Harry Winston: The King of Luxury
Harry Winston is responsible for some of the finest examples of Swiss watchmaking. Top models contain multiple tourbillons and have production numbers in the single digits. The use of gold and countless diamonds makes these watches true treasures.
The Finest Watches and Jewelry
Harry Winston is as famous for their astounding horological innovations as they are for their masterful jewelry. Founded in New York City in 1932, the company has been part of the Swiss Swatch group since 2013. Their Opus collection is particularly popular. Harry Winston teams up with the most creative modern watchmakers to design new models. For example, Frenchman Ludovic Ballouard is the man behind the Opus XIII's unique display.
As its name implies, the Histoire de Tourbillon collection contains a range of limited-edition tourbillon watches. Select timepieces even boast multiple tourbillons and are, therefore, exceptionally precise. The Histoire de Tourbillon 10, for example, features four tourbillons. The most exclusive version of this timepiece is made of Winstonium, the company's proprietary platinum alloy, and had a production run of one. Overall, Histoire de Tourbillon watches are quite a rare sight.
The Project Z collection is home to Harry Winston's luxury sports watches. These timepieces have modern designs and are made exclusively of Zalium, a zirconium alloy. Calf leather straps with a rubber base complete the sporty look.
The watches in the High Jewelry Timepieces series blur the lines between timekeeper and jewelry. Harry Winston adorns these watches with countless diamonds, sapphires, and rubies. This collection combines the company's history as one of the world's pre-eminent jewelry houses with its more recent successes in the realm of watchmaking.
Reasons to Buy a Harry Winston Watch
- Innovative in-house calibers with unique functions
- Proprietary materials like Zalium and Winstonium
- High-end tourbillon watches
- Flyback chronographs for quick time measurements
- Luxurious watches encrusted with diamonds
Prices at a Glance: Harry Winston Watches
|Premier Ladies 36 mm, ref. PRNQHM36WW007||545,000 USD||618 baguette-cut diamonds, 5 brilliant-cut diamonds|
|Opus 14, ref. OPUMHM55WW001||447,000 USD||Unique jukebox mechanism|
|Histoire de Tourbillon 1, ref. HCOMDT48WZ001||305,000 USD||Double tourbillons|
|Opus 9, ref. 500-MAJMWWL.K||142,000 USD||Diamond time display|
|Ocean Biretrograde Perpetual Calendar Automatic, ref. OCEAPC42WW002||109,000 USD||Perpetual calendar, retrograde day and date displays, 91 baguette-cut diamonds|
|Ocean Dual Time, ref. OCEATZ44WW002||43,500 USD||GMT function, day/night indicator|
|Ocean Chronograph Automatic, ref. OCEACH44RR001||32,500 USD||Flyback chronograph, 36,000 A/h (5 Hz)|
|Project Z12, ref. OCEAHR42ZZ001||19,500 USD||Retrograde hour and minute displays|
How much do Harry Winston watches cost?
Prices for Harry Winston watches range from a few thousand dollars for a pre-owned quartz timepiece to several hundred thousand for highly complicated mechanical masterpieces. Several High Jewelry Timepieces occupy the upper end of this price range. The Premier Ladies 36 mm is made of 18-karat white gold and fully encrusted in 600 baguette-cut diamonds and 5 brilliant-cut diamonds. This magnificent creation demands upwards of 545,000 USD.
Opus: Groundbreaking Watch Designs
The Opus is Harry Winston's flagship collection. It debuted in 2001 under the leadership of Maximilian Büsser. In 2005, Büsser founded his own company, MB&F, which is famous for its extraordinary creations. Known as "Machines," these watches have placed MB&F firmly in the upper echelon of modern watchmaking. Having introduced this approach in 2001, Harry Winston continues this legacy in the Opus collection. Take the Opus 14 designed by Johnny Girardin and Franck Orny, for example. These master watchmakers had previously collaborated on the Montblanc Metamorphosis, a chronograph with two dials. The top dial opens and shuts using a sliding set of wings to reveal the chronograph counters underneath.
