Today, there are numerous elite Swiss watch brands manufacturing elaborate complications within their timepieces. Most are found in ‘The Watch Valley Of Switzerland’ which is a section of the country along its western border where virtually all of Switzerland’s historical watchmaking milestones can be attributed to. To settle on and choose a favorite ‘top 10’ list sounds criminal, and near impossible, like picking your favorite child. However, for decades the term ‘The Holy Trinity of Watchmaking’ has been used to refer to three of the most important luxury watch brands in the world.
But what sets the brands apart from other brands? Well, they all hold a prestige reputation, uninterrupted historical importance and serious accolades in the horological world. (Yes, watch evangelists do refer to this trio as The Holy Trinity) Their names – Vacheron Constantin, Patek Phillipe and Audemars Piguet have a ring to them of all-world royalty and luxury decadence.
Vacheron Constantin is the oldest watch brand, with continuous operation, in the world established, in 1755, by 24 year old Swiss horologist Jean-Marc Vacheron, an independent watchmaker in Geneva, Switzerland. Within their impressive story, they hold the title for creating the most complicated watch ever in the history of watchmaking, an incredible feat! – the 57260 watch, created in 2015, is a wholly original creation with a total of 57 complications, some of which are unique, including multiple calendars and a double retrograde split-seconds chronograph.
Patek, Czapek & Cie, was founded, on May 01, 1839, by Polish watchmaker Antoni Patek and his Czech-born Polish partner, Franciszek Czapek in Geneva, Switzerland. Together, they created pocket watches until 1845 when the company was liquidated. Czapek left and formed a new company while Patek teamed with Adrien Philippe, a French watchmaker. By 1851, their success was flourishing as showcased by Queen Victoria, of England, who obtained multiple Patek Philippe watches. Patek Philippe holds the current world title for most expensive watch, sold at auction, with their Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A, featuring 20 complications, in 2019, which sold for $31million USD and the most expensive pocket watch sold at auction, with their Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication, fetching US$23.98 million on November 11, 2014.
Audemars Piguet was established, in 1875, by two young Swiss watchmakers – Jules Louis Audemars, and his childhood friend, Edward Auguste Piguet, in Le Brassus, Switzerland. The brand had early success creating the world’s first minute-repeating movement for wristwatches, in 1892. Moving forward, the brand developed the first skeleton watch, manufactured some of the thinnest watches in the world including their ultra-thin automatic tourbillon caliber 2870 wristwatch, in 1986. The company has been family-owned, and remains that way, since its founding.
These brands rank among the most reputable and sought-after in the world as all three legendary members of the Holy Trinity are known for complicated movements that are intricately hand-finished using traditional techniques. Considered a real ‘pièce de résistance’ to own one, or more, of these watches adds a considerable praiseworthy showpiece to any watch enthusiasts collection.