According to a survey published April 27 by New York's independent Luxury Institute, Blancpain, Vacheron Constantin, and Breguet are considered the three most prestigious watch brands by 'high net-worth consumers.'

Despite not being widely known outside of timepiece connoisseurs, Swiss manufacturer Blancpain stood out as the most luxurious brand of the 33 featured in this study, with the highest ratings for all four measures, which were defined as 'consistently superior quality,' 'uniqueness and exclusivity,' 'making the customer feel special across the entire experience,' and 'being consumed by people who are admired and respected.'

"The luxury watches category is one of the oldest and most prestigious," said Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute. "And yet the industry is stuck in time in terms of its distribution and customer relationship building innovations.

"We predict that more luxury watch brands will build their own direct distribution channels via retail and online as they realize that the future belongs to those watch brands that have direct and deep relationships with their end consumers."

A national sample of more than 500 "ultra-wealthy" American consumers (average household income of $845,000 and average investable assets of $16.6 million) was surveyed online for this study.