Watch Hunt: The Superheroes of Luxury Watches

With Superhero Day around the corner (April 28, for the uninitiated), this got us thinking about which timepieces we would consider as superheroes of luxury watches. And we’re not referring to nicknames like the Rolex Batman or the Rolex Hulk, but rather, the watches that are so revered that they champion above the rest. Like superheroes, these timepieces are instantly recognizable thanks to a signature style, have intriguing histories, are often mononymous, and have more than a few tricks up their sleeves. After plenty of back and forth, here are the models that we consider as the superheroes of luxury watches.

 

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

Bursting onto the scene in 1972, the big, bold, and brash Audemars Piguet Royal Oak was vastly different from the refined and demure gold timepieces that elegant men wore every day. Yes, there were other steel watches from top watch brands during this era, but this was not created to be a tool watch like, let’s say the Rolex Submariner, but as a daily luxury sports watch.

 

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak (Image: Audemars Piguet)
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak (Image: Audemars Piguet)

 

Audemars Piguet enlisted the help of famed designer Gerald Genta to design a groundbreaking watch that would—like a superhero—save the day since the manufacture was facing bankruptcy at the hands of the Quartz Crisis. Genta’s Royal Oak design featured a 39m steel case, an octagonal bezel with exposed screws, and a glorious integrated steel bracelet. Over four decades later, the Royal Oak is still one of the most coveted watches with a host of different versions available.

 

Breitling Navitimer

Making its debut in 1952 as a spinoff of the Chronomat watch, the Breitling Navitimer quickly became a favorite chronograph of professional pilots due to its slide rule that allowed the computation of complex navigational calculations while in flight. The large size and technical look of the Navitimer—a name that aptly combines the words “navigation” and “timer”—is now enjoyed by an audience that goes far beyond the pilot population.

 

Super Hero of Luxury Watches Breitling Navitimer
The Breitling Navitimer

 

Like most popular luxury watches today, the Breitling Navitimer aviation watch is offered in a range of materials, sizes, configurations, and price points. Regardless of the version, the Navi’s unique aesthetics is always on-point and well deserving of its iconic status.

 

Cartier Santos

While the Cartier Santos is probably not the first watch you think about in the realm of pilot watches, it was indeed the first pilot watch ever created. Made especially for aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont by Louis Cartier in 1904, this square Cartier timepiece was developed to be worn on the wrist for easy accessibility during flights—a much more practical and safer solution than digging for a pocket watch.

 

The Cartier Santos
The Cartier Santos

 

Although the model is well over a century old, the Cartier Santos has retained its signature style characterized by a square case and bezel, Roman numeral dial, sword-shaped hands, and a blue stone on the winding crown. Just this year, Cartier presented a brand new Santos collection available in an array of materials and featuring an innovative strap changing system.

 

Omega Speedmaster

As the first watch to reach the moon, the Omega Speedmaster Professional has certainly earned its superhero standing! When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made history in 1969 as the first men to make it to the moon, the Omega Speedmaster went along for the ride. In fact, Aldrin had his Omega Speedmaster strapped around his astronaut suit when he took his lunar steps. Since then, the Omega Speedmaster, a.k.a. the Moonwatch, partook in all of the six lunar landings and other space exploration missions.

 

The Omega Speedmaster
The Omega Speedmaster (Image: Omega)

 

Omega has continuously offered new iterations of the famous Speedmaster Moonwatch chronograph, many including key elements like a stainless steel construction, a black dial and black tachymeter bezel combo, and a hand-wound movement.

 

Panerai Luminor

The Panerai Luminor began its life as a stealth superhero watch as it wasn’t available to the public. Exclusively made for the Italian Royal Navy (and a few other countries’ militaries too) Panerai dive watches were military grade instruments built to accompany the Navy’s frogmen unit during their missions. It was only in the 1990s that these massive timepieces were finally sold to civilians and they caught the eye of Hollywood action stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. The brand took off and legions of Panerai fans, known as Paneristis, followed.

 

The Panerai Luminor

 

Compared to the Radiomir, the Panerai Luminor is the more robust model from the brand’s lineup, donning its customary oversized bridge-like winding crown protector, highly luminescent dial, and large cushion-shaped case.

 

Patek Philippe Nautilus

Following in the footsteps of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Patek Philippe also released a Genta-designed steel luxury sports watch in 1976. This time, the legendary watch designer took inspiration from circular ship windows and created the now-famous porthole-shaped case of the Nautilus watch, pairing it with a steel integrated bracelet and a grooved dial with two center hands and a date window.

 

Patek Philippe Nautilus (Image: Patek Philippe)
The Patek Philippe Nautilus (Image: Patek Philippe)

 

Since the inaugural steel version, Patek Philippe has reissued their flagship sports watch in a variety of precious materials, as well as with an array of watch complications. However, the steel Nautilus watches with simple time and date functionality remain as the most popular—and hardest-to-find—editions.

 

Rolex Submariner

A superhero watch that has the biggest fan base by far, the Rolex Submariner is in a league of its own. While the Submariner was explicitly built as a tool watch for divers in the 1950s, today it is the ultimate status sports watch. Despite its specs and heritage, you’ll most likely find the Submariner on the wrist of desk divers over actual scuba divers.

