Luxury Watches Guide for Toronto
By Elli Davis, March 2, 2012
Franck Muller Geneve by Unbreakablejuan
We live in super modern digital times, my friends. With all the technological advancements such as cell phones, laptops, and tablets, one does not necessarily have to own a wristwatch anymore. Nonetheless, watches do not seem to be any less popular. Today, a wristwatch is much more than just a timepiece — it has become an important fashion accessory and, in many cases, a status symbol.
Nowadays, wristwatches are the most commonly worn type of watch. But they have not always been very popular. In fact, wristwatches have only been widely used for a few decades.
Watches evolved from spring-powered clocks in the 16th century. The very first pocket watch was developed by Peter Henlein in 1524 in Germany. Due to the technology of the time, these watches were quite large and were usually worn on a chain around the neck. Not everyone had the privilege of owning a pocket watch. At that time watches were very expensive, and just a lucky few could afford them, so they became a status symbol.
In the following century, pocket watches became more widespread, however, and their popularity lasted for a couple of centuries. Indeed, before wristwatches were used by the majority of people (and before their miniaturization became inexpensive), pocket watches were immensely popular. Even at the beginning of the 20th century, pocket watches were still the most commonly used type of watch.
Wristwatches, back then called “wristlets,” were not considered sufficient. Indeed, not so long ago, the majority of men refused to wear a wristwatch, as it was considered a very feminine thing to do. Women had wristwatches, while “real men” carried pocket watches. However, soldiers in the 19th century realized how much more convenient it is to wear wristwatches instead of carrying their watch in their pocket. Wristwatches became a “wartime necessity,” and the demand for them increased rapidly. The wristwatch, the fantastic invention of Patek Philippe, did not lose favour after the war ended. On the contrary, even civilian men started wearing wristwatches instead of pocket watches.
The main function of the majority of inexpensive watches is, of course, timekeeping. Even moderately priced watches can be used to make a fashion statement, but they have less prestige than more expensive, collectible watches. Watches of this category are appreciated for their workmanship and aesthetic appeal rather than just for their timekeeping ability. As many of these watches have purely mechanical movements, they can actually be less accurate than the cheaper watches with quartz movements.
While inexpensive watches are accurate, the less accurate and more expensive ones do not only aim to tell time. They serve as adornment or as examples of high achievement in miniaturization and precision mechanical engineering. These days, as well as showing the time, many watches inform their owners of the date, have an alarm clock, and even a GPS. There is an unbelievably wide selection of different types of watches.
Wenger GST Classic by Howard Brier
The most famous and reputable watch industry in the world is the Swiss watch industry. For many centuries, Switzerland has been associated with high-quality watch making. Its roots go back to the 16th century, when Jan Calvin implemented his reforms forbidding the wearing of jewels in 1541. Jewellers were forced to find a new craft, and watch making seemed ideal. Shortly thereafter, Genevan watches became known for their high quality.
The Swiss have always had a reputation for hard work and a tendency towards precision. Thanks to these qualities, they have been able to maintain their leadership in the world watch market. Quite a few developments in the watch and clock industry occurred in Switzerland. For instance, the very first self-winding wristwatch was created in Grenchen in 1926, the first electrical watch was produced in the country in 1952, and the Centre Electronique Horloger in Neuchâtel invented Beta 21, the world’s first quartz wristwatch, in 1967.
Interestingly, the Swiss watch and clock industry is the third largest exporter for the country, after the machine and chemical industries. Almost 95 per cent of its production is exported. In terms of value, Switzerland is actually responsible for about half of all world production of watches. It is virtually impossible to visit a shop selling watches and not find a Swiss brand.
Over the years, “Swiss” has come to mean quality, accuracy, and precision when it comes to timepieces. One of the biggest advantages of the country’s watch and clock industry is the ability to offer the consumer a genuinely comprehensive choice of products, something foreign watch industries seem unable to do. Indeed, Switzerland's success does not only rely on high-quality products, but also on the amazing variety of watches it offers, it terms of both technology and appearance. Everyone will find a watch they like among the unbelievably wide variety of products offered by Swiss manufacturers.
Let’s forget about inexpensive watches for a while and concentrate on the really high-quality, luxury pieces. These watches are “exquisite mechanisms created by talented craftsmen who do the seemingly impossible with gold, diamonds, springs, gears, and tiny tools.” Which work of art should you choose, and what is the best brand? Most of those who know nothing about watches, or have never owned a luxury watch would most likely say Rolex or Cartier, as these two are the best known luxury brands among the general public. That, however, does not necessarily mean that they are the best.
There is no denying that Cartier and Rolex offer quality pieces, but there are also many other less widely known brands who are just as fantastic. In fact, most famous brands are neither the most sought after by collectors nor the most expensive. Take a look at some of the best watch brands, and decide if you would prefer a watch that can impress everyone with its famous luxury brand or just the chosen few who know high-quality watches well. Here is the list of world’s best luxury brands, as released by United Brands LLC.
Rolex Daytona by Wikimedia Commons
Talking about watches, one has to mention Rolex. It is probably the most popular luxury watch brand in the world. The company was founded in 1905 under the name Wilsdorf & Davis and renamed The Rolex Watch Company in 1915. To this day, the company is acknowledged by a broad audience “for design and excellence”. Rolex stands behind quite a few inventions, including the “first certified chronometer, the first effective waterproof and dust-proof watch casing, and the first wristwatch with an automatic changing date”. To show off a little and attract envious glares, those who can afford it ought to choose this brand.
