Looking Back: The team’s favourite Watches & Wonders 2023 releases Looking Back: The team’s favourite Watches & Wonders 2023 releases

Looking Back: The team’s favourite Watches & Wonders 2023 releases


Editor’s note: Watches & Wonders Geneva 2024 is only two weeks away, the Super Bowl-level event for watch novelties in which over 40 brands will present their new creations. So, ahead of the avalanche of new releases to come, we wanted to look back at some of our favourites from last year – in particular D.C. and Borna who wrote up their favourites immediately after the close of the fair. For the 2023 team on the ground’s selects, we have embedded our Kiss, Marry, Kill Watches & Wonders 2023 Edition video below as well.

D.C.’s picks

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.

IWC Ingenieur 40 Titanium 5 e1688526474356

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 (LTL)
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 A$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 A$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.

Zenith Defy Revival Shadow

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 Now
Price A$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


Borna’s picks

Rolex Perpetual 1908 with a white dial in yellow gold

To anyone who knows me, and to the even fewer that care, the inclusion of a modern Rolex in any “favourites” list of mine is a big deal, and the Perpetual 1908 seems like it’s going to be a big deal for Rolex as well. The crown phased out the tired Cellini line in favour of a brand new line, which has its sights set on the entry-level offerings from the members of the Holy Trinity and its satellites. Its inspirations are vintage, going back to the very first watch fitted with a rotor, the design itself dating back to Oyster Perpetual models from 1931.

My favourite iteration of the 1908 is the white dial in a yellow gold case – coincidentally the most faithful to its vintage origins. 39mm in size and with short lugs, it’s compact on-wrist, though I would certainly opt for a 36mm variant should it become available. The movement is also impressive, and a departure from Rolex’s regular scheduling, though still finished with plenty of machine help.

Brand Rolex
Model Perpetual 1908
Reference Number 52508
Case Dimensions 39mm (D) x 9.5mm (T)
Case Material 18k yellow gold or white gold
Water Resistance 50 metres
Dial Matte white or black
Crystal(s) Sapphire crystal front and back
Strap Black or brown alligator leather
Lug Width 20mm
Movement Calibre 7140
Power Reserve 66 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, small seconds
Availability Now
Price A$31,100 (yellow gold)
A$32,850 (white gold)

Grand Seiko SBGY026 Hana-ikada

Where Rolex took a turn from their usual scheduling, Grand Seiko doubled-down with the Hana-ikada. The cherry blossom-inspired dial is my favourite the brand has ever made, and I’ve been considering splurging on the SBGA413 Shunbun for ages – a watch that another T+T colleague already fell victim to. While the Shunbun sports a chunky 40mm x 12.8mm 62GS case, the Hana-ikada’s 18k rose gold elegance case shrinks to 38.5mm in diameter and 10.2mm in height – a perfect pairing for the rosy dial.

On the reverse side, a flat sapphire crystal caseback reveals the manually wound 9R31 calibre – and good heavens is it pretty. Countersunk and blued screws, chatons, and inky blue-filled engravings, it’s a thing of beauty even though most of it is covered up.

Brand Grand Seiko
Model Elegance Spring Drive “Hana-ikada”
Reference Number SBGY026
Case Dimensions 38.5mm (D) x 10.2mm (T) x 43.7mm (LTL)
Case Material 18k rose gold
Water Resistance 30 metres
Dial Textured pink
Crystal(s) Double-domed sapphire front, sapphire back
Strap Crocodile leather with three-fold clasp
Lug Width 19mm
Movement 9R31 calibre, in-house, Spring Drive, manual winding
Power Reserve 72 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds
Availability Limited to 100 pieces
Price A$37,950

TAG Heuer Carrera Date 36mm in pink

Even though it only occupies the third spot on this list, the pink Carrera Date 36mm may as well be first, as the A$30k+ price tags of the first two entrants land them squarely in the kidney-for-sale category. With the new Carrera Date, it’s mostly a story of refinements, even though the new dial colours are much bolder than anything the previous Three Hands collection had to offer.

What impressed me most is the fit and feel of the watch, and particularly the pink variant. The subtle curvature of the sunray brushing of the dial to create a snailing effect is just lovely, and so is the 36mm Carrera case that was slimmed down to just 10mm.

The movement got an upgrade, too – and yes, I hear you say “bUt IT’s jUsT An ETA”. While I’d certainly love to see TAG Heuer invest into their in-house/manufacture movement department owing to their work with Kenissi and AMT, the specs of the 2892, as well as its slimness, are well-suited for this watch, at this price point.

Brand TAG Heuer
Model Carrera Date 36mm
Reference Numbers WBN2313.BA0001
Case Dimensions 36mm (D) x 10mm (T) x 41.6mm (LTL)
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 100 metres
Dial Snailed sunburst pink
Crystal(s) Sapphire front and back
Strap Stainless steel H-link bracelet with folding clasp
Movement Calibre 7, ETA 2892 base
Power Reserve 56 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Availability Now
Price A$4,600

Cartier Privé Tank Normale in platinum with a platinum bracelet

Back we go to our regularly scheduled unaffordable content. If anything epitomises the apparent TikTok stealth wealth trend that I’m being informed is hot right now, it’s gotta be Cartier’s Privé Tank Normale in platinum with the matching bracelet. Few watches are so damn cool that wearing them would give you just a sliver of what it must feel like to be John Goldberger, as you’ll inevitably have to battle the feeling of your wrist attire screaming trust fund kid. These are all good things, I promise. Shame it’s limited to 100 pieces, though.

Brand Cartier
Model Privé Tank Normale
Case Dimensions 25.7mm (D) x 6.85mm (T) x 32.6mm (LTL)
Case Material Platinum
Water Resistance 30m
Dial Brushed silver
Crystal Sapphire crystal
Bracelet Platinum bracelet
Movement Manually wound Calibre 070
Power Reserve 38 hours
Functions Hours, minutes
Availability 100-piece limited edition
Price US$53,500

Chopard L.U.C 1860 re-issue

Last, but not least, it’s the result of Chopard’s long and impressive history, as well as a sign that the L.U.C line might be heading in the right direction. The L.U.C 1860 sports a 36.5mm diameter case that’s wonderfully slim at only 8.2mm, thanks to the 96.40-L micro-rotor movement that powers it. It brings subtle improvements to an award-winning design from the late nineties, cleaning it up via the exclusion of a date window and a more distinct case shape. With many L.U.C releases in the past, there were small things that kept them from being truly great in my eyes, whether that was the size, choice of indices or other tiny thing I can nitpick. The new 1860, however, I find difficult to fault, except for the fact that one is not in my watch box already.

Brand Chopard
Model L.U.C 1860
Case Dimensions 36.5mm x 8.2mm
Case Material Lucent steel
Water Resistance 30m
Crystal(s) Sapphire
Dial Salmon-toned gold
Strap Anthracite calfskin
Movement L.U.C 96.40-L
Power Reserve 65 hours
Availability Available now
Price US$23,200