Understated Luxury Watches for Men That Say, Yes, You Have Made It

IMAGE Patek Philippe/ Bulgari

There are only a handful of things men would gladly plunk oodles of cash on: a fast car or a luxury watch. And maybe the woman he’s currently going nuts over. We’re here to steer you toward the more enlightened choice, the pedigreed watch that can stay with your family forever as a reminder of that smart guy who invested an obscene amount of money on a perpetual wrist machine.


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Speaking of smart choices: When choosing the luxury watch, we advise something elegant and quiet. While luxury denotes cold, hard cash (and lots of it), it doesn’t have to mean the flashiest, the biggest, or the most diamond-studded. That’s too obvious and also heavy on the wrist. In fact, the truest of the richest, who we assume you want to emulate, shies away from overt shows of wealth, choosing instead to project the good life with stealthy totems like a classic watch

In short, if you choose the luxury watches below, all from the swankiest watchmakers in town, your progenies will remember you not just as that dead ancestor with expensive inclinations, but also as a man with unquestionable taste.

Patek Philippe 5270J Chronograph

If the goal is to leave a legacy, then the choice is a luxury watch with a perpetual calendar complication. And if you get this year’s 5270J Chronograph from Patek Philippe, not only will you wear the most exalted name on your wrist, you also get a piece of Patek’s history as the edition is touted as the “true heir” to its timeless 1941 model, the 1518.

Photo by Patek Philippe.

To note here, apart from the other complications beautifully arranged on its face (this is a super machine), the perpetual calendar will require no intervention from you to display the correct date for a very long time. The true sign of luxury is never lifting a finger. patek.com

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Small Seconds

We will always have a soft spot for the Reverso and so, in the portfolio of many hits from Jaeger-LeCoultre, we recommend getting the romantic creation, which, with its two faces (you reverse the case to reveal a second), gives you the space to engrave a memory and access it anytime you want—like when you’re missing the person who gave it to you.

Photo by Jaeger-LeCoultre.
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This dial, in particular, is inspired by the very first Reverso model and shows off wonderfully (and cleanly) all the Art Deco elements that make it one of the most classic luxury watches. Also note the blues, in the sun-ray brushed face and the leather band, that adds vitality to the watch.  jaeger-lecoultre.com

Bulgari Octo Finnisimo

The Octo Finnisimo would be the modern and masculine choice in our selection of quiet luxury watches. The daring of Italian design meets the precision of Swiss engineering in this slim and geometric luxury watch.

Photo by Bulgari.

We like all the angles and detours and volumes created by the interplay of layering an octagon over a circle over an octagon. We also like this iteration the most: a black matte dial and black gator band matched with a rose gold case. This would work well with jeans as it would with a suit. bulgari.com


Hermès Cape Cod

And if the goal is stealth luxury, there is no other choice than Hermès, the king of exuding the simmering spirit of the truly rich. The most classic in its luxury watch collection is the Cape Cod. Observe its shape, a square within a rectangle, which has been derived from the shape of a nautical anchor chain and thus invokes the ultimate rich-person pastime of water sports (perhaps on a yacht).

Photo by Hermès.

The strap is also special. Apart from being made with the excellent skins of the luxury house, it can also be overlong, allowing it to wrap around twice on the wrist. Chic. hermes.com

Hey, Esquire, is there an affordable luxury watch you can recommend?

This is a trick question because even the most affordable luxury watches cost a pretty penny. But consider the Cartier Tank Solo in steel. The Paris house has the storied name and also a legitimate history in watchmaking as it was one of the first watchmakers to create a wristwatch, the Santos. Also, you get a cool-bro story because the Tank is inspired by an actual tank, the Renault FT-17, which was used in World War I.

Photo by Cartier.


Your Super Easy Cheat Sheet to Watch Parts

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And if you are a wise shopper, you’ll know that you can get the Cartier Tank for a very good price on the second-hand market or an auction. The trick, of course, is finding one in good condition. cartier.com



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Clifford Olanday
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