As we wrap up another year of great watchmaking, we take a look at some of our favourite launches this year. From revived classics and vintage reinterpretations to wholly new executions of complications, here are 10 watches that defined 2018 for us.
1. Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona
This one needs no explanation.
Photographs of the latest Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona flooded social media in March when it debuted at Baselworld. The 40mm timepiece, which comes in Everose gold, boasts rainbow-coloured, baguette-cut sapphires decorating the bezel.
The timepiece is driven by the Perpetual calibre 4300, which comes with 72 hours of power reserve.
2. Blancpain Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Rétrograde
The 42mm timepiece comes with a flying tourbillon at 12 o’clock (which looks as if it is suspended in air, a trick made successful by removing the lower bridge and replacing it with a sapphire disk) – but the real star of the show is the jumping hour and retrograde minute complications at 6 o’clock.
The retrograde movement is smoother than jazz. The hands, which swing counter-clockwise back to 0, move so fast that if you blink, you might miss it altogether.
Two versions of this watch are on offer: red gold, and a 20-piece limited-edition platinum. The timepiece is powered by the calibre 260MR with 144 hours of power reserve.
3. Panerai L’astronomo Luminor 1950 Tourbillon Moon Phases Equation of Time GMT
Over at Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève (SIHH), Panerai was surprising everyone with its first timepiece to ever showcase a moonphase. Inspired by Galileo Galilei, it honours the leaps and bounds made by his scientific observations of the celestial skies.
The moonphase, which can be found on the caseback, is accurate to 100 days. The watch also boasts a equation of time function, sunrise/sunset times and a tourbillon, just to name a few.
It runs on a skeletonised movement, the P.2005/GLS (GLS stands for Galileo Luna Scheletrato), and offers four days of power reserve. The timepiece comes in three versions: red gold, white gold and titanium.
4. H. Moser Endeavour Perpetual Moon Concept
This year, H. Moser looked to the skies and found inspiration in the moon.
The brand’s sleek moonphase (located at 6 o’clock) is one of the most precise we’ve seen, and only rarely needs to be reset – once every 1,027 years, to be exact.
This timepiece runs on the hand wound HMC 801 Manufacture calibre with a 7-day power reserve.
Two versions are available: steel with a dial in Vantablack (a hi-tech material used in astrophysics for telescopes and by the army as thermal camouflage), and a red gold version with a midnight-blue fumé dial.
5. Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic
Bulgari proves thin is in with its new Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic, which broke the world record as the thinnest automatic timepiece with a tourbillon – at just 3.95mm thick, and is the brand’s fourth record-breaking watch.
The timepiece is powered by the calibre BVL 288 (which is only 1.95mm thick) and offers 52 hours of power reserve. It is limited to 50 pieces.
Patek Philippe’s Aquanaut is arguably the original sports watch as we know them to be today: stainless steel, durable, with a rubber strap, and designed to withstand the rigours of daily life.
The design, however, saw an interpretation that took it to next-level sporty this year: the Aquanaut Chronograph Ref. 5968A was given an interchangeable rubber strap in bright orange.
At first glance, the bright hue seemed a stark departure from Patek’s understated DNA. But give it a few minutes and you’ll begin to appreciate how incredibly adaptive and modern the Aquanaut design continues to be, even 20 years after its launch.
The black dial with orange indices resonates well with the orange strap, and a second black, interchangeable rubber strap comes with the timepiece. The chronograph is powered by a CH 28-250 C automatic movement.
7. Tudor Black Bay GMT
A good number of people were confused by the simultaneous launches of the Tudor/Rolex Pepsi GMTs this year. Very similar in looks, it left many wondering if Tudor’s launch of the Black Bay GMT would steal some of the thunder from its more expensive counterpart.
However, one will come to understand the differences between the two pieces as soon as you see the Black Bay live.
Featuring more subdued, matted shades of red and blue, with the red being almost a bright burgundy, the Black Bay GMT takes on a charming personality of its own. The bold hour markers and hands bring the piece its vintage look, while the heftier stainless-steel bracelet gives the travel watch an even stronger athletic/utilitarian appeal than the GMT-Master II.
Topping that, the GMT is outfitted with a new, in-house MT5652 movement.
8. Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox
The revived-vintage trend is becoming increasingly popular among watchmakers, and many are digging into their archives for inspiration.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is doing the same, opting to bring back a sports watch that, at first glance, isn’t loud with sporty details.
Taking design details from the Polaris Memovox from 1968, the piece owns distinctive vintage dial details, namely the alternating numeral and baton hour markers. The brushed-against-polish case brings the piece back to the 21st century. Not overtly athletic, it’s a watch that can easily take you from day to night.
9. IWC Pallweber Edition ‘150 Years’
The Pallweber Edition “150 Years”, IWC’s tribute to its century-and-a-half legacy as a watchmaker, clearly nods to the house’s pocket watch-making roots.
You’ll find only a single hand across the dial, which runs around the small seconds dial at the six o’clock position. The hours and minutes are displayed with jumping disks through two apertures at the centre of the dial, all put into motion by an in-house manual movement.
The dial layout is incredibly clean and simple, really allowing the size of the timepiece to make a strong statement – a perfect embodiment of the “less is more” philosophy.
It is presented in two versions, in a blue or white dial, the latter clearly nodding to the piece’s vintage watch inspiration.
If you don’t mind people stopping you every now and then to ask about your watch, which they certainly will when they see this unusual piece, this is the timekeeper for you.
10. A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Up/Down Lumen
A. Lange & Söhne’s continues to finesse its glow-in-the-dark designs with the Datograph Up/Down Lumen this year. A continuation of the Lumen series of intensely bright Super-LumiNova watches, this piece owns a smoke sapphire dial that allows UV rays to penetrate to the Super-LumiNova-coated disks below the dial.
This means that when the clock strikes midnight, all of the indications, even the ones that have been hidden under the dial all day, will instantly light up.
This rendition of the Lumen features a chronograph function as well as a power reserve indicator (hence the Up/Down).
The in-house manual movement has a power reserve of up to 60 hours, and is released in a limited edition of 200 pieces.