When it comes to the manufacturing of luxury watches, there’s one country that excels far above the rest, and that’s Switzerland. While it may also be renowned for its fine foods, flavoursome cheese, and intricate knives, watches have been a staple product of the country for a very long time.
There are many fantastic, luxury watchmakers in Switzerland, offering the most exquisite timepieces. However, three brands, in particular, remain at the heart of Swiss horology. They are Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and Vacheron Constantin. Together, they make up the Holy Trinity of Watches.
All three Swiss manufacturers have been in the watchmaking business for many years. Vacheron Constantin was founded back in 1755 and holds the record for being the oldest watchmaking manufacturer in the world. Patek Philippe was born a good few years later in 1839, and then in 1875, Audermars Piguet joined the club.
Each of these brands has earned its place in the Holy Trinity of watches for offering top quality, luxury timepieces for Switzerland and beyond. But, what is it that sets each apart from the crowd?
Audemars Piguet watches are the result of two fine Swiss watch manufacturers joining forces – Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet. Together these two mastered all aspects of watchmaking and were credited for creating the world’s very first repeater wristwatch.
One of the company’s most notable timepieces is that of the Royal Oak. Released back in 1972, this watch was considered to be the world’s first luxury sports watch. In addition to being both durable and water-resistant, it was also a luxury timepiece with hand-finishing that was unheard of until now in a watch of this time.
The Patek Philippe watch collection features some of the most prestigious timepieces the world has ever seen. Most famous for its role in the popularizing of the chronograph, perpetual calendar, and the split-second hand, Patek Philippe has another great accolade to note – that it manufactures its own watch components.
Being able to build intricate watches by hand is one thing, but making the actual components as well, is quite another. Using its strong manufacturing background as a foreground, Patek Philippe has managed to secure more than 100 exceptional patents during its existence. And it’s because of all this they are able to command such high prices.
Vacheron Constantin is the third (and oldest) brand of those in the Holy Trinity of Watches. It was founded by an independent watchmaker, Jean-Marc Vacheron many, many years ago, and is one of the most highly regarded in the world. Owners of these reputable watches include Queen Elizabeth II, John D. Rockefeller, and Napoleon Bonaparte.
In 1979, the company launched the Kallista wristwatch. Priced at a staggering $5 million, and dubbed as one of the most expensive watches of the time, the Kallista featured more than 100 emerald cut diamonds and took some of the world’s best watchmakers around 6,000 hours to make.
Considered a real watch enthusiasts watch, a Vacheron Constantin is an item you would treasure forever and rightly so.
Of course, luxury watch brands now extend far beyond the ‘Holy Trinity’ with many often surprised to discover that Rolex isn’t included within this Trinity of watch manufacturers.
Of course, there is a multitude of reasons for this omission and the heritage of the three brands discussed within this post hopefully shows how they were able to establish themselves at the top of the luxury watch industry, and remain there to this very day.