We asked several of our main contributors to nominate their Watch Of The Year.
Here is what they came up with.
Grand Seiko SBGA413
In a year with the 50th anniversary of the first automatic chronograph and the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, it is easy to forget that this is also the 20th anniversary of the Spring Drive movement from Grand Seiko. While Grand Seiko released a trio of watches to commemorate the event that featured arguably Grand Seiko’s most iconic dial, the Snowflake dial, it was another Spring Drive release this year that in my view is a better tribute to mark the commemoration of the Spring Drive movement and is my watch of the year; the Grand Seiko SBGA413. The Grand Seiko SBGA413 was released as part of Grand Seiko’s “Four Seasons” Collection exclusive of the U.S. market. Being the Spring model of the collection, Grand Seiko developed a gorgeous blush pink dial reminiscent of the cherry blossom covered grounds in Japan. Every design choice in this watch ties back beautifully to this concept. The bezel-less 62GS case, which is iconic in its own right, exposes more of that mesmerizing dial. The lightness of the titanium case, a material I’m not usually fond of, so aptly represents the featherlike nature of cherry blossom petals. When considering that cherry blossom springs are almost exclusive to Japan, it would have been fitting, to me at least, that this watch be a tribute to a movement that is exclusive to Grand Seiko. On my about 6.5” wrist, the 40mm width by 46mm lug-to-lug length coupled with the weight of the titanium case and bracelet make it extremely wearable. And though I was only able to try it on in the Seiko boutique during my trip to New York, I’m thrilled that it is a regular production model which means it can be purchased down the line when I am ready. All in all, a great watch with a little flair that, to me, is deserving of the watch of the year as far as releases this year go.
MB&F Legacy Machine Flying
I have never been sensitive to poetry. As a kid at school it was a subject that bored me and growing up it was never something I was drawn to. Until I discovered watches. Then poetry took a whole new meaning. I could touch it, feel it, look at it wear it and most importantly, understand it. The poetry that Max Busser brilliantly brings into his watches is what made me pick this watch as my favorite watch of the year 2019, the Legacy Machine Flying T. After 14 years making men’s watches with insane volumes and very strong masculine designs, Max was finally ready to enter the world of femininity, but he did it without being “flimsy”. The watch is powerful, percutant and has an incredible presence on the wrist and off of it. It is not just another watch on which diamonds were slapped and where a mother of pearl dial replaced a regular one. No. Max made a statement. And his statement is oh so poetic, because as he told me when he presented this watch to me at Baselworld, the inspiration behind the entire design cues are the 3 most important female figures in his life. His mother, his wife and his daughters. I mean come on! That is just awesome and moved me to tears because Max is so romantic and sensitive that just hearing him talk about the love he has for these women was just like watching a movie where 2 lovers finally manage to bring their lives together and live happily ever after. Which inevitably ends up with tears and tissues (at least for me). So asides from the perfection of the horological execution (that flying tourbillon is mesmerizing), the storytelling is beautiful. The wheel and escapement are vertical to remind him of the women that are the pillars of his life (his mom died the year before the watch was released). Max said that the watch is “full of crazy energy but at the same time super elegant”. I remember him telling me something about the rotor that is in the shape of a beautiful golden sun that radiates light and energy like his mother and his wife. There was also the story of the music box of his daughters and the pretty ballerina that pops out and starts dancing in circles, symbolized by the tourbillon. The poetry and beauty of this watch really had an impact on me and when I put it on my wrist I was enchanted. the dome, the inclined dial, the delicate diamond settings, the modernity of it made me feel like I was part of a chapter of horological history.
It was one magical moment shared with a wonderful man.
