2018 has been a massive year for the Swiss watch industry and whilst we’re aware it’s only a quarter of the way in, we felt compelled to highlight some of the standout pieces that have had us weeping tears of joy at night.
Watch tastes vary and so do ours. This wrist candy round-up will cover everything from the high-end pieces to the most accessible ones on the market today.
TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf Special Edition 50th Anniversary
TAG Heuer’s iconic Monaco Chronograph is aiming to recapture the hearts of racing fans with its latest Monaco Gulf Special Edition 50th Anniversary.
The square-cased timepiece comes as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Gulf Racing stripes, a colourway that is synonymous with dominating on the world’s most legendary race tracks.
In its latest iteration the Monaco wears the signature blue and orange racing stripes paired with a small Gulf logo on the dial. A 39mm steel case houses the Swiss made TAG Heuer Calibre 11 automatic movement which boasts a 40 hour power reserve.
Why we love it: It’s made for fans of motorsport and watchmaking. If you love racing this is the one to have – a true classic reimagined for the modern day
Price: AU $7,650
Santos de Cartier
Cartier surprised crowds in Geneva this year with a reintroduction of the French luxury house’s most iconic flying watch: the Santos de Cartier.
The most defining element of the watch’s design is the square case which remains predominantly unchanged from the original timepiece of 1904.
The new one is lighter thanks to an approximate 9mm case thickness and a new rounded bezel which tapers seamlessly into the lugs to provide a much cleaner look and better feel on the wrist.
Four variations of the Santos de Cartier have been released including the all stainless steel, stainless steel and yellow gold, pink gold and yellow gold variants. These options come in two sizes with the medium sitting at 35.1mm wide and the large at 39.8mm wide.
Another appealing feature of the timepiece is its QuickSwitch and SmartLink system which makes for quick and easy strap changes at the push of a button – no fidgety tools required.
Why we love it: Interchangeable straps and bracelets is the a game changer for luxury watches
Price: AU $9,600
OMEGA Seamaster Olympic Games Collection
Inspired by the iconic Rings of the Olympic Games is this stylish and minimalist offering from OMEGA.
The Seamaster Olympic Games Collection draws its design cues from OMEGA’s timekeeping stopwatches of the past. This translates effortlessly into a domed black and white dial with sporty hands, a date window and a highly legible minute track tracing the inner-circumference.
The blue version is our pick of the crop and it comes in a 39.5mm stainless steel case paired to a blue micro-perforated leather strap. There’s also a blue pulse reader on the dial which allows wearers to determine their pulse beats-per-minute – pretty cool addition.
Movement meanwhile is sorted with the Master Chronometer calibre 8800 which drives the hours, minutes, seconds and date function. It also bears the COSC certification to ensure the highest standards of precision timekeeping are met.
The piece comes backed with a 60 metre water resistance rating and a limited edition run of just 2,032 units.
Why we love it: It’s something different from OMEGA and for minimalist fiends, you can’t go wrong with a classically inspired design in various colours like this one.
Rolex GMT-Master II
Accessibility is the name of the game and Rolex owned that with their hero piece of Baselworld 2018, the GMT-Master II finished in stainless steel and the highly sought-after Pepsi colour bezel.
The new watch features a 40mm Oystersteel case (904L stainless steel) along with the Cerachrom “Pepsi” two colour bezel. For the first time ever since the vintage years, the GMT Master II also sees the return of the five-link Jubilee bracelet – a beautiful design that will get hearts racing in the horology world.
Inside the piece is a 3285 movement which boasts a GMT function and a power reserve of 70 hours instead of the previous model’s 48 hours. Rolex has also gone through the trouble of getting the watch COSC Chronometer certified meaning accuracy is pretty much guaranteed.
Why we love it: Because ti’s a Rolex
Tudor GMT Black Bay
Ask and you shall receive. Whilst Rolex unveiled what was arguably the most talked about watch at this year’s Baselworld, its five-digit price tag is still a deterrent for some fans of the coveted ‘Pepsi’ design.
Enter sister company, Tudor. The Swiss watchmaker unveiled their own GMT Black Bay at the show alongside Rolex’s GMT-Master II and the result is quite stunning.
Three striking bracelets to choose from, a practical 41mm stainless steel case and a price tag that undercuts the Rolex by less than half the price is a winner in anyone’s book. Most importantly though, it still looks the part thanks to a well thought out blue print.
