Sunday meditations: Six recommendations for the old money crowd

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We have done lists for those with stealth wealth, but looking through our archives, we have not done one for those old money folks. Maybe they don’t need our recommendations, but perhaps they do. Anyway our list, our rules. Lets’s go!

Sunday meditations: Six recommendations for those with old money

We figured some ground rules for this list:

  • The watches should be quiet, understated. No ostentatious timepieces. Meaning, not too big, not gemstone encrusted. Not fad brands.
  • The watches should be on the higher end of the pricing spectrum. Typically with cases in precious metals.
  • The watches must come from a house with great pedigree. And good reputation.

With these set, let’s crack on!

Patek Phillippe

Perhaps the queen maison. Patek Philippe is the grande old dame of watchmaking. With a long and illustrious history to match. It does well in the secondary market, and new pieces are quite difficult to come along…requiring one to develop a long term relationship with the Authorised Dealer to be allocated a desirable Patek. All traits perfect for old money. Top of the pick is of course, a minute repeater. Patek has a long history and reputation of making the best repeaters in the business. Take the Ref. 3939 Minute Repeater Tourbillon. One was sold by Phillips in 2021 in Geneva Auction XIV for CHF 384k. Though my personal favourite among Patek striking watches is the Ref. 5016.

The Patek Philippe Ref. 5016R on my wrist!

The Ref. 3939 is more discreet, of course. Looking almost like a simple time only watch, but is armed with a magnificent sounding minute repeater and a tourbillon regulator. The Patek Philippe style is for the tourbillon to be only visible from the sapphire case back adds to the sober tone. While the Ref. 5016, though still quite understated features a perpetual calendar on the dial. This makes the dial a bit more cluttered, suggesting to the uninitiated that there is something special going on there. But of course, to those not familiar, it still hides the superlative striking mechanism and a tourbillon. Finishing of the watches: case, dial and movement are flawless.

Neither the Ref. 3939 nor the Ref. 5017 are in production anymore. Makes both the chosen models even more old money, doesn’t it? As far as we know the Ref. 3939 has no current modern alternative from Patek. The Ref. 3303 is perhaps the closest but it has a transparent sapphire glass dial and retails at SGD 1,093,800 in a rose gold case. The closest Patek ever got to a successor to the Ref. 5016 was the Ref. 5207, released in 2011. The white gold cases watch is still in the current catalog for a cool SGD 1,360,000. (We love it that Patek lists the prices of even their Grande Complication pieces!)

Vacheron Constantin

The other grand old dame, part of the Trinity of PP, VC and AP. Vacheron too has a long and illustrious history. They have a superb minute repeater in their Patrimony series, which is a highlight in my career as a journalist and collector. But if we had to chose one, we will pick a more democratic piece. And the piece we would choose is the Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955 chronograph.

Cornes de Vache literally translates from French to Cow’s Horn. Curious why? Details on our full review linked. And while you are at it, look also at our 1on1 comparison with the Lange 1815 Chronograph.

The size is just perfect, with a case diameter of 38.5mm. The movement is the VC Caliber 1142, which is the Caliber 1141 with Geneva Seal. The Caliber 1141 itself a VC modified derivative of the Lemania 2310, but finished to VC standards to show off the beautiful architecture of this grand old chronograph. Of course, as a symbol of the old world moneyed folks, the vintage Cornes de Vache from 1955 as the Ref 6087 is an even better option. Especially in the super cool and understated model in platinum, of which only 2 were ever made.

Audemars Piguet

AP is the third leg of the Trinity. The classic choice would of course, be the Royal Oak. And what better to offer a taste of old world money than the Royal Oak Jumbo Ref. 15202IP. Our chosen RO shares the same 39 mm case dimension as the fan-favourite steel Jumbo Extra-Thin model, the Ref. 15202ST, as well as the very first Royal Oak: the Ref. 5202ST. In fact, every dimension, the mechanics and the overall style of the watch remains exactly the same. The Ref. 15202IP is crafted in a mix of platinum and titanium, the watch features unique aesthetics that subtly differentiate it from its predecessors as the platinum and titanium offers an interesting subtle contrast of hues and finishing textures. The darker, highly-textured quality of the titanium contrasts splendidly with the blindingly polished platinum. Each metal and finish enhances the presence of the other exponentially. And yet, unless you observe closely and are in the know, the Ref. 15202IP will easily be passed off as another stainless steel Royal Oak instead of a special variant.

The 15202IP is not in the current AP catalog, being replaced by the current Ref. 16202ST, but we are not aware of a variant in the ultra-stealth platinum and titanium combination.