The duo would later add the 2015 Harry Winston Opus 14 to their impressive résumé. Inspired by jukeboxes from the 1950s, this timepiece features multiple discs that spin and change with the push of a button. The main dial occupies a rather unorthodox position at 9 o'clock. It sits atop two discs: one for the date and another for a second time zone. A prominent red scale next to the main dial serves as a retrograde minute display. Another defining feature is a disc with a blue star, which is located above the minute display. Each disc is modeled after a vinyl record. If you'd like to know the date, move the slider on the left side of the case to the "Date" position and then press the button at 4 o'clock. This will cause the disc with the blue star to return to storage and replace it with the date disc. To view the GMT display, simply repeat the process: Set the slider to "GMT" and press the button to reveal the time in a second time zone.
The in-house caliber HW4601 provides this timepiece with its one-of-a-kind jukebox mechanism. This movement is comprised of 1,066 components, has a 68-hour power reserve, and features two barrels: one for the time and the other for its impressive jukebox mechanism. The second barrel can store enough energy for five disc changes.
The Opus 14's case is made of 18-karat white gold and measures almost 55 mm in diameter. Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal on the front and back provide a clear view of the various displays and the movement within. Limited to a run of 50 pieces, this luxury watch had an initial list price of 428,000 CHF (approx. 407,000 USD). On Chrono24, you'll find listings for older models like the Opus 7 and Opus 9, which boast similarly innovative display mechanisms. The Opus 9 demands around 142,000 USD in mint condition, while the Opus 7 changes hands for about 68,500 USD.
Histoire de Tourbillon: High-End Tourbillon Watches
Harry Winston has been creating extraordinary limited-edition tourbillon watches in the Histoire de Tourbillon collection since 2009. Top models feature either multiple tourbillons or a tourbillon that rotates on several axes. For example, the Histoire de Tourbillon 10 from 2019 made history as the world's first watch with four tourbillons. The balance cages complete one full rotation every 36 seconds, significantly improving the watch's overall precision. The manual caliber HW4702 sits within the rectangular 53.5 x 39.1-mm case and displays the time in the middle of the dial. This movement has a power reserve of 55 hours when fully wound.
The Histoire de Tourbillon 10 is available in 18-karat rose or white gold, each limited to a run of 10 pieces. Harry Winston also crafted a single model in Winstonium, the company's proprietary platinum alloy. Upon release, these timepieces demanded anywhere from 700,000 CHF (approx 707,000 USD) to 770,000 CHF (approx. 778,000 USD), depending on the material.
Due to their limited production numbers, Harry Winston Histoire de Tourbillon watches are extremely difficult to find. You're most likely to encounter pre-owned pieces from the first generation. Harry Winston produced 20 copies of this timepiece, which now sells for around 305,000 USD in very good condition.
The 48-mm case is a mix of 18-karat white gold and Zalium, a zirconium alloy that's as hard as copper, corrosion-resistant, and lighter than stainless steel. The manual caliber HW1007 ticks away inside the case. This movement features two tourbillons, each set at a 25° angle. There are also two time displays: an analog display on the front at 6 o'clock and three numeric discs for the hours, minutes, and seconds on the case back.
Harry Winston Project Z: Luxury Sports Watches
The luxury sports watches in the Project Z series fall into the same category as industry icons like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Patek Philippe Nautilus. As a result, they have a much sportier feel than the high-end pieces in the Opus and Histoire de Tourbillon collections.
These sports watches also boast a high level of technological innovation. For example, the Project Z12 – the 12th Project Z model since the collection's 2004 debut – features retrograde minute and hour displays. The term "retrograde" refers to the fact that these displays jump back to their starting position at the end of every cycle. The hour display occupies the dial's upper half, while the minutes are located on the lower half. Combined, the two displays complete 26 cycles per day. A blue bridge stretches across the center of the dial from 9 to 3 o'clock. Harry Winston based this component on New York's Manhattan Bridge. A date display composed of a transparent number ring and luminous marker runs around the dial's outer edge.
The Project Z12's Zalium case is 42 mm in diameter and 11 mm thick. Its power comes from the in-house caliber HW3306 with a 72-hour power reserve. This model had a limited run of 300 pieces and costs about 19,500 USD. Its successor, the Project Z13 features a moon phase display and retrograde date. Never-worn pieces change hands for around 17,500 USD. The Project Z2 is much more affordable, with well-maintained models demanding as little as 9,800 USD.
Prices for Ocean Watches
The Harry Winston Ocean collection sits at the intersection of "haute horlogerie" and sporty elegance. Select models feature impressive complications like a perpetual calendar, chronograph, or second time zone. As its name implies, the Ocean Dual Time can display two times at once. With 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft) of water resistance, this GMT watch can even join you for a dip in the pool.
