As we approach the end of the year, the editorial team at WatchTime is reviewing the standout timepieces that captured our attention in 2023. Watchmakers from various corners of the industry infused the year with energy, exploring vibrant hues, pioneering materials, and achieving remarkable technical advancements. As we contemplate the year that unfolded, join us in exploring the releases our editors deemed most significant.
Chopard L.U.C 1860
Bilal Khan, Senior Editor
If you haven’t heard: dress watches are back. So are “small” watches. No release demonstrated these points better than Chopard’s reissue of the L.U.C 1860. A fresh new face on the very first L.U.C watch, the new 1860 retains what made the original great while adjusting a few things for tastes more aligned with 2023 rather than 1997. The watch still measures an ideal 36.5mm wide and 8.2mm thick but in a steel case for the first time (done in Chopard’s proprietary Lucent steel). The gold dial is done in a guilloché pattern that varies slightly from the original but is still masterfully done by the highly skilled craftspeople at Metalem. The biggest change, of course, is the lack of date window. Saving the best for last, turning around the case reveals the COSC-certified caliber 96.40-L which stays true to the iconic caliber 1.96 but removes the date function and adds hacking seconds. Stamped with the Geneva Seal, it is a sight to behold.
I am fortunate enough to have an original 16/1860/1 in my collection so naturally I wore it to my meeting with Chopard at Watches & Wonders to do a side by side. In addition to removing the date window, Chopard also broadened the lugs and bezel just a little which looks great. I have to say it’s superior to the original in almost every way. I say almost because I prefer the old guilloché which radiates from the center of the dial as opposed to the reissue which has it radiate from the Chopard logo closer to 12 o’clock. Aesthetically it’s just a matter of taste, but I prefer the densely packed 20 guilloché waves when compared to the broader 12 waves on the reissue. That said, nothing else came close to my watch of the year. While not a limited edition, the L.U.C 1860 reissue will be limited to just around 100 pieces per year.
(P.S. I love my Indies, so I have to also give an honorable mention to the Simon Brette Chronomètre Artisans.)
Blancpain Ladybird Colors
Dara Hinshaw, Managing Editor
A personal favorite of mine this year are the two new additions to Blancpain’s Ladybird Colors collection. The new models feature two new complications, Small Seconds or Moon Phase, set in red or white gold with brightly colored numerals and coordinating straps. Each has a textured mother-of-pearl dial set with 70 diamonds with midnight blue, peacock green, forest green, lilac or turquoise Roman numerals, with the colors picked up on supple alligator leather straps. The dials feature offset Roman numerals and an inner ring adorned with delicately tapering gem setting, which continues on the small seconds or moon-phase indicators. The case diameter of 34.9 mm flatters and sits well on the wrist. The case is highlighted by 59 diamonds totaling more than 2 carats for an ultra-elegant look. Each diamond is meticulously hand-adjusted along the case to ensure phenomenal radiance. The buckle is also set with diamonds and the crown has a rose-cut diamond.
The new models are powered by self-winding Calibre 1163 for the Small Seconds and Calibre 1163L for the Moon Phase. With a 4-day power reserve and a silicon balance spring, the movements blend accuracy and style. Their gold oscillating weight matches the case color and features openworked patterns that reflect the dial design and can be viewed through the sapphire crystal back.
At Blancpain, Betty Fiechter became the first woman to head a watch Maison at the beginning of the 1930s. Her visionary spirit paved the way for the brand’s internationally renowned jewelry watches. The Ladybird collection reflects this spirit and the pioneering role Blancpain has played in the history of women’s watches.
The Ladybird Colors Small Seconds is priced at $30,300 with pin buckle and at $32,000 with deployant buckle. The Ladybird Colors Moon Phase pricing is $32,400 with pin buckle and $34,100 with deployant buckle.
Rolex Perpetual 1908
Sabine Zwettler, Contributor
In terms of new releases, Rolex has once again had a fantastic year in 2023, offering a range of impressive timepieces. From the stunning Cosmograph Daytona models commemorating the 60th anniversary of this motorsport legend to the Yacht-Master 42, presented for the first time in light titanium, and the captivating two-tone GMT-Master II made of Oystersteel and yellow gold with a mesmerizing blue luminescence, Rolex has continued to showcase innovation and style. The introduction of the Oyster Perpetual with a Celebration dial demonstrated that even a legendary watchmaker like Rolex can incorporate a bit of humor into their creations.
