How 11 Of The World's Most Famous Watch Brands Got Their Names

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There are a number of famous watch brands available in the marketplace, such as Zenith, Rolex, Seiko, Omega and Hublot. We just feel good when we have any of these items, but we rarely think of how they came about their world-famous names. Most of these inventors have worked either as freelancers, or for other companies before setting out to form theirs.

This article is to share how the most famous watch brands coined their names. This will be an interesting journey for all those who like a bit of history behind an object. Let’s begin!


Hublot has become one of the top-notch brands available, thanks to the Jean Claude Biver effect. In 1980, way back before JCB came onto the scene, Italian founder Carlo Crocco gave his fledging brand the name Hublot, which means 'porthole' in French. Hublot was the first brand in the history of watchmaking to employ a natural rubber strap. But surprisingly, when Carlo took the innovation to the Baseworld tradeshow in 1980, not a single order was placed on the first trading day. This didn’t last long, and the company raked in $2 million in its first year. Today, this brand rubs shoulders with top watch brands such as Rolex.


Casio is a brand loved by virtually everybody due to their digital watches, and it still remains one of the bestselling brands in the market. They were responsible for the Casio G-shock. Casio got its name from its founder: Tadao Kashio. The first product produced was the Yubiwa Pipe. After the war in 1946, everyone smoked cigarettes, and the yubiwa pipe made it possible to inhale the cigarette without staining their fingers. In 1957, Toshio, who is Kashio’s younger brother, was the first to develop an all-electric compact calculator, based on relay technology. Had Kashio not been the first born, it is quite likely that watch you are wearing would bear the name Tosio instead!

Patek Philippe

Since the inception of Patek Philippe in Geneva, 1851, the brand has gone on to produce some of the finest watches the world has ever known. The name came from its founders, the Polish watchmaker Antoni Patek and French watchmaker Adrien Philippe. They are best known for their precision, and various useful features including minute repeaters, chronographs, perpetual calendars and split seconds. Patek Philippe watches are hand produced. These timepieces are not just the most known Swiss luxury brand in the world, they also score very highly with watch connoisseurs and collectors. Thrilling, complex mechanisms and peak performance make this brand one of the most unique watches to have.


The choice of James Bond and lunar astronauts, the company was formed by Louis Brandt in 1848 under the - perhaps less inspiring - name of La Generale Watch Co. After many years, Louis’ sons Louis Paul and Cesar introduced the name Omega. While at home, they formed a corporation and produced a control system that allowed other components to be interchangeable. As a result, they were able to produce watches that were marketed under the Omega brand. The Omega Company was officially launched in 1903. Today, Omega watches are some of the most famous on the market.


There is no watch brand in history that has had a larger debate as to how its name came about than Rolex. After all, it is the most recognizable brand in the watch industry. This prestigious company was formed in 1905 in England. It was first called Wilsdorf and Davis, because it was founded by Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred James Davis. Getting to know how the name Rolex came about, here is a quote from Hans Wilsdorf himself:

“I tried combining the letters of the alphabet in every possible way. This gave some hundred names, but none of them felt quite right. It was one morning, when I was sitting on the upper level of a double-decker [bus] powered at that time by horses, driving along Cheapside in London, that a good genie whispered in my ear: Rolex. A few days after this fruitful journey, the Rolex brand was filed, and then officially registered in Switzerland by Wilsdorf & Davis.”

Since this comes from the horse’s mouth, there is now nothing to debate about the evolution of the name Rolex!


This is another brand of watch that is making waves in the industry. The Oris Watch Company was formed in 1904 in Holstein, Switzerland, by Paul Cattin and Georges Christian. They bought Lohner & Co. Watch Company that was recently shut down, and on the 1st of June of 1904, both men entered into an agreement with the mayor of Holstein. After a long search for a suitable name, they finally settled on Oris, taken from the name of a nearby brook that could be viewed from the window of the watch factory.

Tag Heuer

In German, the word 'tag' means day, while Edouard Heuer, the founder of the company, gave the brand the second part of this well-known name. However, you might not know that TAG is also an acronym for Techniques d’Avant Garde. The company was formed in 1806, and became renowned through the Jean Claude Biver effect, who made the brand more mid-priced for the mainstream buyer. Dedicated watch lovers criticised this move, but Tag Heuer has gone on to become one of the most famous names in Swiss watches, after Hublot and Rolex.


Zenith watches have been in existence for about 150 years, and the brand remains one of the most sought after in the marketplace. Although Zenith was founded in 1865 by a 22-year old called George Favre-Jacot, the brand name wasn't formed until 1911. Trying to give it a memorable one-word name, just like Rolex, George came out of his house one particular night, gazed at the sky and said, "I shall call my brand Zenith". It means the highest point that can be reached by heavenly bodies in the sky, and thereby signifies the height of excellence his brand aimed to attain.


Seiko, from the Japanese word that means 'success' or 'exquisite', is one of the newest and most famous brands in the watch industry. It has enjoyed tremendous growth over the past forty-five years. The success of Seiko over some of the Swiss makers almost caused its downfall in the industry, following the impeccably timed launch of the Seiko Astron quartz watch on Christmas Day, 1969. With its apt name, Seiko really is enjoying the success it has experienced over the recent years.

Audemars Piguet

Since the inception of this company in 1881, Audemars Piguet has made a name for itself in the watch industry. Swiss childhood friends Jules-Louis Audemars & Edward-Auguste Piguet combined to become the founders of this brand. In 1875, Audemars and Piguet started by creating and making watch movements. After some years of successful ventures, they founded their watch brand. They created innovations such as the first minute-repeater wristwatch, the thinnest wristwatch in the world, the first jumping second-hand watch, and more. The technological advancement movements by Audemars Piguet have been employed by top brands such as Tiffany & Co. and Bulgari.

So we hope you have enjoyed learning more about some of the top brands in timekeeping, and how they got their names. Watch lovers, you can use these luxury items with the extra knowledge that brands were built on concepts such as excellence and precision, as well as beauty.

If you know of other watch brands and how they got their names, do share it below in the comment box.


Posted 28 August, 2017


Entrepreneur & Creator

Nick is the Entrepreneur Correspondent for He is based in Sydney, NYC, & London. His life consists of frequent flyer points.

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