The Royal Family’s favourite watches revealed

It should come as no surprise that the British Royal Family has amassed a staggering collection of luxury watches. From the late Queen Elizabeth II’s Patek Philippe jewel-watch made from pearls to Prince William’s trusted Omega Seamaster, we reveal the Royal Family’s most treasured timepieces

By Maria Jakobsen

Queen Elizabeth II: Jaeger LeCoultre Calibre 101

Queen Elizabeth II, wearing the Imperial State Crown and carrying the Orb, arrives at Buckingham Palace from Westminster Abbey, after her coronation in 1953.
The late Queen Elizabeth II wears a Jaeger LeCoultre Calibre 101 (Photo by Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Getty Images)

Throughout her 70-year reign, much was written about Her Majesty’s stunning collection of jewellery, tiaras, and brooches. However, a less publicised element of her wardrobe was her collection of luxury watches. The late Queen is rumoured to have owned over fourteen luxury timepieces, making her a true watch connoisseur. 

Queen Elizabeth II on her way to her first State Opening of Parliament as monarch, 4th November 1952.
The late Queen Elizabeth II wears a Jaeger LeCoultre Calibre 101 (Photo by Douglas Miller/Getty Images)

One of the most historically significant watches in the late monarch’s collection is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 101. The Queen opted for this dainty watch – a gift from the president of France – for her coronation in 1953.

Launched in 1929, the Calibre 101 brought together traditions of fine jewellery and the expertise of haute horologie into what remains the world’s smallest mechanical calibre. It’s rumoured that the diamond-set Calibre 101 bracelet watch, with its minute dial, was selected for the coronation as it allowed the Queen to discreetly check the time.

Queen Elizabeth II: Patek Philippe ref 4975/1G

Queen Elizabeth II arrives at the Empire Theatre for the 2007 Royal Variety Performance on Dec. 3, 2007 in Liverpool, England.
The late Queen Elizabeth II wears a Patek Philippe ref 4975/1G (Photo by Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images)

The late monarch was rarely spotted without her lustrous strands of pearls. The Patek Philippe ref 4975/1G was an exclusive commission for Queen Elizabeth and is one of the most breathtaking timepieces in her collection. The dial is surrounded by a diamond-set fixed bezel and crown and held on the wrist by luxurious strands of milky pearls. In 2015, Her Majesty loaned the timepiece to the Patek Philippe Watch Art Grand Exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery.

King Charles III: Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph

King Charles III wears a Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Following in his mother’s footsteps, King Charles III has also built an impressive collection of luxury watches. He loves the classics, from Jaeger-LeCoultre to Cartier, but his favourite watch is from Parmigiani Fleurier. Founded in 1996, the watchmaker is a relatively new player on the scene, compared to titans like Cartier and Omega. 

King Charles’ choice of Parmigiani is the Fleurier Toric Chronograph. The yellow gold watch, worn on a black leather strap, has been the monarch’s favourite for many years. His Majesty has donned the watch on many occasions, including Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding and Royal Ascot. According to the brand, the King purchased the watch in Switzerland in the early 2000s, shortly after the model’s first release. 

The watch itself is emblematic of early Parmigiani and features the hand knurling on the bezel which is inspired by ancient Greek columns – a signature of the brand.

Prince William: Omega Seamaster Quartz 300m

Prince William wears an Omega Seamaster Quartz 300m (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

While his late grandmother and father both showcase an affinity for a range of brands, Prince William has remained loyal to a single watch, the Omega Seamaster 300m. The Prince’s Seamaster was a gift from his late mother, Princess Diana, before she passed. The timepiece carries deep sentimental value, making it the perfect choice for his wedding to Kate Middleton in 2011. 

Kate Middleton, Princess of Wales: Cartier Ballon Bleu

Kate Middleton wears a Cartier Ballon Bleu (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Cartier is a favourite with the women of the British Royal Family, and Kate Middleton is no exception. Her go-to timepiece is the Cartier Ballon Bleu in steel, a timeless model which reflects Princess Kate’s sophisticated sense of fashion. Like her husband, the Princess doesn’t seem to change her watch often – perhaps due to its versatility. 

