With the year’s biggest watch shows in the books, let’s take a look at what’s in store for 2019. While SIHH and Baselworld may not have thrilled all watch-enthusiasts this year, there are several pieces that are still deserving of our attention.
Ten Trending New Releases (With 2 Bonus Watches!)
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- De Bethune
- Patek Philippe
- Tag Heuer
- Grand Seiko
- Laurent Ferrier
Jaeger-LeCoulture Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpetuel
While the long name may seem over-the-top, this watch has more impressive complications than words in its title (almost), and each is deserving of its own shout out. This is haute horlogerie at its finest and represents the type of piece a company makes pretty much exclusively to flex their horological muscles. Jaeger LeCoultre wants to remind us that in a world of Master Thins and Duoface Reversos, we can’t forget why JLC epitomizes the upper echelon of watchmaking. The first thing you’ll notice is not the dial, but rather the overwhelming lack of one.
The mesmerizing multi-axis tourbillon takes up the majority of the face, despite being the smallest multi-axis tourbillon JLC has ever designed. This was a change implemented to make the high-end complication fit into a more wearable size. This watch also houses a perpetual calendar which can be set in both directions, unlike most common perpetuals. In an ultimate flex, JLC has created a minute repeater like no other, with four sets of different hammers and gongs visible through dial which play the Westminster carillon (the famous melody played from the Big Ben clocktower) while chiming the current time.
If you’re wondering if two-tone watches are back, they are (and in a big way). This year Rolex is bringing their own 18ct yellow gold to the Sea-Dweller line of no-nonsense dive watches. Putting gold on a tool watch? I know, but the same could be said about the rest of the once-stainless sports models. Simply put, adding the golden accents to the Sea-Dweller line-up was an inevitable progression for the luxury brand.
The new gold additions appear in the bracelet center links, bezel, and crown. The gold continued its way into the dial with the hour markers and hands. The “Sea-Dweller” text is printed at 6:00 in a gold tone to match the rest of the watch, and this detail really brings the whole watch together. To quash any concerns, the gold does not reduce this watch to anything less than the tooly, rugged status of the previous stainless models. Housed inside the 43mm 9O4L case is their own Calibre 3235, known for being rock-solid reliable. The character in this watch runs as deep as the 1220m water resistance will take it.
Yellow, not gold. Titanium is one of the main materials in the DB28 line of watches, and De Bethune does a fantastic job of demonstrating the many ways this material can be manipulated and utilized. The case and lugs are a grade five titanium, and the golden finishes come from a thermal oxidation process. If you look closely at the case and lugs, you’ll notice that the watch is not a single color, but rather a mix of yellow tones.
The hallmark of the DB28 lineup is the floating lug system, which is the brownish part of the case. The lugs are fixed to the inner case at the 3:00 and 6:00 positions and pivot up and down from that fixed area in an effort to make the watch conform to your wrist. The movement itself is also noteworthy. It is De Bethune’s own DB2115V4 Calibre, complete with a 6-day power reserve, 35 jewels, a power reserve indicator, and a spherical moonphase. This is something you owe to yourself to check out in person.
When you hear Calatrava, you think of a very thin watch that is both understated and elegant. You think of one of the contenders for the ultimate dress watch. While this piece does not spin the Calatrava equation on its head, it is certainly an interesting offer unlike its predecessors. The watch is a 40mm stainless steel case, which is a more contemporary size than Calatrava watches we have seen in the not-so-distant past.
This watch also brings a first to the Patek lineup of calendar watches — the weekly calendar. This complication tracks which number week it is and uses a pointer-hand to indicate the number. In addition to that, the watch tracks the day and date. Patek claims this weekly calendar could be useful to the modern businessman, but let’s be honest, you’re not going to buy this because you need to be reminded when Q1 becomes Q2. You’re buying this watch because it’s cool. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
The 2019 Autavia line is a big win for TAG Heuer. Inspired by the design of the original dashboard clocks of Heuer’s hayday, the new Autavias come equipped with their own set of impressive specs and exciting tech. With its remarkably symmetrical and legible dial, and 100 meters of water resistance, this watch could make a fantastic everyday option and is made more impressive by taking a deeper look under the hood at the aforementioned new tech.
TAG refers to their latest innovation as the ISOGRAPH. The highlight here is their own in-house carbon composite hairspring which they retrofit into the solid Calibre 5 movement. The new hairspring provides a supreme amount of shock and magnetic resistance to the watch itself, but on a less technical level, it’s honestly just exciting to see TAG Heuer innovating and bringing a heavy-hitting watch to compete in the frenzy that is the $3-4000 space.
Bulgari showed up this year with another groundbreaking record. This past Basel they released the thinnest automatic chronograph the world has ever seen. This watch is a mere 6.9mm thick, while the movement itself is less than half of that, coming in at 3.3mm. A chronograph that thin is simply absurd. Chronographs are one of the most complicated machines to make, and one of the most ubiquitous and well-known known chronographs out there (Valjoux 7750) is a hair shy of being 8mm thick! Its thickness is not the only impressive thing about the watch though.
Unlike a traditional, semi-circular rotor attached to a single point, this watch’s rotor runs the whole circumference of the movement and is disk-shaped. Half is platinum and half is aluminum. The two varying densities of those materials allow the rotor to wind as it is worn. The GMT hand (yes this is also a GMT), is controlled by a pusher located at 9:00 that is blended so well into the case. Bulgari claims to have designed this watch with the needs of a 21st century gentleman in mind. From the useful complications, to the lightweight yet durable titanium case, to an aesthetic that is instantly recognizable as Bulgari — we’d say they succeeded.
