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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Luxury Watch Brand Status

3 years ago, I purchased a Longines Hydroconquest Automatic with the black aluminum bezel. In that time, I have been fortunate enough to receive or acquire many other watches: A Tag Heuer Link Quartz Chronograph (too many Bourne movies), an Oris TT1, my father's Omega Deville or Rolex Date, my grandfather's Elgin, my mother's refinished Hamilton Electric, some Seiko Divers, a Movado Museum Automatic, An EBEL Brasilia Automatic (which I still have), a Baume et Mercier Capeland S Automatic Chronograph, a Raymond Weil Parsifal Automatic (which I quickly sold), and a Breitling Colt Automatic. Given that I have owned the above brands and I have handled many others Swiss watch luxury brands for limited periods-specifically Paneria, Zenith, Patek Phillipe, Cartier, Breguet, IWC, JLC, Grand Seiko, Hamilton, Tissot, and Mido. I thought it would be fun to compare the various luxury Brands.

I looked to the usual places: This site, the Rolex Forums, A Blog to Read, Chronocentric, jewelers, and Watch Time. I also found the following article, which although 7 years old, was remarkably informative: The Swiss Luxury Watchmaking Industry, A general overview and a closer look at the celebrity endorsement and sponsorship communication strategy used by the leaders; Karine Gautschi, January 2005.

My definition of luxury is anything over $500.00. The most important factors to me are, in lexical order, horology, fit and finish, and history. So without further ado, here is my rank of Longines with respect to the luxury watch brands I have been privileged enough to own and/or use:

1st Tier: Patek Phillipe, Breguet, and JLC: All are vertically integrated manufactures of watches from highly complex hand made movements, possess the best fit and finish I have ever seen, and have the proudest, most distinguished, and most continuous histories.

2nd Tier: Rolex, Zenith, and Grand Seiko: All are vertically integrated manufactures of watches made from interesting mass made mechanical movements of top grade quality, possess outstanding fit and finish, and have long continuous histories.

3rd Tier: IWC, Omega, Breitling, and EBEL: While less vertically integrated all these companies manufacture a few watches from few chronometer grade movements, make watches with interesting modifications to existing chronometer grade movements. Each possesses outstanding fit and finish, and has a long continuous histories.

4th Tier: Longines, Baume et Mercier, Oris, and Mido: Each of these companies is an assembler of watches existing top grade movements. I believe that Longines has the most continuous history and the best fit and finish, followed closely by Baume et Mercier and Oris. I believe that Mido has the history but its fit and finish is somewhat lower.

5th Tier: Tag Heuer, Movado, and Raymond Weil: These companies are assemblers of watches and primarily use versions of existing elabore grade movements. While I find the fit and finish the best on Tag Heuer, Movado possesses the least peripatetic history of the bunch.

6th Tier: Hamilton possesses a history equal to those watches in Tier 5 and uses the same elabore grade of existing mechanical movements. However, Hamilton purposely seems to place less emphasis on fit and finish to achieve a rough and ready quality.

7th Tier: Seiko, Tissot, and Victorinox: The majority of these watches use quartz movements. I put Seiko first because it is the most vertically integrated of the bunch.

What are your thoughts?
 

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I think this sort of brand ranking thread comes up rather regularly, and is rather subjective. You do know we have a Longines forum, correct?

I will say that movement complexity is a standard which you seem to apply in the first tier, yet don't factor in the subsequent tiers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I think this sort of brand ranking thread comes up rather regularly, and is rather subjective. You do know we have a Longines forum, correct?

I will say that movement complexity is a standard which you seem to apply in the first tier, yet don't factor in the subsequent tiers.
My opinion is that movement complexity is less of an issue when the movements are mass produced.
 

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My opinion is that movement complexity is less of an issue when the movements are mass produced.
What's your definition of "mass produced?" There's not a manufacturer on your list above which doesn't "mass produce" or incorporate considerable automation in their manufacturing processes.
 
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