Newly installed King of Britain, Charles III, has always been considered a fashion tastemaker even in his younger years. Growing up in studiously refined environs and being in the public eye can do that to someone. But here we’ll be talking only about his watches. The former prince can easily be called a watch lover as he’s rarely seen without one.
Style observers say the King’s preference in watches is rather hard to define. It ranges from classics to unexpected pieces. Online watch magazine Monochrome Watches describes the 73-year-old monarch’s taste as “refined but discreet” while Watchonista calls the royal watch collector an aesthete, who “takes great care in choosing his watches, matching them to his outfits with great discretion and discernment.”
Our favorite watch geek, Atty. Sieg Suarez of Watch Manila, says the king’s timepieces may “fly under the radar but have significant histories.” He adds: “King Charles III also prefers watches which are not hyped. This indicates his taste as a fine gentleman.”
In his latest video for Watch Manila, Sieg takes a closer look at some of the watches worn by His Royal Highness thru the years:
Parmigiani Fleurier Chronograph
The king notably wore an 18-carat gold automatic Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph during the wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Markle in 2018. Sieg says based on the side profile of the watch that he saw online, the Parmigiani also appeared to be the newly coronated king’s watch of choice at his formal proclamation. “This is not certain, but there are indicators which point to the same,” the lawyer slash watch aficionado says.
Fashion website Gentlemen’s Journal says the model has been Charles III’s favored timepiece since 2015. The watchmaker told the luxury lifestyle publication that it was the king himself who obtained it from their retailer in Klosters resort in Switzerland.
The eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II favored a yellow gold version of the popular JLC watch during his younger years. One photo caught him wearing a vintage 23mm quartz Jeager-LeCoultre Reverso in 18k yellow gold with a white dial featuring Roman numerals, which is considered rare for a Reverso.
Sieg offers a historical fun fact: the JLC Reverso was created in 1931 for polo players. It was named as such because the watch can “reverse” to the other side to reveal a blank metal slate in order to protect the watch during polo games. JLC is also called “the watchmaker of watchmakers,” having provided movement to several known brands including Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Vacheron Constantin.
Breguet Reference 3680
King Charles III was gifted by Swiss luxury brand Breguet with a special watch containing the inscription “HRH The Prince of Wales in commemoration of your 60th birthday. 14th November 2000.”
“The Breguet gift is significant because this brand has famously been worn by royalty and prominent people even before King Charles III such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Marie Antoinette, King Louis XVI and Winston Churchill, to name a few,” says Sieg.
During his military schooling in the early 70s, King Charles III trained to become a jet pilot at the Royal Air Force Cranwell. It was at this time he was issued the Hamilton RAF Pilot’s Chronograph 924-3306. The king has been photographed wearing this aviator watch with combat dress while performing forces-related duties, and also when skiing.
Online watch magazine Watchonista says the 41mm asymmetric steel chronograph was one of the four models produced by the watchmaking brands CWC, Precista, Newmark, and Hamilton. The timepieces were nicknamed the "Fab Four."
Want one of these on your wrist? The Hamilton brand, now owned by the Swatch Group, actually introduced re-edited versions of these four watches.
Patek Philippe Calatrava
This yellow gold watch is also one of the King’s favorite pieces as he has been seen wearing it since the 70s. Princess Diana has a photo wearing the said model with her own Patek, a good luck gesture directed towards Prince Charles during his polo match. The snap was captured at the Windsor Guards Polo Club in 1983, says Vogue.
The iconic wrist watch was also seen on the wrist of HRH as shown on this link. “The Cartier is also a terrific choice as it demonstrates an understated elegance,” Atty. Sieg says. The brand was conceived in 1904 by Louis Cartier to help aviators tell time mid-flight. The brand is defined by its geometric dial, harmoniously curved horns and signature exposed screws.