© 2019 by The Young Horologist

My Favourite Watches of 2018

January 17, 2019

As we dust off the Christmas cobwebs, and get back into our normal lives and pick up 'Dry January' or 'Veganuary', what better way to reflect on 2018 than to look at some of the best watches released in the past year?  Who says we cant still be fondly remeniscing about the watches of last year whilst getting our teeth stuck into the watches from this years SIHH?? So, sit back, tuck into your turkey sandwich (If you still have any left) or pour yourself a drink, and let me take you through some of my favourite watches of the past year.

 

Now, this article was going to be a look back at my top 3 favourite watches. However, considering the sheer amount of awesome watches that were released last year, narrowing it down to a 3 from my shortlist of 30+ was just impossible. So as a result I am going to talk about as many as I possibly can; in no particular order, and then give honourable mentions to the ones that I cannot get too. Sound good? Ok well let’s dive in…

 

Tudor BB58

 

The Tudor Black Bay 58 has been a release aimed specifically at watch nerds. I think I speak for all of us when I say that having a modern watch that is basically all the best vintage submariners from years gone by is the dream? And I think you will also all agree when i say that whilst some brands and models have come close, they havent quite got there? Well, this is why my first watch in this list was such a success. The tudor BB58 encompassed everything we all love about vintage dive watches, and then smashed it out of the park. Firstly, the dimensions seem pretty spot on, I mean 39mm and just 11.9mm thick makes for an incredibly wearable watch. I think I could actually just stop here and move onto the next watch in the list. Size is obviously SO important for people, which you may think is weird considering how different peoples wrist sizes are, as well as tastes. BUT, the reason that it being under 40mm is such a huge thing is because it is the perfect sweet spot. It satisfies the people who's prefered size is 36mm, as well as people who only like 42mm. It is literally the antithesis of a kobayashi maru, it is an incredibly winnable scenario. All-in-all this watch is fantastic, and at £2,600 on a rivetted steel bracelet (Yes please) this is probably the best 'first Swiss watch' for under £5k.

 

                                   Maybe the best watch release of the year? Certainly a contender for the sub £5,000 category...

 

Bremont Supersonic

 

One thing this year has been particularly good for is commemorative watches. This one is definitely my favourite. Bremont are a relatively new brand but they are making some real dents in the watch industry. This watch is another stride in the right direction for Bremont. This watch commemorates the famous Concorde Panam flights. In partnership with British Airways, metal from the G-BOAB Concorde, known as Alpha Bravo, was donated to Bremont to incorporate into these 500 limited edition watches. The metal that was donated has been incorporated into a decorated ring that is visible through the display back. The aircrafts number, registration, years of active service, number of supersonic flights and the planes top speed are engraved onto the ring. Outside of the awesome story behind this watch, as you can see below it is drop-dead GORGEOUS. 

 

                                                  A very classic but lovely watch, with an even cooler story...

 

 

Halios Seaforth GMT

 

Micro brands have also come on leaps and bounds in 2018. Amongst quite a fair amount of trash, there are a few micro brands that are, well, awesome. Helios are one of them. There recent release, the GMT version of their already popular Seaforth has gone down an absolute storm. The watch comes in a variety of different versions, bezel or bezel-less, and either with a slate grey or blue dial. The thing I really love about the GMT release from Halios is the variety. the brilliance here is fundamentally if you like the watch at its core, the variety of dial colours and bezel's means that you can truly customise to your own preference. The dimensions are also pretty perfect. 40mm case, 45mm lug-to-lug and a height of just over 12mm thick. Very well proportioned and very, very good looking. 

 

                                   One of the hottest microbrands of the year for sure... 

 

Dan Henry 1964 Gran Turismo

 

One of my favourite affordables of the year by far, and the first Quartz watch to enter the fray, well mecca-quartz but there is no point in splitting hairs. This is Dan Henry's first venture into the world of chronographs, and whilst I wish he had decided to slap an automatic in this watch, it is hard to argue with his execution of the style. This watch takes inspiration from vintage chronographs such as Breitling Top Times, Omega Seamaster Chronographs and of course the legendary Heuer chronographs. It comes in 4 variations, and also comes in a date and no date version. In my opinion, this is nearly as good as it gets when it comes to vintage inspired modern watches. It comes in a lovely 38mm case, on a gorgeous beads-of-rice bracelet. If you want a first watch or something to be worn everyday, for less than £250, this has got to be a contender. 

 

                                   So tempted by one of these. The historic styling of these and the case size make them incredibly appealing... 

