There’s no way around it: People will judge you by your watch. From the status brands and the coveted cult classics, to the rare mechanical masterpieces and the exquisitely crafted diamond designs, we’ve identified the signature timepieces that will elevate your image and the inspirations behind them: the celebrities and style icons who wore them best.
Discover the watch that matches your style profile but buyer beware: you’re going to want more than one.
The Diamond Diva
A dazzling diamond watch says you’re ready to celebrate. Tennis superstar Serena Williams packs glamour with an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding timepiece with over 1,000 diamonds. Rihanna gets her diamond fix with a chic Bulgari Serpenti Incantati. Princess Diana’s elegant Vacheron Constantin diamond bracelet watch was a wedding gift from her mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, who received the bespoke timepiece from the Swiss Federal Republic in 1947 as wedding gift. It continues to inspire new models like the ladylike Heures Creatives Romantique.
The Status Seeker
Some women find a watch they love and they wear so much that it becomes their signature. A devoted Bulgari client, Liz Taylor often wore the house’s Serpenti watch which coils around the wrist like a seductive snake. The elusive actress Greta Garbo wore Verdura’s Curb-Link Bracelet watch in her final film debut, and then was rarely seen without one stacked on her wrist with layers of gold-link bracelets. The elegant Catherine Deneuve favored the curved Cartier Bagnoire model, which has made a comeback. And in the modern era, Kate Middleton almost always sports her classic Cartier Ballon Bleu, pairing it with everything from jeans to chic suits.
The Gold Standard
Rich yet sporty, a big gold bracelet always grabs attention. Grace Kelly favored a classic Rolex Lady Datejust, which looks as modern today as it did when it debuted in 1926. Jennifer Aniston shines in a Rolex Day-Date, which she wears casually with jeans and T-shirts, while noted watch aficionado Ellen DeGeneres wears a luxurious Patek Philippe Nautilus with a luminescent brown face.
The Sporty Set
If you’re always on the go like former First Lady Michelle Obama, you need a workhorse watch that suits any occasion. Obama traveled the world in a Cartier stainless steel Tank Francaise, even wearing it in her official White House portrait. Maria Shriver wears a sporty titanium and diamond Hublot Classic Fusion Best Buddies.
The Fashion Department
White isn’t just for summer. If you like to make a style statement, go for an all-white watch. Kiera Knightly’s ceramic and steel Chanel J12 is both elegant and sporty. Margot Robbie’s Richard Mille Ladies Automatic combines technical prowess with high style.
What did style icons Jackie Onassis and Princess Diana have in common? They both loved their Cartier Tank models. Onassis famously paired her timelessly chic outfits with a Tank Louis Cartier and Princess Diana turned to her Cartier Tank Solo for everyday wear.
The Image Maker
The right watch makes the man. Andy Warhol loved the streamlined design of the Tank Louis Cartier. Watch collector Jay-Z has a timeless Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso classic medium in rotation when the occasion calls for understated elegance. Visionary designer Karl Lagerfeld commissioned an all-black Audemars Piguet in the 1970s to match his signature head-to-toe black attire, and it inspired similar versions like the latest Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra-Thin.
The Power Player
Every business mogul or high-profile musician needs a watch to match his drive, and many compete for the hard-to-get rare timepieces. Daniel Boulud wears the Hublot Big Bang Unico GMT Carbon Blue Ceramic. John Legend wears a sleek Bulgari Octo. Singer and watch collector John Mayer shows off his love of masterful movements with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon Chronograph.
Whether you’re the type to speed around the racetrack or across the ocean, you need a watch that can keep pace. Style icon Gianni Agnelli, who boldly wore his watch over his shirt cuffs, took his high-performance Omega Ploprof Seamaster diver’s watch from sea and to boardroom. Steve McQueen famously wore his 1967 Rolex Submariner everywhere and for more than 50 years, Paul Newman’s celebrated Rolex Daytona has remained a favorite of racecar drivers.
The Man About Town
Want to get noticed? You need a timepiece guaranteed to turn heads. When he’s not on the polo field, Nacho Figueras wears a big, bold Hublot Classic Fusion Chronograph Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic. To match his super stylish image, Pharrell Williams wears Richard Mille’s statement-making RM 52-05 Manual Winding Tourbillon.
Contributing Jewelry & Watches Editor
Newman writes about jewelry, watches, and luxury travel for Town & Country.
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