Watches are far too subjective to rank, you say? We did it anyway. For this list of the 50 Greatest Watches of All Time — GWOAT, if you will — we identified timepieces with a combination of compelling features, influence and lasting popularity, as well as a few overlooked but exceptional models. Deriving from all watch categories and from the past hundred or so years, this ultimate tally culminates in the single greatest, most iconic, most beautiful, most utilitarian, most ... eh, you get it.
50. Timex Weekender
A design classic, the Timex Weekender is the humble and affordable watch that's led to many an illustrious collection. It just might be the ultimate everyman, everyday watch.
49. Casio Databank
Decades after their introduction, calculator watches are still somehow cool, and Casio's Databank is easily the most iconic. (Michael J. Fox wore one in Back to the Future.) For very little money you can still get a watch with a useful feature and scads of nostalgia.
48. Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical
Movement: ETA 2802 handwound
One of the most basic and rugged mechanical watches you would actually want to wear every day, the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical is a contemporary classic. A thoroughly modern product, it references Hamilton's history of producing military and field watches.
47. Seiko SKX007
Movement: Seiko 7S36 automatic
The cult following surrounding Seiko's SKX series (and the SKX007 in particular) is nothing short of a phenomenon. Its solid specs and personality have won over minions of watch enthusiasts and regular Joes alike, and its basic characteristics still underpin the Japanese brand's image today.
46. Doxa SUB 300T
Movement: ETA 2852 automatic (modern: 2824-2)
Created in 1967 with input from none other than Jacques Cousteau, Doxa's Sub 300T epitomizes a brand known for its dive watches. It was the first watch to offer a unidirectionally rotating bezel and the first with a bright orange dial. The Conquistador version featured the first commercially available helium escape valve.
45. Nomos Metro Datum Gangreserve
Movement: DUW 4401 manual
The Nomos Metro Datum Gangreserve was designed by Mark Braun and introduced the brand's in-house movement with Swing System escapement technology. One of Nomos's most notable models, it also stands out visually, with a quirky design featuring minty green highlights and an off-center power reserve indicator.
46. Bell & Ross BR03
Movement: Sellita SW300-1 Automatic
Few modern watches are as recognizable and iconic as Bell & Ross's smaller flagship design, first released in 2005. Based on cockpit instruments, the concept was introduced in the large BR01 series, but the 42mm BR03 makes it the wearable success that it is today.
43. Oris Big Crown Pointer Date
Movement: SW 200-1 Automatic
Based on an Oris pilot watch from 1930s, the Big Crown Pointer Date offers a watch with formal styling but a shot of aviation influence. Its centrally mounted hand that indicates the date at the dial periphery is an uncommon feature that adds an unusual twist.
42. Parmigiani Fleuerier Ovale Pantographe
Movement: Parmigiani PF111 handwound
The Parmigiani Ovale Pantographe solves a basic watchmaking problem in a wonderfully over-engineered way. In order for the hands to reach their respective markers on this elegantly elliptical dial, they extend and contract like accordions as they travel around it. Inspiration was taken from a 19th-century pocket watch.
41. Urwerk UR105
Movement: Urwerk UR 5.03 Automatic
Urwerk seems to break all the "rules" of watch design and aesthetics and yet, somehow, the result is captivating. The UR 105 is perhaps the brand's most representative model, with a bizarre case and hands that themselves display the hours while pointing to the current minute along a track.
40. Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope
Movement: ETA 7750 Automatic
No watch better represents the German design philosophy of Bauhaus than the Junghans Max Bill collection, designed by its namesake in the 1950s. With clean and functional but captivating aesthetics, the Chronoscope is a masterpiece that still looks fresh today.
39. Sinn EZM1
Movement: Modified ETA 7750 automatic
The Sinn EZM 1 "mission timer" is a professionally oriented chronograph watch that displays its stopwatch features on its main dial rather than via a more typical subdial layout. It's visually striking, tough as nails and one of the most notable watches from the German brand known for making no-nonsense, function-first tools.
