The five winning watches in the five categories of the annual WatchStars awards have been announced. The winners were chosen by an independent panel of international experts, this year numbering more than 80, including myself and Roger Ruegger of WatchTime USA, Neha Bajpal of WatchTime India, Nitin Nair of WatchTime Middle East, and Alejandro Estrada of WatchTime Mexico.
Watchstars was created by Ebner Publishing Group, parent company of WatchTime and its German sister publications, Chronos and Uhren Magazin — which are also well-represented on the jury, along with numerous independent watch journalists. Significantly, watch manufacturers are not permitted to submit watches to the competition: only members of the judging panel, which consists of no less than 70 members, can nominate and vote on the watches. All watches are eligible, regardless of the brand, its size, and its country of origin.
The five categories for the Watchstars awards are Classic Stars (honoring mechanical three-handed watches with no functions beyond a date and/or power-reserve indicator), Technical Stars (for mechanical watches with functions beyond those eligible for the Classic category, including complications such as chronographs and calendars); Design Stars (recognizing watches with unusual designs and/or innovative materials in the case and visible components; nominees can be mechanical or quartz); Stars for a Lifetime (watches regarded as “timeless classics,” quartz or mechanical); and New Stars (for new models that have burst successfully into the crowded marketplace). Classic Stars and Technical Stars must have been released between January and November of the voting year to be eligible; the other three have no launch date constraints for eligibility. Without further ado, your winners:
Classic Star: Grand Seiko Re-creation of the first Grand Seiko
The newly independent Grand Seiko brand from Japan released this year a replica of the very first watch with that name, which debuted in 1960. The watch (Ref. SBGW251, SBGW252, and SBGW253) comes in a 38-mm case available in platinum, yellow gold, and steel. The case features the same long, faceted lugs as the original, with a thick, signed crown, and the trademark lion emblem at the center of its solid caseback. The white domed dial has a simple, clean design, with an outer printed minute track, double bar hour markers, and an embossed Grand Seiko corporate logo towards the top of the dial. Sweeping over the dial are the model’s hallmark “razor” hour and minute hands. Click here for more on how the re-creation stacks up to its vintage counterpart.
Technical Star: A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual
A. Lange & Söhne unveiled the first Tourbillon “Pour le Merite” watch in its inaugural year of 1994, adding a chronograph to create an even more complicated model in 2005. At this year’s SIHH, the Saxon brand took it to yet another level of complexity by adding a perpetual calendar. The Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Merite.” is the fifth in the “Pour le Mérite” series, all of which feature a fusee-and-chain transmission system in their tourbillon movements. Fittingly, it combines five complications: the tourbillon, fusee-and-chain, chronograph, rattrapante, and perpetual calendar. For more details on the watch, click here.
Design Star: TAG Heuer Autavia Calibre Heuer 02
Back in 1962, TAG Heuer — back then, just Heuer — introduced the Autavia, a now-iconic chronograph wristwatch for racing drivers that was discontinued in 1986. The watch, like other racing-inspired Heuer watches of that era, such as the Carrera and Monaco, became a favorite of many well-known racing drivers of the 1960s and ‘70s, including Jo Siffert, Mario Andretti, Clay Regazzoni, and the F1 legend most associated with the revival piece, Jochen Rindt. At Baselworld 2017, the brand launched a modern version of the Autavia, based heavily on the 1966 model famously worn by Rindt, that combined vintage-inspired retro design elements with a modern, proprietary movement, TAG Heuer’s automatic Heuer 02. Click here to find out more about the watch.
Star for a Lifetime: Patek Philippe Nautilus
The original Nautilus, commissioned by Patek Philippe’s father-son ownership and management team of Henri and Philippe Stern in 1976 and designed by watch world legend Gérald Genta, was 42 mm in diameter — huge by the standards of the day — and had an unusually shaped, exceptionally water-resistant (to 120 meters) steel case with two unusual, ear-like projections on either side. At the time, steel luxury watches were still a rarity. For Patek Philippe, up to then known exclusively for its precious-metal dress watches, a chunky, steel sports watch with an eye-popping price tag ($2,350) was news indeed. The watch gained the nickname “Jumbo” among collectors and spawned a slew of other versions over the subsequent decades. It celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2016 with a special commemorative edition (pictured above).
New Star: Favre-Leuba Raider Bivouac 9000
In 2017, the second oldest Swiss watch brand, Favre-Leuba, celebrated its 280thanniversary with a groundbreaking watch. The Raider Bivouac 9000 is the first mechanical wristwatch capable of measuring altitudes of up to an incredible 9,000 meters above sea level. The 48-mm titanium case houses an aneroid barometer, which allows the watch to indicate the elevation at a given point by reacting to the changing air pressure surrounding it. The watch was inspired by a namesake model from 1962, today a collector’s piece, which was worn by mountaineers, parachutists and adventurers and recognized for being the very first mechanical wristwatch capable of measuring altitudes of up to 3,000 meters. To learn more about how it works, click here.