It’s Fratello Friday! Since 2014 started a good week ago, and this year’s new watches start rolling out at the SIHH watch fair just over a week from now, I thought it was time to list my Top 5 favorite watches introduced in 2013.
Last year, I attended both the SIHH in Geneva and the Baselworld fair in Basel, where most brands present their new watches for the first time. Immediately after these shows, I admit, I wasn’t really convinced that I’d seen a lot of innovative or mind-blowing watches. However, after a bit of reflection, I think that I may have just been overwhelmed at the time by the number of new watches. So, without further ado, here are My Top 5, which consists of a mix between watches from big brands as well as watches from relatively unknown brands or so-called independent watchmakers.
1. Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon
Omega has finally heeded the calls of the many Omega Speedmaster fans for a black Speedmaster. Instead of taking the easy path of using DLC techniques on an existing model, like the classic hand-wound Speedmaster Professional or relatively new Speedmaster Co-Axial caliber 9300 model, Omega decided to create a watch case out of a solid block of black ceramic. Even the dial is made out from ceramic. Inside, Omega decided to use its in-house-developed co-cxial column-wheel chronograph movement, Caliber 9300. Even though some people still find it hard to accept the higher pricing on modern Omega watches, I firmly believe this one offers something completely different and more high-value than, say, a model from 15 years ago. In the meantime, the watch is already creating waiting lists at many Omega boutiques. More about the Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon can be found here.
2. Arnold & Son HM Perpetual Moon
Have I mentioned how much I love watches with a moon-phases indication? The revived Arnold & Son brand introduced a number of interesting timepieces this year. Rather than its much-discussed Ultra Thin Tourbillon Escapement timepiece, I actually prefer the HM Perpetual Moon timepiece with an extra-large moon-phases disk on the dial. The hand-engraved moon-phase disk is beautiful on this elegantly executed timepiece. It is quite difficult to find a nice, classically designed watch that doesn’t look old-fashioned (“Your grandfather’s watch”). Inside, Arnold & Son uses the mechanical hand-wound A&S1512 movement, which should display the correct moon phase for the next 122 years. The back of the watch has a very precise indicator of the moon phases, which can be used to set the moon on the dial with the utmost precision. I wrote an in-depth review on the HM Perpetual Moon here.
3. Armin Strom Gravity Earth
Another independent brand, this one from Bienne, Switzerland. Even if you’ve never seen the brand’s watches, the name Armin Strom might ring a bell to watch connoisseurs. Strom, the man, was contracted by several watch brands to help them with skeletonizing and engraving their movements. For example, he was responsible for the limited-edition skeletonized Omega Speedmaster Professional and Seamaster Professional watches in the 1990s. The Armin Strom Gravity collection shows that he is able to deliver an outstanding complete timepiece as well, with a skeletonized movement and dial. The Gravity Earth is my favorite. It’s a modern — almost sporty — classical watch with contemporary case dimensions and a wonderful in-house movement (Caliber AMR13). An in-depth write-up on the Armin Strom Gravity collection can be found here.
4. Audemars Piguet Tradition Tourbillon Minute Repeater Chronograph
I am fan of Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak watches, but I also really loved the Tradition Tourbillon Minute Repeater Chronograph that the brand introduced during the 2013 SIHH, which combines three wonderful complications in one watch. You’d probably expect this type of watch to be available only in precious metals (at least I did), but Audemars Piguet bucks the tradition by also producing 10 of these watches in titanium. With a whopping 47-mm diameter, this watch is not for everyone, even if one had the financial resources to buy it. However, that huge case also helps to make the minute repeater sound phenomenal. I did a write-up on this watch here.
5. Rolex GMT-Master II BLNR
The Rolex GMT-Master has always been one of my favorite sports watches and I’ve bought and traded several of these models myself in the past decade. It is a versatile sports watch, and especially useful if you travel through different time zones often, as I did for previous jobs. In 2013, Rolex decided to introduce a blue-and-black version of the legendary GMT-Master (more about the history of the GMT-Master can be found in this article). In fact, besides the addition of blue to the bezel, there is nothing different between the regular, black GMT-Master II model and this GMT-Master II BLNR. However, visitors to Baselworld 2013 and other Rolex fans jumped on it as soon as it was introduced. Although the price increases for Rolex watches are are always an issue for some, the fact is that Rolex remains the most-wanted watch brand in the world, and with this GMT-Master II BLNR, the brand seems to have hit jackpot again. More about the new Rolex GMT-Master II BLNR can be found here.
What are your favorite watches of 2013? Please share them with us in the comments box below!