The British monarchy is revered the world over. It’s the original celebrity reality show, mixing a powerful concoction of fairy-tale, drama and fantasy. It’s the subject of countless films, documentaries and Netflix series, and has featured in more newspaper columns than any other British family.
At least a part of such reverie owes to the family’s fantastic wealth, which is widely estimated at over £25 billion. As well as owning significant stretches of land and seabed, the Crown Estate includes an enormous art collection and a hoard of jewellery and antiques. Amongst countless valuable and historically important items are a number of clocks and watches, dating back at least as far as King George III who famously had a keen interest in horology, commissioning the likes of John Arnold and many of Europe’s watchmaking elite.
“Mad King George” was far from being the only one in the bloodline with a taste for luxury timepieces. King Edward VII had a personal jeweller and watchmaker, Alfred Cartier, while Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had his and her Patek Philippe watches. Indeed, in 2015 those pieces were on display in Patek Philippe’s Grand Exhibition in the Saatchi Gallery, alongside her great-granddaughter Queen Elizabeth’s pearl and diamond-heavy Ref. 4975/1G.
Today’s royals still hold the wristwatch in high regard. Here are the luxury watches worn by the current British Royal family.
Queen Elizabeth doesn’t usually wear the museum-worthy Patek Philippe Ref. 4975/1G instead, she’s normally seen with a Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 101. It was the watch she wore for her coronation in 1953. It has the world’s smallest movement and it was housed in an elegant diamond bracelet. In 2012, Jaeger-LeCoultre gifted her a new version as the previous one had been mislaid.
Prince Michael of Kent
The first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II is always impeccably dressed. This includes the vintage two-tone Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref. 5402.
The Prince of Wales has been spotted in a number of watches including a Cartier and a Patek Philippe. He even lends his name to a collection of watches from Chopard, whose proceeds go to the conservation of the environment, art and culture. But the watch that Charles is seen wearing more often than not is a Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph.
The Duke of York, the third child of Queen Elizabeth II, has worn the same watch for decades, a Platinum Rolex Day-Date. He also has a Rolex Submariner and was seen in 2015 wearing a gold version of the Apple Watch.
For over a decade now prince William has been wearing the watch that was given to him by his mother Diana. It’s an Omega Seamaster 300 in blue, like that worn by James Bond in GoldenEye. The reference is the 2561.80.00, which is a mid-size model with a quartz movement.
Duchess of Cambridge
The ever-elegant Kate Middleton rarely puts a foot wrong when it comes to style. This includes her choice of watch, the Cartier Ballon Bleu, which has become one of the most popular women’s Cartier watches of recent years.
For more luxury watches, visit our dedicated second hand and vintage designer watches page.