Many people who I respect in this industry have opined that 2019 hasn’t been a particularly exciting or fruitful year for watch releases … and I couldn’t disagree more. This, the final year of the decade, has given birth to an absolute plethora of new and innovative timepieces that have captured the imagination of many a horological enthusiast. And while I could wax lyrical for hours about said cornucopia of new releases, I’ve had to whittle down all of them and pick my five favourites. Here they are (in no particular order):
DOXA SUB 200 130th Anniversary
One of the biggest shocks of 2019, DOXA’s sublime GPHG-nominated SUB 200 caused quite the stir when it was unveiled at Baselworld, and it’s very easy to understand why. Here is a fit-for-purpose dive watch that looks great, offers a shedload of heritage, genuine water-resistant credentials and is powered by one of the most bulletproof movements in the game – the ETA 2824/2. This particular example, the limited edition 130th Anniversary, caught my eye immediately. Everything about it was just inherently right, and I adored the playful splashes of DOXA’s signature orange on the second hand and “130 Years” text emblazoned on the matt black dial.
Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLNR
Granted, this could definitely be perceived as a bit of a … basic choice, but stifle your groans for a moment and let me explain. Objectively, without taking into account all the hype and speculation around this Rolex Professional model … or any steel sports Rolex for that matter, BLNR is a brilliant timepiece. The quintessential black and blue Cerachrom bezel is iconic, 904L or “Oystersteel” feels amazing on the wrist, the build quality and robustness is enviable, the Calibre 3285 movement is a chronometer certified triumph and the Jubilee bracelet is an utter joy. It’s very difficult to explain without trying one on, and I fully appreciate the almost abject conjecture this watch conjures up, but there’s just something about having “Batgirl” attached to your wrist that is truly peerless.
Longines Heritage Classic
2019 has been a stellar year for Longines, and their Heritage collection in particular has swelled with a bevy of hot new releases. Chief among them is the stunning Heritage Classic. I’ve spoken about it previously, but this is a special timepiece, not least for the fact that I am yet to hear a single negative comment about it – it has united the watch community, not divided it. How could it not, though? Every facet of the watch is impeccably judged, whether it be the steel case’s versatile dimensions, the charming sector dial with blued steel handset or the capable Longines Calibre L893 automatic movement … this timepiece just ticks all the boxes. Oh, and it will set you back less than three grand. Need I say more?
Rado Golden Horse 1957
Another watchmaker that has been on a veritable roll in 2019, Rado, much like Longines, has had a real knack of creating affordable, desirable timepieces that offer genuine (cliché alert) bang for buck. And, also like Longines, Rado has delved deep into its extensive back catalogue of timepieces in search of inspiration. The result, among other successful models (Captain Cook Automatic) is this, the Golden Horse 1957. Resplendent with its deep black concentrically patterned dial, this is a very handsome timepiece, and the “beads of rice” style bracelet is effortlessly comfortable. Factor in a classically versatile case size of 36.5mm and ETA’s C07 movement, which serves up 80 hours of power reserve, and a price tag of just $2625AUD, and there’s a strong argument to be made that the Golden Horse 1957 is the best-value timepiece of the year.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT
Another timepiece that blew everyone away when it was first unveiled, the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT proves that the Italian jewellery manufacturer is resolutely invested in the pursuit of haute horology. Not only is this the thinnest automatic chronograph wristwatch in the world, Bulgari also saw fit to throw in a GMT complication to boot. The wondrous new movement, Calibre BVL 318, is on show for all to see thanks to a sapphire crystal case back, which allows you to fully admire the expert finishing and ingenious peripheral rotor. And because the watch and conforming tapered bracelet are hewn from titanium, it beggars belief just how light this overtly complicated watch feels on the wrist.