The Coveted Ones: Our Favourite Watch Releases of 2023

From Jacob & Co’s Blingy Billionaire Timeless Treasure to the pared-back elegance of the Chopard Alpine Eagle XPS, these are the watch releases that continue to have us wondering.

By Richard Clune And Richard Brown 21/08/2023

Yes, Watches and Wonders is long past. However, the true mark of a covetable timepiece is its ability to, well, stand the test of time. So, removed from the horological fanfare, lavish penthouse suites, and otherworldly booths of Geneva, these are the most noteworthy watches of 2023.

Rolex Daytona Platinum Ref. 126506

Brown and blue just works. Sorry, it does. And this year, The Crown—beyond what was, arguably, ownership of this year’s Watches and Wonders exhibition—went and delivered a sports model with a display caseback. Yes, an open sapphire caseback. It actually makes complete sense in this 60th anniversary year for Daytona, given that the change means a chance to show off the all-new chronograph movement, the in-house Calibre 4131—a stunning piece of engineering. The “ice blue” Platinum Daytona, or “Platona” as it’s being referred to by some (never us), is a weapon—just look at it in all that 40 mm platinum goodness, a thing of beauty, elegance and craftsmanship.

rolex.com

Audemars Piguet 37mm Royal Oak Selfwinding

Turquoise dials, we don’t need to tell you, have become a phenomenon. Patek Philippe started the aquamarine desire in 2021, when it co-signed a dial with Tiffany & Co. to commemorate the 170th anniversary of the partnership between the two brands (in 1851, the New York jeweller became the first official retailer of the Swiss watchmaker in the United States). Only 170 examples of the Nautilus 5711 1A-018 were made. Jay-Z nabbed one. So did LeBron James, Mark Wahlberg and Leonardo DiCaprio. The first example to be offered at auction sold at Phillips New York in December 2021 for US$6.5 million (approx. $9.7 million). The subsequent aquamarine mania sent prices of Rolex’s turquoise-dial Oyster Perpetual, launched in 2020, soaring. The craze clearly wasn’t lost on Swatch, which chose a peacock-blue dial for its Mission to Uranus MoonSwatch last year. Grand Seiko and Girard-Perregaux have also jumped on the bandwagon. This year, it was the turn of Audemars Piguet, which unveiled a new version of its 37 mm Royal Oak Selfwinding crafted in 18-carat yellow gold and illuminated by a vibrant turquoise dial. Owing to the fact that the dials are made from naturally occurring turquoise gemstones, no two watches will ever be the same.

audemarspiguet.com

Girard-Perregaux Laureato Green Ceramic Aston Martin Edition

Collaborations—not something we often gravitate towards. But GP meets Aston in a ceramic green Laureato? That’s not something we can walk past. In fact, the delivery here means we can’t help being rude and staring lustfully—oh boy, is this a piece! It’s the fourth alignment between GP and the British marque—not bad considering they’ve only been entwined for two years. This time, the coming together works in elegance and style, framed by the boldness of the deep Aston Martin green. This is the first Laureato to feature a fully green ceramic case and bracelet—the entire piece made of such, with the exception of the lug connectors and titanium double swing-arm deployment clasp. It’s perfect at 42 mm (know that it’s also available, on trend, at 38 mm) and we applaud the three-hand approach to design in keeping things simple and classic, not often the way with automotive collaborations. Still, it’s the materials and colourways here doing the loud talking. An in-house Girard-Perregaux calibre GP01800-2165 offers 54 hours of power reserve and is visible through the sapphire caseback with Aston Martin logo decal.

girard-perregaux.com

H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Perpetual Calendar Tantalum Blue Enamel

You don’t come across tantalum in watchmaking all that often. Reason being, while the element may be extremely hard, resistant to corrosion, and easy to mould, it’s also a complete pig to polish. Most watchmakers that do take on the challenge tend to either sandblast or satin-finish the bluish-grey metal. H. Moser & Cie. chose a more difficult route, taking two years to come up with a way of polishing the material so that it shimmered like darkened steel. Mission accomplished, the watchmaker having paired its new 42 mm case with a beautiful electric-blue fumé enamel dial and an in-house perpetual calendar movement. Doing away with sub-dials and hour indices, Moser lets the watch’s case and dial do the talking. And, we think you’ll agree, the watch has an awful lot to say.

h-moser.com

Omega Speedmaster Super Racing

The most talked-about watch of 2022 didn’t fly off the production lines of Rolex, Patek Philippe or Audemars Piguet. No, whether we like it or not, the BIGGEST watch story of last year belonged to Omega and Swatch, which collaborated on a low-cost, quartz version of the former’s Speedmaster—the Bioceramic MoonSwatch. Surfing the hype created by that barnstorming co-op—and you cannot question some of what it achieved—Omega kicked off 2023 with a new “Speedie”. While neon-yellow accents, a cool honeycomb dial, and a yellow-and-black small-seconds hand all catch the eye, when it comes to the Super Racing, it’s what’s inside that counts.

