After a wild, experimental 2022, 2023 stood out as a year of shifting trends, market changes, and major anniversaries for the watch industry. Average case sizes shrank, integrated bracelet sports watches reached critical mass, speculator bubbles deflated, multiple storied brands were bought out, and the industry at large reshaped its relationship to the ongoing vintage-inspired design trend. In short, 2023 was a year of fascinating changes and transitions in watchmaking, which created ideal conditions for some truly standout new watch releases. We’ve gathered a collection of our personal favorite watch releases from 2023 below, but feel free to add your own favorites from this year in the comments. We hope you’ve enjoyed this standout year in horology as much as we’ve enjoyed reporting it to you.
– Sean Lorentzen

Gelfman IN-16 Nixie Tubes

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2023 not only saw the introduction of many new watches but also new brands. One brand that formally debuted in 2023 is a company whose progress I have been tracking for over a decade, and their debut product is probably the first wrist luxury timepiece to emphasize the use of Cold War-era nixie tubes to display the time. Gelfman’s IN-16 Nixie watch is a limited-edition gadget watch designed with timepiece aficionados in mind. A slick polished steel housing contains two IN-16 size USSR nixie tubes which are paired with modern electronics to operate them. The watch easily connects to a computer to adjust all the important settings, and on the wrist, it offers the incredibly captivating view of nixie tube numerals glowing before your eyes. This is probably not the most popular or mainstream timepiece of 2023, but given how long I’ve been waiting for it, it has inspired my most exciting passion this year. – Ariel Adams

TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 39mm “Glassbox”

It’s nearly impossible to successfully reinvent an icon. Once a product line reaches a certain level of popularity, it’s exceedingly difficult to substantively change the basic formula without chasing off at least some of the fan base (look no further than Rolex for the effect this can have on long-term watch design). Somehow, though, TAG Heuer beat the odds and brought a fresh, dynamic, and genuinely compelling new face to the core Carrera family in time for its 60th anniversary. The “Glassbox” silhouette manages to combine the original Carrera’s most recognizable lines with an optimistic, Jetsons-esque futurism that shines dramatically on the wrist. This new-generation Carrera has already become a cornerstone of TAG Heuer’s collection, spawning numerous variants in its first year, but for my money, nothing tops the punchy, retro-luxe style of the 18k gold model. This is a clinic on how to blend modern and vintage design effectively. – Sean Lorentzen

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Cuervo y Sobrinos Historiador Gran Premio de Cuba 1957

Always tempted by the flashy, gem-set, and/or complicated watch releases of the year, this time I chose a watch I simply adore. This Cuervo y Sobrinos is a vintage-inspired watch that does not take itself too seriously, and yet sports super proportions and pleasing contrast across its dial and case. Car-inspired and especially motorsport-inspired watches always looked best in red as far as I am concerned, and this Historiador Gran Premio De Cuba 1957 tops that with a tasteful use of complementary colors, and a dash of green and blue, too. The leaf-shaped, shiny hands against a matt dial, a crisp, white chronograph seconds hand, and some familiar words this time in Spanish make this a deeply likable package for me. 42mm wide, 12mm thick, and priced at $3,700, this is my favorite watch release of the year.
– David Bredan

Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Neon Yellow SAXEM

Choosing a favorite watch release of the year is always a difficult task, although if you were to give me a blank check and tell me that I could have any timepiece that debuted in 2023, there is a fairly good chance that I would choose the Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Neon Yellow SAXEM. Realistically speaking, there is no way to properly compare a highly value-driven tool watch priced at a few hundred dollars to a high-horology art piece that costs more than a decently sized house in many parts of this country, as the criteria under consideration are fundamentally different for these two polar opposite ends of the horological spectrum. Additionally, once you hit the six-figure price point, relative value starts to become less of a factor, and what you receive for your money is arguably less important than how the watch simply makes you feel. While the Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Neon Yellow SAXEM may not necessarily be the most practical, important, or technologically impressive new watch that was released this year, none of the other 2023 novelties put a smile on my face quite like this open-worked tourbillon inside a fully transparent highlighter-colored case.
– Ripley Sellers

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40

The IWC Ingenieur existed for over 20 years before Gerald Genta, but it was the legendary Swiss watch designer’s touch that turned the watch into a true horological icon in 1976 with the debut of the Ingenieur SL Jumbo Ref. 1832. The intervening years have seen various iterations of the Ingenieur, with the best releases being the ones that fully embrace the Genta aesthetic — the Ref. 3239 lineup from 2013 being a sterling example. Now, one decade later, IWC is back in 2023 with a quartet of Genta-inspired Ingenieurs that take the best elements of the original SL Jumbo — the case shape, the cross-hatched dial pattern — and execute them with a modern flair. The new aqua dial reference is especially stunning, and there’s a titanium version for those with a proclivity for the muted tool watch look. The fact remains that only a handful of brands can lay claim to the Genta legacy, and with the Ingenieur Automatic 40, IWC is rightfully proud to remind us that they are one of those few.
-Ed Rhee

Spinnaker Fleuss Seconde/Seconde Fifty Phantoms

2023 seemed to be the Year of Seconde/Seconde/ (aka Romaric André), which meant we got a load of fun watches from several different brands collaborating with the satirical artist. A lot of them simply weren’t to my liking, whether because of the base model used or André’s embellishments, but the Spinnaker Fleuss Seconde/Seconde/ Fifty Phantoms knocked it out of the park. This wasn’t the most impressive or even the best-designed watch of the year, but I do think it was André’s best work and certainly the most fun watch of the year. Sending up the iconic Blancpain Fifty Fathoms — and poking those who hold it sacred — was entirely welcome, and it was executed to perfection, with the scattered ghosts taking over the dial. At under $500, you’d be hard-pressed to find a watch released this year (or maybe ever) that offers as much fun at such a great price. (I’ll also sneak in honorable mentions for the Baltic Hermétique collection, the revamped Zenith Pilot collection, and the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce.)
– Mike Razak

MB&F HM8 Mark 2

Choosing a favorite release of the year is never an easy task when you are this involved in the industry, and the longer and deeper I go, the more quirky my tastes become — if only my budget could keep up. The MB&F HM8 Mark 2 stands out to me not for its automotive design language, albeit incredibly cool and executed elegantly, but because of the unintentional similarity to the Disney/Pixar robot WALL-E. This adorable coincidence brings a smile to my face every time I see the watches and you can’t beat a watch that makes you happy to your core.
– Jake Witkin

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