up the great work.

  5. the best way to define Rolex is: luxury industrial production watches.
    you also have to consider the 100 meters of water resistance.
    But, I respect Rolex a lot because it has schools for young watchmakers …

  6. At a Family get together at the weekend My 37 year old son wore his Omega Speedmaster My 39 year old daughter a Ebel my 19 year old grandaughter her great grandfathers Favre -leuba and my 11 year old grandaughter a swatch! They are all car nuts to! My doing? Oh yes!

  7. When trying to trade watches to part exchange for a watch on WatchBox why is the value offered for the watch to be traded so rock bottom ?

  8. Interestingly, when mentioning long warranty periods circa 19:30 Tim didn't mention either JLC or Ulysse Nardin. Instead we heard what? Rolex, Omega, Breitling…

  9. If some of these young female watchmakers would like to set themselves up in the southwest of Britain I'd be very grateful, as right now we have to rely on a very few crusty old gents with limited communication skills…

  10. Great show Tim and crew, thank you 😊🙏
    I think the issue at the moment is the perceived luxury for many people is making a wrong image of what is luxury and what is a luxury tool. I think also younger generations are gearing towards more unique and individual luxury experience. I think independent manufacturers will have a great future, as will the big brands that have followers that would buy their watches 3x over list and still be happy.

  11. I had a discussion with a fellow collector on precisely this topic the other day. If you look at the watch-collecting community as a whole, the vast majority is concerned with the dial and the overall appearance of the watch ("timelessness" being desired) more than complications + technical innovation. Take the Amvox line. Great watches, but rather marmite in terms of appearance. You either like 'em or you don't. The same goes for the watches you presented at the end of this episode. All are technically accomplished, but all are slightly too large for current tastes and too fussy from an aesthetic perspective. It'll take an eclectic collector to go this route.

  12. Just wondering, what is the average age of those who watch / subscribed to WatchBox Studios these days. Unfortunately, there are less than 10% of fellow colleague ( ~ 200 employees who are in their 30s and 40s ) at my workplace that wear quartz and mechanical watch but not any watch enthusiast. Others are all wearing smart watches or not wearing anything at all.

  13. I love watches, but i hate cars. Never understood the things with engine. Regarding the used watches…not for me. I would never buy something which was on someone else wrist.

  14. I always loved that GP Enzo; awesome!

    The El Toro – I really loved the blue version. They even put blue enamel over the metal dial; gorgeous!

    Who can go wrong with that GO?!? Amazing! I can’t wait to see this year’s Iconic Sixties version. Pistachio green with blued steel dial hardware and printing would be awesome!

    You would like my parents Jaguar. It belonged to late singer Joe Cocker; the only car he ever owned in his life.

  15. WOW very interesting 1st class very kool great info.,, AAAAAAAAAAA++++++++++++ again great video I liked it a lot ,keep up the great work.

  16. Hi Tim I love the vacheron constatin overseas chrono blue lacquer dial ref# 5500V/110a-b148 I’m wondering do you have or can you get me one

  17. I’m 13 and I just saved up all my money and bought a tissot pr 100 that got me hooked on the watch craze.

  18. Doesn't it sound absolutely absurd that you can get a used Rolex Sub, or that beautiful U.N.? Ludwig Ochesland is a legend, unbelievable!!

  19. My answer to the statement "kids can't afford these watches" is to become a watchmaker. Lol. Realising that I could never afford to pay 6 figures for all watch, then I will just have to make it myself!!

  20. Thanks for mentioning the Glashutte Original for the same price as a YM 40. I just bought a YM 40 :))-

  21. Also trying to be a watchmaker myself. Iam in Massachusetts and wondering if I should go to Switzerland, or is there any serious watch schools in U.S.? Iam looking at a school in the Valley de Jure,(bad spelling I know) but the tuition is free, as long as you can get yourself to Switzerland. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  22. Have to agree on Rolex. They do stay in thier own lane. But they are the best at what they do and there is something to be said about that.

  23. Two minutes in and I’m already leaving a comment… Vacheron continues to prove they are the best horological maison, with the most personality and style. So many amazing designs of such high quality!

  24. Hey Tim! I think you forgot the Rolex 8382 (Neptune's Dial) or all the others. The did have beatiful enamel dials.

  25. Look, to each his or her own, but listening to Tim spend almost 10 minutes on all the things Rolex won't do affirms for me why I'm not going to bother setting aside a place in my watchbox for one of their watches. I get it. You don't need to take chances when you're the king. Helps to have a sister brand to do all your sandbox playing in, I guess.

  26. Damn like that GP, have two Laureatos but still today… never heard about it. 3 bridge Tourbillon with that fancy Dial… it has something 🤔

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