Luch – Victory Day 2019 LE
My WOTY for 2019 is something a bit different. I’m a massive fan of Soviet design, and have been a firm advocate of the Belarusian Minsk Watch Plant’s in-house brand Luch for some time. While brands like Vostok have the “Soviet diver” sub-genre locked down, Luch appeals to me most for its diverse range of authentically minimalist manual-wind pieces- most famously, its One Hand collection, the white-dial variant of which has seen significant crossover appeal with Western enthusiasts and has become something of a low-key “icon” in its own right. I’ve owned a couple, and they’re brilliant, cheap-and-cheerful pieces of sternly utilitarian product design (although more “casual” variants, with such bourgeois indulgences as display case backs and single-digit numerals, are available). These folks were doing the “minimalist watch” thing long before it was cool. With a huge catalogue of references spanning over half a century, Luch truly shine with their limited editions, which often feature absolutely crackin’ dial designs- their 2019 Victory Day run, with two colour variants and limited to just 200 pieces, was no exception, and I swiftly snapped one up to wear for my wedding day in June of this year. It rocks a charmingly executed dial layout that imbues classic field watch aesthetic with a certain Bauhausian playfulness, in a minimal and perfectly proportioned 38mm case and powered by Luch’s own workhorse 1801 movement. It winds great and runs nicely, although not exactly a daily beater. Swap out the (predictably awful) strap, and you’ve got yourself a unique dress piece offering the kind of bang-for-buck that’s sure to confound the intelligentsia: “a vintage-proportioned, manually-wound limited edition watch with an in-house calibre…for a hundred quid?? Inconceivable!” Internal contradictions, indeed.
Dave Sergeant @lpwwatchco
I had never really been a fan of Urwerk, or indeed many of these modern luxury watch brands. The hyper-modern style, to me, was too easily made to look cheap and insincere. Urwerk, in particular, seemed to be championing this futuristic school of design and whilst it was at least easy enough to tell the time on their offerings (looking at you HYT, you’re still illegible to me!) they never did much for me. This year, that all changed; enter the UR-100.
Fundamentally the movement was rather unchanged from their previous offerings, and it wasn’t the introduction of the additional complications/time scales around the outside of the dial that changed my outlook. If I’m totally honest I think it was the fact they finally put out a watch with a case design I really liked, in an easily accessible size, that really brought the whole Urwerk thing together for me. This watch let me understand and appreciate the rest of their portfolio as well as those from other forward-thinking brands. So the UR-100 is my watch of the year for not only its pleasing aesthetics but also the fact it opened the doors to a whole other field of watch design that had previously been closed off to me.
Omega Seamaster Diver 300m 007 Edition
As far as Bond watches go, this is the best released by far, without a date, this is a design that can be worn every day with anything everywhere. While the exact number of pieces to be made is unknown, when it looks this good, who cares? Timeless design with modern specs. It sounds like an old dog, new tricks. Perfect description of its namesake, wouldn’t you agree?
Tudor Black Bay Chrono Dark
My choice for favourite watch of 2019 is the Tudor Black Bay Chrono Dark. Now, unfortunately for the watchmaker, this year Tudor made the biggest PR cock-up since Neville Chamberlain stepped out of his flight from Berlin waving a slip of paper and shouting “peace in our time!”. The year was 1938.
Earlier this year every Tudor fan got a fizzy feeling in their private parts when the media machine was building hype for their collaboration with the All Blacks. When the day arrived the announcement was for a chrono for rugby referees you couldn’t actually buy. Shame on you Tudor.
But not all was lost. Later this year the limited edition Black Bay Chrono Dark was announced. For now limited to 1181 pieces, this represents the number of players who have ever been in the All Blacks Rugby team. The production will limit the number of pieces manufactured to match the number of future players.
I like this piece because it had a badass but tasteful black livery, much like the rugby players themselves. Honestly, I think this is the best looking Chrono to ever come out of the Tudor factory. The full black appearance somewhat diminishes the large dimensions and seen from a couple of feet doesn’t even look like a chrono. Finish, as always with Tudor, is impeccable. Apart from that it is a somewhat obtainable and fairly priced limited edition, and that’s the way all limited editions should be; any reference to Omega is unintentional…..
Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5168G-010
I’ll be honest, when it was suggested that we all pick our favourite watch of the year I had a momentary panic. There have been a lot of big releases this year, it has been a year of steel sports watches and broken records. Also, there’s such a diverse range of watches with different specifications, complications and price points, it really is a tough job trying to whittle it down to just one watch. There have been a number of trends this year, steel sports with integrated bracelet being the most prevalent. Now, I am a big fan of tool watches and I can see the appeal of sports watches as a slightly smarter, go anywhere, do anything, kind of watch. The thing with sports watches is that there are some very established designs such as the Royal Oak and Nautilus. The plethora of new releases from brands including Chopard, Bell and Ross, A. Lange & Söhne, etc will always be compared to the established models. All of them have their pros and cons, I guess we’ll see which designs will stand the test of time, so to speak. Another trend has been two-tone, even Rolex and Tudor got in on the act, adding a little glamour to their tool watches with the two-tone Sea-Dweller and Black Bay Chrono. Handsome additions, but a step away from their tool watch roots. Then there’s the record breakers, the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT, stands out for me. Technically impressive with a distinctive, handsome, masculine design. I don’t know if it’s the thinness of the case or the 30m water resistance but I think I would be in constant fear of breaking it! Okay, enough preamble, my favourite watch of the year is the Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5168G-010. So why have I chosen this watch over all the other possible options? The Aquanaut is often considered to be Patek Philippe’s other sports watch, living in the shadows of the Nautilus. Personally, I prefer the case shape and overall look of the Aquanaut. The 5168G is a “Jumbo” Aquanaut (42.2mm vs 40mm) in white gold. At 8.25mm high, it is slim but not too slim. There’s an exhibition case back which is perfect for admiring the beautifully finished 324 S C movement. The 2019 model comes with a subdued khaki green dial and coordinating composite khaki strap. I really like the integration of the strap with the case and the continuation of the dial pattern on the strap. It all feels very coherent. If you had asked me about my views on green watches at the start of the year I wouldn’t have expressed a strong opinion either way. A microbrand sent me a watch with a green dial and strap earlier this year and it has become one of my favourite looks. In a sea of black and blue dialled watches, green stands out, but not too much. I think the khaki green of the Jumbo Aquanaut is perfectly in keeping with the rest of the watch. At a glance, the white gold case is difficult to distinguish from steel. The watch is sporty and relatively casual, in many ways it is a stealth wealth watch, it doesn’t stand out like a standard yellow or rose gold round dialled watch with obvious sub-dials and complications. I suspect that if a non-watch person saw the watch in passing they probably wouldn’t realise how special it is, it is a watch that could fly under the radar. I know it has taken me a while to get to the point, but for me this is where the watch really appeals. I think it is a watch that you could wear every day without drawing unwanted attention and a watch that the owner can truly enjoy and admire. I like the technology in watches and the aesthetics but I personally don’t want to show off with my watches. So there you have it, my watch of the year, the Patek Philippe Aquanaut. A watch that is essentially a variation of a previously released model, that follows a couple of popular trends (sports watch and green dial) and that absolutely makes sense to me as a desirable package. If only I could afford one..
Nomos Glashütte Club Sport Neomatik Date Black
I go German this year and pick the Nomos Glashütte Club Sport Neomatik Date Black – I just feel this watch is not only super comfortable on the wrist, has the perfect dimensions with 42mm though wears smaller – but has also all the Nomos hallmarks of a Bauhaus inspired design, clean lines, great, uncompromised functionality, a wonderful in-house movement all pushed towards a sports watch feeling with the exceptional and innovative bracelet. Did I mention the very attractive price too? It even has the charming bright red stem showing when the crown is unscrewed warning you to not submerge in water… what’s not to like?
Vacheron Constantin Overseas 3 Dual Time
Between that Bvlgari Chronograph and the AP 11.59 line, some of 2019’s releases have drawn the spotlight to themselves in major ways, whether in form of universal acclaim or in more controversial fashion. But to me, the coolest watch of 2019 is one that has, for the most part, entirely slipped under the radar. And that is just one of its qualities. One may debate whether in 2019, climbing Everest is generally still that much of an achievement. But when you go about it like Cory Richards, it’s hard to dispute the merit. Not unlike an Everest ascent, doing a dual time sports watch is generally not that special anymore either, but when you do it right, that too still deserves credit. Against this backdrop, my favorite release for this year is the Overseas 3 Dual Time in black. Granted, it has existed in the amazing blue dial and in silver before. But while these dials are both fantastic on the three-hander, the dual time, with its more complex dial, only really came into its own with this new, sporty, red and black theme. The actual watch Cory took climbing, with its rugged grey and orange detailing and its tantalum bezel, is a fantastic, extreme, one-off auction piece. And it was great to see it do so well a few days ago. But as a piece to be worn every day in more civilian settings, the fantastically finished steel case of the commercially available dual time and it beautifully deep, almost onyx-looking lacquer dial, just comes with that essential tad of added versatility and elegance. And as an integrated bracelet, steel sports watch from one of the select houses, it’s bang on trend too.