 

 

Oris Big Crown Pointer Date (Blue Dial)

 

Another one of my favourite watches from the year. One that I was lucky enough to try on earlier on in the summer. There was a Redbar event in Soho in partnership with Oris. It was a 2018 preview of their upcoming new watches, and one of those watches was this. The Oris Big Crown Pointer Date in the blue dial. Despite being a mouthful, this watch is one of the most classic watches in a long time. Fundamentally, what I love most about this watch is the unusual complication. As you know, the most common way to to display the date on a watch is with a little window, usually at the 3 or 6 o'clock position. Oris here have done something a little different. Instead of using the traditional date window, Oris use another hand on the dial which points to a date track running around the outside of the watch. Due to it being such a slender hand, and the subtlety of the date track, it gives the dial a real clean feel. Despite being madly in love with this watch, the only big drawback that I can see is this particular model (my favourite) comes in 40mm.... If this watch came in a 36 or even 34mm, It would be irresistible. They make the black and mint green dial in a 36mm, but unfortunately not yet in the gorgeous blue. Despite this, I still am completely head over heals in love with this watch.   

 

                                   This may have to be my next big watch purchase... On the bracelet it is just stunning...

 

De Bethune Starry Varius (SHIT NAME)

 

And the award for the worst name of ANY watch released in 2018 goes to De Bethune and their Starry Varius... Despite the shit name, this watch is just unreal. De Bethune is one of my favourite brands. They have this attitude of making the most ridiculous and extravagant watches, whilst being completely safe in the knowledge that people will buy them. This is a very 'De Bethuney' De Bethune, if that is even a thing. The ridiculous name comes from the DROP DEAD GORGEOUS dial, which has a strip of gorgeous stars running across it. Despite being 42mm, the case comes in grade 5 titanium, and has some of the coolest movement architecture of any watch brand. If the dial finishing doesnt do it for you, or help convince you of the awesomeness of the watch, then flipping it over definitely should. De Bethune are not a brand that a lot of people are familiar with, but once you get to know them a bit you will understand that they are one of those brands who's watches are almost art. So if anyone has a spare £50,000 knocking around that is burning a whole in their pocket, please buy me this watch. 

 

                                   Luckily this watch is so damn beautiful, sort of makes the shit name ok....

 

Baltic Aquascaphe

 

Right, lets step down from the dizzying heights of £50,000 titanium watches, and talk about another one of the best affordable watches released this year. And yet again it is from another microbrand, but one that is making a serious name for itself, and this is Baltic. Their most recent watch, the skin diving Aquascaphe, is another vintage inspired watch which has been executed to perfection. This watch comes in at 39mm, with drilled out lugs and another awesomely designed beads of rice bracelet. This is an incredibly thoughtfully designed watch, with drilled lug holes, 3 very tasteful dial options, as well as a BOR bracelet that will fit any other baltic model with 20mm lug width, very thoughtful design. 

 

                                   This release by Baltic really feels like a watch released by a brand who understand and listen to us geeks... 

 

 

Merci LMM-01 Project Special Field Watch 

 

One of my favourite things in watchmaking is simple three-handers. Their versatility and classical nature mean that they can be worn with pretty much any outfit and in any situation and look right at home. The watches from recently discovered (for me anyway) Merci Instruments, fit that category to a tee. Their model which is my particular favourite is the stunning watch that you see below; The LMM-01 Project Special Field Watch. This watch comes in either a white or black dial. In terms of my favourite dial variation I thin the blck just does it for me. I have nothing against white dials, but for some reason I think they have just missed the mark with the colour of the 'fautina' on the hands and indicies of the white. 

 

                                   For around £200, very hard to argue with the simplicity and elegance of these watches... 

 

Ochs und Junior Annual Calendar 36mm

 

This brand is one which very few people relatively, know about. However, thanks to the likes of Hodinkee and other watch publication, has meant that they hav soared in popularity. And for good reason, as their watches are stupidly good. As you can see, from an aesthetic point of view they have a very unique style. This uniqueness extends to their display of their complications, which is what Hodinkee love them for. This particular example which is definitely my favourite from them, is their 36mm Annual Calendar. 

 

                                   This is the 36mm version. It also comes in a 39mm and a 42mm version for the slightly larger wristed... 