 

The Rolex Submariner

 

While Rolex has greatly enhanced the Submariner over the last 65 years, the famous dive watch has retained its distinct style. Whether in steel or gold, in black, blue, or green, with or without a date window, vintage or modern, the Rolex Submariner is immediately identifiable due to its unidirectional rotating bezel, Mercedes-style hands, round lume plots, Oyster bracelet, and iconic crown logo.

 

From the Sub to the Navi to the Speedy and all the other top timepieces we listed, these particular models have endured decades of fleeting trends and remain as living legends in the luxury watch world.

March Watch of the Month: Rolex Submariner No-Date 14060

There are your standard popular luxury watches and then there’s the Rolex Submariner—a watch that is truly in a league of its own. Born in the 1950s as a tool watch for scuba divers to take with them underwater, the Rolex Submariner has long since graduated to the ultimate status sports watch.

While there are endless options to choose from within the Rolex Submariner collection, from gold to steel to two-tone to bejeweled to ceramic models, we love the simplicity of the stainless steel Rolex Submariner No-Date watch. Join us as we highlight our March Watch of the Month, the classic Rolex Submariner No-Date ref. 14060.

 

The Design of the Rolex Submariner No-Date 14060

Introduced in the 1990s and no longer in production, the stainless steel Rolex Submariner ref. 14060 is one of the last classically styled Submariner watches that sport an aluminum bezel rather than the new style Cerachrom ceramic bezel. As a dive watch, that bezel, marked to 60 units, is, of course, unidirectional rather than bidirectional. This is to prevent divers from overestimating how long they’ve been in the water for. If the watch gets knocked, the bezel will only turn in one direction to add more minutes rather than reduce them.

Furthermore, to withstand underwater exploration, the Rolex Submariner ref. 14060 is water resistant to 300 meters (1,000 feet) thanks to the Oyster case construction, screw-down winding crown, and fluted caseback. Like all modern Rolex Submariner, the Sub ref. 14060 has a 40mm case.

Housed within the case is the familiar black Submariner dial with lume plots and luminescent Mercedes-style hands. These details allow for clear legibility even in the murkiest of waters. Another thing you’ll notice on the Submariner ref. 14060 is the lack of a date window, hence its Submariner No-Date label.

Finally, rounding out the look of the Submariner No-Date ref. 14060 is its matching stainless steel Oyster bracelet. This particular model has hollow center and end links on the bracelet rather than solid ones, which makes it more lightweight than its modern counterparts. Again, keeping with dive watch functionality, there’s an extension mechanism in the clasp that allows to wearer to extend the bracelet to fit it over a dive suit.

 

The Appeal of the Rolex Submariner No-Date 14060

Fans of the Submariner No Date ref. 14060 love the watch for its fantastic symmetric. The absence of the ubiquitous dial window at 3 o’clock and accompanying Cyclops lens on the crystal allows for a beautifully balanced and uncluttered dial. Remember, when the Rolex Submariner first made its debut in 1953, it did not have a date window. So a no-date Submariner is more like the original Sub than ones with a date window.

Moreover, the Submariner ref. 14060 is a bridge between vintage Submariners and the ultra-modern ones. It boasts contemporary features such as a sapphire crystal and a 300-meter water resistance, yet it maintains the more traditional case shape and smaller details on the dial compared to the new “super case” and “maxi dial” of the latest Submariner watches.

Plus, if you look at the sides of the case, you’ll notice lug holes—something that today’s Rolex watches don’t have. This means that it’s easy to switch out the steel Oyster bracelet for different straps. The Submariner ref. 14060 looks great on a leather strap or NATO-style nylon strap. One awesome sports watch, endless ways to wear it.

Another big attraction of the Submariner No-Date 14060 is its price point. Coming in as one of the most affordable Submariner watches, the ref. 14060 can be picked up for less than $6,000 in the secondary market.

 

Submariner No-Date 14060 vs. 14060M vs. 14060M COSC

As with all things Rolex, it’s all about the small details. When Rolex first introduced the ref. 14060 in 1990, it came equipped with the Caliber 3000 automatic movement. Then in 1999, Rolex furnished the no date Submariner with the Caliber 3135 automatic movement, thus the 14060M was born where “M” stands for “modified.” Yet, the style of the watch remained the same.

However, around 2007, the no date Submariner took a drastic design change when Rolex sought COSC-approval for the watch. The Submariner ref. 14060M COSC is notably different from its two older siblings since it includes the “SUPERLATIVE CHRONOMETER OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED” text on the dial. So the Submariner No Date went from a two-liner Submariner to a four-liner Submariner. The Sub ref. 14060M COSC was discontinued to make way for the new Submariner ref. 114060 in 2012.

 

The Last Classic Submariner

If like us you appreciate traditional Submariner design, then you’ll love the Submariner ref. 14060. With its minimal dial, lightweight bracelet, lug holes, and aluminum bezel, this is the last generation of the classic Submariner.