Omega has really been dialing-in the luxury dive watch design. A touch of bling, fantastic movement, stellar lume, tough bezel, super legibility and topped off with enough polished metal to signal wealth and taste. A bit thick, but in titanium, the weight is about right. Priced at $8,600.What’s This?
I love aircraft clocks, I have a Waltham 8 days as my desk clock. I also am a fan of RGM ever since I bought my 151P. The 801 movement is the first American movement in a very long time, and I quite like the adaptation of the dial to a wristwatch. Made in America, indeed. Priced at $6,400.
The antithesis of the Omega, the Pelagos is all function and zero jewelry. No bling here, just Rolex build quality in the best pure dive watch you can buy. After months of consideration, I bought myself one in September and love it to bits. Superb functionality, the best bracelet I’ve seen, outstanding legibility day or night, just a wonderful watch. I should warn you that it’s stealth wealth: For example, even the Rolex saleslady didn’t notice it until I said something! Priced at $4,140.
Sarpaneva K1 Enamel
I’ve long eyed Sarpanevas, and this one has two things that I really like: An enamel dial and dual-finish hands. The lustre and depth of an enamel dial are wonderful to see and it dials back the Baroque look of some of the Sarpanevas. This is a more versatile design. The dual-finish hands, seen before on Vacheron Constantin and the like, are a small detail that really increase the usefulness of the watch. I discovered on the much cheaper Seiko SBDX001, that it really helps visibility in varying light conditions. The diffuse reflections work well in low light such as twilight. Purely polished hands are prone to vanishing a lot of the time.
Tudor made a big splash in the industry this year with their noteworthy return to the US Market, a move that is already paying off in spades for the lesser-known sibling of Rolex. They also wowed writers and consumers worldwide with the introduction of the Heritage Chrono Blue this past year at Baselworld.
More than just a new color of the already established Heritage Chrono, the Blue is quite simply one of the best-executed affordable modern chronographs on the market. Featuring thoughtful detailing reminiscent of the original Monte Carlo chronographs of the 1970s, the Blue even won a nomination for Men’s Complication in this year’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve, and would absolutely be my choice for all-around best new watch of the year. Priced at $4,425.
Keeping the theme of retro-modern goodness is the spectacular new 40mm Ingenieur released at SIHH 2013 by IWC. In addition to being the best looking Ingenieur in years (in my opinion), with a solid nod to the original Genta-designed SL of the 70s, it is also the only model in the totally refreshed Ingenieur line to be of reasonable size for us mere mortals (under 46mm). And it is the only model to feature any sort of anti-magnetic functionality these days.
Powered by a modified ETA 2892, the 40mm Ingy doesn’t have the prestige of housing one of IWC’s new in-house calibres, but at the same time doesn’t come with the price tag. This is a great looking, practical, and affordable tool watch from one of the biggest names in the business. Priced at $6,600.
Girard Perregaux 1966 Small Seconds and Date
Girard-Perregaux had a big year, and picking just one of their spectacular new releases as my top choice for this gift guide wasn’t an easy task. The new Hawk line is impressive, and their foray into Constant-Force Escapements is incredibly promising. Ultimately though, their 1966 Collection speaks to me most strongly, and if forced to pick just one I would absolutely go with the Small Seconds and Date model in Pink Gold.
Sized at 41mm with a thickness of just 10mm and finished with your choice of a silver or brown metallic sunburst dial (they call it Cognac, but whatever the case, it is brilliantly retro), this svelte timepiece is pure, simple, tasteful elegance. Price at $16,500.
My affection for A. Lange & Sohne has grown exponentially in the past year, and I remain convinced that they are at the top of their game for all things high-horology. While my favorite piece in their lineup is the Saxonia Annual Calendar in platinum, my recommendation for this year’s Gift Guide goes to the Grand Lange I Lumen. Why? Because it is nasty cool.
The standard Grand Lange 1 is a beautiful piece in its own right, sized at 41mm, housing an in-house manual winding movement with a power reserve of 72 hours, and with unmistakably German looks. But the Lumen takes it a step further with a partially transparent dial, which allows the outsize date to charge under UV light.
With limited production to only 200 pieces, you had better have been very good this year (and know the right people) to get one. Priced at $70,400.
2013 marks the return of Tudor to the US market so I would not be surprised if you see a number of their watches on this list. Tudor has been on a roll for the past few years with extremely well-received vintage-inspired designs. The Pelagos is more modern looking but pulls together some definite Tudor DNA into one of the more refined divers on the market with fantastic build quality and a surprisingly realistic price at $4,140.
Omega Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph Dark Side of the Moon
It’s hard to find a Speedmaster that I do not like. Despite not typically being fond of black watches this one really hits all the right notes. Perhaps it is feeding off of my love of Pink Floyd but I’m just not going to think about it too much. Besides, have you seen that case back? It’s like a window into my soul. One of these would make you my best friend forever. You know… unless that’s creepy or something. Priced at $12,000.
I wasn’t joking when I said that I’m typically not a fan of black watches yet here is another on the shortlist. The name “Deep Sea” is a bit misleading given the watch’s 10 bar water resistance but this chronograph combines vintage looks with high-tech materials into one really cool package. Priced at $18,000.
There are certain watches that just tickle you in a place deep down and the awkwardly named Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month is definitely one of those watches. This technical powerhouse combines an extensive list of complications into one stunningly rugged-looking modern watch. At $49,700 it’s more of a dream to be sure, but a dream I wouldn’t mind not waking up from.
