8. DeBethune DB28 Skybridge
DeBethune offer their customers something different. The instantly recognisable “floating” lug design enables a large, tall-sided case to sit comfortably on anyone’s wrist. The main event with the DB28 Skybridge is the blued titanium dial. The level of finish is breathtaking. Mirror polished and then heat-treated to achieve a uniform blue, this is a great piece of dial work. With small, studded stars to add interest and tie the design to the polished silver hour-marking orbs, the DeBethune DB28 Skybridge is able to appeal on a visual and emotional level. The movement, visible through a glass case back, is totally unique, but will not appeal to everyone’s tastes. But, for its modernism and inimitable dimensions, the DeBethune gets a nod from me. To round things off, this watch features what is historically my favourite complication (and the only model on this list to do so), but it realises the moonphase in a novel, three-dimensional way. At six o’clock, a sphere of half-blued titanium rotates about its axis. It is a wonderfully functional piece of mechanical sculpture, and something that ensures this watch will forever litter my grail lists.
9. Junghans Meister Agenda
There are not many watches that offer this kind of performance for this kind of price. The Junghans Meister Agenda would be on this list regardless of cost because I adore the symmetry and muted colour palette of the dial, but the fact it retails for less than $3,000 nails it on the tail-end of my list for sure. The dial indicates the hours, minutes, seconds, day, date, week, and power reserve of the movement. Like the Lambda from Nomos, the Junghans Meister Agenda gives a lesson in layout. There is plenty of visual interest without a hint of busyness. With a self-winding mechanical movement visible through a display case back, this watch ticks the box for movement decoration too. It wouldn’t have surprised me to see a closed case back obscuring a bog-standard workhorse movement, but Junghans surprised me again with some tasteful Geneva striping and perlage decoration. The only potential negative is that this watch does not feature a sapphire crystal. The SICRALAN coating keeps the perspex looking nice and shiny, but is difficult to refinish without damaging the “glass” beyond repair. It is, however, replaceable, so this watch could be brought back to life in years to come.
10. Corum Admiral’s Cup AC One 45 Bois
Finally, a chronograph! I do love the common complication, and was surprised when I reached the end of my list to see that only one timer made it into the top ten, but it is a good one. The Corum Admiral’s Cup range is one of my all-time favourite watch families. The crown protector is iconic. The brand has earned its stripes by pioneering in-house calibres such as the Bridge. This movement may not feature anything quite so fancy or technologically challenging, but it has the pedigree to justify a place on your wrist and here on my list. The Corum Admiral’s Cup AC One 45 is my personal favourite of the chronograph range. I chose it because of its unusual teak dial, its ability to coordinate with a wide range of clothing, and because the cool naval flags that decorate the chapter ring are in full colour, which is how they look best. This watch looks at home wherever you are. Its high-end, nautical association means it would survive as well on the deck of a yacht, as it would at a football match.
So that’s it for now. Ten watches that I’m confident wouldn’t disappoint their owners. With each of these pieces you’re getting something unusual. I don’t expect everyone to like all of these watches – if one strikes a chord then I’ll regard that as a success! Let us know your thoughts, What do you like? What do you hate? Is there anything on here that might find its way onto your Top 10? I can’t wait to find out!