However, my personal highlight was the Perpetual 1908 model, which exudes the timeless charm of Rolex’s early days while making use of the latest advancements in technology and craftsmanship. Commemorating the founding of the brand by Hans Wilsdorf 115 years ago and taking inspiration from an Oyster Perpetual from 1931, the Perpetual 1908 is a notably elegant retro watch with subsidiary seconds, three Arabic numerals, railroad-track minutes, and a bezel that is partly smooth and partly fluted.
The 39mm case comes in polished yellow or white gold with a black or white dial. Inside the watch is the new manufacture automatic caliber 7140, which is surprisingly visible through an exhibition case back displaying fine decorations, such as Geneva Waves.
Despite its elegance, the Perpetual 1908 is still water resistant to 50 meters. Equipped with a Syloxi hairspring, Chronergy escapement, and Paraflex shock absorbers, it guarantees a power reserve of approximately 66 hours and offers excellent chronometric performance (–2/+2 seconds per day) in accordance with the Superlative Chronometer certificate.
Pricing is marked at $22,000.
Lang 1943 Field Watch Edition One and THE Lebond Siza
Martin Green, Editor-at-Large
2023 has proven to be a good year for watches. It’s so good that two of my favorite watches this year are from new brands. The first is the Field Watch Edition One by Lang 1943. This brand was founded as a tribute to Gerd-Rüdiger Lang, who to many is best known as the founder of Chronoswiss, and who unfortunately passed away earlier this year.
Lang was a profound lover of vintage watches. During the quartz crisis, he got the opportunity to buy the remaining stock of high-quality movements made by esteemed brands that went under. Some of them he used in the past in Chronoswiss models, but the majority of them are still in safe storage. One of the movements that he bought was the 1960s Marvin 700 ebauche. Lang 1943 took those movements apart, refinished them to an even higher quality, and now they power the Lang 1943 Field Watch Edition One.
What I like so much about this watch is that they got every detail right. This starts with the proportions. With a diameter of 39mm, it hits a sweet spot of being not too large nor too small, and the thickness of just 8.40mm makes it slender without becoming fragile. The dial is an example of retro done right, combining syringe hands with a black-to-grey sunray-brushed fumé dial. The sub-dial, or six-eater, is kept in black, making a styling statement that doesn’t distract from the rest. The Field Watch Edition One sits very comfortably on the wrist, making it really irresistible to me.
Another watch that had that same effect on me is the Lebond Siza. Lebond is another young brand whose approach is to let famous architects design their watches. They did well because they got Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza to create their very first model. Siza, who turned 90 earlier this year, is known for his ‘poetic modernism’, precisely what he also put into the first Lebond watch. He took inspiration from the Leça swimming pool that he designed in 1966, as he wanted to create something different, as there are, in his opinion, already many beautiful round watches.
The Lebond Siza is unlike any other watch I have ever worn. I can best describe it as an experience that tells time. The unique form of the case works on the wrist because the Grade 5 titanium is perfectly machined so that the angular shape gets different hues based on the light. The interaction between the hands and the hour markers makes the dial like an ever-changing canvas of modern art. This is also a very comfortable watch, as Lebond put quite some resources into developing a folding clasp that is one of the best I have ever experienced. While there is no hand to show the seconds, Lebond resisted the temptation of using a quartz movement but pleases instead our horological heart by fitting an ETA 2892-A2 caliber.
Laurent Ferrier Square Micro-Rotor Evergreen
Caleb Anderson, Contributor
I’m not a particularly critical person when it comes to watches. I spend much of my time each week reading and writing about them, and so it doesn’t exactly reap great benefits to develop strong feelings about any individual model past a quick handful of detached observations. That said, we all do have our preferences, and occasionally a watch comes around that ticks all— or at least most— of the boxes, And the brand to do that this year is Laurent Ferrier.
At this year’s Watches and Wonders, the independent debuted two notable timepieces: first in the Classic Micro-Rotor Evergreen, and then in my watch of choice for our list, the Square Micro-Rotor Evergreen. The watch has a forest green dial, a cushion-square case in steel, and a wonderfully executed micro-rotor-wound movement. It’s at once unique by its composition of aesthetic and mechanical factors, yet particularly under-the-radar by its design, materials, and hue. In this regard, the watch strongly embodies the work of the brand producing it, and furthermore helps capture the attention of that maker’s growing list of fans, of which I count myself.
Funnily enough, the watch I chose for last year’s list I have since added to my own personal collection— that being the Omega X Swatch Moonswatch “Mission to Jupiter;” priced at about $250. Let’s see if a trend comes of that this coming year. Pricing for the Laurent Ferrier Square Micro-Rotor Evergreen is marked at 47,500 CHF (approximately $51,800 USD).
What was your favorite or most memorable watch to come from 2022? Let us know in the comments!