The neutral tones of steel and a white dial makes the watch a perfect choice for any occasion, while Roman numerals elevate the watch with a classic look. The blue spinel crown and hands also elegantly matches Kate’s platinum and oval sapphire engagement ring.

Prince Harry: Rolex Explorer

Prince Harry wears a Rolex Explorer (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Prince Harry served in the military for a decade, including multiple deployments as an Apache helicopter aviator in Afghanistan, so it’s not surprising that at least four of his watches have strong military ties – a Pulsar G10, Rolex Explorer II, custom Breitling Aerospace Avantage, and a Casio G-Shock. 

Prince Harry wore a Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570 during military parades, training, and even on an operational deployment to Afghanistan. While unconfirmed, it is possible the Explorer II was a “unit watch” – a special edition made only in 48 examples for members of the Apache helicopter regiment. The case back is numbered and shows an Apache AH1 helicopter over a Union Jack flag. The case back also features the engraving: “UK ATTACK HELICOPTER FORCE”.

In addition, Prince Harry also owns a confirmed unit watch, a special version of the Breitling Aerospace Avantage with a customised dial. The watch was only available for purchase by pilots with combat deployments, and the dial includes the Army Air Corps Wings at 9 o’clock and a front profile view of the Apache helicopter at 3 o’clock.

Princess Diana: Cartier Tank Française

Princess Diana's Cartier watch
Princess Diana wears a Cartier Tank Française (Photo by Tim Graham via Getty Images)

Princess Diana opted for two Cartier watches for different occasions. The first, a Cartier Tank Louis, was gifted to her by her father, the 8th Earl Spencer. She often wore the watch following her divorce in 1996, replacing the Patek Philippe gifted to her by the then-Prince Charles. The second, a yellow gold Cartier Tank Française, she wore for formal occasions. The watch features an integrated gold bracelet, and the classic Cartier blue spinel crown and hands. The watch was inherited by Prince Harry, who gifted it to his wife Meghan Markle.

Meghan Markle: Cartier Tank Française

Princess Diana's Cartier watch worn by Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle wears Princess Diana’s Cartier Tank Française (Photo by Chris Jackson via Getty Images)

Since marrying Prince Harry, Meghan Markle has often been seen sporting Princess Diana’s gold Tank Française, stacked with a matching Love bracelet. Markle also purchased a two-tone Cartier Tank after her breakout success in the TV series Suits.

Queen Camilla: Cartier Tank Française

Queen Camilla wears a Cartier Tank Française (Photo by Jacob King/Getty Images)

Queen Camilla first started wearing her Cartier Tank Française after her ascension. The watch features an yellow gold case, with Cartier’s signature blue sapphire cabochon crown. Some Royal Experts believe the watch to be a vintage Must de Cartier Vermeil, probably made in 1980s. This watch features a vermeil case, a 17-jewel manual-wind movement, and a cream coloured dial with black Roman numerals.

Princess Beatrice: Rolex Air King

Princess Beatrice Rolex
Princess Beatrice of York wears a Rolex Air King (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic)

Princess Beatrice was spotted wearing a Rolex Air King during the Freedom For All Gala at the Top of The Standard in New York in 2016. The watch, crafted in stainless steel, with striking orange numerals, adds a touch of sparkle to her glistening gala outfit. 

Princess Beatrice Rolex
Princess Beatrice of York wears a Rolex Air King (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic)

The Air King is one of the longest unbroken runs of any models in the brand’s catalogue. It was originally released as part of a series of watches created to honour the heroism of Britain’s wartime RAF. With a 34mm dial size, Princess Beatrice’s choice of ticker is larger than many of her fellow female family members, but one that sits confidently on her wrist for a variety of occasions.

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