Most Iconic Watches

The following time pieces are iconic because they are recognized as quality watches and admired by those in the know.  Many introduced significant milestones that changed how watches are made.  This list serves as a great reference to learn about the history and milestones of watch making.

The iconic watches are not ranked in any particular order:

Rolex Daytona Paul Newman

- Rolex Submariner

- Omega Speedmaster Professional - watch that went to the moon

- Patek Philippe Calatrava

- Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso - first sports watch

- Zenith El Primero Chronograph - first chronograph ever

- Cartier Tank - first commercial wristwatch

Tag Heuer Carrera

Breitling Navitimer

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak - original steel watch

Piaget Altiplano Chronograph

Heuer Monaco

Omega Seamaster

Panerai Radiomir

IWC Portuguese

Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox

Rolex Day-Date “President”

Breguet Type XX

Harwood 1928 FIRST Automatic Winding Watch

Rolex Datejust - first self‑winding wrist chronometer to indicate the date in a window on the dial

Vacheron Constantin Historiques Ultra Fine

Cartier Santos Dumas - first pilot’s watch

Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph

Glashutte Original Senator Navigator

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

Urwerk UR-103 

Ulysse Nardin Freak

Breguet La Tradition Fusee Tourbillon

A. Lange & Sohne Tourbograph "Pour le Mérite"

Panerai Luminor - watch that changed fashion

- L'impermeable by the West End Watch Co. - first attested waterproof (pocket) watch developed in 1864

Rolex Oyster + Perpetual - world's first waterproof and dustproof wristwatch (1926),  world's first self-winding mechanism with a Perpetual rotor (1931)

First State Watch Factory (Poljot) - Sturmanskie - the first watch in space worn by Yuri Gagarin

Corum Golden Bridge - world's first baguette movement with linear gear trains mounted in a totally transparent case (1980)

Blancpain 1735 Grande Complication (Minute Repeater, Split Second Chronograph, Tourbillon, and Perpetual Calendar with Moonphase)

Leroy 01 - most complicated watch in the world 1901

Patek Philippe - Henry Graves Supercomplication (1933) was the world’s most complicated mechanical timepiece for more than 50 years, with a total of 24 different functions

Patek Philippe - Caliber 89 Grand Complication (1989) - 24 hands with 1,728 components in total, including a thermometer, and a star chart, weighs 1.1 kg

- Casio G-Shock - Early 1980's line designed to resist mechanical stress, shock and vibration primarily for sports, military and outdoors-oriented activities. G-Shock is an abbreviation for Gravitational Shock

- Seiko Quartz-Astron 35SQ - the world's first "quartz clock" wristwatch

Vacheron Constantin Reference 57260 - the most complicated mechanical pocket watch ever created, 57 complications (2015)

Haldimann H8 - the Tourbillon watch that doesn't tell time (2010)

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Quatuor - 4 balance wheels (2014)

Jaquet Droz Charming Bird - world’s first singing bird automation in a wristwatch (2015)

A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater - world's first watch with a mechanical jumping numerals display and a decimal minute repeater (2015)

Apple Watch - smart watch (2015)

Zenith Defy Lab with Caliber ZO 342 - New and Disruptive monolithic silicon oscillator replacing classic swiss anchor, hairspring and balance wheel (2017)

- Omega  Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional - New deepest dive world record at a depth of 10,928m / 35,853ft (2019)

29 thoughts on “Most Iconic Watches

  1. Nicholas Tan Chien Eu says:

    Longines 1913 should be the first invented chronograph wristwatch. And Zenith El Primero is the first for AUTOMATIC chronograph wristwatch.

  2. Nicholas Tan Chien Eu says:

    John Harwood and Fortis was the one who invented world first self winding with rotor watch in 1926 not Rolex. Hope you can fix that thank you.

  3. Árni M. Mathiesen says:

    My original email was meant as a general comment but place in the wrong place. Apologize. However, since you ask I think the Seiko SKX is a true icon in spite of its humble 7s26 caliber and low price. looks good, works well and still very popular after all these years.

  4. Árni M. Mathiesen says:

    I am having problems seeing my posts accepted. A duplicate warning message came up on my last try. i am osrrybif this cause problems and will stop trying.

  5. Árni M. Mathiesen says:

    The comment was meant to be a general one but went in the wrong place. However, if there ever was an iconic watch it is the SKX007.

  6. Árni M. Mathiesen says:

    I replied under this item by mistake. My comment was meant to be a general one. However, the SKX 007 is an icon!

  7. Árni M. Mathiesen says:

    No, I just posted in the wrong place. Should have been under the main rankings comments and my comments relate to that.

  8. Árni.M.Mathiesen says:

    Thank you for your reply. I agree they are tricky to categories and probably just about a company that is one of a kind of the wide offer and innovation. That’s how they almost killed the industry. However, I don’t think you can leave them as they are. Since you have started splitting them up into three you might just as well split them into four. There is such a great difference between a Seiko 5 with 7s26 and the Seiko Marine Master 300m with 8l35 or say a Seiko SKX 007J 7s26 (which I am wearing now, iconic and absolutely love) and a Seiko SARB JDM, one of the ”Baby Grand”s, with 6r15. Which I will put on this afternoon when I sprues up a bit, that you can’t leave it untouched. However, Swiss vintage ‘70s gold Certina high-beat for dinner tonight, correctly placed in your rankings. Keep up the good work!

    • Admin says:

      Seiko was added to the main brand Rankings list. Is there a Seiko model that you think should be listed on the Most Iconic Watches list?

      • Árni M. Mathiesen says:

        I replied under this item by mistake. My comment was meant to be a general one. However, the SKX 007 is an icon!

      • Árni M. Mathiesen says:

        This was meant to be a general comment but was put in the wrong place. However, if there ever was an iconic watch basically in spite of things it is the SKX007.

      • Árni M. Mathiesen says:

        My original email was meant to be a general one but put in the wrong place. Apologize. However, since you ask I do think the Seiko skx007 is an icon, in spite of its humble 7s26 and low price, due it good looks, reliability and popularity during all these years.

  9. Admin says:

    There was a mistake moving Seiko (Japan) (Seiko Group) from the 1 star Entry Luxury Watches Other Countries category $500 – $1,500 to the Watches Other Countries category <$500 on May 28th, 2018. Seiko is one of those tricky brands to place into one category because of the range of watches that they make. But at the end of the day there's a ton of cheap Seiko watches out there so the Watches category is where it stays.

  10. Árni M. Mathiesen says:

    It is very interesting to see how you handle Seiko, or rather don’t, particularly in regard to their numerous in house movements and JDM models. You basically don’t classify a very large number of their watches and call them also ranss

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