38. Seiko Prospex Turtle
Movement: Seiko 4R36 automatic
Affectionately nicknamed the "Turtle," this affordable dive watch is one of the most popular modern Seiko's for good reason: It recalls the brand's past and makes for a bold but comfortable daily wearer just bursting with character.
37. Tutima M2
Movement: Modified ETA 7750
With roots in military timepieces, the pragmatic, technical M2 by German brand Tutima is one of the most distinctive pilot's chronographs available. Produced in titanium at 46mm on an integrated bracelet, it's not for the faint of heart or wrist.
36. Rolex Datejust 1603
Movement: Rolex 1570 automatic
The Rolex Datejust is neck and neck with the Submariner among the most recognizable and iconic watches of all time. In 1945, it was the first automatic watch to feature a date window, changing the watch industry forever. The ref. 1603, with its engine-turned bezel, epitomizes what's made the Datejust so swanky and versatile and beloved the world over.
35. Tag Heuer Monaco
The Heuer Monaco is notable for several reasons: Not only is it a unique-looking sporty chronograph in a square case, but it housed the brand's famous automatic Calibre 11 movement. It's best known, however, for its iconic silver-screen appearance on the wrist of Steve McQueen. Modern versions span a wide arrange of prices.
34. Omega Seamaster Diver 300
Movement: Omega 8800 automatic
Omega's flagship Seamaster Diver 300m stands out among a crowded field not only for the prestigious name on the dial and its contemporary looks, but because of its associations with a certain fictional spy: Yes, it's the watch choice of the modern James Bond, and that's a cool factor that's hard to beat.
33. Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight
Movement: Tudor MT5402 automatic
The Tudor Black Bay is one of the most popular modern sports watches on the market, and the downsized Fifty-Eight model is arguably its best iteration. Rolex's sister company offers an exemplary level of quality, incredible value and a remarkably compelling package.
32. Universal Genève Polerouter
Movement: Various Universal Genève automatic
One of the earliest watches by design luminary Gerald Genta, the Universal Genève's Polerouter was made to promote the first trans-Atlantic flights over the North Pole. A remarkably well made and well designed watch featuring a micro-rotor to help keep it thin, the Polerouter remains notable today many decades after its debut.
31. Seiko 62MAS
Movement: Seiko 6217A automatic
Seiko is renowned today for its dive watches, a story that began in 1965. Basic principles and design elements established with the release of the 62 MAS in that year continue to inform the modern Japanese brand's highly capable, fun, affordable and deservedly popular dive watch range, as well as more upmarket models.
30. Longines Hour Angle
Movement: ETA A07.111 automatic
The first Hour Angle watch was produced by Longines and developed with the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh in 1931 for navigational use in his aeronautic adventures. The brand today produces a modern interpretation with an automatic movement.
29. Beobachtungsuhr (B-Uhr)
Movement: Various handwound
In the 1930s, the watch companies IWC, A. Lange & Söhne, Wempe, Laco and Stowa made incredibly durable, accurate, and legible watches for the German air force. Known as B-Uhr, many of the same brands still produce modern versions, most of which are smaller than the originals' 55mm cases.
28. Bulgari Octo Finissimo
Movement: BVL 138 automatic
The complicated case design of the Bulgari Octo watch was conceived by Gerald Genta, and today it's one of the edgiest luxury sport watches on the market. The busy case is offset by a simple dial and thin profile for a dramatic, luxurious look that immediately grabs your attention.
27. Grand Seiko SBGJ235
Movement: Grand Seiko 9S86 automatic
Grand Seiko is one of the few companies offering the somewhat exotic feature of a "hi-beat" (5Hz) movement. The SBGJ235, with a hi-beat movement, handy GMT feature and impressive balance of colors, design and features, makes for a grail-worthy watch.
26. Rolex Day-Date 1803
Movement: Rolex 1555 automatic
A symbol of luxury and status, the Day-Date is only produced in precious metals and is instantly recognizable as a Rolex. Building upon the design and date window of the Datejust, the Day-Date was released in 1956, adding the day of the week spelled out in full at the top of the dial. It's at its most iconic on its "President"-style bracelet.
