To say the British Royal Family is an institution is almost an understatement. With a rich history dating back more than 1,000 years, the Royals are as much a national tradition as drinking tea, celebrating Bonfire Night, and keeping a stiff upper lip in the face of adversity. Known for their charity work, real estate holdings, and dry humour, the Royals are under constant scrutiny from all angles. What may be less known, however, is their unique choice of timepieces. Specifically, ones that adorn their wrists.
The Most Fancy Watches the Royal Family Own
As one would expect, the British Royal Family owns wristwatches of the highest quality and craftsmanship from top watch manufacturers in the world: Jaeger-LeCoultre, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Cartier, Parmigiani Fleurier, OMEGA, Breitling, and many others. The common thread: gold, stainless steel, diamonds, and functionality suited for formal and informal occasions.
Queen Elizabeth II
Coronated on 6 February 1952, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor owns perhaps the fanciest, or most well-known, watch of all the Royals – The Caliber 101, given when she was coronated. A Swiss-made Jaeger-LeCoultre watch, it is craftily hidden in a yellow gold band set with baguette diamonds. The 101 is powered by the world’s smallest mechanical watch movement and is likely only worn in public on special occasions, as it was at her coronation almost 66 years ago. Jaeger-LeCoultre presented the Queen with another 101 on her Diamond Jubilee, this one featuring a white gold band.
The Queen also owns other enigmatic wristwatches, among them: the Reverso, also by Jaeger-LeCoultre; a Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse; and an 18k watch from Audemars Piguet.
Like his mother, Prince Charles sports an impressive assortment of wristwatches, each one adding to the Royal Family’s voluminous collection of royal jewels. Normally discreet, Prince Charles is often photographed with a watch barely displayed beneath his left cuff. Dedicated Royal watchers agree to disagree on exactly which watches he owns, but the general consensus is the Prince favours Cartier and Patek Philippe timepieces, as well as a Toric Chronograph made by Parmigiani Fleurier SA. In all likelihood, Prince Charles also owns luxury sports watches made by premier watchmakers, such as Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Rolex, Hublot, Piaget, and others.
Known for wearing some of the highest-quality luxury watches made, Prince William is said to prefer one in his collection above all others -- an OMEGA Seamaster Quartz 300m Mid-Size, given to him by his late mother, Princess Diana. A watch that transcends style, the Seamaster has been seen on the Prince’s wrist during many occasions, formal and otherwise, including his marriage to Kate Middleton, and when the couple visited the United States in 2014. Prince William’s OMEGA Seamaster is stunning, as it has a wristband made of stainless steel, a scratch-resistant dial covered with sapphire crystal, and features such as a chronometer, a date dial, a unidirectional rotating bezel, a screw-in crown, and a helium-escape valve.
Classic and with an understated style that nonetheless demands attention, Kate’s wristwatch of choice is known to be a Cartier Ballon Bleu. The watch is void of frilly feminine accents but does have a single eye-catching feature: a blue cabochon crown that matches the sapphire engagement ring she received from Prince William. If you are interested in picking up a Ballon Bleu for that special man or woman in your life, it is available in 27 different models, multiple case dimensions, and case materials made of steel, yellow gold, gold and steel, pink gold, and white gold.
A 10-year Army veteran, Prince Harry is a bit more adventurous and outgoing, but favours classic, durable wristwatches over all others. While in the military, he wore a Rolex Explorer II ref. 216570 and a Breitling Aerospace – both of which he continues to wear today at a variety of functions. As a Captain who served multiple tours in Afghanistan and navigated its dangerous terrain, the Rolex Explorer II – rugged, made of stainless steel – was an ideal timepiece to choose. Taking its design cues from another famous Rolex – the ref. 1655 model – it sports a 42mm case, date dial, and an orange seconds hand. When trained as a pilot to fly Apache attack helicopters, Prince Harry decided on a Breitling Aerospace. This watch includes a digital calendar and four years’ worth of day and date programming, a chronograph, and water resistance. Prince Harry wore the Rolex at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Cathedral Service, and the Breitling for William and Kate’s wedding.
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Paul McCartney may have famously sang “ …money can’t buy me love” in The Beatles’ hit “Can’t Buy Me Love” from 1964, but folks in Britain have no qualms about spending a little green on their loved one each St. Valentine’s Day. In fact, The Mirror estimated that in 2016, eager singles and couples spent nearly £1billion to profess their love in the two weeks leading up to that most romantic of holidays.