The Swiss mechanical watch, seemingly long replaced by its more accurate rival, the quartz watch, is making a come back in the United States. The top 10 mechanical watches are determined by the number of chronometer certifications issued in 2009 by the COSC—the official Swiss chronometer testing agency. A watch is qualified as a "certified chronometer" only if its movement passes a variety of strict tests administered by the COSC.
Most Recognizable Chronometer Watches
Rolex Watch Co., ranked first, is the most recognizable watch brand known for its durable value and marketability. Rolex is the maker of the first waterproof watch and for the past decade it has been ranked as the king of Switzerland’s chronometer watches.
Omega, ranked second, has the second highest number of chronometer certificates. Neil Armstrong took an Omega Speedmaster professional Chronograph on his first trip to the moon in 1969, and Omega was the official timekeeper for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Breitling, ranked third, specializes in producing mechanical chronographs for professionals in the marine and aviation industry. Its best selling watch is the Breitling Chronomat.
Watches Known to Withstand Adverse Conditions
Known as a diver’s watch and ranked fifth, Panerai watches were originally worn by Italian commando frogmen in deep waters during World War II. The brand went mainstream when Sylvester Stalone popularized the brand by wearing them in his movies. In the 1996 movie "Daylight", Stallone wore a Luminor Panerai.
One of the most preeminent watch brands in the United States, the Ball watch company, ranks eighth. To prevent watches from losing time during train rides, Ball designed durable timepieces that resist magnetism. Ball was the first watch company to be sanctioned by the American Railroad.
The Titoni watch company produces its own watch movements and is ranked ninth. The components in a Titoni watch, such as the jewel shock absorbers, the main springs and escapements are designed to meet rigorous standards.
Much like Titoni, Chopard watches, which are ranked sixth, are designated as ‘manufacture’ because the brand makes its watches in-house rather than purchasing movements from outside suppliers. Chopard’s most prized watch is called the Mille Miglia.
Watches Marketed by Celebrities
Tag Heuer, endorsed by golf superstar Tiger Woods and Michael Douglas in the 1994 movie "Disclosure", ranks fourth. During the 1950s Heuer produced two popular chronograph watches for American retailer, Abercrombie & Fitch. The first was the Seafarer and the second was the Autograph.
Tissot, ranks 10th, and is known for many firsts. Tissot created the first plastic, stone and wood watch. Tissot also pioneered the first antimagnetic watch and the first watch to keep time in two time zones. Tissot watches have been strapped to the wrist of movie star Angelina Jolie in movies such as "Tomb Raider" and the "Cradle of Life".
Mido, ranked seventh, was known in the 1920s to produce a variety of watches with an art deco-style and a sense of flair desired by fashionistas in that era. Mido was ranked the best selling watch during the 1930s and 1950s.
- WatchTime.com: Who are Switzerland's Top Chronometer Producers
- "Complete Guide to Watches"; Cooksey Schugart; 2010