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  • Alvin

The Death of 2023 | Top 3 Watches of the Year

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

It's that time of year again, the death of the year, the end of another orbit around the moon on this flat old planet Urth. I've just finished my last University assignment of the year, it's not great as I've kind of run out of steam on the academic side, so am looking forward to writing a few blog posts. Thanks for stopping by!


It's been a mad busy year in general, but a good year in the watch world, my most expensive year ever in the watch world though. Some might see that as a positive, it means I'm doing well and enjoying horology, do I see it like that? Not exactly, I managed to get a few of the watches I really wanted, and I also bought watches that I hadn't planned to, which meant spending more than I thought I might, which is always a problem. On the plus side, one of the watches I bought was a grail and is also on this list and many other WotY lists.


This year I have a long list of 10 and then will reveal the top 3 and my rationale for the decision. I'm hoping to squeeze a couple more posts in before the actual death of the 2023. It's nice to have a general gander on the offerings for the year and share my faves. I extended the list to 10 so we could have a broad range but the below are my favourite watches released this year, personal preference rules so if you don't like, then tough!


1 ) TAG HEUER CARRERA SKIPPER - Automatic Chronograph - CBS2213.FN6002

Aka the Glass box, now this was a universal favourite amongst the watch bros et al, and there is a reason. The re-visioning of a classic design originally released in 1969, there have other versions but this one is on point, and better designed than its black and blue stablemate releases.

Carrera Tag Heuer Skipper Chronograph
Img: Tag Heuer

2 ) Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton Micro-Rotor - CRWHSA0032

Just look at this thing, Cartier sure know how to show off, and they do so with the new 9629 MC automatic skeleton calibre. The homage to their history while moving their Santos-Dumont line forward in style, I just wish it was cheaper - this will be a recurring theme in this post.

Carter Santos-Dumont
Img: Cartier


3) Tudor Black Bay Burgundy Bezel - M7941A1A0RU-0003

One of the biggest hits of the summer, The red bezel, gold highlights, and jubilee bracelet with metas certification. It's really a stunning watch, and I can say that after 6 months on the wrist, it has not got old. If it had the shield at 12, a date at 6, and some real gold in it, it would be a Rolex, but I would love it even more.

Tudor Black Bay Burgundy Bezel
Img: Tudor

4) Simon Brette Chronometre Artisans - Subscription edition

This is one of the most beautiful watches of the year, one of 12 so you'll likely never see one in the wild. So pretty it gets two photos. Simon Brette is a veteran having perfected his trade working for/with IWC, HYT and MB&F. And fyi that dial finishing technique is called tremblage, so now you know.


Imgs: Simon Brette


5) Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Ultra-Complication Universelle RD#4 26398BC.OO.D002CR.04

While we are in the fancy zone, how about this list, a "Grande Sonnerie Supersonnerie, Minute Repeater, Perpetual Calendar, Split-Seconds Flyback Chronograph and Flying Tourbillon come together in this ultra-complicated wristwatch". I love the brand name being on the internal bezel area, it keeps the dial uncluttered, they should have made the hands different colours for legibility though. You know I love a skeleton, and watches that cost eleventy billion pounds - price on request.


Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Ultra-Complication Universelle
Img: Audemars Piguet

6) Omega Speedmaster Super Racing.

I was going to put a Rolex in here, but then I saw this, I didn't catch this on release but I cotched it now. I'll let Omega do the spiel "This 44.25 mm Speedmaster in stainless steel is the first OMEGA timepiece to include the Spirate™ System released in 2023. It has a black sandwich dial with honeycomb pattern, featuring the racing style minute-track which gives the watch its name. Framing the dial is a black ceramic bezel ring with tachymeter scale in yellow “grand feu” enamel." So yea, I like it a lot, except the size, why Omega? Unless the lug to lug is still 49mm, but it isn't because the first middle link of the lovely bracelet effectively extends the lug to lug, which ruins it, you've ruined everything Omega, oh and it's £11k, everything...




7) Christopher Ward - The Twelve

This is my fave configuration of the lauded Twelve, glacier blue, steel integrated bracelet, and that dial is just lickable, that's right, I want to lick the dial - bet it tastes like value and success, just over £1k and you could lick your very own. Since they took the rather dull name off the dial, they can do no wrong - no offence to the several million Christopher Wards out there.