The ref. OCEATZ44WW002 is made of 18-karat white gold and measures 44 in diameter. It displays the local time and an additional time zone on a pair of unconventional dials. Luminous material coats the hands, enabling the wearer to tell the time in the dark. What's more, this timepiece has a large date display and two day/night indicators. Finally, the automatic caliber HW1001 lends the Ocean Dual Time a 45-hour power reserve. Pre-owned pieces require an investment of about 18,500 USD. Mint-condition models are much rarer and more expensive; prices up to 43,500 USD are commonplace.
If you prefer chronographs, you should take a closer look at the Ocean Chronograph Automatic. Thanks to its skeletonized displays and 44-mm rose gold case, the ref. OCEACH44RR001 is particularly eye-catching. It features a 30-minuter counter at 3, small seconds at 6, and 12-hour counter at 9 o'clock. The small seconds resembles a shuriken, or Japanese throwing star. The date window is also located at 6 o'clock. The caliber HW3304 powers this timepiece. Its balance ticks at an impressive rate of 36,000 vibrations per hour (vph), which is equal to 5 Hz and the same balance frequency as the legendary Zenith El Primero. As if that weren't enough, the movement also has a flyback function. You can purchase a never-worn Ocean Chronograph Automatic for around 32,500 USD on Chrono24. Depending on its condition, pre-owned watches can cost several thousand dollars less.
One highlight in the Ocean collection is the Ocean Biretrograde Perpetual Calendar Automatic. With 91 baguette-cut diamonds, the ref. OCEAPC42WW002 is especially luxurious. Its 18-karat white gold case measures 42 mm in diameter and is water-resistant to 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft). This model gets its power from the automatic caliber HW3501. On the front, you'll find two retrograde displays: one for the day and the other for the date. There's also a moon phase display at 6 and a dual leap year and month display at 12 o'clock. A central set of hands indicates the current time. Since Harry Winston only ever produced 20 copies of this timepiece, it is exceptionally rare and often demands upwards of 110,000 USD.
Jeweler to Royalty and the Stars
Harry Winston is a household name among Hollywood's elite. The company has been outfitting actresses with fine jewelry ever since the 1944 Academy Awards. Jennifer Jones, who won the prize for Best Leading Actress that same year, was the very first star to don one of Harry Winston's precious creations.
In the 1953 film "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," Marilyn Monroe sings the song "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." This famous tune references Harry Winston in the line "Talk to me, Harry Winston! Tell me all about it!"
The British Royal Family is also fond of Winston's work and has been a loyal patron of this American jeweler since the late 1940s. Fittingly, the Windsors still boast one of the world's largest diamond collections. In the early 1950s, Life Magazine reported that Harry Winston's own collection was the world's second largest.
In the mid-1960s, Harry Winston purchased a raw diamond weighing 241 carats, which he transformed into a 69.42-carat flawless teardrop diamond. The actor Richard Burton bought the diamond for his wife Elizabeth Taylor. Today, this gemstone is known as the Taylor-Burton Diamond.
From Jeweler to Watch Manufacturer
Businessman and philanthropist Harry Winston founded his eponymous company in New York City in 1932. From the outset, the business focused on rare gemstones. For example, in 1935, Winston purchased the "Jonker" diamond. Weighing 726 carats, the master gemologist was able to transform the raw diamond into 12 unique stones, the largest of which weighs 125.35 carats with an emerald cut. Over the years, various precious stones would pass through Winston's hands, including the Hope Diamond. Previous owners of this 45.52-carat blue diamond include King Louis XIV, Marie Antoinette, and Lord Thomas Hope. Today, you can view this glittering wonder at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History.
After decades of providing the rich and famous with exquisite jewels, the company decided to enter the luxury watch industry in 1989. Today, their catalog ranges from diamond-encrusted works of horological art to highly complicated limited-edition timepieces with unique functions. Introduced in 2001, the Opus collection represents everything Harry Winston stands for as a watchmaker.
In 2007, Harry Winston opened a watch factory in Geneva, the capital of Swiss watchmaking. The business remained in family hands until 2013, when it was acquired by the Swiss Swatch Group. Today, Harry Winston is among the crème de la crème of Swatch's portfolio.