25. Breguet Type 20
Movement: Breguet 582 automatic
Produced for the French air force following WWII, the Type XX is one of the most notable pilot's watches available. It featured a a flyback chronograph, which allows the stopwatch function to be restarted without stopping it. While several companies made watches to the government's specifications, Breguet is the most notable and maintains a modern collection.
24. Ressence Type 3
Movement: Modified ETA 2824-2 automatic
Ressence is one of the most unique and innovative watch brands in the world, presenting traditional mechanical horology in a strikingly novel way. The Type 3 represents the brand's vision best, with a dial that revolves to display the time and an oil-filled case that does wonders for legibility.
23. Patek Philippe Calatrava
Movement: Various in-house Patek Philippe
The understated Patek Philippe Calatrava debuted in 1932 with reference 96 and established the blueprint for a collection that continues to this day. Though it stems from a brand known for highly complicated watchmaking, many consider the Calatrava to be the ultimate dress watch.
22. IWC Portugieser
Movement: IWC in-house calibers
Restrained and classic in style, the IWC Portugieser is a dress watch staple. Introduced in 1939, the reference 325 was unusually large at 41.5mm at at time when much smaller watches were the norm, but it set the tone for a collection that today includes a range of watches, from three-hand models to chronographs and more.
21. Rolex Daytona ref. 6239 "Paul Newman"
Movement: Valjoux 72 handwound
While nearly any Cosmograph Daytona with an exotic dial is more valuable than its standard-dial brethren, the 6239, which Paul Newman himself wore, blows them all out of the water. Newman's personal Rolex hammered for more than $17M in 2017, but even non-Newman owned variants are worth hundreds of thousands, and it's not hard to see why — they're some of the most beautiful watches ever made.
20. Zenith El Primero
Movement: Zenith El Primero automatic
The groundbreaking 1969 Zenith El Primero movement, introduced in the reference A384, was among the first automatic chronographs in the world. Operating at the unusually high frequency of 5Hz, Zenith's movement is still produced today and powers a variety of watches.
19. Heuer Carrera
This well-known watch from Heuer and then TAG Heuer has taken many different forms over the years, but all draw upon the Carrera introduced in 1964 as the reference 2447. This might still be the most perfect of them all, and a modern remake captures its charms well while adding updates like a slightly larger diameter.
18. Casio G-Shock
When Casio employee Kikuo Ibe smashed his prized watch, he was inspired to create one that simply "wouldn't break when you dropped it," and the first G-Shock debuted in 1983. Today, the DNA of the original reference DW-5000C carries on in the 5600 series and others and remains one of the toughest, coolest watches in existence.
Movement: Various handwound
The A-11 has been called "the watch that won the war." Made by several American companies for Allied soldiers in WWII, it had to be durable, legible and accurate, traits that still define the best watches today. Despite its utilitarian purpose, it's somehow attractive — and one of the most notable watches ever made.
16. Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso
Movement: Quartz, handwound and automatic
Even at first glance, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, introduced in 1931, is an Art Deco design masterpiece, but it's even more unique for featuring a case that can be reversed on the wrist — originally conceived to protect it from knocks when being worn by polo players. Today it's made in both simple and complicated versions.
15. A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk
Movement: A. Lange & Söhne L043.1 Manual
A. Lange & Söhne's Zeitwerk was controversial at its introduction for its avant-garde looks, but quickly became one of the most unique and notable watches in recent history. It helps that every Lange watch is refined to exceptional standards, but it also signifies that the brand's take on classical German watchmaking incorporates room for creativity and daring.
14. Cartier Santos
Movement: Various handwound or automatic
Officially the first purpose-built, serially produced wristwatch and simultaneously the first-ever pilot's watch, the Cartier Santos was made for a pioneering aviator in 1904. It remains one of Cartier's most popular collections and has an utterly distinctive personality.
13. Grand Seiko Snowflake
Movement: Seiko Spring Drive 9R65 Automatic
Probably Grand Seiko's most notable model, the Snowflake combines a multitude of features that make the brand unique: It uses an innovative Spring Drive movement, features "zaratsu" polishing and places emphasis on the beautifully textured execution of its dial.