It’s amazing that Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive technology feels so new, yet it has actually been around for 20 years now. This particular model is one of three released this year to celebrate the 20th anniversary milestone. The SBGA403 is the most-simple of the three, featuring the time, date, and power reserve complications. Grand Seiko used their own lion for design inspiration, mainly in the dial and case structure.
Looking to the dial you’ll see a deep, brownish-olive color with a texture meant to invoke the mane of a lion. The sharp faceted lugs are reminiscent of the great beasts’ claws. Grand Seiko is renowned for their fit and finish, and the Zaratsu polishing throughout the case and brilliant dial work are truly second-to-none. The Spring Drive movement inside is deadly accurate and gives the seconds hand a serene, continuous sweep as it makes its way around the dial.
This Big Pilot is, well, pretty big. The 46.2mm bronze case is “all dial”, and there is a lot to unpack. This rendition of the famous Big Pilot is a special take on the historic watch. It runs on IWC’s in house 52615 movement, which has a perpetual calendar function (day, date, month, year), moonphase, and power reserve display. The power reserve itself is a whopping 7 days! Each of these functions are read using one of the 4 subdials.
It’s worth noting that the movement is beautifully finished and can be seen through the display caseback. It is nice how much the movement fills the case. For as big as this dial is, there is very little wasted space. The green dial pairs very well with the yellow-bronze case. As the watch ages, the rustic charm of this piece will continue to grow and remind the wearer of the war-weathered originals of the 1940s. This is a limited edition of only 250, with the specific unit designated on the back.
Laurent Ferrier is one of the most well-known independent watchmakers of the modern era, and never has there been more buzz around independent makers than in 2019. The red pointer date jumps out first. This is part of the watch’s annual calendar complication, where the month and day are indicated through cutouts in the dial and the date being represented by the mentioned red hand. Keeping the end-user in mind, Laurent Ferrier designed the annual calendar with quick-set capabilities.
The day window is adjusted using the 10:00 pusher, and the day and month are adjusted using the first position of the crown. The dial itself is a captivating blue, which lays the foundation for the white crosshair design. The watch has great visual balance achieved through a perfectly symmetrical dial. The dial itself is finished with vertical brushing, and the subdial has a concentric circle pattern and sunburst finish, which contrast nicely. The whole watch is brought together through the continued crosshair design in the subdial and the red 31 at 12:00, showcasing Laurent Ferrier’s attention to detail.
As divisive as this watch is in aesthetics, the revolutionary nature of the technology that dwells within cannot be disputed. I propose the futuristic design of this watch reflects the innovative nature of the movement itself. The Defy Inventor is centered around Zenith’s new movement, the Calibre 9100. The defining part of this movement is the Zenith Oscillator, which is a silicon component that serves the purpose of the traditional balance wheel and spring.
This particular watch is special because it stands as the first production batch of the new technology. Zenith produced 10 concept watches when this technology was released in 2017, but now the feature has finally come to market. Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about the movement is that it reduces the 30ish parts that make up the traditional regulating system down to just the one. Thankfully, this special oscillator can be seen beating away through the skeletonized dial. They did not have to reinvent the wheel, but they did.
The Breitling chronograph that is not a Navitimer. The bi-compact layout and dial design makes this watch feel like it has been around for far longer than it actually has. One of the most exciting things about this new line-up of watches is the numerous dial and strap options. The variety feels similar to the myriad of Datejust models out there. Stick markers or numbers. Panda, green, blue, black dials. Bracelet, black crocodile, brown calf. You are bound to find some combination that fits your tastes, and at 42mm, this is a very agreeable size.
No matter which option you go with, you will be pleased with the attention to detail that is present in the dial and case. The dial has depth to it- from the sunken subdials, up one step to the main dial with applied markers, up to the final step of the tachymeter surrounding the dial. Small details like the color of the tachymeter text matching the tip of the second hand inspire confidence in the wearer. While Breitling already has their Navitimer line deeply established in their roots, I can see this chronograph soon planting a stake of its own. It does not feel like an offshoot of the Navitimer, but rather its own thing. The 01 in the name indicates what lies within, Breitling’s own Breitling 01 caliber. This impressive column wheel chronograph movement can be admired through the display back.
Panerai produces some of the most unique-looking dive watches in the industry, with their most identifiable feature being the distinct crown-guard and locking mechanism at 3:00. The Submersible line-up from Panerai is their “heavy duty” dive watch line, and one common complaint among the watch enthusiasts and collectors alike is that many of these watches are too large, coming in at a chunky 47mm. This particular Panerai is one of the answers to the problem. The 960 is a much more wearable 42mm Carbotech case.
Carbotech is the name Panerai uses to designate their cases made from pressed layers of carbon fiber. So not only is this watch smaller than its counterparts, it is also extraordinarily lighter. The Carbotech case does not sacrifice any utility, however, and is still a more-than-capable dive watch. The watch boasts a 30 bar (300m) water resistance rating, thanks partially to the locking lever incorporated into the crown-guard. It’s important to note that Panerai even goes as far to make the locking lever out of the same Carbotech material. For those who have always wanted to rock a Panerai but always shied away from the larger sizes, check out the newer Submersible options.
Do you agree with our list? Are there any we forgot to include? Share your thoughts in the comments below!