It is said that the very first wristwatch was made in 1868 by the Swiss company Patek Philippe for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary. Although people were finding various ways to attach pocket watches to their wrists for two or three centuries, it was done more as a matter of convenience than style. Not surprisingly, it was a person of royal lineage who first wore a wristwatch as a fashion accessory.

Taking a cue from the countess, the late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the wristwatch become an essential part of a person’s wardrobe and a unique way to express one’s individuality. Indeed, a watch isn’t simply a functional instrument that tells time, it’s a very personal accessory that says much about a person’s style, panache, confidence and position in society. Shop the Sotheby’s Home Watch Collection now.

Rolex Pink Gold Day-Date
Rolex Day-Date Pink Gold Automatic Watch Circa 1966

The word “Rolex” speaks volumes about luxury, success and impeccable taste. Rolex watches have adorned the wrists of such people as Winston Churchill, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy. This gorgeous 18-karat pink gold watch is distinguished by the textured linen pattern on the center links, bezel and lugs. This unique type of finish began to be used in the mid-sixties and became quite popular in the seventies. The date is displayed at the three position, and the day of the week is at the twelve spot. The Pink Gold Day-Date is an example of a classic mid-century design from one of the world’s best luxury timepiece brands.

Rolex GMT-Master
Rolex GMT-Master Stainless Steel Automatic Dual Time Watch Circa 1967

Introduced in 1959, the Rolex GMT-Master has been a favorite of both first-time buyers and experienced collectors for a full six decades. The original version was produced until 1980, and today it is one of the most desired watches in the world. At its debut, it was unique because it made tracking a second time zone easy. Both the GMT-Master and its successor, the GMT-Master II, are iconic designs from Rolex, and they are nothing short of pure elegance. This beautiful watch features an attention-getting blue and red bezel, set against a classic black dial.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Gold Automatic Watch Circa 1980

Testifying to the popularity and timelessness of this watch is that it is still being produced nearly 50 years after its introduction in 1972. With its steel case, octagonal bezel, “tapisserie” dial and integrated bracelet, the Royal Oak overturned the prevailing conventions and took its place as a true modern icon. Oddly enough, the design was inspired by deep-sea diving helmets of the time. The Royal Oak was the first luxury watch made of stainless steel and was more expensive than a gold Patek Philippe when it was first introduced.

Hermès Gold and Tortoiseshell Enameled Bracelet Watch
Hermès Gold and Tortoiseshell Enameled Bracelet Watch Circa 1960

Hermès introduced its first watch in 1928, nearly a century after the company was founded in Paris. The Hermès lady’s 18-karat yellow gold and enamel bracelet watch is a true representative of the sixties, featuring gracefully curved oval links and tortoiseshell-colored enamel. It is an excellent example of the company’s long tradition of blending high fashion with the legendary art of Swiss watchmaking.

Piaget Yellow Gold and Diamond Bracelet Watch
Piaget Gold and Diamond Bracelet Watch Circa 1975

Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor and Bar Refaeli are just a few of the notables who have collected and worn Piaget timepieces, and the uniqueness of the brand’s designs attracted collaborations with renowned artists such as Salvador Dalí. This elegant 18-karat yellow gold and diamond bracelet watch will garner lots of attention with its gorgeous woven bracelet and black lacquer and diamond dial.

Bulgari Serpenti Tubogas Gold Watch
Bulgari Serpenti Tubogas Gold Watch Circa 1990

This gorgeous watch from Bulgari continues the luxury watchmaker’s long tradition of pushing the envelope with distinctive, unconventional designs. The striking tri-color gold tubogas (“turbine”) bracelet raises this fine Italian watch far above the ordinary. The black dial contrasts beautifully with the 18-karat gold case, and the serpentine design, first produced by Bulgari in the forties, has become a trademark of its luxury timepieces that are recognized as among the best in the world.

Rolex Datejust Stainless Steel and Leather Watch
Rolex Datejust Stainless Steel and Leather Watch Circa 1968

Dripping with personality and character, the Oyster Perpetual Datejust was introduced by Rolex in 1945, and was the first self-winding chronometer wristwatch to indicate the date in a window on the dial. With its sharp fluted bezel and shining silver dial, it looks just as stylish today as it did 50 years ago. The luxurious brown leather strap stands out nicely against the silver casing and buckle. A longtime Rolex staple, the Datejust is still in production after more than 75 years.

Indeed, Countess Koscowicz started a trend that continues to this day. A luxury vintage watch is a bold accoutrement that not only conveys confidence and success, but also evokes a sense of nostalgia and timelessness, and adds layers of style to any well-dressed lady or gentleman.

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