I can’t say that this year was the most eventful for the watch industry yet; however there were definitely some serious milestones for certain brands, especially in the field of complications. In this article I will be sharing my top picks with you in each of the 5 made up (by myself) categories; though do not expect any top-10 lists here, as I like most of these watches equally and don’t even think about comparing them. I’m also sorry in advance, but you would not find any simple watches in this article, it is sort of a Dream list of mine (and I think many more watch enthusiasts).
Best Watches of 2013 – New Old (Back to The Golden Age)
I recently have realized that this year is very successful for gold. I’m not talking about stock market (no idea what is happening there) but about the use of gold or golden color in consumer products, and no, it’s not just the iPhone… Many watchmaking brands (and I mean A LOT) have introduced same models of watches they’ve created a year or 2 years ago but switching the material of the casing from steel or white gold to rose gold. It’s true that some people say ‘Red or yellow gold is for the older people’ though I find myself loving the Rosé more and more (and I’m not that old). And while most of the brands couldn’t pull the red gold twist, one watch really stood out for me, the Urwerk UR210. Yes, the original model is awesome enough on its own, but doesn’t any Urwerk look 10 times better covered in rose gold?!
The UR210 is a watch that uses Urwerk’s known ‘satellite’ hour hands that also point at the minutes at 6 o’clock of the watch. This model is a big favorite because of the case design, but it also has the efficiency and power reserve indicators on the dial. On the back of it is a choice to be made: you can select between 3 modes of the timepiece winding speed (On the photo below we put the new Gold front next to the older Titanium backside).
Best Watches of 2013 – Tourbillons
I would be lying to you if I said this year there weren’t many tourbillons. The complication is now everywhere, and more popular than ever, even though many new alternatives are being discovered (more about that later). Let’s take a look at my favorites… First up is the Ulysse Nardin Skeleton Tourbillon Manufacture. It’s a completely new watch, and in my opinion very underrated. No, it’s nothing super complicated, just a manually winded, skeletonized but extremely beautiful tourbillon. Ulysse Nardin has produced 2 versions of it (Rose Gold and Platinum) each limited to 99 pieces, and what made me like it the most was the starting price of $70’000 in retail.
Another great tourbillon came from a company we all know for this complication – Blancpain introduces a tourbillon carrousel, which is a watch that uses both of these complications to make the time as accurate as they can, because each of them works separately. There’s also a date indication and that perfect leather strap ?
Last but not least, a more artistic version of a tourbillon, the Louis Moinet Derrick. Not many people know that Mr. Moinet himself was working together with Louis-Abraham Breguet on the creation of his tourbillons, and they shared some watchmaking secrets. And today, just as Breguet, Louis Moinet is very famous for that complication. This year they’ve decided to put a little twist on it and really aim at a certain niche of customers – the oil magnates, which isn’t a bad move as they usually tend to have $250’000 to spend on a watch, especially when the complication is working like an oil pump!
Best Watches of 2013 – Alternatives
As I’ve said already, many (mostly independent) watchmakers are trying, and sometimes succeeding to find more modern day and interesting solutions to time inaccuracy of mechanical watches instead of implementing a usual tourbillon. I’ve already talked about the Girard-Perregaux Constant Escapement L.M. when mentioning its victory at the GPHG 2013 awards, but here it is again – a watch that uses constant force (basically not allowing the watch to slow down when the power reserve is decreasing), which took about 5 years to develop. Certainly deserved that Win.
Another alternative method of increasing time accuracy this year is the Romain Gauthier ‘Logical One’. It uses a fusée chain (on the left part of the dial) to achieve results close to the GP’s constant escapement. Though design-wise it is a serious badass.
And finally a new model from MB&F, which is a continuation of the legendary Legacy Machine series – the number 2. It uses 2 balance wheels (at 9 and 3 o’clock) that function separately. Their measurements are ‘recorded’ by the differential disk between them (at 6 o’clock), and even though for the money this watch is being sold at ($140’000 for the gold and $170’000 for the limited edition platinum) you can buy a tourbillon I think it’s a very cool and interesting way to increase accuracy of a timepiece, and just like the constant force it has a lot of potential.
Best Watches of 2013 – Chronographs
I’m not a big fan of the chronograph complication, simply because I don’t find it practical. I’m not an athlete who needs to measure his best time, and I’m not an international spy who has a countdown to a bomb explosion. Though even if I were one I would use a digital chronograph. So in this part of the article I’m basing my picks purely on the design and interesting approach to the complication. First chrono that I want to point out from this year is the Roger Dubuis ‘Pulsion’, especially the full black version of it. The bezel around the skeleton dial is actually see-through, and isn’t as annoying as some other big ‘tachymeter’ or just GMT flashy bezels (like the previous models in the Pulsion collection).
The second chronograph from this year comes from one of the most skilled master-watchmakers ‘in town’ – Christophe Claret, who has implemented a gong from a repeater into the chronograph push button function, so that every time you start, stop and reset it, the watch goes ‘Bong!’ ? (You can see the note at 10 o’clock). With the Christophe Claret Kantharos also using the constant force it has a very reasonable price tag for the brand, around $150’000, actually Claret’s cheapest in-house watch.
Best Watches of 2013 – The Big Dream
Finally, the watch that almost made me cry, the dream watch of the year is undoubtedly best of the best – the King of complications and the Boss of them all – Patek Philippe 6002G, otherwise known as the ‘new Celestial Tourbillon’. It features 2 dials, one for the perpetual calendar and tourbillon, and the other for the sidereal time and everything connected to stars and space. Hand-engraved case, 13 major complications from minute repeater to the orbit of the moon indicator, and the beautiful blue enamel dial make it any watchgeek’s dream worth of approximately $1.3 million.
So that was my pick for the 2013 models of both traditional and modern watchmaking. Please feel free to tell me what’s yours and what you think of my Dream-Team ’13 ?
This article is part of “Best Watches of 2013” series for DreamChrono Blog :
http://blog.dreamchrono.com/2014/01/best-womens-watches-of-2013-by-tracey-llewellyn/ (2013 Picks of Tracey Llwellyn)
http://blog.dreamchrono.com/2014/01/best-watches-of-2013-by-matthew-boston/ (2013 Picks of Matthew Boston)
http://blog.dreamchrono.com/2013/12/best-watches-of-2013-by-amr-sindi/ (2013 Picks of Amr Sindi)
http://blog.dreamchrono.com/2013/12/best-watches-of-2013-by-angus-davies/ (2013 Picks of Angus Davies)
http://blog.dreamchrono.com/2013/12/best-watches-of-2013-by-michael-weare/ (2013 Picks of Michael Weare)
http://blog.dreamchrono.com/2013/12/best-watches-of-2013-by-ken-kessler/ (2013 Picks of Ken Kessler)