While there are some enthusiasts out there who feel as though the vast majority of new watches released at this year’s Baselworld and SIHH were a bit … safe, there were still some real stunners unveiled from legacy outfits like Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet.
And, because the collective products of these three aforementioned watchmakers are arguably the most desirable in the horological hemisphere right now, they’re particularly hard to actually get a hand on.
So, chances are you’re not going to be able to walk into your local AD and pick up one of these wrist-worn rock stars, but here are five of the hottest and hardest watches to purchase in 2019:
Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLNR
While it might have come as a surprise to some, being released so soon after its predecessor was discontinued, the new GMT-Master II ref. 126710BLNR “Batman” or, as it’s being referred to by some, “Batgirl”, caused quite the stir when it was revealed at Baselworld 2019. The black and blue GMT now features Rolex’s latest Calibre 3285 movement and, in keeping with the other steel GMT Rolex currently offers, the “Pepsi”, ditches the Oyster bracelet in favour of the prodigious Jubilee bracelet. And just like its red and blue sibling, the “Batgirl” is not only nigh on impossible to purchase from a Rolex authorised dealer, it’s commanding more than double its Australian RRP on the secondhand market.
Rolex Yacht-Master 42 226659
One of the real provocateurs of this year’s Baselworld, the new Rolex Yacht-Master 42 ref. 226659 caught many of us by surprise. However, once the initial shock had worn off, it was soon replaced by a general bemoaning consensus of “why couldn’t they have made it in steel?” Yes, just like they had done back in 2014 with the then new “Pepsi” ref. 116719BLRO, Rolex has released a highly desirable watch in 18k white gold rather than steel. As a result, the Oysterflex-equipped Yacht-Master 42 commands a pretty serious price, retailing for $36,950 AUD. But that doesn’t matter too much, as the popularity of the watch means that it’s a very hard watch to get a hold of anyway.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5168G
Another showstopper from Baselworld 2019, the Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5168G quickly garnered the nickname “The Grenade”, and it’s pretty easy to understand why. And, like the aforementioned Yacht-Master, the new “Jumbo” Aquanaut’s 42mm case is made of solid 18k white gold. Resplendent with its khaki green dial and matching rubber bracelet, the new Aquanaut comes equipped with Patek’s self-winding Caliber 324 S C, sapphire crystal caseback and is water resistant to 120 metres. It is also rarer than hen’s teeth, not least for the fact that despite the Aquanaut and Nautilus being Patek’s most sought-after models, they are actually made in relatively limited numbers compared to the rest of the collections the Swiss watchmaker creates.
Patek Philippe Nautilus 5726/1A
If there’s one thing for certain in the watch world right now, it’s that the chance of you being able to walk into a Patek Philippe authorised dealer tomorrow and pick up any steel Nautilus model is comparable to winning the lottery, in an almost literal sense. Demand for the Gérald Genta-designed timepiece is just that rampant, and the aftermarket prices these watches command is unthinkable. This steel Patek Philippe Nautilus 5726/1A, also unveiled at Baselworld 2019 and replete with annual calendar and moon phase complication, is almost certainly one of the hardest watches on the planet to get a hold of, and we can fully understand why.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin
Arguably the hottest watch to be released at this year’s SIHH, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin is not only drop-dead gorgeous, it is bona fide wristwatch unobtainium. Stemming from a Royal Oak salmon-dial history that dates back to 1992, the new Jumbo, ref. 15202BC, is finished in a solid 18k white gold case and conforming bracelet. It is also probably the scarcest watch in this list, thanks to the Extra-Thin being a boutique special for Audemars Piguet, with production limited to just 75 pieces in total. I don’t know about you, but this watch may well be one of my all-time grail pieces.