Fashion brands have always made watches, but they’ve generally been an afterthought – logos often licensed as an easy cash-spinner. Which is why, compared to Geneva’s heritage brands, they were long viewed the same way we see fast fashion: cheap, throwaway, knock-off. Until now. Because while not all designer watches possess Swiss guts, they do now have Swiss levels of attention to detail.
“For a long time, fashion and luxury watches were separate,” says Erica Redgrave, buyer at The Watch Gallery. “But in recent years, runway brands have established their own Swiss manufactures or expanded design teams. Which, generally speaking, means the same level of craftsmanship but a fresh, more fashion-led aesthetic.”
And without a Vacheron Constantin logo on the dial, you don’t pay VC money.
Burberry The City
Working on Liverpool Street isn’t all acquisitions and Thursday benders (OK, so maybe it is). But you can add a touch of elegance to the mix with Burberry’s stainless steel design and a simple navy dial. Makes the clockwatching almost bearable.
Available at The Watch Gallery, priced £495.
The rarefied world of horse riding has little relevance to your everyday style. The same can’t be said for its wristwear.
As the Hermès Dressage proves, all-black works everywhere, and it’s just as impressive inside as out thanks to the brand’s dedicated Swiss manufacture. Still makes no sense of dancing horses, though.
Available at Hermès, priced £7,100.
Monsieur de Chanel
The French are proud of their homegrown talent. And judging by the Monsieur de Chanel, they have every reason to be.
The design is inspired by the grand Place Vendôme and everything from the crisp dial to the art deco numerals are tres chic.
Available at Chanel, price on request.
Ralph Lauren 45mm Chronometer Steel
The USA is famed for its industry. But fine watchmaking has never been one of them.
Clever, then, that king of prep Ralph Lauren fused horology with automotives, for a dashboard-inspired dial that pays direct homage to his own 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe.
Available at Ralph Lauren, priced approx. £1,544.
Marc By Marc Jacobs Fergus Stainless Steel
Proof that good watches don’t need Swiss guts, Marc by Marc Jacobs extends to far more than novelty tote bags and your girlfriend’s purse.
The Fergus’ clear design and gold case reference the 1980s, with a price tag even for those who don’t think greed is good.
Available at Selfridges, priced £155.
Calvin Klein Men’s Minimal Watch
Minimalism maximises cost-per-wear as it goes with everything you already own. But it’s the details that make less more: Calvin Klein’s Milanese bracelet is trending, and subtle design ensures wardrobe compatibility.
Available at The Watch Superstore, priced £150.
Givenchy Gy100181s15 Seventeen
The Seventeen model breaks all the rules with a Metropolis-esque dial and an industrial buckle frame – a far cry from classic haute horlogerie and perfect as a statement piece.
Playing teacher’s pet was never cool anyway.
Available at Selfridges, priced £770.
Alessandro Michele’s new Gucci is almost unrecognisable. If it isn’t brogues replaced by fur-lined loafers, the once conservative G-Timeless has booked in for a green malachite facelift. Well, a little nip tuck never hurt anyone.
Available at Gucci, priced £650.
Kenzo Red-Black Watch
On paper, a contrast black and red striped watch sounds frightful. But Kenzo has mastered pattern clashing, to provide the pop of colour your monochrome looks need. Maybe leave it out of the nine-to-five, though.
Available at Fruggo, priced £119.
Versace Dylos Day Stainless Steel
Versace – not all oil-slicked torsos. As the Dylos Day proves, there’s a way to combine the brand’s signature in a more palatable form, and a black automatic offers both craftsmanship and versatility. So you can wear with your suit, and your birthday suit.
Available at Selfridges, priced £1,550.