It goes without saying that some of the world’s finest timepieces fall into the category of automatic watches. Indeed, for many purists, this intricately constructed type of watch represents the ultimate standard in horological ingenuity.
As a result of their first-class reputation, automatic watches tend to be pricey. This is because of the sheer amount of time it takes to construct a single piece. With these intricate items keeping time via a complex series of mechanical inner workings.
In addition, automatic watches tend to use premium materials for their casing and strap such as gold, titanium and premium leather.
In this article, we will take a look at some of the very best automatic watches available. Including pieces from world famous brands such as Tissot and Seiko.
We will also take a look at what exactly an automatic watch is. Whilst outlining the difference between this style of timepiece and others.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at our selection of the best automatic watches.
What Is An Automatic Watch?
Essentially, an automatic watch is a timepiece that uses kinetic energy generated from the user’s natural movements.
A style of mechanical watch, automatic watches differ to wind-up watches (manual mechanical watches) because they do not require the wearer’s assistance to stay powered.
For this reason, many view automatic watches as the ultimate in mechanical watch technology. And although they are not as convenient as quartz watches, they are generally seen as a more premium option.
Due to the fact that these watches are extremely complicated to create, requiring hundreds of man-hours and untold levels of micro engineering skill, it is very rare to find one for below $1,000.
Who Makes The Best Automatic Watches?
Whilst some makers of automatic watches are household names, brands such as Rolex, Seiko and Patek Philippe spring to mind, others are known only to connoisseurs of the timepiece world.
The question of which company makes the best automatic watches is very much a matter of personal preference. With some collectors preferring a more classic aesthetic and others very much opting for a modern take on the style.
One thing is for sure, the higher the price of an automatic watch, the more premium the product is likely to be. In general, automatic watches start at $1,000 and can reach some truly dizzying price tags. Some automatic watches sell for millions at auction, especially if they are collector’s items or antique pieces.
Now that we have some background information on what an automatic watch is and who makes them, it is time to take a look at some of the best automatic watches.
Rolex Automatic Watches
Another legendary Swiss watch company, Rolex is perhaps the definitive brand name when it comes to high-end automatic watches. The brand’s stunning automatic watches are the stuff of legend, with particularly iconic models including the Datejust and Submariner timepieces.
The precision engineered, high-end watches made by Rolex are inspired by the classic aesthetic of boating watches with the brand maintaining a strong affinity with all things nautical to this day. This makes Rolex some of the sturdiest automatic watches around as well as some of the most visually pleasing.
Tissot Automatic Watches
Swiss to the core, Tissot is a legendary watch brand that has been producing some of the world’s most reliable automatic watches for generations. In fact, the company launched way back in 1853 in Le Locle, Switzerland.
Ever since, this luxury watchmaking company has consistently produced beautiful timepieces for a range of tastes. From the beautifully simple Tissot Balade automatic watch to the bold T-Classic model, Tissot has created some truly memorable and in some cases even classic iterations over the years.
Audemars Piguet Automatic Watches
A true titan of Swiss watchmaking, Audemars Piguet is a name that’s synonymous with quality and luxury the world over. Founded in 1875, the brand produces a very limited number of watches each year, making Audemars Piguet one of the globe’s most prestigious timepieces.
Consistently at the forefront of global horology, this company is renowned for the quality of the inner mechanics of their watches as well as the beautiful, elegant outer aesthetics.
As one of the globe’s greatest watchmaking names, Audemars Piguet watches are some of the most expensive on the planet, with some models selling for more than six figures.
Vacheron Constantin Automatic Watches
One of the oldest Swiss watch brands on earth, Vacheron Constantin traces its roots back to Geneva 1755. As a result, today’s timepieces from the famous Swiss brand are a study in timeless heritage and elegance. With these watches being among some of the most valuable on earth. This name is so renowned that it is even said Napoleon Bonaparte himself wore Vacheron Constantin. Truly, a timepiece fit for an emperor.
At the higher end of the price spectrum, Vacheron Constantin watches can cost well over $100,000. Whilst an entry-level timepiece from this legendary Swiss producer will cost at least $15,000.
Seiko Automatic Watches
The first non-Swiss entry on our list comes in the form of Japanese brand Seiko. Ironically, this company were pioneers in the introduction of quartz technology in wristwatches. A development which almost rendered classic mechanical automatic watches extinct.
Luckily for enthusiasts across the globe this never came to pass. These days Seiko even creates some of their own beautiful automatic timepieces. In fact, Seiko automatic watches are considered to be among some of the finest non-Swiss options around. This is accredited to their reliable engineering, simple beauty and affordable price tag. All in all, making them a truly great choice for entry level purchasers.
Patek Philippe Automatic Watches
Our next name takes us back to Switzerland with one of the world’s most highly-esteemed watchmaking brands. Patek Philippe is a true horological institution, a heritage brand like no other that continues to consistently produce some of the most beautiful automatic watches on the planet.
Patek Philippe launched in 1851. Since then, it has been synonymous with tradition and luxurious elegance. The choice of various royals across Europe for the best part of two centuries. Today the brand continues to remain popular among circles of elite watch collectors.
Chopard Automatic Watches
Known the world over for their luxurious timepieces, Chopard is also a popular jewellery brand. The Swiss company takes a fabled ability to craft luxurious pieces. While applying centuries-old wisdom of mechanical watches to create some of the globe’s finest timepieces of any kind.
From formal items to rubber-strapped chronograph pieces, Chopard watches are as varied as they are elegant. With global popularity and a stellar reputation, Chopard frequently ranks in the top ten most valuable brands of luxury jewellery watchmakers.
For many, owning a Chopard watch is the peak in timeless elegance, with this Swiss titan of the industry continuing to make profits year in year out.
Ulysse Nardin Automatic Watches
Perhaps one of the lesser known brands to feature on our list of the best automatic watches, Ulysse Nardin. Nonetheless, Ulysse Nardin is a legendary name in the world of Swiss horology and watchmaking in general.
Producing visually distinctive automatic watches that makes use of high quality materials and centuries-old mechanical wisdom, Ulysse Nardin items are truly for the aficionados and collectors in the world of watches.
These timepieces have incredible value as seen by their prices. With entry level models starting at around $5,000 and high-end Ulysse Nardin pieces reaching close to six figure sums.
This pricing is testament to the globally admired quality and heritage of a brand like Ulysse Nardin. With the Swiss company continuing to produce nautically inspired watches that blend time-honoured tradition with modern technology and craftsmanship techniques.
Rado Automatic Watches
Swiss watch company Rado makes some of the world’s most beautiful automatic timepieces. With a range of styles and price points, Rado is a globally popular brand that blends timeless tradition and cutting edge styles to create gorgeous products.
From the Rado Diastar to the Hyperchrome watch, this Swiss heritage brand craft some of the most impressive automatic watches around. The elegant yet masculine aesthetic of many Rado timepieces make this a highly respected brand both in Switzerland and around the world.
Cartier Automatic Watches
The final instalment on our list of the best automatic watches is a non-Swiss brand with a stellar reputation. Parisian brand Cartier is today a byword for French luxury and sophistication. For many ranks among the globe’s finest purveyors of automatic watches.
From leather straps to elegant gold timepieces, the variety and quality of Cartier watches makes them a much loved institution that please watch connoisseurs from Montmartre to Mumbai.
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