Back in 2015, you may remember, Omega guaranteed that all of its watches would henceforth be accurate to within 0+5 seconds per day. That promise already positioned the brand near the top of the pyramid in terms of precision, with only a handful of watchmakers able to swear to anything close to that level of exactness. Omega has now gone even further. Fine-tuning a hairspring device, the company has come up with something called the Spirate System. Watches equipped with the mechanism, such as the Super Racing, are now guaranteed to an accuracy of 0+2 seconds per day. Significantly, that feat now puts Omega ahead of market rival Rolex, which can only promise precision rates of between -2 and +2 seconds a day. Slackers.

omegawatches.com

Piaget Polo Date 36mm

This has been available in 36 mm format since 2021, yet had you a preference for the smallest edition of the brand’s cushion-shaped sports watch, you were forced to put up with diamond-set indices or bezels dripping with ice. Not any longer, though. The 36 mm model is now available sans sparklers, with a midnight-blue dial, matching blue leather band and a stainless-steel case. Admire Piaget’s in-house 500P1 calibre doing its thang through an exhibition caseback.

piaget.com

Hublot Classic Fusion

In the beginning there was Carlo Crocco, a scion of the Italian Binda Group, best known for its Breil watches. In 1980, Crocco created a timepiece of his own. Well, sort of. Inspired by the porthole of a ship and featuring a heavy-set bezel with 12 exposed screws, there was no denying that the original “Hublot” (French for “porthole”) borrowed heavily from Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak (Gérald Genta’s octagonal masterpiece had launched eight years earlier). Crocco’s timepiece differentiated itself by pairing an 18-carat yellow-gold case with a strap made of natural rubber—the first time in watchmaking the precious metal had been coupled with the organic compound. In 2020, for Hublot’s 40th anniversary, the brand launched a commemorative collection that channelled Crocco’s original design. Coming in at 45 mm, the watches weren’t exactly what you’d call “wearable”. At the beginning of 2023, Hublot addressed that issue, expanding the line with a range of references in 42 mm, 38 mm and 33 mm formats. The entry-level, three-hander—available in all three sizes—is the winner.

hublot.com 

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary

In its 70th anniversary year we cannot move past this first release of 2023—and a line that dives deep when it comes to performance, functionality and appeal. Sure, the more recent Tech Gombessa release proved Blancpain’s ownership of the dive space with a piece capable like no other, but then it’s not for the everyday. Drawing its neat and obvious lines directly from the 1950s original, the Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary is robust, masculine and extremely wearable at the lesser 42 mm. Powered by the Calibre 1315 movement and with a five-day power reserve, the powertrain is seen through the sapphire-crystal back and includes the oscillating weight bearing the “Fifty Fathoms 70th” logo in platinum. Bien joué.

blancpain.com

Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XPS

This is a piece that has to be held and be seen to really understand its brilliance and the elevation it brings to the line. Since being introduced in 2019, Alpine Eagle has done very good business for Chopard—and rightly so, given what it offers and does so accessibly. The shape, the screwed bezel, the steel (Chopard’s Lucent Steel A223) all presents as it has before—but again, it’s the dial here that is doing the dancing, the “Monte Rosa Pink” exceptional in the light, its textured pattern capturing and radiating at differing levels depending on what is above. Chopard has also worked on the size—the 41 mm case is ultra-thin at just 8mm. The automatic L.U.C 96.40-L means a 65-hour power reserve, and is decorated with Côtes de Genève on its bridges.

chopard.com

Franck Muller Grand Central Tourbillon Flash

Tonneau case meets the sports field meets Muller daring and some horological wizardry—all further lifted with some poppy new colours that has us from the outset. Sure, some don’t quite know what to make of Muller. But you cannot fault the craftsmanship and the desire to stand apart. It was two years back that the brand showed its mettle with the release of the Grand Central Tourbillon. Not only was it the first tonneau-shaped watch to feature a tourbillon, the position of the complication in the middle of the dial instead of at six o’clock was rather breathtaking. Cut to now and you have the added choice of bold and brilliant colourways—blazing orange, neon green and electric blue. We’ll take the blue—because you may as well go all in—with the brightly coloured indices replacing the numerals on what is a redesigned black dial. It means all eyes on that tourbillon. Housed in the redesigned Curvex CX case, it’s actually fitted to the case middle—allowing supreme visibility, with the sapphire crystal extending all the way to the lugs. Muller has only achieved this feat after perfecting a special technique of fixing the glass at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock, giving the Curvex CX an incredibly curved profile. Bravo.

