Coronation Watch: Checking out King Charles III’s watch collection
Wrist-spotting some of the watches King Charles III has worn over the years.
With the Royal Coronation taking place in two days’ time, we thought it would be a good opportunity to check out how the monarch’s wrist gear has changed over the years. King Charles III has championed many causes over the years, including his belief in conscious spending. His mantra, “buy once, buy well”, translates to many things in his life, including his watch collection. The monarch has worn a handful of watches over the years; here are a few key pieces.
Over the last decade, King Charles has been most frequently seen wearing his Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph. The brand is named after its founder Michel Parmigiani, a watch restorer by trade who began creating his own watches in 1996. Today, Parmigiani remains a boutique watchmaker developing exquisite contemporary timepieces, the most famous of which are the GPHG-winning Tonda PF Automatic and GPHG-nominated Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante.
The Toric Chronograph holds closely to traditional watchmaking styles, inspired by much of Michel Parmigiani’s work as a restorer of vintage timepieces. With its stepped and grooved case and bezel design, straight violin lugs, rounded case middle, and textured dial, it’s an example of refined and classic watchmaking at its finest.
The three-counter chronograph has a small seconds display at 9 o’clock, with 30-minute and 12-hour totalisers at 3 and 6 o’clock. A small date window resides between the 1 and 2 o’clock markers. The watch is powered by an industry favourite movement: the El Primero by Zenith.
A Ref. 2551 Calatrava “Disco Volante” was the King’s favourite timepiece for a very long time. He and the late Princess Diana were frequently photographed with him wearing this watch that’s monikered the ‘Flying Saucer’ for its stepped bezel and domed sapphire crystal design. The crown features Patek Philippe’s early ‘PP’ logo, and the domed dial bears applied triangle and Arabic numeral markers with a small compass-style seconds counter.
The Ref. 2551 is a notable timepiece in Patek Philippe’s archives. It was the first wristwatch with an automatic movement, the Calibre 12-600 AT, and sized at 36mm, with an estimated 1,100 pieces made over seven years of production. Even today, it would not look out of place on our wrists; perhaps it will be passed down to the next generation of royals to look after.
Like many members of the royal family, King Charles III served in the military, in his case, the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. For his service in the Air Force, he received a Hamilton RAF Pilot’s Chronograph 924-3306. The watch is one of the ‘Fab Four’, a mil-spec watch produced by four watch companies – CWC, Hamilton, Newmark, and Precista – for the British military. Hamilton and CWC began producing these watches in the 1970s, and the two other firms from the 1980s.
King Charles typically wears this watch when attending military events, often paired with a khaki NATO strap. The watch certainly represents his commitment to the military and is the most accessible timepiece in his collection. It’s unique for its asymmetric design, with the case wider on the right to protect the crown, and is powered by a Valjoux 7733 movement.
The Santos de Cartier in steel and gold is a watch that King Charles III wore frequently in the 1980s, paired with a leather strap. Cartier has long been a brand favoured by the royal family, both for its private jewellery collection and its watches. The Ref. 2961 is an excellent example of Cartier’s timeless design – the modern Santos de Cartier watches still bear a close resemblance to this model.
There are other timepieces in the King’s collection, such as a personalised Breguet and Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso which were gifted to him, but these are the watches he has been commonly seen wearing. According to palace insiders, the King will be wearing his Toric Chronograph for the coronation. As for the rest of the royal family, we’ll be keeping a close lookout to spot what’s on their wrists.
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