The British royal family has an extensive collection of dazzling watches and jewellery, from Princess Diana’s iconic sapphire engagement ring to Prince William’s always-worn Omega Seamaster.
As detailed in our ‘what watches do the royals wear?’ guide, the royals, including King Charles, Queen Camilla, the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex love to wear a variety of watch designers while out and about on royal duties. Many of the best watch brands feature heavily in the royals’ collections, specifically big names like Omega, Cartier, Patek Philippe, Rolex and Breitling.
But unfortunately for many of us (myself included), the royal family’s watches of choice are out of our price range. While I’d love to treat myself to a Cartier Tank timepiece, I may have to settle for a more affordable watch that looks similar in style to the royals’ favourites but is a little kinder on my bank balance.
To find out more, I spoke to experts at WatchPilot who revealed the royal family’s favourite watches and the affordable alternatives they’d recommend for people wanting to recreate the royal style and aesthetic.
King Charles is an avid watch collector who has dived into many different watch brands. Some of his favourites include watches from Patek Philippe, Parmigiani, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Cartier and a custom-made Breguet. According to WatchPilot, King Charles’ favourite watch and the one he’s seen wearing the most is the Fleurier Toric Chronograph from Parmigiani. At £10,332, the chronograph features Roman numerals, black and gold colouring, and is powered by the Zenith El Primero movement.
An affordable alternative to the rare Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph is the Police Black Silfra watch. The latter has similar black and gold detailing, date, hour and seconds chronographs on the face, and costs far less than the Parmigiani at £104.30.
Compared to her husband, Queen Camilla is more toned down when it comes to choosing watches. She’s been known to wear a Fitbit and enjoys Panthere and Cartier timepieces. WatchPilot experts say that the Cartier Tank Française in Midsize Yellow Gold with a black strap is Queen Camilla’s favourite. One of the many Cartier appearances on this list, this watch is eye-catching yet understated and retails for £4,704.
WatchPilot recommends the Sekonda Ladies Black Watch as an alternative. Significantly cheaper than the Cartier, this ladies watch doesn’t feature yellow gold but instead is all about the contrast of the black croco grain leather strap and square silver case with a black sunray dial and Roman numerals.
William, Prince of Wales
Another laidback watch fan, Prince William tends to favour two watches, and is often seen wearing both watches at the same time on each wrist. His watches of choice are the Omega Seamaster Professional 300M and the Garmin Forerunner 245, mixing both style and practicality.
His favourite watch, the Garmin Forerunner 245 features highly in our best running watch guide, and offers wearers many health and fitness tracking features for just £209. For those who’d prefer something cheaper, an affordable alternative is the Limit Black Sport Digital Watch, which goes back to basics and is water resistant to 100m.
Kate Middleton, Princess of Wales
Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton is a big fan of Cartier watches, and she’s often seen wearing the Cartier Ballon Bleu. Its simple yet striking design is cased in a steel fluted crown set with a cabochon-shaped spinel. The silvered guilloche dial features Roman numerals and blue hands, and has a mechanical movement with automatic winding.
If you don’t have £5,900 to spend on this Cartier watch, the Rotary Windsor Silver Watch has a number of similarities and only costs £113. The Windsor watch from Rotary is made from stainless steel and sapphire glass, has a 7-link tapered stainless steel bracelet and a white guilloche dial.
Harry, Duke of Sussex
The Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry is a fan of limited edition watches, including a Rolex Explorer II and the Breitling Aerospace Avantage. Both those watches were presented to him for his service as an Apache co-pilot and gunner in the Army.
The Rolex Explorer II is Prince Harry’s favourite watch but at £8,100, it might be too pricey for some. Instead, WatchPilot suggest the Rotary Regent Chrono Silver Watch for £246. The Rotary Regent Chronograph is powered by a quartz movement and showcases a silver sunray dial with chronograph function, and luminous applied hour markers. The watch is water resistant to 100m and has a 40mm brushed stainless steel case.
Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex
Similar to Queen Camilla, Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle also wears the Cartier Tank Française watch. The all-gold Cartier watch that she wears was originally owned by Princess Diana and is a pretty watch that comes with an equally pretty high price tag (the yellow gold and diamond version is £31,400!).
A similar style watch is the Tissot Lovely Square Silver Watch for £320. Silver rather than gold, this Tissot watch is sharp, square and powered by a quartz movement. For added sparkle and luxury, the watch has a set of 12 diamonds dotted around the dial that act as the hour markers.