franckmuller-sea.com

De Bethune DB28xs Starry Seas

At 38.7 mm, this is a smaller play compared to its collection compatriots—notably the Starry Sky at 43 mm. But this lends the striking newcomer an agility. Still, the pull here sits with that dial—an incredible interpretation of the water (hence the name)—and which boasts a blued titanium with random guilloche pattern, a world first in its creation. Here too the trademarks align—floating lugs, delta-shaped bridge, crown at noon—to deliver a stunning piece of design that does what De Bethune does so well in seamlessly melding classic appeal to a futuristic effort. Superb.

debethune.ch

Jacob & Co Billionaire Timeless Treasure

At just shy of $30 million, this remains a coveted piece. We managed some personal time with it in Geneva—and it truly is a marvel of craftsmanship and excess; a piece that pulls you in and demands your attention. And then some. For all that you expect of the high jewellery and horology brand, Jacob & Co’s The Billionaire Timeless Treasure is a museum-grade wonder that further heightens expectations about what they can achieve. Here, 425 yellow diamonds—an incredible 216.89 carats—feature on a yellow-gold case and bracelet, the skeletonised dial framed by 76 emerald-cut and kite-cut tsavorite, with a further 57 natural baguette-cut yellow diamonds set on the tourbillon movement. It’s phenomenal, it’s outlandish, it’s impressive, it’s gauche—and it is, truly, one of the pieces of the year.

jacobandco.com

Grand Seiko SBGW295

Marking 110 years of Japan’s first wristwatch, the “Urushi” is quite the study in alluring simplicity. Each dial is crafted by the work of master Isshu Tamura, heir to a 380-year tradition. The black layer of the dial is made from a very rare Japanese lacquer called “urushi”, which is extracted from specific tree trunks and deeply linked to Japanese tradition. Applied by hand, it is carefully polished until it reaches its unique mirror-like shine without distortion. The indexes and lettering are also hand-painted in an ancient “taka-maki-e” technique, giving the impression of 3D, with 24-carat gold powder. The SBGW295 has a 38 mm case and is powered by the familiar—and impressive—GS Calibre 9S64.

grand-seiko.com

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The Boldest, Most Exciting New Timepieces From Watches & Wonders 2024

Here are the highlights from the world’s biggest watch releases of the year.

By Allen Farmelo, Carol Besler, Paige Reddinger, Oren Hartov, Victoria Gomelsky, Cait Bazemore, Nick Scott, Justin Fenner 10/04/2024

Watches & Wonders, the world’s largest watch show, is in full swing in Geneva. The highly anticipated cascade of new releases is marked by confident individual brand identities — perhaps a sign that watchmakers are done scrambling through the violent collision of restricted supply and soaring demand for high end watches. All seem to be back on solid footing.

Steady confidence is a good thing. Consider Jaeger-LeCoultre offering up traditionally styled grand complications or Vacheron Constantin revamping the classic Patrimony with smaller cases and vintage-inspired radially brushed dials. Consider TAG Heuer celebrating the 55th anniversary of the square Monaco with a skeletonized flyback confidently priced at US$183,000, or Moser similarly showing off a fascinating skeletonized tourbillon in its distinctive 40 mm Streamliner at US$86,900. IWC has leaned hard into their traditionally styled Portugieser line, including an astounding Eternal Calendar complication. We find the storied French houses of Cartier, Chanel and Hermes blurring the lines between jewelry and watchmaking with the technical prowess and artistic whimsy that originally earned these brands their exalted place in the hearts and minds of sophisticated aesthetes. Confidence abounds in 2024.

We could go on and on with examples, but the watches below will demonstrate that for 2024 the big watch brands dared to be themselves, which appears to have given them the confidence to take some seriously compelling horological risks. We have separate coverage of off-show releases and, of course, Patek and Rolex, so keep and eye out for those.

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Patek Philippe Brings Back Collector Favourites at Watches & Wonders 2024

Both the Nautilus Chronograph and Aquanaut Travel Time receive a welcome return.

