The idea of building your ultimate style wish list is easy enough in theory, but when it comes time to dream, adding one of the most expensive watches to said wish list sometimes feels impractical. But, is it? Well, not if you’ve got the means to buy a true luxury watch, made with a striking design, an incredibly precise movement and plenty of other hard-to-find details — and in shockingly low quantities, to boot. The most expensive watches give us something to dream for, something to shoot for and perhaps, something to shop online for if you’re lucky enough.
There is a certain allure to men’s watches, especially when it comes to the most expensive watches from luxury watchmakers like Audemars Piguet, Cartier, Hublot and Rolex. They’re seductive-looking and seem to whisper power. The daunting price tag only adds to their attraction, as they’re both status symbols and heritage pieces designed to be passed on to your children. The interesting thing about the most expensive watches for men is that many of them cannot be bought online. Rather, you’re teased with glossy photos and text that beckon you to visit the store in order to lightly caress them.
However, if you know where to look, you can find plenty of six-figure watches for sale online. Of course, other luxury watches will set you back only, say, high five-figures — a small price to pay for a timepiece that might be a one-of-one creation. We favor watches on both sides of the debate, both ones that cost as much as a house and ones that cost as much as, say, a nice car (a very, very nice car).
And yes, there are indeed places you can go to buy one of the most expensive watches — trust us.
Why Are the Most Expensive Watches SO Expensive?
We’ve hunted around and found the 16 most expensive watches that you can actually buy online. The first thing you’ll notice when dealing with super high-end expensive watches is that most of them are limited editions, they are always made in small batches. One of the other things you’ll notice with the most expensive watches available is that they use a lot of precious metals, and are sometimes dusted with semi-precious and precious stones. (And sometimes they use a lot of diamonds and gemstones.)
The higher you go up in price, the more complex the watchmaking becomes, too. At this price range, you’ll come across tourbillions, skeleton chronographs, skeleton aviators and, well, pretty much anything that can be combined with a skeleton-style watch. The measurements and movements are so precise that they rival the clock that keeps Greenwich Mean Time.
Different Types of Luxury Watches
Before we hop into the most expensive watches, let’s go over a couple of definitions of the different types of watches available.
- Tourbillon -These are only seen in the most expensive watches due to the complexity of the craftsmanship involved. Tourbillons are an addition to the watch’s mechanical linkage also called an escapement. Tourbillons are created to ensure accuracy to the tiniest measurement and are made to counterbalance anti-gravity issues. Tourbillons can be combined with other watch styles.
- Skeleton – These are also known as openwork watches. The front and back, or sometimes just the front or the back of the watch, showcases the mechanics, so you can watch the wheels go ’round as it keeps time. As mentioned earlier, you can find watches like a skeleton chronograph, a skeleton chronometer, skeleton aviator and so on.
- Chronograph – These watches are created to measure time, speed and distance. Chronographs have one main dial and two subdials. They have a stopwatch function as well. These help track time seamlessly no matter where you go or what you’re doing, and are very helpful for travel or other timed functions, like open-road driving
- Chronometer –These watches are designed to keep accurate time no matter the environment, barometric pressure, etc. True Chronometers are certified by the (Contrôle Officiel Suisse de Chronomètres).
- Aviator -Originally made for pilots, these watches are larger in size and only use numerals, making it easy for a pilot to glance at his watch while working with both hands. Aviator watches have an anti-magnetic case, are impact and vibration resistant, and are extremely accurate. Cartier created the first aviator watch.
- Dress – A watch that’s designed to be worn with a suit.
- Casual or Sporty – A more relaxed style of a watch meant to be worn be with casual wear.
- Perpetual – A watch designed to accurately portray the dates of a calendar, its mechanism takes into account leap years and lengths of months, so it is perpetually on time. Like the skeleton, it can be combined with another watch style like a chronograph.
1. Panerai Luminor Marina Sole Blu Automatic
Defining the most expensive watches is difficult enough as it is, and it’s equally difficult to crown a watch “Best Overall,” but let’s step back here for a second: If you want one of the most expensive watches that you can wear (carefully!) with pride from time to time, it’s hard to go wrong with the illustrious, frankly beautiful, practical and yes, pricey timepieces that Panerai has dreamed up over the years. These designs are tasteful, visually striking and still expensive (try north of 20 grand) but in a way that’s actually not all that shocking when you dive into the excellent specs behind this utterly gorgeous Marina Sole Blu Watch. Start with the Swiss-made calibre P.9010 automatic movement and marvel at the sun-brushed sandwich dial and brushed Goldtech case. If you want to start relatively small when shopping for the best, most expensive watches, you can’t go wrong here.
