If you have an affinity for watches, you’ve likely heard of the holy trinity of watchmaking: Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Vacheron Constantin. As watches of Swiss origins, TimeMachineGeek recommends getting to know these brands before buying your first watch or adding another to your collection.
These brands have been revered for generations due to their impeccable craftsmanship, innovative inventions, and standout designs. Let’s learn more about each one so that you can make a more informed choice in the watch-selection process.
The Holy Trinity of Watchmaking
Selecting a model from any of the world’s top three watchmakers is likely to lead to an excellent choice. Learn more about these brands to see which can better meet your needs.
It was late in the 19th century when two pioneering watchmakers formed a partnership that would shape modern watchmaking as we know it. Young men in their 20s by the names of Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet built the watch company known in the industry as Audemars Piguet.
Audemars Piguet earned admiration for their complex watch movements, which wasn’t a novelty during that time but became revolutionary when paired with a unique final regulation—Edward Piguet’s contribution. As the century came to a close, the company manufactured over 1,200 watches, among them the most sophisticated ever made at the time.
The period also gave birth to the Grand Complication line, which brought an entirely new set of features unique to the watchmaking world. It ushered in characteristics such as the perpetual calendar, minute repetition, and the chronograph feature. These pioneering models became so popular that the company hasn’t ceased their production.
Despite the founders passing away late in the second decade of the 20th century, the company continued to build in size and reputation. They did this by creating a brand rooted in traditional craftsmanship and innovation. Strengthened and retouched by hand, their timepieces are still among the most meticulous ever crafted and among the most sought-after by connoisseurs.
The Brand Today
In the modern setting, Audemars Piguet watches continue to be a draw not only for the general watch-loving population but also for celebrity enthusiasts. The brand continues to be among the finest in watchmaking and remains in the management of its founding families.
The company’s unparalleled value for tradition is balanced out by its enduring commitment to progress, forming an entirely new mindset among watch lovers that continues in the 21st century.
It was established as a brand in the mid-1700s. However, Vacheron Constantin’s legacy went back a century earlier in Geneva, Switzerland. During this time, European refugees sought sanctuary in the peace-loving nation, resulting in artisans converging in what would become the world’s watchmaking capital.
That first century alone brought forth an array of innovative designs and watch technology never before seen until that era. Jean-Marc Vacheron was one such artisan brought into renown by that historic event. He produced silver pocket watches ahead of their time and soon became a hit with the public.
His grandson, Jaques Barthelemy, then followed in his footsteps. He was the one to lead the brand into a revolutionary age by marketing its timepieces outside of the country. The pieces made their way to popular destinations Germany and France, where they spread rapidly.
Jaques soon realized he could not handle the company’s rise on his own, resulting in his bringing in a partner by the name of Francois Constantin. Aside from his prowess in watchmaking, this individual was also a highly-respected business strategist. From their partnership was born the brand that we know today as Vacheron Constantin.
The Brand Today
Vacheron Constantin might no longer be in the hands of the original families, but it still stays true to its historical roots in a lot of ways. The Richemont Group acquired the company back in 1966 and continues to manage it today.
A few decades before the founding of Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe began its journey towards the pinnacle of luxury watchmaking. It first started out as Patek, Czapek et Cie. It got its current name six years later when Jean Adrien Philippe came into the picture.
He incorporated the keyless system for watch winding and setting into the brand, which became responsible for its rapid rise to the top.
The Brand Today
Today, the Stern family owns and operates Patek Philippe, which continues to produce and engineer all its components in-house. From simple models to complex pieces, all parts are manufactured in the company’s own workshops. They have also been providing service and repair solutions since their establishment.
Which of the Holy Trinity Are You Loyal To?
Like all manufacturers of in-demand products, watchmaking companies tend to bring out the purists or loyalists in their customers. This rings especially true for their high-end and luxury lines, which contain unique features and nuances exclusive to the timepiece.
That said, the big three watchmakers are known for producing horological favorites. Therefore, by choosing any of them, the least you can be sure of is not to end up with an inferior product.