Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLRO

Rolex might not deserve innovation praise in 2018 for its new steel version of the GMT-Master II with the ceramic “Pepsi” bezel, but this watch is a crowd-pleaser and likely reserved across the globe with many eager would-be wearers hoping they get the privilege of being able to buy one. In addition to offering a steel GMT-Master II with the desirable ceramic bezel aesthetic, the GMT-Master II case has been upgraded and the movement has been replaced with a modern generation in-house made caliber 3285 “Superlative Chronometer” rated automatic GMT movement. Rolex returned to a vintage aesthetic by placing this steel sports watch on a matching jubilee bracelet. The watch is just different enough to be compelling and desirable, but also just similar enough to pull on the same emotional heartstrings as Pepsi-bezel steel Rolex watches from the past. $9,250

Casio G-Shock GMW-B5000

Perhaps this watch is on the list merely because Casio actually produced a watch that I’ve been daydreaming about for a few years now. I’ve always felt that many of the more iconic G-Shock watch cases would look cool in metal – and that is exactly what Casio has done for 2018 with the G-Shock GMW-B5000 collection that will come in polished steel, yellow gold-tone, and likely more metal finishes in the future. Better yet, these aren’t cheap watches. Casio didn’t just create a basic metal look for its mainstream consumers, but a fully durable, fully great looking, fully modern technical product all in something that for me is the right blend of style, heritage, and modern relevancy. This is a very adult and also hip way to recall an iconic and extremely popular aesthetic that feels far more contemporary than many other metal watches. Casio is doing a great job of making G-Shock watches for youth, professional active people, as well as cosmopolitan adults. $500–$600

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Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph Reference 5968A

2018 sees Patek Philippe introduce the first steel-cased version of the new larger 42.2mm wide Aquanaut – this year in chronograph form. Last year in 2017 the prestigious and conservative Swiss watchmaker finally acknowledged a demand for larger sport watches (even from them). They did this with a lovely three-hand 42.2mm wide Aquanaut in 18k white gold. 2018 sees what more people want in a steel-cased Aquanaut with a 60 minute automatic chronograph movement. Perhaps the most shocking thing is use of the color orange. In addition to orange accent colors on the dial, Patek Philippe offers this Aquanaut both on a black and orange rubber strap. 38,600 CHF

Omega Seamaster 300M Co-Axial Master Chronometer

25 years after its debut, Omega has offered the most comprehensive update of the Seamaster 300M dive watch collection probably since the collection was introduced. Yet despite the new case, dial, hands, bracelet, and movement, the Seamaster 300M maintains the original charm and poise that helped put Omega on the map as a modern luxury watchmaker. Bumped up marginally to 42mm wide and containing a fancy in-house Omega caliber 8800 automatic Co-Axial Master Chronometer movement, the Seamaster 300M works so well because it maintains its tool watch spirit but isn’t afraid to include enough status-implying polish and shine. The new laser-cut ceramic “wave” dials and better-quality hands are a key aesthetic highlight in our opinion. Prices too are within the same ballpark as before with the Seamaster 300M in steel (bracelet or strap) being priced at under $5,000. $4,750 on the strap and $4,850 on the bracelet in steel.

Favre-Leuba Raider Sea King

With an almost tongue-in-cheek tone, Favre-Leuba enjoys claiming it is the “second oldest Swiss watch brand.” That claim to longevity doesn’t seem to affect today’s Favre-Leuba from having a more contemporary approach to watch design. On the technical side the company has a well-priced mechanical barometer and depth meter watch, and for 2018 this 41mm wide version of the Raider Sea King that comes on a bracelet. The result is a dressy sport watch that succeeds in being comfortable and legible – but also far more visually communicative than a lot of the competition (especially at this price point). Favre-Leuba removed the rotating bezel from the case but retained its technical, 1970s sport watch feel in a toned-down way that allows for this timepiece to compliment a man in professional (as well as active) attire. $1,900

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TAG Heuer Monaco Bamford

In 2017 the LVMH watch product division led by Jean-Claude Biver announced a new strategic relationship with UK-based George Bamford to develop and produce special products. The well-known Rolex aftermarket-modifier would work on developing high-end, hip versions of classic models from brands such as Zenith and TAG Heuer. The majority of Bamford’s work comes in modifying existing watches but for 2018 TAG Heuer announced the first Bamford-designed timepiece to be constructed versus modified. The watch is a hard-to-dislike-once-it-is-on-the-wrist version of the famed TAG Heuer Monaco in a carbon case with electric blue accents. It comes with the Bamford cost premium, but since it was conceived in collaboration with TAG Heuer, the quality of the end result has never been better. $8,100

Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic Chronograph

Inspired by the popular Calypso family of watches from the 1990s, the Maurice Lacroix Aikon is a worthy attempt to bring a more inspired look to mainstream luxury watches. For 2018 Maurice Lacroix supplements the quartz Aikon watch collection with both a three-hand and chronograph set of mechanical Aikon models. On the matching steel bracelet consumers are presented with a timepiece that makes a real wrist statement without a wild price (but rendered with impressive quality). The Aikon Automatic Chronograph watches have the basic character of something like an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph – but in a more digestible form for the masses (and that doesn’t look like a copycat). $2,890–$2,990

Jacob & Co. Astronomia Maestro

With no slowdown in sight for the unexpectedly popular (and avant-garde) Astronomia super watch collection from Jacob & Co, 2018 sees one of the most ambitious Astronomia models yet – the Astronomia Maestro. This isn’t the first Astronomia watch to be included in a top 10 watches list on aBlogtoWatch because the sapphire crystal-bubble style mechanical timepiece concept continues to impress those interested in wildly lavish creations. In addition to fun decorative features such as a spinning small astronaut and a half black/half white spinning diamond used to indicate the moon phase, the Astronomia Maestro adds a cathedral-style minute repeater to the assortment of complications found in the Astronomia. Space benefits the latter complication whose gongs have virtually unrivaled room to spread out in the cavernous case. The result is a rich, loud musical sound from the minute repeater that, given its cathedral-style notes, sounds richer and more complicated than your “ordinary” chiming minute repeater creation. 680,000 CHF

Glashutte Original Senator Chronograph Panorama Date White Dial On Bracelet

Last year in 2017 German Glashutte Original introduced a version of their dressy/sporty Senator Chronograph Panorama Datum with a black dial and blue-colored hands and hour makers (with matching lume tone). It was a step into taking a classically-effective wristwatch design and making it a bit hipper. For 2018 Glashutte Original offers the same watch but with a white dial and black colored hands and lumimant for a strikingly bold, yet timeless masculine aesthetic in a serious piece of horology. Especially on the highly-engineered matching steel bracelet this version of the Senator Chronograph deserves to be on this list for stylish versatility and daily-wear practicality all in a high-end package with a fair price. $16,400

Hublot Big Bang UNICO Red Magic

The development of bright red ceramic as a viable case material is a big deal when you consider the future implications. In fashion, color is of prime importance and for a long time watch case material colors have been limited if you are looking for something durable and high-end. If you wanted a case in fire-engine red prior to Hublot’s Red Magic, you needed to accept a case material that was likely to scratch and wear quickly. Ceramic is highly scratch-resistant but not traditionally appropriate for lighter colors. Hublot developed a complicated technique to produce a beautiful and durable red ceramic that we hope will be featured in future watches. For the time being, Hublot’s limited edition for 2018 black and red-colored Big Bang UNICO Red Magic will make you a believer in what fun colors can do to spice up an otherwise popular timepiece design. $26,200

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