2. Jaeger Lecoultre Master Control Geographic Automatic Watch
Incredibly enough, this handsome and endlessly refined stainless steel and leather watch is one of the more relatively “affordable” options on this list, clocking in below $15K. That’s still a hefty price to pay, to be sure, but you get all of the precise quality you’d expect when investing in an iconic Jaeger Lecoultre timepiece. Built with a 32-jewel movement (other movements use somewhere around 25 jewels), the crisply designed Calibre 939AA automatic movement boasts a 70-hour power reserve to keep this watch ticking in accurate fashion even when it’s not on your wrist. Not that you’ll want to take it off, seeing as it displays 24 time zones and is built on an elegant leather strap to pair with freshly shined dress shoes and your best suit.
3. IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot’s Perpetual Calendar Automatic Watch
Pilot’s watches were first born out of practicality and worn by those seeking skyward adventures, and the modern age has only allowed these shockingly intricate watches to flourish even more. They’re ultra-functional by nature, so they’re a true luxury watch built for durability and longevity, rather than sitting on your shelf (although you should certainly display it with pride). A series of sub-dials amps up its utility even further, with a combined day and second subdial, another subdial for the date and the power reserve, a month subdial, and a perpetual moon phase tracker. It’s all delivered in an oversized yet still elegant 46.5mm diameter case in a super-stylish, rich blue dial design. Wear it as much as possible across the globe.
4. Rolex Sea-Dweller 0 Stainless Steel Watch
BEST STAINLESS STEEL
Rolex watches nearly need no introduction, praised for their tough-yet-refined design, the timeless nature of each piece in terms of looks, and the way they pioneered and practically owned the stainless steel watch category for years. There are other Rolex watches on this list, to be sure, but sometimes, the demands of your day-to-day call for an impossibly rugged and yet impossibly cool stainless steel watch. The Sea-Dweller is rather uncommon, a more modern Rolex edition from the 2010s that nods to tradition and yet flips things on its head by blending 18-karat gold, yellow gold, stainless steel and steel in lovely harmony. Pick this one up for yourself to gain a piece of wearable history.
5. OMEGA Seamaster 300 Master SPECTRE Edition
James Bond very well might have been onto something when he made OMEGA his watch of choice in the early 2000s. Rooted in history and designed to work with the lifestyle of Bond himself as a former Naval Commander, OMEGA watches are often subtle, crisp and classic, never out of place in any ensemble or situation (kind of like Bond himself, come to think of it). This revamp of the Seamaster was released alongside the 2015 James Bond epic SPECTRE and boasts a striped NATO strap (Bond would be proud) and a super-clean dial design. Yes, we’d say it’s certainly movie-worthy.
6. Roger Dubuis Excalibur Skeleton Watch
Roger Dubuis is a Swiss watch company that produces around 5,000 watches a year. Originally, Dubuis worked for Longines and then Patek Phillipe. He and Carlos Dias created Roger Dubuis watches in 1995. Each of their creations is painstakingly made by hand. The Excalibur collection of watches has a separate collection for men and one for women. This Excalibur Aventador S skeleton watch is one of a limited edition of 88 watches. The housing is forged carbon, it has an autonomous stability program, the hands are rhodium-plated 18k karat PVD-gold Super LumiNova and is powered by a calibre 103SQ movement.
7. Jaquet Droz Tourbillon Retrograde Reserve De Marche
Jaquet Droz is a famous luxury watch brand, and the company has been creating watches since 1738, so strapping one of these watches on your wrist is like wearing history. This watch has a beautiful cutout and a sectioned black opaline dial with off-center Roman numerals, a power reserve indicator at the 10, a retrograde indicator at the 2 and a tourbillon that has a vertically aligned bridge at the 6. When the watch is fully wound, it has a power reserve of 88 hours. The case size is a massive 47mm and is made from 18K red gold. There are only 18 of these watches in existence. The regular retail price for this watch is $190,300. The ShopWorn price is 40% off, or a measly $114,180.
8. Cartier Rose Gold Unique Diamond Set Tourbillon Skeleton Wristwatch
Holy moly! If you’re going to drop a lot of coin on a watch, you might want to grab this one-of-a-kind watch from Cartier. That’s right, they only made one of these watches in the early 2000s. The skeleton’s design plays with negative space, which in turn makes the face look like a miniature work of art. Getting back to the watch, it’s made from 18k shiny rose gold, and polished in such a way the watch looks like it’s glowing. There are bands of diamonds on each side of the bracelet and a double ring of diamonds around the dial. Cartier used 519 diamonds for this watch, and the total carat weight is between 20-25.
9. Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Chronograph Automatic Rainbow Pave Watch
BEST RARE ROLEX
If you thought Skittles provided the only way for you to “taste the rainbow,” check out this multi-hued glittering Rolex. Whew. For anyone who likes excessive abundance, this chronograph fits the bill nicely. The case is made from luminescent 18K rose gold, which highlights the twinkly diamonds and a veritable rainbow of stones that surround the dial. Rolex’s Daytona Chronograph has a 30-minute counter and a seconds stopwatch for accurate timekeeping. Fun fact, the Daytona Chronograph was developed back in 1963 for race car drivers. This watch is obviously built more for show than for use in a cockpit. It’s an automatic movement watch, so you never have to worry about winding, and has a 72-hour power reserve.
10. Hublot Spirit of Big Bang
Watchmaker Hublot always does an incredible job of marrying modern sensibilities with classic craftsmanship. Take their Spirit of Big Bang watch. Brightly colored straps bookend the sexy skeleton unico automatic chronograph with a tourbillon. If you’re lucky enough to purchase one of the 100 watches that were created, you’ll notice that the case is made with carbon fiber and blue composites, and it is manual winding with a power reserve of 115 hours. The crystal and dial are both sapphires, and the 42 mm watch is water-resistant to 30 meters.
11. Rolex Sky-Dweller White Dial Automatic
To many people, a Rolex Oyster watch is the alpha and omega of fine watches. It’s been bandied about in so many books, TV shows and movies, one would almost think that it’s the only luxury watch around. There are Rolexes that go for close to a million, and there are “starter” Rolex watches that hover around 10K. This Rolex Sky-Dweller was made for the inveterate traveler as it has a second time zone clock built as a circle within the face. This 18K gold watch also has a date window, a 42mm case, and has the Rolex Calibre 9001 automatic movement with a 72-hour reserve. It’s also water-resistant to 100 meters.
12. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150mm Co-Axial Master Chronometer
BEST RARE OMEGA
Here’s some watch trivia for you; Buzz Aldrin wore an Omega Speedmaster on the moon, and Elvis Presley’s 1960 Omega watch sold for 1.8 million dollars at auction. When you slip on an Omega watch, you’re in very, very good company. Chronometers are prized for their preciseness, and this model is, one could say, the perfect combination of art and science. The face is bedazzled with 498 pave diamonds on its dial, and marquise-cut blue sapphires are used to indicate the hours. The bezel is set with a ring of diamonds around its 35mm case. This incredible and expensive unisex watch is made from 18K Sedna gold. This is a chronometer, which means that it is insanely accurate and certified by the CSOC. The watch’s movements are driven by the Master Chronometer Calibre 8807.
13. HYT H1 Air Classic 18K Rose Gold
BEST NEW LUXURY
HYT is a modern Swiss watch company, they launched in 2010 and they combine the newest tech with classic watchmaking. They use hydraulic transmission inside the watch. Notice there are two tubes that can be seen on the watch’s face. Those are reservoirs for liquids that do not mix. When the first reservoir is compressed, it pushes the first liquid up a tube around the watch, which then displaces the liquid in the other reservoir. As time passes, the liquid completes its circuit and the whole thing starts all over again. This model, the H1 is made from rose gold and titanium and is a manual winding watch. It has a 49mm round case, Swiss manual movement and a transparent back. This watch normally retails for $79,0000 but is for sale on ShopWorn for 45% less at $43,450.00. So, yes, it’s still one of the most expensive men’s watches in the world, but hey, at least it’s on sale!
14. Rolex GMT Master II Diamond Automatic 18kt White Gold Set With Diamonds 116769TBR
Someone, please pass the sunglasses, this glitter is blinding! This Rolex is mindboggling in oh so many, crazy ways. It’s a watch that you buy not when you’ve made it, but when you own it and the neighboring company for good measure. This Rolex needs its own bodyguard if it leaves your house. Seriously, it’s encrusted with diamonds. So many diamonds, that you can barely see the 18K white gold case. It’s an automatic watch that has a date window at the three o’clock hour, luminescent hands and is water-resistant to 100 meters, but would you really wear this doing laps?
15. Dewitt Twenty-8-Eight Skeleton Tourbillon 18K Rose Gold Watch
BEST UNDERSTATED LUXURY
For those looking for a high-end watch that whispers luxury instead of thumping you over the head with so many diamonds you need sunglasses, this Dewitt rose gold watch is subtle elegance. It’s a skeleton tourbillon, so you can watch the mechanics moving via the clear dial and back. This manual winding watch has a 72-hour power reserve and black leather strap. The original retail price is $150,000, but ShopWorn finds new, unsold watches from stores, picks them up and then resells them online for less.
16. Harry Winston 18K White Gold Premier Excenter Manual Wind Men’s Watch
Harry Winston is synonymous with gigantic sparkling red carpet jewelry, and the company also makes watches. This interesting timepiece looks like it’s wearing a monocle, but it’s really the hour complication. The case and bezel are made from 18K white gold, and the watch is capable of multiple time zones. It normally retails for $41,400.00 but is 40% off at Shopworn.