Why we love it: Because you can get this if you can’t afford the one above
Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic Acciaio PAM00904
An age of refinement has finally heralded in a new chapter of the illustrious Panerai story.
One of the key elements of the latest Luminor Due collection is a redesigned case which now sees a 10.5 – 10.7mm thickness – a significant downsizing from the 15.65mm thickness of the original 1950 Luminor.
The merger of quintessential Italian design and modern Swiss watchmaking however remains, bringing with it three versions of the the Luminor Due: a 38mm, 42mm or 45mm diameter case.
Depending on the model and size, the Luminor Due collection houses a choice of a hand-wound mechanical or automatic movements all boasting 72 hours of power reserve – hence the 3 days designation.
All of these movements drive the hours, minutes and small seconds sub-dial.
Some believe that the Panerai Luminor has gone soft by going smaller, but this is far from the case. The Luminor Due collection is about welcoming a timeless and bold aesthetic into a sophisticated new market.
Why we love it: Finally a Panerai that fits under your shirt
Price: AU $8,700 (42mm, PAM00904)
Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox
Jaeger-LeCoultre paid homage to the pioneers this year with a watch which borrows the DNA of the original Memovox Polaris timepiece hailing from 1968.
The revisited timepiece is issued in a limited run of 1,000 pieces and comes with the special alarm function made famous by the 1968 Memovox Polaris watch.
This 50th anniversary timepiece features the iconic three-crown design: one for setting the alarm (top), one for the inner rotating bezel (middle) and one for setting the time (bottom).
Everything is set within a 42mm stainless steel case including the Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 956 automatic mechanical movement, a striking mechanism with a gong, along with the central seconds and instant-jump date-change system.
It also affords functions like hours, minutes, seconds, alarm and date backed up with a 44 hour power reserve.
Why we love it: Simple yet cool, it’s a modern interpretation of a 60’s classic
IWC Tribute To Pallweber Edition
Joining IWC Schaffhausen’s Jubilee celebration this year was a stunning trio in the form of the limited edition Tribute to Pallweber wristwatches complete with jumping numerals.
Arguably one of IWC’s most innovative showings to date, this timepiece incorporates a digital hours and minutes display in a wristwatch for the very first time. Tradition wasn’t lost through innovation though as IWC utilised this form of time/date display on their pocket watches way back in 1884.
Today the forgotten dial design has been revived for the brand’s anniversary alongside an equally pioneering movement. The IWC-manufactured 94200 calibre features cutting edge engineering that merges intricate mechanics with a sophisticated digital display complete with a high 60-hour power reserve.
A total of 25 watches will be made in platinum (Ref. IW505001), 500 in stainless steel (Ref. IW505003) and 250 in red gold (Ref. IW505002). Our favourite of the trio is the blue dial variant.
Why we love it: Totally unique and it’s already sold out
Price: AU $33,000
Hublot Classic Fusion Ashes Chronograph
The competitive sport of cricket has welcomed the arrival of a brand new timepiece with the Hublot Classic Fusion Ashes Chronograph.
The watch’s debut marks the extended partnership between Hublot and the International Cricket Council which first came together in 2015 with the former playing the role of official timekeeper.
Today that partnership has once again brought Cricket Australia and the Ashes Series 2017-18 to the forefront of conversation with the help of ex-Australian cricket captain, Michael Clarke.
The limited edition watch which will only come as 32 examples in the world – each one representing the number of series won by each team.
The watch’s appointments will see a unique design which features a grey dial that wears sport’s most significant symbols – the hands of the two chronograph counters in the shape of a bat and a triple applique at the 12 o’clock marker which mimics the stumps.
Why we love it: Because Aussie, Aussie, Aussie – and Australian Cricket needs us right now.
Price: AU $16,200
Montblanc Star Legacy Automatic Chronograph
Created to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Montblanc Star Legacy Collection, the Star Legacy Automatic Chronograph is an elegant piece featuring striking blue undertones against an intricate silver-white dial.
Casing is handled with 42mm polished steel which houses Montblanc’s MB 25.02 automatic chronograph with a power reserve of 46 hours. The movement drives the hours, minutes, seconds and three additional counters.
The Automatic Chronograph is finished off with a blue Sfumato alligator leather strap from the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence, Italy.
