Watches - Feature Article

The Watches and Jewellery of the Royal Family

With the release of series four of the crown, we thought it would be particularly apt to do an article outlining the watches and jewellery of the Royal Family. The royals, through their various scandals, are widely loved around the United Kingdom. The Queen, in particular, is seen as an excellent leader and the younger generations of the monarchy are becoming more and more relatable. The monarchy is estimated to be worth a combined £72.5 Billion, and with this you would think they would be able to buy some pretty interesting watches and jewellery. Firstly, yes as the below article will hopefully explain, but there is more to it than just the financial firepower to consider.

Let’s begin with the head of ‘The Firm’ HRH Queen Elizabeth II. Queen Elizabeth is the only female member of the Royal Family to have joined the armed forces, she trained as a mechanic and as a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service. This shows a more practical side, one that is often hidden behind the bejewelled exterior and this is reflected in her choice of timepiece. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 101 was a very discreet watch worn by HRH in her daily life, and on a record-breaking day, Her coronation. The JLC Cal 101 is very much an understated piece, if you didn’t look closely you would see a bracelet but no, there is a tiny wristwatch movement present. This limelight shunning watch was worn to not detract from the Crown Jewels and the plethora of diamond encrusted family heirlooms of obvious significance. The Watch itself, a gift from the then President of France was also chosen to allow the Queen to covertly check the time on Her coronation, something deemed unsightly for women in the 1950’s.

 Now don’t think it was all discreetness and covert timekeeping for The Queens timepieces, the Patek Philippe 4975/1G is also in her personal collection. This White Gold, pearl braceleted watch was recently acquired and was displayed, with HRH permission in the Patek Philippe Watch Art Grand Exhibition London at the Saatchi gallery in 2015. The Queen also exhibits her keenness for variety as she has also been spotted wearing wristwatches from brands such as Omega.

Prince Charles is next in line to the throne, although many believe he will abdicate his position and allow Prince William to run the show. Charles has a large and diverse collection; it was more acceptable to be seen in the trappings of wealth in the past. Charles has been seen wearing a Hamilton RAF pilots watch, he trained to become a pilot in the RAF and this is certainly a suitable timepiece for any pilot to be wearing. This watch has been spotted on Charles’ wrist on skiing trips and the such, so it could be concluded that the Prince sees this as his ‘beater’ watch. Charles also has a love for yellow gold, he has been spotted wearing a JLC Reverso in gold in the 1980s as well as one of his favourites; the Patek Philippe Calatrava Disco Volante. This elegant gold cased Patek was constantly gracing the wrist of Prince Charles and was seen in an early expression of ‘Double Wristing’ on Princess Diana, when she paired it with a new yellow gold Patek Philippe Charles had purchased for her 30th birthday.

Prince Charles’ most recent acquisition is the Parmigiani Fleurier Toric chronograph- seen on his wrist at the wedding of Prince Harry and more recently when he spoke to the pubic about his coronavirus illness. Its not all about the wearing of the watches for Charles, he likes to give back too through the art of horology. The Princes Trust is a charity that helps young people get into jobs, education and training and has been running for over 40 years. The trust teamed up with Chopard and more recently Hublot to produce a limited edition ‘Princes Trust’ watch with a portion of the profit going to the trust. The Watches of Switzerland group and Rolex also raised £300,000 for the princes trust earlier on this year to celebrate the centenary of Rolex and WOS working in partnership, and to give something back to the communities that need it most.

Now on to the ‘new generation’ of royals. Prince William is who many see as the King in waiting, getting ready to lead the country under a new, modern monarchy. William is very much in touch with the people of the generation, and his watch collection show this. Gone from visibility are the gold, expensive watches of his father and grandmother to be replaced with one mainstay. The Omega Seamaster Diver 300. This mid-sized quartz watch has been with the Prince ever since he received it as a gift. Now you may ask, why such an unremarkable watch for the man who could possibly be our next king? Well, the aforementioned public perception is a big one for William, he knows how important the public view of him is- he has to be the sensible, stoic one to counteract the occasional wildness of Harry. The watch also has huge sentimental value to William as it is believed to have been from his mother, the late Princes Diana. The choice to continue to wear the Omega Seamaster shows the Prince to be able to appreciate fine swiss timepieces, but ones at the reach of the everyday man.

Prince Harry’s watch collection is more varied than his older brother, the first of which is the Rolex Explorer 216570. This all round, robust Rolex is perfectly suited for Prince Harry’s ten years in the armed forces, the GMT function of the watch particularly helpful on his two tours of Afghanistan. Prince Harry has also been seen sporting a Breitling Aerospace, another watch perfectly suited for his time as an Apache Helicopter pilot. Breitling are seen to be one of the watches of choice for pilots. As we have deduced, Prince Harry is a watch fan, the question remains; will we see more additions now the Royal has stepped back from his public duties?

The Royal Family’s collection of jewellery is quite mind boggling. Let us start with the Tiaras. The Queens most frequently worn headpieces is the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara, it was a gift from her grandmother Queen Mary and is the tiara seen atop the head of The Queen on our bank notes. The tiara worn by the Duchess of Cambridge on her wedding day was on loan from The Queen and was made by Cartier, it contains over 1000 diamonds. Quite possibly one of the most famous engagement rings of all time is the one currently worn by The Duchess of Cambridge. This 12 carat sapphire and diamond ring was chosen by Diana when she became engaged to Prince Charles. The behemoth 158 carat brooch worn by Queen Elizabeth II is made up from two stones cut from the Cullinan diamond in 1905 and was worn by HRH to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. This brooch is known by the Royal Family as “Grannys Chips”.

So in conclusion we can learn a lot from the choices of the various members of the Royal Family, from their outward portrayal to sentimentality its not always about the price tag when it comes to being a member of ‘The Firm’.

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