This might come as a surprise to you, but the luxury watch industry is a well-oiled, smoothly running hype machine. Every year at the two big fairs of SIHH and Baselworld, watch brands release numerous new watches. Some completely new, some only new variations. But, invariably, a small fraction of these watches dominate the conversation. And that’s no accident, as many brands invest much of their considerable marketing clout into a few heavy-hitting models that (they hope) will be total knockouts. That doesn’t mean there aren’t diamonds in the rest of the catalogue. Here are seven truly excellent watches that snuck under the radar … until now.
The Omega Aqua Terra Master Chronometer
Overshadowed by the epic trilogy boxed set, the trusty Aqua Terra received some slight but significant upgrades this year, resulting in a seriously strong contender for best all-rounder of 2017.
The Rolex Datejust 41
The other contender for Miss Versatility 2017 is that perennial favourite the Rolex Datejust, released this year in a steel 41mm model. Upgraded size and upgraded specs give a new lease of life to this timeless classic.
The Tudor Black Bay Steel
The Black Bay is pretty established by now, but this year Tudor still managed to surprise us, adding chronographs and two-tone to the family. And while these high bling, complicated models stole the limelight, we think this simple, steel-bezelled alternative offers a completely fresh look on the retro diver.
The Seiko Prospex SBP051
Seiko fans (or is that fanatics) gushed hard over the oh-so-authentic 62MAS re-edition, the SLA017. But we think the more accessible, less limited SBP051 might be the real hero here …
The Cartier Drive de Cartier Moon Phases
This Cartier is a classic example of how a small change can have a big impact: in this case the addition of a moon phase complication. It takes the already sexy Drive to the next level. Any other year this would be the star of the show, but Cartier chose to release the nigh-on perfect Drive Extra Flat as well …
The Girard-Perregaux WW.TC
Girard-Perregaux gave a strong showing this year, based mostly on their sporty Laureato collection. Which is why you might have missed this neatly redesigned steel WW.TC.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Moon
Most of the ink shed over JLC this year concerned their excellent retro-esque Master Control series. Meaning this smart steel Reverso Tribute Moon went largely unremarked, which is a real shame, as she’s a stunner.