How do you define an iconic watch for a collector? Fashions change so quickly and in the modern digital age tastes are fickle, but perhaps it’s the designs and brands that appeal across the generations that should be noted.

When starting out collecting I always believe that the watches that resonate should be wearable every day, quirky to keep long term interest and appealing to your collecting peers. That’s not to say the watch should show off any form of status, but simply can be appreciated for its condition or rarity.

Collecting should also have stages, from perhaps the quest to put a number of watches together to the refining phase. And that is where collectors find real satisfaction; when you understand exactly what you like, you understand the reference and have the experience to navigate a good example from a bad one.

This suggestion of watches is not a definitive guide, but a broad approach taking into account all budgets and styles.

Rolex 6241 Paul Newman Daytona

No iconic watch discussion cannot include the Rolex Daytona and in particular the Paul Newman. Phillips had the pleasure of bringing to market the watch owned by Paul Newman selling after frantic bidding at $17.8m, a world record for a wrist watch at the time. In the pantheon of watch collecting, probably no other model is as recognizable, cherished, and discussed as the “Paul Newman” Rolex Daytona chronograph. With its history from relative obscurity in the 1960s and 1970s, to the early 21st-century as being the number one most sought after collectors’ watch, it is an iconic timepiece, which few will own, but all will appreciate. Perpetual currently is privileged to offer for sale a fabulous 6241 black dial with its original bracelet and recently had the pleasure to handle a full set John Player Special variant in 14kt gold. Prices range from £100,000 to £1,000,000.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

Gerald Genta left an indelible mark on the watch industry with timeless designs for both sports and dress watches and values for his halo pieces have dramatically risen over the last few years. As such only the biggest of budgets are taking the plunge on Patek Nautilus. However, value can be sought in other references such as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and it is the 1st generation Perpetual Calendar reference 256545SA that catches my eye. The Perpetual Calendar is widely acknowledged as one of the most practical Grand Complications and it was in this reference that we saw the first “sports” iteration. To keep the jet set vibe of the time we would recommend sourcing a great, freshly serviced example in steel and gold or those with limited dial production. The pictured example is on sale at Philipps Perpetual for £25,000.

Rolex 116610 LV “Kermit”

At Baselworld 2003, Rolex decide to take the unprecedented step of launching their very first Anniversary model to celebrate 50 years of the Submariner. The reference 16610LV proudly sported a bright green bezel and special Maxi-Dial with larger lume plots, however in typical Rolex fashion, the model underwent several incremental changes throughout its short seven-year production run that make it incredibly attractive in the eyes of Rolex collectors. Buyers should expect to pay between £15-30,000 for a full set example in excellent condition.

 

Patek Philippe World Time

World time (or what many would know as multiple time zone) watches have long been associated with record prices for both wristwatches and the brand and even modern examples are beginning to find healthy interest. The reference 5110 launched in 2000 bridges the gap between vintage and modern day practicality and is fitted with the highly regarded 240 HU calibre. Produced in various case materials and dial configurations, the production span ceased in 2006 and was replaced by reference 5130. Prices vary depending on the rarity of dial and condition but good examples can be found from £30,000 in Platinum. For those looking for something unique I would even suggest looking at the recently discontinued 5131 with its fabulous Cloisonne dial.

For more on vintage watches, go to phillips.com/perpetual