What watches do the British royal family wear?

It’s a story of Patek Philippe and Carter – but not as many Rolexes as you might expect

What watches do the British royal family wear?
(Image credit: Getty)

The British royal family is a surprisingly electric collector of watches. There are myriad timepieces from Patek Philippe and Cartier, plus the occasional Rolex and Omega, too. The family also owns some more obscure watches from the likes of Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet and Breguet, including some truly unique timepieces.

Between just the two of them, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles have been seen wearing well over a dozen luxury Swiss watches over the decades, while Prince William always wears the same Omega, Prince Harry has a very rare Rolex, and Princess Diana once made a habit of wearing two Patek Philippes at once.

Here's a look at some of the watches worn by the most prominent members of the royal family.

Queen Elizabeth II

Jaeger-LeCoultre 101

(Image credit: Jaeger-LeCoultre)
  • Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse
  • Patek Philippe 4975/1G
  • Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 101
  • Contemporary Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 101
  • Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso
  • Vacheron Constantin
  • Omega Ladymatic
  • Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars

The Queen is quite the watch collector. By some estimates she’d said to have at least 14 timepieces in her collection, with many of them from the likes of Patek Philippe and Jaeger-LeCoultre, whose Calibre 101 she famously wore on the day of her coronation in 1953.

Developed in the Twenties, that watch is still considered to contain the world’s smallest mechanical movement. Jaeger-LeCoultre then gifted the Queen a modern version of the Calibre 101, pictured above, to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. 

The Queen previously owned a Vacheron Constantin, which she gifted to Lady Diana after her marriage to Prince Charles.

There’s also an Omega Ladymatic in Her Majesty's collection, which she has owned since the early Seventies, and a Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse – a watch who also counts Canadian rapper Drake among its fans. In more recent years, she has been seen wearing an Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars. 

The Prince of Wales

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

(Image credit: Jaeger-LeCoultre)
  • Patek Philippe 3445 Calatrava
  • Parmigiani Fleurier 18K
  • Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph.
  • Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso
  • Cartier Santos
  • Breguet (custom)
  • Hamilton RAF Pilot’s Chronograph
  • Patek Philippe 2503
  • Patek Philippe Disco Volante 255

Like his mother, Prince Charles is an avid watch collector. The Prince of Wales also ticks the Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Patek Philippe boxes (no fewer than three times for the latter), but also favours Breguet, Hamilton and Parmigiani.

Barely a sapling by Swiss watchmaker standards, Parmiagiani was founded in 1996 and its rare Fleurier Toric with gold case and black leather strap has been Charles’ watch of choice for past several years.

The Prince of Wales’ watch collection also features a custom Breguet gifted to him by the company as a 60th birthday present, a Patek Philippe Disco Volante owned since he was young, a Hamilton RAF Pilot’s Chronograph received in the early Seventies while training as a jet pilot, and a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso.

The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William

OMEGA Seamaster

(Image credit: Omega)
  • Omega Seamaster Professional

Watch-collecting seemingly doesn’t extend to the family’s younger generations, with Prince William wearing his Omega Seamaster Professional 300M Mid-Size for every occasion.

The watch was a gift from his mother and features on the Duke of Cambridge’s wrist at every kind of event, from his wedding to Kate Middleton, to the recent No Time To Die premiere.

The Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry

Rolex Explorer II

(Image credit: Rolex)
  • Rolex Explorer II
  • Breitling Aerospace Avantage 

William’s brother Harry has been known to wear a couple of different watches of the years. First is his limited-edition Rolex Explorer II, which was part of a special order of 48 examples given to members of his Apache attack helicopter regiment.

The original Explorer was created by Rolex to celebrate Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay becoming the first men to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1953. 

Prince Harry also wears a special version of Breitling Aerospace Avantage, also presented to Apache pilots who have flown in combat missions. The dial features an illustration of an Apache helicopter at the 3 o’clock position and the Army Air Corps Wings at 9 o’clock.

Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton

Cartier Ballon Bleu

(Image credit: Cartier)
  • Cartier Ballon Bleu

The Duchess of Cambridge is only ever seen with one wristwatch, a 33mm Cartier Ballon Bleu with stainless steel case and matching strap. The watch features a silver dial and blue sword-shaped hands, complimenting her sapphire engagement ring.

The Duchess of Sussex, Maghan Markle

Cartier Tank

(Image credit: Cartier)
  • Cartier Tank
  • Cartier Tank Francaise

The Duchess of Sussex owns a pair of Cartier Tank watches. The first is her own, a two-tone example bought while she was starring in the Suits TV show and with the message “To MM, from MM” engraved on the case back. The same watch is worn by her Suits character, Rachel Zane.

Meghan Markle’s second Cartier Tank, an all-gold Francaise, previously belonged to Princess Diana. The story goes that it was originally Prince William who took possession of the watch after his mother’s death in 1997, before giving it to Prince Harry in exchange for what became Kate Middleton’s engagement ring.

The Cartier Tank dates back to 1918 and draws design inspiration from the then-new Renault military tanks seen by Louis Cartier during the First World War. Other celebrities to wear a Cartier Tank include Jackie Kennedy, Yves Saint Laurent and Andy Warhol. The Tank Francaise was introduced in 1996.

Princess Diana

Cartier Tank

(Image credit: Cartier)
  • Cartier Tank Francaise
  • Cartier Tank with alligator strap
  • Patek Philippe Calatrava 3618
  • Vacheron Constantin 4481

Finally, Princess Diana also held an impressive watch collection. We have already covered the Cartier Tank Francaise now worn by Maghan Markle, but Diana also had a second Cartier Tank, this one on an alligator strap.

Diana also wore a diamond-set 1947 Vacheron Constantin, gifted to her by the Queen, and a gold Patek Philippe given to her by Prince Charles. Diana famously wore both her Patek Philippe and that of her husband, on the same wrist, to bring good luck to the Prince of Wales during his polo matches in the 1980s.

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Alistair Charlton

Alistair is a freelance automotive and technology journalist. He has bylines on esteemed sites such as the BBC, Forbes, TechRadar, and of best of all, T3, where he covers topics ranging from classic cars and men's lifestyle, to smart home technology, phones, electric cars, autonomy, Swiss watches, and much more besides. He is an experienced journalist, writing news, features, interviews and product reviews. If that didn't make him busy enough, he is also the co-host of the AutoChat podcast.