By Josh Bozin 10/04/2024

If you’re a watch fan, there’s every reason to believe that a Patek Philippe Nautilus, Patek Philippe Aquanaut—or both—would be high on your wish list. Both collections are of historical significance, helping pave the way for the influence of the steel sports watch category—and subsequent chokehold on the market today.

So, when Patek Philippe unveiled its newest releases at Watches & Wonders in Geneva, it was a pleasant surprise to see the return of two of the best past iterations of the Nautilus and Aquanaut collections.

Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph

First, we get a new Nautilus Chronograph, with the return of the revered 5980, now replete with a new case in white gold and a denim-like strap (a contentious issue among watch pundits). Discontinuing all Nautilus 5980 models earlier this year, including the collector-favourite 5980/1AR in Rose Gold, left a sombre feeling among Nautilus fanatics. These celebrated chronographs, renowned for their distinctive porthole-inspired design and air of sporty elegance, are some of the most sought-after watches in the Patek Philippe catalogue. Thus, the revival of the 5980, now in white gold, is a cause for collectors’ celebration.

The new offering retains its chronograph function with mono-counter tracking 60-minute and 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock on the dial, but now comes on a new denim-inspired, hand-stitched fabric strap with a Nautilus fold-over clasp in white gold—some will love it, some won’t.

Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe

The Calibre CH 28‑520 C/522 powers this new Nautilus with its flyback chronograph, all of which is visible through the transparent sapphire crystal caseback. The dial is also incredibly eye-catching, with a beautiful opaline blue-gray hue accentuated by white gold-applied hour markers with a white luminescent coating. It is priced at approximately $112,000.

Also returning to the fold is the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time, now with its own bluish hue dial—similar to its Nautilus counterpart. After discontinuing the Aquanaut Travel Time 5164A this year, as well—a watch often regarded as the greatest Aquanaut to date—Patek Philippe surprised all with the new 5164G in white gold. Its greatest attribution is the clever Travel Time GMT function, which clearly rivals the Rolex GMT-Master II as perhaps the travel-friendly watch of choice (if acquiring one was that simple, of course).

For those who prefer the Aquanaut’s sportiness and easy-wearing rubber strap, this newest iteration, with its Opaline Blue-gray dial and matching rubber strap with a deployant clasp, is undoubtedly an icon in the making. The new 5164G has a 40mm case and features the Calibre 26‑330 S C FUS movement, which can also be viewed via the transparent sapphire crystal caseback.

Expect to pick up the new Aquanaut Travel Time for around $95,250.  

Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time

 

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Rolex Kicks Off Watches & Wonders 2024 with a New GMT-Master II

The new stainless steel GMT-Master II has already been dubbed the “Bruce Wayne”.

By Josh Bozin 09/04/2024

It may not be the GMT that watch pundits were speculating on—or that collectors were hoping for—but the new Rolex GMT-Master II with a new grey and black ceramic bezel adds dazzle to the revered Rolex collection, which this year celebrates its 70th anniversary.

The idea of a new Rolex GMT launching at the world’s biggest watch fair is cause for a little madness. While the watch community eagerly awaited what was thought to be the discontinuation of the highly sought-after GMT “Pepsi” and the return of the GMT “Coke,” the luxury Swiss watchmaker had other plans.

Instead, we’re presented with a piece that, on paper, hasn’t changed much from previous GMT releases. That’s not to say that this isn’t an impressive release that will speak to consumers—the new GMT-Master II ref.126710GRNR, dubbed the “Bruce Wayne,” is definitely a sight for sore eyes.

Rolex
Rolex

This new GMT retains the same dimensions and movement as the other watches in the GMT collection, along with its 40mm size case and the option to fit either an Oyster or Jubilee bracelet. The obvious changes, albeit subtle, come in the way of its mostly monochrome return; a fact that will appease traditionalists. If you’re opposed to the attention-drawing “Pepsi”, “Sprite”, or “Batman” iterations, this model is a stealthier pick—much like pseudonymous Bruce Wayne.

The other noticeable change is the “GMT-Master II” now applied in green text and a 24-hour hand in green; perhaps a nod to the 2007 Basel World GMT release.

Like many Rolex timepieces, this will generate great hype and attention, so don’t expect allocations to come easily.

Rolex
Rolex

Model: GMT-Master II
Reference Number: 126710GRNR

Diameter: 40mm
Case Material: Stainless steel
Dial Colour: Black
Lume: Chromalight on hands and hour markers
Water Resistance: 100m
Bracelet: Oyster or Jubilee

Movement: Caliber 3285
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, GMT
Power Reserve: 70 hours
Winding: Automatic

Price: $17,150 (Oyster); $17,500 (Jubilee)
Availability: Now. Non-limited edition

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Moments in Time

Silversea’s Kimberley adventures transport passengers into a different dimension.