The only alternative is the original Jumbo from 1972 Ref. 5402ST. What a flex this one is! First of its genre to be made. Stainless steel, luxury sports watch with integrated steel bracelet. Designed by the fabled Gerald Genta himself, and probably as responsible as any other watch to have saved Audemars Piguet from the ravages of the Quartz Revolution.


GP is another grand old dame of watchmaking. It is curious that the first four of our selections on this list comprise of double names in the brand. But such was the naming conventions of maisons from the earliest of watchmaking history. GP, as a company has gone through many travails and survived tough times. And one character is that the marque is always linked to contemporary pop culture of its age. There are many icons to pick from. Consider the interesting story of being referenced in “From Russia with Love”, a James Bond tale by Ian Flemming. GP was inspired to create the 1966 Full Calendar in response. Though an excellent alternative is probably the Laureato which was created as an inspiration from the movie “The Graduate”, and of course also encouraged by the success of the Royal Oak by AP. But ultimately, our pick is from the classic Tourbillon with Three Golden Bridges collection: the Esmeralda Tourbillon. The Tourbillon with Three Golden Bridges is inspired by a historical watch which had won awards at the Neuchatel Observatory from 1865 to 1890. The GP no. 168230 “La Esmeralda”, was sold to President Porfirio Diaz of Mexico and purchased back by GP from the Dias family in 1973. Our chosen watch was in turn inspired by this historical piece. And showcased the magnificent tourbillon in three golden bridges on the dial.

Admittedly, this one is more loud and garish than the other watches on this list. The three golden bridges make a strong and very vocal statement on its patrimony. But if it were just a loud noise, it would not be on this list. We think it is still quite understated.

And the ultimate flex would be the pocket watch variant, which GP made available for order at the rate of only 1 piece a year since 1980. We are not sure if you can still order one today.


Next up, Cartier. Again a grand old maison, founded in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier in Paris, but now part of the Richemont Luxury Group. The Maison had a fling with high complication, but lately, Cartier has decided to settle on what they do best. French chic in the form cased watches. And again many icons to pick from which would fit our criteria. From the Tank to the Santos to the Pasha and the Crash! Our pick for this list has to be the Tortue. Specifically, the 1998 version, with the classic round movement by THA. That is our old money pick, though truth be told, the 2024, return of the  Tortue Monopoussoir CPCP is also equally good, and perhaps even more technically appealing.

The 2024 novelty features an improved movement, now in-house (ValFleurier?) tonneau shaped movement, Cal. 1928MC, and in a smaller case. The case back is also opened with a sapphire glass which follows the shape of the case, instead of the former’s round porthole allowing a glimpse to the THA sourced movement.

Parmigiani Fleurier

This one is different. The ultimate flex of old money. The Sandoz Family (epitome of Swiss old money) Foundation owns not only a Parmigiani watch, but the whole company! How is that for a show of old money. Also going for Parmigiani is that good old King Charles III has been seen (almost everywhere) with his Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph. He wore it for Harry’s wedding and even for his 2023 Coronation. So our pick would indeed be to echo His Majesty’s choice and we choose the latest Toric Chronograph. (Full review coming soon! In the meantime, see also our event report here.)

This is a new release of the Rattrapante we first saw in the Chronor Anniversaire. This novelty uses the same movement but modified to remove the date. The movement is executed in gold with satin finished open worked hand bevelled bridges. And spectacular with the many inward and outward angles applied to the finishing. More on our full hands-on review later!

Concluding thoughts

So that’s it. Our top 6 watches for the old monied. We could have picked a Rolex (yea, the new 1908 in Platinum fits the bill perfectly), or a Lange (a Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar is our choice), or a Chopard (Full Strike, but of course, any Ferdinand Berthoud will suffice, though my personal pick would be the FB3 SPC). We could have also chosen an MB&F. Expensive and exclusive enough, but any MB&F is too modern, too new world and not conservative enough. A Greubel Forsey, also too large, too technical. Or even an independent like Roger Smith, Philippe Dufour, Rexhep Rexhepi, Kari Voutilainen would perhaps require more in-depth horological understanding than the traditional old money folks.

What do you think? Are you old money enough to offer an opinion? Well, you don’t have to be…just tell us in the comments what you think, all right?



  1. I just discovered Deployant. What a happy find! I enjoy the writing. Your choice of watches and the style of writing is well balanced. I run a watch repair shop in a so-called upmarket New York suburb. The clientele is mostly conformist and status seeking. So I rarely see many of the marques you write about. As you would expect we see lots of Rolex watches. I thank the various authors for their expertise and modestly- a quality that is quite rare in the US. I will become a devoted follower.