Best Watches Of 2019
De Ville Trésor 125th Anniversary Edition, 40mm 18k yellow gold case, burgundy leather strap
It’s a big year for Omega. The main event is the 50th anniversary of the moon landing — and, in turn, of the first watch on the moon, Omega’s Speedmaster — but there’s plenty more to celebrate. Such as Omega itself turning 125. For many, the most elegant of a series of watches marking the birthday will be the De Ville Trésor 125th Anniversary Edition. An exercise in understatement, the 40mm 18k yellow gold case houses a red enamel dial and a chronometer-certified, hand-wound Co-Axial Omega movement. On the reverse, where you might expect a sapphire case back, you find an 18K commemorative “medallion” emblazoned with a vintage Omega logo. The classic design follows the company’s iconic brand colour and extends to the burgundy leather strap with tone-on-tone stitching.
Heritage 1973 Chronograph 43mm satin-polished stainless steel case, black calf leather strap
The Swiss brand first engaged with motor racing during the Fifties, finding its greatest success in the Seventies sponsoring entrants at the Le Mans 24-hour endurance races and claiming a podium first place with French car builder Alpine at the Monte Carlo Rally World Championship in 1973. This year’s Heritage release revisits Tissot’s original mechanical racing watch, the Navigator, fairly faithfully while adding new tweaks. Inside the polished steel 43mm case, the three-dial panda layout is highlighted with green Super-LumiNova indices and sporty little neon-orange counters, the date window is repositioned between 4 and 5 o’clock, and it’s all mounted on a period-perfect black perforated leather racing strap. Limited to an appropriate 1,973 pieces, the race is on to catch up with one.
3) Audemars Piguet
Code 11.59 26393OR.OO.A002CR.01, 41mm 18k pink gold case, blue alligator leather strap
Code 11.59 is a completely new family of watches from the storied Swiss brand, best known for its Royal Oak, an icon of modern watchmaking with its distinctive angular case, exposed screws and integrated bracelet. AP is calling Code 11.59 “the biggest launch since 1972”, the year the Royal Oak arrived: the plan was to make a splash with something contemporary and all-new that nods to its innovative past. Five years in the making and available in 13 references across six models with three new calibres, all Code 11.59 watches were launched simultaneously, a feat in itself. The self-winding chronograph version features a black lacquered dial, an 18k pink gold case and a double-curved sapphire crystal, something that plays with depth perception, a new design element for Code 11.59 that may yet become as iconic as the Royal Oak’s octagonal bezel.
After its successful launch in 2018, Victorinox announces the second mechanical iteration of Inox, its sports watch line known for almost comical toughness — tests include being blasted by corrosive liquids and run over by a tank — while maintaining a cool, streamlined aesthetic. As its name suggests, this version is made from a carbon composite, something also used to protect space shuttles from atmospheric re-entry at temperatures that can exceed 1,260°C, where presumably checking the time would be the last thing on your mind. Scratch-resistant, hypoallergenic and with Super-Luminova detailing on the dial and the strap, it somehow weighs in at just a fraction under 100g. One of the toughest watches on this planet then, now fully space-proofed.
5) Tag Heuer
Autavia Isograph, 42mm brushed and polished stainless steel case, dark brown calfskin strap
The Autavia has made brief appearances in Tag Heuer’s collection since it was officially discontinued in 1985, making more headlines as a collector curio than a novelty. The welcome return this year of the watch whose name is a portmanteau of “automotive” and “aviation” comes with the promise of lots of options, including a bronze-cased version, and a high-performance movement. The secret here is in the “Isograph” delineation, which points to the advanced engineering of the movement’s most delicate and important part: its hairspring. The Autavia’s is new and engineered from carbon-composite, a material that brings the benefits of anti-magnetism, resistance to gravity and shocks, and increased precision. In practice, that should make for a more reliable, more durable, and better watch.