By Vince Jackson 09/04/2024

Whoever refuted the theory of time-travel has clearly never set foot in the Kimberley, a geological relic where craggy landscapes forged hundreds of millions of years ago remain untouched, and dinosaur footprints are still etched into the ochre terrain. And while traversing one of the planet’s last great wildernesses in a 4X4 holds rugged appeal, a more refined way to explore the Western Australian outback is by cruise liner. 

Enter the Silver Cloud, one of Silversea’s most luxurious vessels, available for 10- or 17-day expeditions. Upon arrival via private executive transfer, expect a level of intimacy that’s often conspicuous on other cruise experiences. With a maximum of just 200 guests, attended to by 212 staff, the Silver Cloud can lay claim to the greatest passenger-to-crew ratios operating in the Kimberley. Twenty-four-hour butler service is standard for every suite, along with ocean views—no matter if you plump for a modest 22 m² Vista Suite or supersize to a 217 m² Grand Suite.

Yet bigger is not necessarily better on water; the ship itself is compact enough to manoeuvre into isolated coves and waterways that larger vessels—or, indeed, four-wheel-drive Land Cruisers—are unable access. Each sunrise brings the promise of an unforgettable adventure, whether hopping on a Zodiac at Koolama Bay to witness the cascading thunder of the 80-m-high, twin King George Falls, or embarking at Swift Bay to scramble over rocky standstone and view the disparate rock-art forms on display at the sacred Wandjina art galleries—some reckoned to be up to 12,000 years old.

Another example of the Kimberley’s ability to propel you back through time.

Prices from $15,500 pp (10 days) and $23,900 pp (17 days); June 9-19, and August 8-25 or August 25- September 11 respectively; silversea.com

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Kelly Slater’s Hawaiian Hideaway Hits the Market for $30 Million

After seven years of ownership, the legendary surfer is selling his beachfront compound on Oahu’s north shore for $20 million.
Published on April 5, 2024

By Wendy Bowman 08/04/2024

Always wanted to live like a surfing legend—specifically, a pro shredder with countless accolades under his board? Now’s your chance, because the picturesque Hawaiian spread that Kelly Slater has owned for the past several years has just popped up for sale on Oahu’s north shore, as was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The asking price is an impressive $30.3 million—or around $18.2 million more than the 11-time champ dolled out for the beachfront digs seven years ago, back in spring 2017. Acquired largely for personal reasons—he fondly remembers crashing at a nearby house with teen surfing buddies in the 1980s—Slater has long floated the place on the rental market, once for as much as $121,500 per month.

Sited amid a gated parcel spanning just over a half-acre, alongside one of the most sought-after streets in the Haleiwa area, the property was built in the early 2000s, and offers a main home and pair of guesthouses—for a total of six bedrooms and eight baths sprawled across a little more than 706 sqm of Asian- and Hawaiian-infused living space, all with access to 101 feet of secluded shoreline.

Though interior photos are scarce, previous listings show the primary dwelling is showcased by a soaring living room displaying an open-trussed ceiling, a curving hardwood staircase tucked off to the side and glass doors spilling out to a covered lanai. Other highlights include a formal dining room, media room, and kitchen outfitted with natural wood cabinetry and an expansive island. Two bedrooms include an upstairs primary suite, which boasts an ocean-view balcony, a seating nook, walk-in closet, and bath equipped with dual vanities and a soaking tub.

Outdoors, the garden-laced grounds host a boardwalk spanning a pond, along with an infinity pool and hot tub bordered by a grassy lawn; and topping it all off are the aforementioned ancillary accommodations, which consist of a three-bedroom guesthouse with its own kitchen and living area, plus a one-bedroom apartment resting atop the detached three-car garage. There’s plenty of Polynesian artwork left behind by a previous owner that’s reportedly part of the sale, too.

The 52-year-old Florida native, who told WSJ he is wrapping up what may be his final year as a pro surfer, also operates numerous business ventures ranging from a private surfing ranch to a sustainable footwear brand, and coming soon, a skin care and sunblock line.

In addition to his for-sale compound, Slater and his longtime partner Kalani Miller also maintain a primary residence he calls a “small beach shack” on Hawaii‘s Banzai Pipeline reef break, plus homes in Florida, California and Australia.

The listing is held by Paul Stukin of Deep Blue HI, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate | Southern California.

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