12. Breitling Navitimer
Movement: Breitling B-09 handwound
The ref. 806 is perhaps the model that best encapsulates the history and signature features of the storied Breitling Navitimer, with a slide rule bezel that was used by pilots for a range of necessary calculations at a time before cockpits went digital. A modern remake offers much of the same appeal but with updated materials and construction.
11. Rolex GMT Master ref. 1675
Movement: Rolex 1570 automatic
Produced from 1959 through 1980, the Rolex GMT Master ref. 1675 is one of the longest-produced models from the brand and has come to define the iconic GMT Master look. The GMT Master is so culturally potent that any watch with the blue and red bezel will be called "Pepsi," but it's Rolex that coined the style, of course.
10. Apple Watch
Diameter: 34mm or 38mm
The Apple Watch can also do far, far more than any watch in history, and continues to dominate the smartwatch segment itself. Apple studied the Swiss watch industry in developing its smartwatch and the result is a wearing experience that watch enthusiasts should appreciate — even if many are too stubborn to do so.
9. Patek Philippe Nautilus
Movement: Patek Philippe 26‑330 S C automatic
Persistently in-demand, the Nautilus is the steel sport watch from Patek Philippe, typically selling for far above its retail price. Designed in 1976 by the luminary Gerald Genta following the success of his Royal Oak for Audemars Piguet, the Nautilus is one of the most prestigious watches but offers a casual wearing experience and sporty specs.
8. A. Lange & Söhne Datograph
Movement: A. Lange & Söhne L095.1 handwound
Among the several models that debuted the modern incarnation of A. Lange & Söhne's revival in 1994, it's the Lange 1 that catapulted the company to success. With an asymmetric layout featuring a subdial for the main time, a small dial for the seconds, a large digital date display and a power reserve indicator, it's not only striking and original, but its strong personality and thoughtful details make it a masterpiece in many collectors' minds.
7. Blancpain Fifty Fathoms
Dive watches as we know them today were born in 1953 when, alongside important releases from Rolex and Zodiac, Blancpain introduced its Fifty Fathoms. Originally designed for the French navy's elite Nageur de Combat, the watch was reissued back in the 2000s and the result is one of the most notable modern luxury dive watches available.
6. Cartier Tank
Movement: Various handwound, automatic and quartz
Price: $2,410 - $35,400
Cartier pioneered the wristwatch with a square-shaped Santos in 1904, but it was the 1917 Tank that catapulted the men's wristwatch into popularity. The collection is alive and varied today and constitutes the archetypical formal, elegant watch.
5. Panerai Luminor
Movement: Handwound or automatic
The history of its use by Italian navy divers, its swaggering panache, its simple but masculine style, its captivating luminescence, its distinctive crown guard and locking mechanism...these all contribute to what makes the Panerai Luminor an enduring icon.
4. Patek Philippe ref. 1518
Movement: Heavily modified Valjoux handwound
Patek Philippe's perpetual calendar chronograph watches are legendary in part because they were the first company to ever produce such a watch serially. In 1941, the reference 1518 introduced this combination of perpetual calendar and chronograph — though highly complicated, it exemplifies refinement, elegance and wearability.
3. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Movement: Various AP automatic
When Gerald Genta designed the Royal Oak for Audemars Piguet in 1970, not even he could have imagined its future success or influence. It single-handedly introduced the concept of the luxury steel sport watch with integrated bracelet to the world, but even nearly 50 years after its 1972 release it's as fresh and desirable as ever, if not more so.
2. Omega Speedmaster Professional
Movement: Various Omega handwound calibers
There's nothing quite as seductive as a chance to wear the same watch that passed NASA's stringent tests and went to the moon. The Omega Speedmaster's solid build and versatile looks further helped it become one of the most popular watches today, and it doesn't hurt that modern versions remain relatively accessibly priced.
1. Rolex Submariner ref. 5513
Movement: Rolex 1520 and 1530 automatic
Uncontroversially, the Rolex Submariner is the most recognized and influential watch in history, and the 5513 is the model that established the form that defines the Sub as we know it today. Introduced in 1962 largely fully formed, it was produced for around 25 years. Simple and legible but eminently versatile, the watch world without this watch as its nucleus would look radically different.