Black Bay P01, 42mm satin-finish steel case, brown leather, rubber and steel hybrid strap
Based on a 1967 prototype watch for US Navy divers codenamed the “Commando” which was not accepted into service, Tudor has now raided its archives to expand its ultra-successful Black Bay range with this unusual tool watch based upon that blueprint. Uniquely built for the world aquatic where underwater and surface exploration merge, the hefty P01 is rated waterproof to 200m while its bi-directional bezel is marked off in hours for navigating sailors to time their chart courses. The crown being set lower at 4 o’clock offers it protection from the rough stuff under or above the waves, but the watch’s most notable feature is the hinged end link system on the leather-rubber strap which locks into the bezel’s teeth to prevent accidental movement from bashes and knocks. If extreme water sports are your thing, this is your watch.
Prospex LX SNR031, 44.8mm black super-hard coated titanium case, black silicone strap
Japan’s foremost watchmaker started as a jewellery shop in 19th-century Ginza, specialising in clocks. Now it’s famous for making outstanding watches at every price point, using entirely in-house processes, right down to concocting lubricating oils. Its new Prospex LX line is a three-part sports watch range encompassing land, air and sea, nodding to its Professional Diver’s watch from 1968; a fan favourite. Combining heritage looks with modern build methods, the Prospex LX SNR031 dive watch is a collaboration with the industrial supercar designer Ken Okuyama, noted for his work with Ferrari. Technical notes include a substantial 44.8mm case, a 5R spring drive movement, a 72-hour power reserve, water resistance to 300m and a titanium case that’s been “Zaratsu” (blade) polished, achieving that mirrored finish — just look at the light dance off it.
Aquis Date Relief, 43.5mm stainless steel case, stainless steel bracelet
Responsibility and luxury watchmaking haven’t always been natural bedfellows, but there are companies looking to change that. At the vanguard is Oris with its eco-conscious watches. Some use recycled materials, or there’s this, the Aquis Date Relief. Based on the brand’s still very reasonably priced diver’s watch, it’ll accompany expedition swimmer Ernst Bromeis as he attempts to cover 800km across Siberia’s Lake Baikal this summer, to draw our attention to the plight of the world’s water. Whether he makes it or not, the watch will be expected to hold up — its 43.5mm stainless steel case is water-resistant to 300m. It gets its name from its bezel’s timer scale, produced in relief. All said, a good-looking watch for decent money with an important message behind it.
1858 Geosphere Limited Edition, 42mm bronze case, dark green woven fabric Nato strap
If you’re jaded with watch cases in brushed steel, white/rose/red gold, titanium, ceramic, carbon fibre et al, take a look at this adventurous offering from Montblanc in bronze. Inspired by the spirit of early 20th century mountaineering, the 1858 Geosphere Limited Edition is dedicated to the Seven Summits climbing challenge to conquer Earth’s highest peaks; and only 1,858 of this model will be manufactured. Beneath its rose gold hands, the outdoors-friendly khaki dial displays the date, a second time zone and two rotating globes representing the Northern and Southern Hemisphere’s 24-hour time zones with day and night depicted in contrasting colours. The rugged khaki woven Nato strap further enhances its explorer credentials — how far you venture with it is your call.
Classic Fusion Ferrari GT 3D Carbon, 45mm carbon 3D fibre case, black rubber and Schedoni leather strap
One of the luxury partnerships that just makes sense, Hublot has been working with Ferrari on a series of special edition watches since 2011. Taking its cues from Gran Turismo cars through the years, the 45mm Classic Fusion Ferrari GT is a true collaborative effort: Hublot built the movement, Ferrari built the case. The latter is cast in carbon 3D fibre and designed at the Centro Stile Ferrari in Maranello, Italy. The former — Hublot’s Unico manufacture self-winding chronograph flyback movement — is made in Switzerland and comprises 354 parts. Besides black-on-black carbon, the Ferrari GT is also available in 18k “king gold” (£32,100) or titanium (£18,200).