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Watch sorting, ranking, and selection

Watch collecting is a costly hobby, not only money but also a lot of time and effort. Choosing an appropriate watch in line with the style will contribute greatly to enhancing the status of the owner. In contrast, the wrong choice will make you feel uncomfortable, regretful,… and waste a lot of money to buy or sell again.

In order to help newbies who want to explore the varied world of famous watchmakers, I have compiled this note based on references from web pages, forums and watch pages combined with my experiencing hundreds of different models. I approach this issue from the perspective of watch enthusiasts and keep exploring them. I hope this information might help you partly orient yourself in choosing the right watch for wearing, collection or investment’s purpose.

General criteria

There is no absolute criterion in the classification and ranking of watchmakers. Each company has its own advantages and disadvantages. Furthermore, in the same company, there are many models with the price and quality of materials in a very wide range.

The categorization and ranking within the scope of this article follow several criteria such as:

  • Price
  • Brand Reputation
  • Rare
  • Material
  •  Movement (in-house or shared- movement)
  • “Manual” (manual or mechanical)
  • Sophistication
  • Unique in design
  • “Eternity” with time
  • Investment value (high price when reselling)


Here, we only consider mechanical watches. The evaluation is applied to the majority of models of a watchmaker rather than models that are too particular.

This list also lacks a lot of watchmakers. In the example above, the writer only mentioned the watch brands which are relatively familiar with the Vietnamese.

Standard Watch

Characteristics: These are timepieces with basic features for wearing, watching time and serving as accessories for the owner. The watch is well finished, has a reasonable price, high accuracy and shape retention for several years. Being mass-produced, stainless steel shell, sapphire glass or mineral crystal (or lower grade). Styles are usually similar to the standards in the market.

Price Range: Generally around $ 300-500.

Some typical brands: Tissot, Luminox, Citizen, Seiko, Orient, Casio, Certina, Candino, Suunto, Victorinox, Bulova, JSprings, …

Tissot Le Locle Automatic

High-end Watches

Characteristics: These watches are more sophisticated compared to the standard ones, mass-produced, shared movement or some modified. Using sapphire glass , stainless steel case and some gold-plated models. Basically, these watches run “smoother” than standard watches and have shape retention for around 4 or 5 years. Standard design shares to the market, sometimes with a specific design style.

Price Range: The models used stainless steel usually cost 500 – 1000USD. Gold plated models range from $ 1000 to $ 1500. Models using premium materials such as 18K gold can reach up to $ 2,000.

Some typical brands: Hamilton, Mido, Oris, Stowa, Junghans, Movado, Edox, Fortis, Alpina,…

Hamilton Khaki Navy Sub Automatic

“Luxury- styled” watches

Characteristics: These watches are towards users who prefer luxury in design, offering “luxury” at an affordable cost. They are usually mass-produced, mostly using general or pre-modified movements. The fineness of components is beautiful and outstanding. These watches usually use sapphire glass, steel casing with golden plated models. The majority of brands are geared towards classic designs. The shape retention can last for 5-6 years. These watches are suitable for wearing or gifting, not suitable for collection or long-term investment.

Price range: About $ 500 – $ 3000 for models with stainless steel or gold plating. About 3000 – 5000USD for block gold samples.

Some typical brands: Baume et Mercier, Longines, Frederique Constant, Raymond Weil, Maurice Lacroix, Rado, …

Frederique Constant Manufacture Classic

Luxury Watches

Characteristics: Being a luxuriously priced watches (chronometer watch) using rare metals for shell’s decoration. These watches have excellent product finish. They are often on mass production of some parts and manual in important stages. In this segment, there are many traditional brands. These watches can be durable and keep their shape for decades. Quality, durability, quality, reliability, limited edition and the price are key selling point makes these watches become an deserved investment.

Price range: Approximately US $ 5,000 for a steel case, over US $10,000 for a complete gold case + leather strap or a combi/demi half gold and a half steel, about $ 15,000 – $ 20,000 for a gold case, including wire, diamond- integrated models are more expensive.

Some typical brands: Rolex, Omega, Cartier, Breitling, TAG Heuer, Mont Blanc, Glashutte Original, Corum, Graham, Panerai, Tudor, Bulgari, IWC, Piaget, …

Rolex Datejust Turn-O-Graph Thunderbird

Super Luxury Watches

Characteristics: Excellent movement quality (mostly in-house, hand-finished with a high sophistication, using the most valuable materials for casing design (gold, platinum, metal). Designs are typically distinctive and prominent. Often there are many sophisticated features that represent the pinnacle of design and watchmaking. Production in small quantities, very difficult to buy and extremely high prices. Often only famous within the connoisseurs of the watch. These watches keep the almost permanent form, which can be left for later generations. The value of the collection and investment is very high.

Price range: The price range is over $ 10000 for steel samples, over $ 20,000 to $ 30,000 for gold, expensive models are extremely, there are millions of samples.

A number of companies are represented by Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, Breguet, Jaeger LeCoultre, A Lange and Sohne, Alain Silberstein, Blancpain, Franck Muller, Parmigiani, Ulysse Nardin, Richard Mille, Hublot, Zenith, H. Moser & Cie, Roger Dubuis, Girard-Perregaux, Jaquet Droz, …

Franck Muller Tourbillon


I have just offered a preliminary classification of the popular brand watches nowadays. Hoping that the information in this article can help you enlarge knowledge about the watch world with a lot of jargons. As the judgment is based on subjective sources and the evaluation itself from the perspective of the writer, the classification and ranking are only relative.. It reflects the author’s point of view. Thank you for your follow up and if you have any comments, please leave them below.

Nova @ Novatime Lab.

This article was written in Novatime Lab’s Technical Report (Watch Research). It can be updated in the future for better quality.


[1] http://www.chronocentric.com/watches/brands.shtml

[2] https://www.facebook.com/SMforVN

[3] http://www.devonbuy.com/watch-brand-hierarchy/

Author: Hoan Nguyen

” Winners never quit & quitters never win ”

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