 

Ming 1703 Ultra Blue

 

Ming, I think, are one of theose brands who are just on the cusp of leaving their microbrand past behind and branching into a more conventional and wider appreciated brand, such as Halios for example! The reason for this is that they are a real watch nerds brand, and their watches themselves are just stupidly good. My favourite hands down is their most 'out there' watch, the Ming 1703 Ultra Blue. As you can see from the photos of this watch below, it does what it says on the tin, as it is very blue. It takes the conventional 1703 GMT master, and elevates its levels of awesomeness. The thing that I love most about this watch is it a relatively traditional watch, but subtle design cues really stand out, such as its gorgeous curved lugs, and sector-dialed display of the GMT complication. This watch floats around the £1,000 mark, which considering the labour involved in the creation of the watch, as well as the high-grade Sellita SW330-1 top grade movement inside, this watch is a hell of a lot of bang for buck. Unfortunately with this Ultra Blue addition, it is a limited edition piece, so if you can find one, you are a very lucky man/lady.

 

                                                                           If, like me, you like blue, then this is the watch for you...

 

Omega Speedmaster Ultraman

 

The watch community, I believe, have quite a split opinion when it comes to Speedmaster releases. Some take the view that Omega release such a vast quantity of Speedmaster variations, as well as Limited Editions, that it detracts away from the special nature of the watches in general. The other side of the coin (which is me) see releases like this, the Ultraman, as very cool variations on one of the most iconic watches of all time. The Ultraman in question is actually a LE reissue of the ultraman watches released following the 70's TV show 'The Return of Ultraman.' The original was nly subtly different to a regular Speedy Pro, the only difference being the bright orange second hand to set the watch apart. This LE reissue takes that original Orange second hand and then accents the orange with orange hour markers, as well as adding a splash of colour to the tachymetre bezel. I have to say I am a big, big fan of this particular special edition. I think the regular Speedmaster Pro is one of the most versatile and classic watches out there, and adding this pop of colour gives this watch a playful edge, whislt still maintaining its traditional look and feel. 

 

                                   Possibly my favourite Speedmaster LE? Does this do it for you geeks? 

 

AP Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin

 

Ok, last watch of the article, and we are finishing on a definite high. One of the most horologically impressive watch releases of 2018 was from none other than Audemars Piguet. The watch in question is the phenominal Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin (try saying that three times fast!). Not only is this watch a feet of technical wizardry, but it is also an aesthetic gem. This watch is the thinnest automatic perpetual calendar in the world. The new movement inside is a stupidly thin 2.89mm. What I love about this watch is that it is what AP refer to as their 'Research & Developement' pieces. What this means is that the watches themselves are not actually commercially available to buy. AP literally just make these pieces because they can, which I think is really cool. If this watch was to be made commercially available though, these are some of the specs. It is a 41mm case, with a depth of just 6.8mm. It is cased entirely in 950 Platinum, featuring an inhouse 5133 perpetual calendar movement. This movement houses hours, minutes, perpetual calendar with indication of month, day, date, day/night, moonphase, and leap year. 

 

                                   It sickens me to think how much this would cost if it went to retail... 

 

And now the WORST watch of the year... 

 

And now, having looked at what I am sure you will agree are 12 of the coolest and best releases from 2018, I now want to show you what was by far the worst watch release of the year. This watch is from H Moser & Co. Moser actually are a very well reputed brand, and make some fantastic pieces. They are also a fan of satire, and putting two fingers up to the watch industry. For example, during the trump election, they took his 'Make America Great Again' cap and changed it to 'Make Swiss Made Great Again' to highlight certain companies, such as Shinola, claiming there watches were made in one country but were actually made somewhere else. This humour has also found its way into some watch releases by the company, such as the watch below. This is the H. Moser & Co 'Swiss Icon' watch, and as you can see it is a complete mismatch of some very famous watches. For those of you who cannot quite figure out which watches this ugly duckling takes design from, it has the bezel of a GMT Master II which has been made into a Royal Oak shape, a dial that's a mashup of Panerai and Patek (the Nautilus) a Hublot case, a Panerai-esque crown guard, and a tourbillon under a Girard-Perregaux type golden bridge. What is great about this watch is it completely sums up the brand. On the one hand they are a very well respected brand, with some fantastic lines of high quality swiss watches. And on the other hand they are a company that releases these watches just to provoke other watch brands as well as the industry as a whole. 

 

                                   Certainly intended to provoke, this is definitely an ugly duckling... 

 

I hope you have enjoyed this slightly overdue look back at the past year of watches. Apologies for it being so late! With the current onslaught of new releases from SIHH it has been hard to catch up with all of the news whilst remembering to write articles. Safe to say that most of our content in the coming weeks is going to be about said SIHH releases. So if you are fed up of Hodinkee's coverage of the action, be sure to check out our website for coverage of the best and worst new watches, as well as our instragram for more frequent updates! 

 

Felix Arnold 

Editor and Co-Founder 

 

 

 

 

 

H Moser & Co Swiss Icon

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