Associated with refined etiquette, the British monarchy has always been the subject of much gossip, conjuring up images of immense wealth, splendour and style. Indeed, the Royal Family continues to fascinate us, not least for its extravagant taste for luxury timepieces.
Britain’s monarchical association with luxury watchmaking can be traced back to Queen Victoria, who in 1851 attended the Great Exhibition in London and purchased a Patek Philippe pocket watch in a feminine powder-blue finish decorated with diamonds. This appreciation of fine craftsmanship was undoubtedly inherited by her son, King Edward VII. He established a personal relationship with the jeweller and watchmaker – Alfred Cartier, famously calling him ‘the jeweller of kings and the king of jewellers.’
Queen Elizabeth II
Continuing this incredible legacy, Queen Elizabeth is the proud owner of pieces such as the pearl and diamond Patek Philippe ref. 4975 and a much slighter Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 101, which she has kept in her prised possession since her coronation in 1953. It is a truly remarkable watch, boasting the world’s smallest movement housed within a small case, all seamlessly attached to an elegant diamond-filled bracelet.
Popularly tagged as a ‘watches man’, Prince Charles also has a collection of sophisticated timepieces that has been the topic of much gossip. The Prince has a tendency to disguise his watches under his sleeve, so it’s often difficult to deduce what watch adorns his wrist on a particular day. On numerous occasions, however, he has been spotted wearing a Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph. This may serve as an indication of its importance amongst his favourites. Apart from Parmigiani Fleurier, he also owns luxury watches from Cartier and Patek Philippe.
Prince William is arguably a fan of a more understated style. Over the years, he has worn his deeply sentimental blue quartz OMEGA Seamaster Professional, gifted to him by his mother, Princess Diana. The watch has served him as a loyal companion since the day he received it, and it has even accompanied him on his wedding day in 2011. Fitted onto a stainless steel bracelet, it is the perfect combination of comfort and elegance, which makes it a suitable option for any occasion.
Kate Middleton’s classic, understated style combines simplicity with delicate femininity. She usually refrains from extravagant jewellery and attention-grabbing accessories. Fittingly, her steel Cartier Ballon Bleu epitomises her unpretentious fashion taste. The Duchess owns the 33mm version with a white dial and Roman numerals. Furthermore, the watch features a blue cabochon crown with matching blue sword-shaped hands that nicely complement her sapphire engagement ring.
Much like the rest of the Royal family, Prince Harry is also an avid watch enthusiast with an eye for quality and remarkable durability. As a man of action who has served in the Army, he opts for a practical watch of robust and chunky appearance. This can be clearly seen in his choice of the Rolex Explorer II as well as the Breitling Aerospace. Both watches exemplify Harry’s active lifestyle and taste for steel watches built with adventure in mind.
The princess-to-be, Meghan Markle, has already taken the celebrity style column by storm. Serving as a fashion inspiration to women across the world, her jewellery box and accessories have also been eagerly investigated. When asked about watches in a recent interview for HELLO Magazine, she admitted that she has always coveted the Cartier Tank watch, which she finally bought following her role in the TV series Suits. She is the proud owner of the two-tone version in steel and gold. In addition, she revealed that the back of the watch features a personalised engraving that reads: ‘To M.M. From M.M’.
Over the years, Prince Andrew has expressed his unfading enthusiasm for Rolex watches. It should come as no surprise that the ‘king of watches’ should be amongst the royal’s favourites. He possesses multiple models that he wears interchangeably, suggesting that Rolex is his go-to brand. The platinum Rolex Day-Date has adorned his wrist for more than a quarter-century, making it something of his personal trademark. He has recently swapped it for a Rolex Submariner to complement his relaxed sporty looks. Nevertheless, the Day-Date remains his number one watch for elegant occasions.
Although watch trends come and go, the royal taste for luxury timepieces remains fairly consistent. Overall, the British monarchy shows an unfading appreciation of low-key elegance achieved with timeless pieces from Rolex, Cartier, and Patek Philippe.