D.C.’s top five releases from Watches & Wonders 2023 D.C.’s top five releases from Watches & Wonders 2023

D.C.’s top five releases from Watches & Wonders 2023

D.C. Hannay

Now that the smoke has cleared, and I’ve had a moment to wrap my head around the enormity of Watches & Wonders 2023, I’ve nailed down a list of my favourites from the show. Yes, I realise my taste can be quirky, and you won’t find anything overtly dressy, blingy, or haute horology-leaning in my shortlist. If anything, it betrays my propensity for tool watches with classic styling cues, my weakness for the odd leftfield detail, and maybe just the slightest hint of bling, as you’ll soon see.

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 Titanium

For a lot of fans, the rumoured rebirth of the Ingenieur was what they were waiting for at this year’s fair (myself included), and IWC nailed the look and aesthetic of the original Gerald Genta-designed 1832 “Jumbo”, with some modern updates. To wit: the bezel screws are now functional, and sit in perfect alignment. Additionally, the transition from the case to the H-link bracelet has been improved, with a newly redesigned centre link that provides a better fit without the awkward protrusion of the original. Power reserve from the 32111 movement is a rather astonishing 5 days, or 120 hours, and the grid-patterned dial comes in a bold aqua dial in addition to the more sober black or silver variants.

But the killer app for me is the availability of the Ingenieur in full titanium case and bracelet. At first, you can’t connect the visual weight of the watch with its actual weight, such is the disorienting feel of titanium. It’s a completely different experience, but for me, it nails the mission of a forward-thinking technical timepiece, one that’s strong, lightweight, sculptured, and resistant to magnetism. It’s a watch that still looks futuristic some 47 years after Genta’s original design was launched.

Brand IWC
Model Ingenieur Automatic 40
Reference Number Ref. IW328904
Case Dimensions 40mm (D) x 10.8mm (T) x 45.7mm (L2L)
Case Material Grade 5 titanium
Water Resistance 100 metres
Dial Grey grid patterned
Crystal(s) Sapphire
Bracelet Titanium
Movement IWC-manufactured automatic calibre 32111
Power Reserve 120 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Availability Now
Price AU$21,700 

Tudor Black Bay GMT

Tudor’s Black Bay lineup continues to go from strength to strength, with a newly refreshed standard Black Bay that sports a trimmer case, METAS-certified movement, and the classic burgundy bezel. Then there’s the Black Bay 54, a 37mm stunner that’s the closest thing that you can buy that replicates all those “James Bond Sub” feels. But the most striking new Tudor is the opaline-dialled Black Bay GMT, the so-called “Polar Pepsi”.

Who knew the BB GMT could look so radically different from something as simple as a dial change? Don’t get me wrong, the original black-dialled version is a nice watch, but something about the new silvery-white version just plays so well with the red/blue bezel. It radiates a breezy optimism that I associate with holiday travel, and reminds you that you’ve departed that time zone where all your worry and care has hopefully remained. Yes, the BB GMT is one of the bulkier Black Bay models, but if you’re accustomed to wearing an over-40mm sports watch, it likely won’t bother you one bit. It’s a confident, competent, and capable travel watch that appears much less serious than the original, and I’m all for anything that makes me smile so easily.

Brand Tudor
Model Black Bay GMT
Case Dimensions 41mm x 50.2mm x 14.5mm
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 200m
Crystal(s) Sapphire
Dial White
Lug Width 22mm
Strap Riveted bracelet
Movement Tudor MT5652
Power Reserve 70 hours
Availability Available now
Price AU$6,090

Zenith Defy Revival Shadow

Zenith always does things a bit differently, which I appreciate, and they’ve done it for a long time. That’s especially true of a watch with the visual shock and awe of the original 1969 Defy, a watch with the razor-sharp lines of a time-telling shuriken. Fast forward to last year, when Zenith relaunched it as the Defy Revival, making a splash while still looking as retro-futuristic as ever. That smoky fumé brown version (and the red and turquoise dials that followed) revelled in their swinging style, but Zenith threw a major curveball this year, and I really didn’t see it coming.