Why we love it: It’s a classic design that reminds us of something else that’s really expensive
Price: AU $6,130
Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph
SIHH 2018 saw the addition of a chronograph model to the iconic Girard-Perregaux Laureato collection.
The watch forges its own unique identity from a a line of aesthetics which spans 43 years and it does so with a welcome touch of masculinity. The 42mm case in steel houses a self-winding mechanical movement with hours, minutes, small seconds, date and chronograph functions. It also boasts a 46 hour power reserve and is paired with either a black leather strap or steel bracelet.
Why we love it: The black and blue colour combination is totally badass
Price: AU $20,550
BR V2-94 Racing Bird Chronograph
A limited edition timepiece for a conceptual racing plane is right up Bell & Ross’ alley.
For the 2018 Baselworld convention the French watch company debuted the BR V2-94 Racing Bird Chronograph, a bold pilot’s chronograph which evokes the sleek aesthetics of their conceptual BR-Bird racing plane complete with a unique rearward cockpit.
The vintage inspiration is absent in this piece with a clear emphasis on a modern look. A 41mm stainless steel case holds the BR-CAL.301, an automatic movement which drives the hours, minutes, seconds, date and twin 30-minute chronograph counters.
These details are finely contrasted against a white dial thanks to an orange seconds hand and chronograph sub-dials set in blue and white.
Why we love it: Striking and bold design ensures that it will look like nothing else on people’s wrists.
Breitling Navitimer 8 B01
The first launch under CEO Georges Kern’s guidance is the new Breitling Navitimer 8.
What’s immediately apparent is he’s taken design inspiration from his previous employer. More classic design cues mixed with military heritage will ensure the brand begins to appeal to a more gentlemanly audience.
The Navitimer 8 is a 43mm chronograph designed with pilots in mind. It remains true to the Navitimer family design and gives a slight nod to Breitling’s heritage pieces. It comes with Breitling’s certified B01 in-house movement and has a 70-hour power reserve.
Why we love it: It’s the watch that takes the brand in a whole new direction
Price: AU $10,050 (Aligator strap)
Vacheron Constantin FIFTYSIX
Those after a clean and classic looking timepiece will be naturally drawn to the FIFTYSIX self-winding model with date function.
The watch comes with the option of a 40 mm-diameter steel or 18 carat 5N pink gold case and a peak inside reveals a brand new mechanical self-winding movement in the Calibre 1326 which affords hours, minutes and seconds functions alongside the aforementioned date window at the 3 o’clock mark.
The movement also brings a very handy 48-hour power reserve and stop-seconds device to the table.
Why we love it: It’s the first truly affordable Vacheron timepiece
Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic
New silicon technology adorns the balance spring of Baume & Mercier’s latest sophisticated timepiece in the form of the Clifton Baumatic.
The piece is an automatic date watch for men complete with an in-house manufactured self-winding mechanical movement.
The timeless look is further exemplified with a classic black alligator strap paired with a white dial wearing the hour and minute time markers alongside a date window at 3 o’clock. A 40mm stainless steel case features a transparent sapphire case back which proudly shows off the COSC automatic movement in all its glory.
Why we love it: Best value watch of 2018
Ulysse Nardin Freak Vision
Ulysse Nardin stunned the crowds at this year’s SIHH in Geneva with the release of the Freak Vision, the Swiss watchmaker’s first ever automatic timepiece from the Freak collection which tells the time without conventional hands.
The new Freak Vision utilises the latest complication which was showcased in Ulysse Nardin’s InnoVision 2 concept watch at SIHH 2017.
In production form for the Freak Vision, this culminates in the innovative Grinder Automatic Winding System.
A super-light silicium balance wheel with nickel mass elements and stabilising micro-blades now graces the movement along with a new case design made thinner via a box-domed crystal. The hours and minutes functions meanwhile are determined by the rotation of the movement. It’s a complex movement which does away with the conventional crown.
Besides this rather spectacular looking in-house movement which can be seen from the caseback, the timepiece features a 50 hour power reserve, 30 metres water resistance and a big 45mm platinum case. The watch comes with a leather-like rubber strap with titanium folding buckle.
Be warned though, with so much R&D and innovation crammed into the Freak Vision, pricing isn’t for the faint of heart.
Why we love it: Absurdly awesome because it breaks all the rules and looks amazing in blue.
Price: AU $142,000