This is a follow-up to the sold out Linde Werdelin Oktopus I Moonphase and also one that includes the brand’s first in-house complication that completes the Dubois-Depraz movement made specially for Linde Werdelin. Highly limited and unlike typical moon phase watches showing the current phase of the moon, the piece shows you the moon phase today and in previous days and in subsequent days. For night diving planning, this is actually quite useful. Plus it has all the looks and charm that makes Linde Werdelin watches unique on the market, albeit not the cheapest options.
Additionally, as an amateur diver I appreciate two more things about LW that’s attracting me to the brand. One, the owners are active users of the watches. Be it skiing, diving, or mountaineering you can see their enthusiasm. Second, the LW main motto is time is better in analog while activity data is better in digital, using their add on Reef or Rock computers. This is very similar to my own philosophy about timepieces and how I decide and use my own watches. Analog watches for everyday use but digital watches, e.g., Garmin, CASIO, for sporting activities. Priced at $13,800.
Panerai Luminor 1950 Amagnetic Submersible PAM 389, $12,400
This is a modern version of the Panerai Submersible with a ceramic bezel and anti-magnetic case. I’ve tried it at the dealership and while I initially thought it would be too big and too heavy for my taste, it’s actually light due to the titanium construction and fits easily onto my 7.5 inch wrist. Needless to say that I came away convinced that this is the Submersible to own besides the new Bronzo PAM 507, which is virtually already sold out or impossible to even reserve.
Omega Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph Dark Side Of The Moon
The Omega Speedmaster is iconic. Everyone knows that and any serious collector almost needs to have one by definition. The problem is, which one? Banking on the success and popularity of that model, Omega practically produces one and sometimes multiple models every year commemorating a slew of real and artificial event anniversaries related to the original model. After doing some research on this, I came away more confused then enlightened, but reached the simple conclusion. Unless I can get a vintage model dated in the ’70, thus the same reference as the one that went to space, then go for the new ones that are significant departures from the historic models. One that tries to create its own history. Well, this year’s black ceramic “dark side of the moon” Speedy might be the perfect model for me. Plus, based on the pics and videos it’s a great looking watch, everyone seems to agree on that point. Priced at $12,000.
I love Sinn watches. Especially the U diver series. I own the U1 and wear it all the time. It’s brilliantly executed and engineered, hard (practically impossible) to scratch, and just looks great. It’s for me the perfect beater watch that I am never afraid of wearing, no matter the activity (work, home, play). The Sinn U1000 is a more complicated version of the U series with even more interesting technologies like inert gas filled case and copper sulphate capsule, but most importantly a somewhat unique chronograph that you can actually activate while diving. What’s not to love! Priced at $5,380.
Cartier Tank Americaine
The large Model, with automatic winding in white gold. Reference W2603256. Because I really, really need a nice dress watch for those special occasions, and I’ve always been a Cartier fan. Also, I sold mine years ago and I miss it. Priced at $16,800.
If the Americaine is way too expensive for my gift, then I’ll take the Cartier “Calibre de Cartier” Chronograph, automatic in steel. Reference W7100046. I can get by wearing this as a dress watch because it’s a Cartier, and everyone, for some strange reason, thinks Cartier is dressy. Priced at $10,600.
Panerai Luminor Marina Automatic PAM164
Steel with black dial and leather strap. Reference PAM00164. Santa, who in their right mind wouldn’t want a Panerai? And this one is classic. Priced at $7,400.
Reference 3748421 in steel. Santa I’m a sucker for any and all Reverso’s and this is my current watch to covet. Lists for $10,400.
Patek Philippe Reference 5216R
The real dream. The Patek Philippe Reference 5216R is a dream watch in every sense of the word. Eyewatering price tag aside, this is everything a Patek should be. Classic design, high complications and finishing of the highest order. Priced at around $750,000.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Reference 15202
A grail dream. We have all heard the story of the Royal Oak before, and last year’s “Jumbo” model is for me, the most desirable modern iteration of the Royal Oak. Perfect. Priced at $22,500.
Rolex GMT Master II Day/Night 116710BLNR
Target-able dream., This watch is sold out everywhere, but I managed to chance upon it on a recent business trip and boy did it blow me away. The added dash of blue makes all the difference. You have to see it for yourself to know what I’m on about. Priced at $9,150.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay
The affordable dream. How can you say no to gold hands and a gilt dial? This is the watch I almost always recommend when someone asks me to recommend something affordable. Priced at $3,100.
The Omega Speedmaster “Dark Side of the Moon” manages to retain the old charm and styling we have come to love and yet still bring the watch up into modern times. The black case exudes class and I remember standing spellbound admiring this watch at this year’s Basel fair.
The JeanRichard Terrascope black dial with the black rubber strap is a great entry level quality watch. I love the case shape of this watch and its understated styling.
The MB&F Legacy machine No. 2 still leaves me breathless. It manages to be cutting edge, creative and innovative, yet beautiful and somehow classic at the same time. If I could ever own one of these then I would be a very happy man.
And for a more sporty, rugged look, I go back to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak again and again. I know it has been around for a while, but it never seems to age and it looks as great in a business meeting as when out on the weekend. I like how most people wouldn’t give it a second glance, but those ‘in the know’ would give it an admiring look and perhaps even share a smile with you when they see it poke out of your shirt sleeve.