What is the Holy Trinity of Watches?

Should you hear collectors and industry specialist discussing the Holy Trinity of watches, they are generally referring to the top three brands on the market today. Many are surprised to learn that brands like Cartier and Rolex are rarely included in this short list. Even though they definitely rank among the most reputable and sought-after brands, there are others that specialists tend to rank a little higher.

What you are most likely to hear is discussions of the three following brands: Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, and Audemars Piguet. Here’s some information about each brand and why so many specialists bestow this honor on them.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Watch Ref# 5168G

Patek Philippe

Patek Philippe was founded in Switzerland and continues to maintain the headquarters in Geneva. Since the founding in 1839, the company has grown to the point of offering production that averages 62,000 watches per year. Owned since 1932 by the Stern family, Patek Philippe has established itself as a brand of choice among political figures, entertainers, sports professionals, and businesspeople in just about every industry.

What are some of the reasons why Patek Philippe is included in the Holy Trinity? Quality is one of the key factors. Like all three watchmakers on this short list, only the best materials will do. The brand tends to use gold and platinum that’s not combined with different kinds of alloys. Even the crystals used for the designs are only the highest quality to be found.

With style choices, you can find something for just about every taste. Pocket watches are still an active offering. Styles like the Aquanaut, the Nautilus, and Complications are among the most popular options. The Gondola and Golden Eclipse are also great options for those who want something a little different but still with the earmarks of classic design.

Simple faces are one trait of many of the brand’s styles. You can also invest in a Patek Philippe watch that offers a wider range of features for the facing. By consulting with a reputable dealer, you can find something that’s to your taste, has all the proper authentication, and will increase in value as the years pass.

Vacheron Constantin

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph Watch Ref# 5500V


Founded in 1755, Vacheron Constantin launched their first timepieces shortly afterward. Beginning with pocket watches and eventually becoming one of the first Swiss watch companies to offer wrist watches, the brand has built a reputation for quality that easily places it into the three best watchmakers in the world.

What’s different about a Vacheron Constantin watch? The thickness of the body is one point. Considered one of the thinnest watches on the market, it’s light for the wrist while still making an impressive visual statement. The thinness of the movements helps to make this possible. Pair that with a classic and elegant look for many of the styles and you have an easy winner.

The quality of the materials also helps make this one of the most sought after brands in the world. Only the finest examples of stainless steel, platinum, and titanium will do. The beautiful red or rose gold used in some designs, along with silver in others, helps to ensure that there’s something for just about everyone. Even the color choices for different watch faces makes it worthy of consideration. Add in the options for self-winding and manual wound styles and you have an easy winner.

What styles should you consider with a Vacheron Constantin? The Patrimony, Traditionnelle, and Overseas styles are among the most popular among buyers today. Don’t overlook what the Fifty Six has to offer, as well as the sleek and graceful look of the Malte.

Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “JUMBO” Extra-thin 39mm Watch Ref# 15202IP


Audemars Piguet may be the youngest brand on the Holy Trinity list, but don’t let that fool you. Established in 1875, the company was originally based in the Vallée de Joux. Today, Audemars Piguet calls Le Brassus, Le Chenit, Switzerland home.

Like many luxury watchmakers, Audemars Piguet does limit the number of new watches produced each calendar year. Currently, the company makes and distributes around 40,000 watches per annum. Through the years, the company has remained family owned.

Innovation is part of the Audemars Piguet heritage. For example, the company introduced the first minute-repeating movement used for wristwatches with a line that first appeared in 1892. The company also introduced the first skeleton watch in 1934. When it comes to producing some of the thinnest watch bodies, Audemars Piguet competes with Vacheron Constantin for that honor.

The motto for Audemars Piguet easily sums up the ongoing philosophy for the company: “To break the rules, you must first master them”. Unlike mottos that are used to define some other luxury watchmakers, this one is of recent vintage, first appearing in 2012.

Several styles stand out and provide evidence of why Audemars Piguet is considered one of the top three watchmakers in the world. The Royal Oak line is a prime example. Introduced as the first sports watch considered to be of luxury caliber, this style has been around since 1972. It currently shows no evidence of losing popularity among buyers of new watches or those who collect previously-owned designs. The Grande Complication was introduced in 1995 and is considered one of the most efficient automatic wristwatches in the world.

The Millenary is an eclectic style first launched in 1995. Some of the designs look much like traditional luxury watches while others are more ornate. All of them share a watch faced that’s described as providing a three-dimensional appearance. The result is a striking look that can easily be paired with bands or bracelets of different colors and materials. Collectors have found the Millenary family of designs to be another testament to the ingenuity and innovation that many have come to expect from Audemars Piguet.

Remember that authentic watches always come with distinctive packaging as well as certified documents that confirm the watches are the real thing. This is true even with previously owned watches sold by reputable dealers. If you come across a deal for any of these brands that seems to be too good to be true, look closely at the watch and the documentation. You can find examples of authentic watches and certification online. If anything is off, such as the placement of something on the watch face or a logo or crest that’s on the wrong place on the box, pass up on the deal and keep looking for an authentic luxury watch.