As time moves ahead and more brands play around with different alloys — variations of carbon fiber, titanium, and different shades of gold — we sometimes lose focus on the most common case material in the watch industry. Steel has been a go-to case material for AGES, and for good reason.
Steel Watches for Your Collection
It’s easy to work with, it’s not obnoxiously expensive, it’s easier to polish than titanium, and it’s not a soft and susceptible to dings and damage as gold. On the topic of cost, steel is a great buy whenever you want an impressive complication without the premium you’ll pay for having it in a gold case. We’ve seen some great steel watches hit the market this past year, but of that healthy pack, these are a few of our favorites.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked Reference 15407
AP knows how to make an attention-grabbing watch, but this thing is really something else. We had seen a few other Openworked models prior to this 2016 release, however what set this piece apart was the introduction of AP’s use of a double balance wheel (effectively two individually operating balance wheels stacked on top of one another) which was designed to assist with overall accuracy and overall performance.
Specs and functionality aside, this one of a number of jaw-dropping skeletonized watches we’ve seen hit the market as of late, and it’s a stunning alternate take on the classic Royal Oak. At $44,100 it doesn’t come cheap, but when compared to its pink gold sibling at $76,800 it’s a pretty decent bargain if you ask me.
Panerai Radiomir 1940 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 42mm
Though not vastly different from past Panerai Radiomir 1940 models, one of the biggest improvements in the new model came both the form of dial color for 2016. A couple years back we were thrilled to see the addition of a 42mm case size when the models switches from manual-winding to in-house automatic calibers, but the addition of a white dial alongside some faux-aged indices and hands gives the Acciaio a particularly charming vintage feel in a case size that’ll fit just about everyone comfortably.
Vacheron Constantin Quai de L’isle Steel
Rather than going for the obvious Vacheron Constantin Overseas series from earlier this year (though I do still love the whole collection), there’s something particularly special about the Quai de L’isle’s dressy-meets-casual vibe. Marked with the Hallmark of Geneva, the simple 3-hand plus date caliber uses a simple yet clever date complication that I can’t help but love.
Rather than the date wheel including all of the dates and clicking through a date window, a small arrow travels around a cutaway ring just inside its minute indices and points at the present date as it makes its 360-degree rotation around the dial.
Cartier Drive de Cartier
We all know the “usual suspects” from Cartier all too well — the Tank, the Santos, the Tortue, the Ballon Bleu and so on — but many of us were pretty thrilled to see a new addition to their lineup for 2016. The Drive de Cartier is still very true to the brand’s design vocabulary in any respect, though the Drive in many ways takes many details we love from their classic models and melds them into one single watch that (thankfully) is available in steel.
With less than a year under its belt we’ve already seen the steel portion of the line grow to include a dark graphite dial, as well as a model with a large date, retrograde second timezone, and day/night indication (powered by an in-house Cartier caliber, of course). At a relatively modest $8,750 the latter of the trio is particularly enticing.