Any self-respecting watch collector will have a series of Swiss watches from different watchmakers in their top five, depending on personal bias. Throwing in a Japanese brand in there or a German one is also expected. What most collections won’t have is a timepiece from a reputable fashion house. Why? Because historically, fashion houses don’t have the track record of manufacturing the best watches.
After the quartz boom of the 1980s, fashion houses have crowded the market with quartz timepieces with different price ranges, from dirt-cheap to astronomically priced. The invention of the quartz movement by Seiko paved the way for a quicker manufacturing process for timepieces, but most purists and connoisseurs felt that it undermined the beauty and heritage of mechanical watchmaking.
So, where do these fashion houses in terms of watchmaking rank today? Well, that’s quite the dilemma. In the past few years, some big fashion houses have stepped up their game, but that’s not to say the overall quality of fashion watches increased. Here are some of the best wristwatches from fashion houses that should be in every collector’s collection:
1. Louis Vuitton Escale
If we’re talking about a deserving Louis Vuitton watch, there’s no other worthy candidate than the Escale. This watch is truly one of a kind, with a dial that features flags around the world colorfully and uniquely that you can only find in an LV watch. The watch’s headlining feature is its 24-time-zone movement, with major cities like Paris, London, Auckland, Dubai, etc.
The movement inside is an automatic caliber LV 87, an in-house movement that powers the whole Escale line from the brand. It boasts of a 42-hour power reserve, 50 meters water resistance, and oscillations 28,000 per hour. The movement is Swiss-made, and although the specs are nothing to write home about, it’s still a Swiss automatic, so that alone is a great deal.
The case is a special Escale stainless steel, with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal for protection. The case back is see-through, with an LV logo etched. For the buckle, a folding mechanism is chosen, the strap in grey alligator leather with yellow rubber lining. If you want to make the most out of this watch, you can make it your everyday driver.
What makes this watch unexpected and deserving of a place on any collection is its dial. There’s nothing else like this on the planet, and with the LV branding, you are pretty much set to having a collection that has depth and character if you add this timepiece to the foray.
2. Hermes Carre H
There’s no doubt about it. Hermes is a legendary brand. It’s one of the most talked-about fashion houses in the world, and the leatherwork for their bags are some of the best on the planet. While there has been a history of watchmaking from the brand in the past decade, Hermes is yet to launch a watch that will catapult them into the watch connoisseurs’ radars.
But to those in the know, the Carre H is arguably the closest to an iconic Hermes watch anyone could get. The rectangular dial is reminiscent of the Cartier Tank but in more fluid, less jagged contoured lines. Top of the line materials was used for the case and make – anti-glare scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, black opaline dial, and an in-house movement made exclusively for the brand.
The movement is a self-winding mechanical caliber named H1912. It has a power reserve of 50 hours and can withstand 50 meters of water. Word of caution though, that 50-meter water-resistance ratings mean that the watch is just splash-resistant, so you might want to avoid exposing this delicate timepiece to water.
At 38mm, this watch isn’t the biggest. It perfectly sits on medium-sized wrists but wears bigger on smaller ones. The black Barenia calfskin leather strap is nothing to frown upon – it’s soft and supple, and very rich in color. Expect some patina if you have sweaty wrists, but trust us when we say it will only give it more character.
3. Chanel J12
Ok, let’s talk Chanel watches. Most people would choose the Monsieur watch for their collection, but the J12 is the more contemporary choice. While the Monsieur is a horological wonder in its own right, the J12 is a testament to Chanel’s expertise in jewelry making. It’s an extravagant-looking watch, no doubt, and if you bling it up with diamonds and gemstones, then you’ve got a keeper for your collection!
Always remember that these watches can fetch astronomical prices, depending on the brand and supply at the time of purchase. You can always scour the Internet for deals, and there are quite a several watch repositories that you can go to slash prices out of the original retail price. Just like everything else, research is key.