8) Longines Conquest Chronograph

They often call new, three subdial, chunky chronographs, Daytona killers and whatnot, but this for me, is easily a nicer watch. I don't like the twisty pushers on the Daytona or the essay on the dial, or the price. This is the perfect compromise at £3500, only issue is the size at 42mm, but you want a chunky sports watch I suppose, and the champagne dial is the one.

Longines Conquest Chronograph
Img: Longines

9) Sugess ST1906

Sugess have embraced their place with their new tag line 'Design | Homage | Creative' - I don't exactly know what that means, but it's all good. While you might think this is nothing special, and you'd be kinda right, this is a solid new offering of their Patek/Breitling homage which is now available with the power reserve complication (a useful one that I don't have in the collection). In this colour, a white matte sheen type situation, with pops of blue and concentric circle subdial detail, it's a winner, at £166, it's a tempting proposition and a cracker of a first mechanical watch.

Img: Sugess Watches

10) Rolex GMT-Master II, 126713GRNR

Right so there is one in the list after all, maybe Rolex didn't do anything too exciting but this year was the second time I tried on a Rolex, a bunch of Rolexes actually, the first was a Milgauss several years ago. This time around, the Sky-Dweller became my favourite Rolex, so did this GMT Master II and the 1908 was pretty nice too. As the former wasn't released this year, and the GMT sat better on my wrist, I have added this proper, bit flashy Rolex to the list, it would likely make me the victim of a robbery, but it looked great on.





Some will say a Sugess shouldn't be on the list, others will say a Rolex shouldn't, but this is my list remember, so deal with it. As for the top 3, it was pretty clear and these are, I think, three of the best watches from three of the best brands of 2023. And in first place;


WINNER - Tudor Black Bay Burgundy Bezel - M7941A1A0RU-0003

So, no surprise here for any regular readers, of my incessant ramblings, this was on my list of watches to get in 2023, and I got it, I thoroughly got bowled over by it. It brings a smile to my face when I look it, on the jubilee it's just a stunner. And it's not just me that thinks this, it's on nearly all the top watches of 2023 and I likely would have had it on the list even if I didn't buy it. It's nice to have it though, real nice indeed. The red bezel and gold detail on the indices complement each other so well, the balance of the dial is perfect, the different shapes of the hour markers and hands keep things interesting but sit harmoniously with one another. The elegant jubilee brace contrasts with the sharp machined edges of the bezel and crown, It is a masterpiece of a watch, even without a date...



RUNNER UP - TAG HEUER CARRERA SKIPPER - Automatic Chronograph - CBS2213.FN6002

I was never a Tag Heuer fan, other than the old Tag Monaco Sixty Nine, which I remember seeing 20 odd years ago and thinking it was the coolest thing ever. Their recent neo-vintage watches have always been neither here nor there, I was never drawn to the brand, even if they had a cool history with a few iconic vintage pieces. They've released a few decent ones this year but the Skipper was just an absolutely superb re-issue/imaging of the classic. It's a sporty but fun piece, with class for days, the date at 6 means it isn't obstructed by the chronograph hand, unlike the black and blue glass boxes. The pops of colour on the subdial, the hands and hour marker lume add the finishing practical touches to a superb overall package.



2ND RUNNER UP - Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Ultra-Complication Universelle RD#4 26398BC.OO.D002CR.04

I really like the Code 11.59, it comes in a bunch of colours and dial finishes, it's sophisticated and slick, a welcome change from the Royal Oak, though the bracelet on the Oak is lickable. This iteration of the Code is mesmerising, I love industrial, raw looking skeleton dials, this one is white gold and is as technical as it gets. It's my 'I love horology' watch of the year, more complications than being in a love triangle with conjoined twins. It's extravagant engineering at its finest with 40 functions and 23 complications. The twisty bits on the chrono pushers change the date and the crown is not just a crown but a super crown that does all kinds of magic (check out the website, also extravagant and very cool). It's another masterpiece.



So that's it, the beginning of the end of the year. No dress watches here, though one will definitely be in my top 3 purchases of 2023 blog post, and I think I'm doing a watch brand of the year as well if I can manage it!


Yours Complicationally,


Alvin


 










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