Finally, the nightmare that was 2016 is over! Rejoice people, 2017 is going to be so different, you’ll see. This year is going to be all rainbows and unicorns, I promise you*. For the watch industry, 2016 was a busted flush, things going pear-shaped as demand from the mainland and Hong Kong, the two biggest markets, fell off a cliff.
The end of the year also means I get to list my top three pieces, in an award segment I’ve dubbed “The Rahmans”, which I hope will catch on and attract sponsorship from the likes of HSBC and Standard Chartered or, failing that, Nandos (aka the best chicken restaurant in the world).
Honourable mentions also go to MB&F’s LM Perpetual, Omega’s Globemaster Master Chronometer Annual Calendar, Tudor’s Heritage Black Bay Bronze and Oris’ Divers Sixty-Five – all excellent watches but missing that little something.
So without further ado, here’s my top three in no particular order.
If money were no object, this year the watch I would have opened my wallet for would have been the Breguet Tradition 7087 Minute Repeater Tourbillon. Priced at a cool HK$3.68 million, the Tradition 7087 costs the same as a 432-sq-ft studio apartment in Discovery Bay, so this is a watch for serious collectors and the mega-rich, one that everyone can appreciate for its technical and design accomplishment. Simply put, it’s a breathtaking piece of engineering with a stylish steampunk aesthetic. There are two gold-standard complications on this watch, the minute repeater – which chimes out the time with a push of a button – and the tourbillon at the six o’clock position. Everything is exposed, so it’s hard not to keep staring at the watch as it does its thing. Watch nerds will love the in-house 565DR movement that features ultra-modern silicone components and drives 80 hours of power reserve. A true marriage of classical design and modern engineering, the Tradition 7087 is an absolute gem.
From a hugely expensive collectable we move on to something eminently affordable, the Swatch Sistem51 Soul, which is priced at HK$1,600. Too horribly mangle Oscar Wilde’s saying, the watch industry all too often knows the price of everything but the value of nothing – that is, there is a great deal of snootiness with pieces that are affordable. That’s a ridiculous way of thinking because the Sistem51 collection is a breath of fresh air, a mechanical watch that doesn’t cost the Earth and, moreover, is incredibly well designed. The Soul caught my eye this year for its pretty simplicity and off-white dial with a curious geometrical pattern – and just look at the back of the watch! If you’re in the market for a Swiss automatic timepiece with a bit of style and you don’t want to spend too much, you won’t go far wrong with a Sistem51.
Finally, a watch with a mid-range price of HK$47,800, the Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Limited Edition. Now, I’ve not been particularly good at hiding my love for the Speedmaster, which, along with the Rolex Submariner, is what any serious watch guy should aspire to, but Omega has continued to tweak the classic and this one is just perfect. The original CK2998 was released in 1959 and is a top seller in the vintage market; this new version, limited to 2,998 pieces, has all the grace of the original, as seen in the blue of the sub dials and the bezel and the “lollipop” seconds hand. Despite the design being more than half a century old the watch still looks fresh and on-trend.
*This is a totally non-binding promise.