In 1847, when Louis Francois Cartier founded the House of Cartier, nobody would have guessed how successful the company would become. Cartier has not always been famous for watch making, however. It was originally solely a jewellery boutique. Over the years, it has developed a fantastic reputation for providing its customers with fine, high-quality jewellery and accessories. Amazingly, Cartier was the first to “present to the watch market a truly water resistant design”. If you are looking for a prestigious name brand that “offers a mix of quality craftsmanship and contemporary styling”, Cartier is ideal for you. Purchase one of their watches and feel like a movie star!
Even if you are not into watches, Breiting is a brand you most likely have heard about — especially if you are a sporty, adventure-loving person. The company was founded in 1884 in St. Imier, Switzerland by Leon Breitling, whose aim was to “manufacture high-quality technical watches”. It is safe to say that this goal was achieved. The Breitling watch “is the first and only choice for many pilots as well as the official watch of numerous aerobatics teams worldwide”. If you are looking for a professional, stylish and reliable watch, this brand will not disappoint.
IWC by Eric Kilby
The International Watch Company was founded by American engineer Florentine Ariosto Jones in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, in 1868. It was originally specialized on chronometry, and over the years, IWC has built a reputation for producing “technically exacting, innovative, and reliable” watches. In the words of IWC’s CEO, Michael Sarp, the company “shall produce watches of the highest quality with unique technical and design characteristics.”
Those who know how successful and respected this company is in the watch industry might be surprised by the fact that it was only founded in 1991. Franck Muller was known in the world of watch making long before he established his own company. Muller is an unbelievably talented craftsman, and his eye for detail shows very well in the pieces of art his company puts out on the market. It is no surprise that he comes from Switzerland!
Let’s not forget that there are a few good luxury brands in Canada as well. Here is a brief selection:
Rufus Gerard was established as a result of a design collaboration between Canadian artist Rufus Lin and the Shizukuishi Studio in Japan. Canada’s “only top-end luxury mechanical watch brand” has been known for producing unique, beautiful, and accurate watches. Every piece of the Rufus Gerard watch collection is hand-made by highly qualified watchmakers. Knowing that your timepiece is the only one of its kind is certainly worth its price.
Barrington Griffiths Watch by Wikimedia Commons
Inventing a high-quality watch of timeless style was the reason Mark Griffiths founded this Calgary company. Since its establishment, Barrington Griffiths Watch Company has been committed to its mission to “design, restore, and manufacture mechanical wristwatches.” Vintage lovers especially will fall in love with the watches from their modern classic series combining vintage pocket watch movement with current design and technology.
If you are planning to purchase a new high-quality sport watch, you should consider checking out what Momentum® by the St. Moritz Watch Corporation has to offer. The company was founded in North America in 1980 and has been known for not only designing its own watches but also working as manufacturers for some of the most popular and reputable sport brands. Choose from a wide variety of sports watches, including watches for underwater sports, and you will not be disappointed.
After reading about these varied luxury brands, many of you might feel the need to give yourselves a nice treat in the form of a new wristwatch. Where in Toronto can you find some of the brands we have mentioned, as well as other great products?
24 Bellair Street
To be surrounded by some of best high-end watch brands in the world, all one needs to do is visit Louis Black. Its owner, Louis Kostopoulos, has been working with timepieces for more than twenty years, and it sure looks like he knows what he is doing. Imagine having Franck Muller, Richard Mille, DeGrisgono, and many other well known names of the watch industry under one roof. Seems like heaven to me. Shopping in a “boutique known as a premier destination for consumers seeking exceptional items” can never be wrong.
101 Bloor Street West
Royal de Versailles Jewellers has been one of the most prominent jewellery stores in Canada for about two decades. With boutiques offering various luxury watches, including Rolex, Cartier and Audemars Piguet, you do not need to worry about finding a watch you like. This retailler “represents the world’s most distinguished suppliers of fine watches, jewellery and gifts.” Repair and restoration services for both jewellery and watches are offered as well. Spending a few hours at Royal de Versailles makes for an unforgettable shopping experience.
37 Hazelton Avenue
Incredibly talented, Canadian-born jewellery designer, Myles Mindham, invites you to visit one of his boutiques. Mindham has received national and international awards over the last twenty years, and he creates some amazing jewellery himself. He offers a variety of products from other high-end brands too. You will find Franck Muller, Perrelet, Backes and Strauss, Bedat & Co., and Alpina watches in his Toronto stores. In fact, Myles Mindham was the first to introduce Franck Mueller watches to Toronto, which sure is something.
220 Yonge Street
One of the most prestigious fine watch boutiques in Toronto, La Swiss is the perfect place to go if you are looking for a stylish designer watch. You will find a number of luxury brands, including Rolex, Breitling Hugo Boss and Gucci in this incredible store. As the slogan of La Swiss claims, “We do not sell watches, we help you buy them.” If this wide range of products does not satisfy your taste, you are one difficult customer!
What can you do if your favourite watch does not work as it is supposed to? Luckily, most of the luxury boutiques in Toronto also offer repair services. Furthermore, quite few places specialize in watch repair.
57 Yonge Street
Oyster Time claims to be “Toronto’s Quickest Watch Repair Centre.” Owned by a former Rolex Canada Horologist with astonishingly diverse experience, Mr. Yosef, there is no reason not to believe them. Fast, high-quality service and reasonable prices seem to attract an increasing number of customers. Whether you need a battery/crystal/movement change, a water test, a complete overhaul, or even the repair of your antique or pocket watch, Oyster Time is here to help.
Another professional in watch repair is Shane Ede. Mr. Ede has been repairing watches, including Rolexes, for more than 30 years. He has a fabulous reputation, thanks to which people from across Canada and the U.S. rely upon his services whenever their watches need to be repaired. Mr. Ede is able to repair nearly anything. “The only two things I don’t do are fusees or Accutrons,” he claims. To get his phone number and more details about his work, feel free to visit his website.