The British Royal Family is an institution, as ingrained into the national tradition as hot tea and an orderly queue. They consistently grab headlines for their charity work, for their occasional wild antics, and their choice of style. And while their wrist wear isn’t exactly tabloid fodder, it’s always worth a look at the royal family’s watches.
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth owns several watches, which often double as bejeweled accessories. For her coronation in 1952, the Queen chose a Jaeger-LeCoultre watch, stealthily hidden on a diamond bracelet. The Caliber 101, as it’s called, is the smallest watch movement in the world.
During her reign, Queen Elizabeth has sported another Jaeger-LeCoultre, the Reverso, along with a Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse and an 18k Audemars Piguet watch. Often, these watches are custom-made for the Royal Family to add to their extensive collection of royal jewels.
Prince Charles tends to wear his watches discreetly tucked under his cuff, which makes identifying them a challenge. And while he’s been known to wear both Cartier and Patek Philippe watches, he’s photographed regularly with a Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph on his wrist. However, by no means is that the beginning and end of what we assume is Prince Charles’ impressive collection of watches.
Prince William always wears his quartz OMEGA Seamaster Professional, a watch with real sentimental value. Princess Diana gifted it to William when he was young, and he’s worn it ever since—most notably during his 2011 wedding. Read more about Prince William’s watch here.
Kate Middleton’s classic, understated style always grabs attention. So when she does don a wristwatch in public, it’s no surprise that she goes for Cartier. Specifically, a Cartier Ballon Blue without any frilly feminine details, but with a blue cabochon crown that matches her sapphire engagement ring.
For Prince Harry, it’s heavy-hitter watches. During his time in the military, he wore a Rolex Explorer II ref. 216570 and a Breitling Aerospace—both of which he continues to wear today. Both the Explorer II and the Aerospace work well for Harry’s active lifestyle: stainless steel, built for adventure, and classic styles to boot.
Prince Andrew wears Rolex, and only Rolex. The platinum Rolex Day-Date has been the Duke of York’s preferred watch for around 25 years, making him a one-watch kind of guy.
The British monarchy is steeped in tradition—no surprise there. But it’s interesting to take a look at the differences between the old guard and the new. While the Queen and her sons stick to classic, well-bred Swiss names when it comes to their watches, the next generation seems to have taken a different tack. The younger royals go for stainless steel sports watches, the arguably more “accessible” timepieces. Is this an indication of a break from the more traditional? Only time will tell.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on February 13, 2013. We have updated it to include new information.
Images ©: Header; Jason Bell/Pool. 1; Jaeger-LeCoultre. 2; Reuters. 3; Stefan Postles/Getty Images. 4; Wikimedia Commons.