The Defy Revival Shadow keeps the basic architecture of the previous models, but wraps the whole package in a stealth fighter-worthy microblasted titanium finish. Not quite black, the finish is a result of the blasting technique itself, rather than a coating, and has also been used on the Chronomaster Revival Shadow and T+T’s own Night Surfer edition. This is some spy-level gear, and the titanium case and ladder bracelet keep things properly light. Being a Zenith, of course you’re treated to a great-looking and performing movement, the Elite 670, complete with a blacked-out ninja star of a rotor. The whole affair is elegantly dangerous, a sculptural beauty served up with a hint of menace.

Brand Zenith
Model Defy Revival Shadow
Case Dimensions 37mm (D) x 13.6mm (T) x 44mm (L to L)
Case Material Microblasted titanium
Water Resistance 300m
Dial Black
Crystal(s) Sapphire
Bracelet/Strap Microblasted titanium
Movement Elite 670 automatic
Power Reserve 50 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Availability Now
Price CHF 7,400

TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph

I can go a little glassy-eyed when faced with much of the watch world’s modern output, but not this one. With the new “Glassbox” Carrera Chronograph, TAG Heuer has bullseyed the formula for the perfect cocktail of classic and contemporary. Let me count the ways: great size, vintage case contours, a legit column wheel chrono movement, and that striking domed sapphire crystal. It’s one of those things that looks retro, but never actually existed, and for that, I love it. It’s in your face, extending all the way to the very limits of the dial and flanged tachymetre scale, distorting and/or emphasising the details almost like vintage acrylic.

And what a dial: a throwback reverse panda in black with silver snailed subdials, and the date at 12? The whole thing is God-tier in my book. Despite its striking appearance, no detail seems forced, not even the aged lume or the perforated black leather strap. It’s a time machine from an alternate universe.

Brand TAG Heuer
Model Carrera Chronograph Glassbox 39mm
Reference Number CBS2210.FC6534
Case Dimensions 39mm (D)
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 100 metres
Dial Circularly brushed black
Crystal(s) Box-domed sapphire front and sapphire caseback
Strap Black calfskin with stainless steel clasp
Movement TH20-00, automatic column wheel chronograph
Power Reserve 80 hours
Functions Chronograph, hours, minutes, running seconds, date
Availability April 2023
Price AU$9,350

Chanel J12 Black/Gold

If you ask the typical watch collector, a timepiece from fashion house Chanel is not even a blip on their radar. And that’s a real shame, because The House That Coco Built is doing some great things with their watches. They’ve got real horological street cred these days with some truly audacious releases, including the X-Ray limited editions, those crazy all-sapphire hard candies priced at “upon request” dollars.

Then there’s the decadent Eclipse boxed set of seven black and white-jewelled J12 watches, a major flex if ever there were one. And I can’t help but love the knowing wink of the J12 Cybernetic, with its “pixelated” crown-side case detail.

My favourite is much less ambitious, but I find it devastatingly attractive, an atypical touch of glam hiding in my wishlist. It’s the sinuous gold-on-black standard 38mm J12 dive-style watch, a unisex stunner that almost anyone can wear. The J12 was first introduced in 1999, and it’s been an evergreen classic since. Available in either white or black ceramic, this version replaces the standard steel dial and bezel detailing with yellow gold. A similar ETA-powered version was previously available, but this is the first time it’s been offered with the in-house COSC-certified Calibre 12.1 movement, borne of Chanel’s partnership with Kenissi Manufacture.

It’s Mario Andretti’s legendary John Player Special Lotus F1 car in watch form. Or in my case, more like Burt Reynolds’ 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am from Smokey and the Bandit. Regardless, the slick black ceramic and just-enough gold detailing is a timeless combination that simply does it for me. It’s a winner in my eyes, a paean to ’70s style, and it’s a pity that more conservative types don’t give it a second glance. Ah well, more black and gold for the rest of us.

Brand Chanel
Model J12 Calibre 12.1
Case Dimensions 38mm (D) x 12.6mm (T) x 46.6mm (L to L)
Case Material Ceramic and 18k gold
Water Resistance 200m
Crystal(s) Sapphire
Dial Black or white
Strap Ceramic bracelet
Movement Calibre 12.1
Power Reserve 70 hours
Availability Will be available from Chanel’s website and authorised retailers.
Price TBA