Best of 2018
As the year draws to a close, it’s time to look back at the watches that have stood out from the crowd. The full breadth of styles and prices is represented, as Chris Hall picks his favourites
1 TUDOR BLACK BAY GMT
One of the major trends of the year has been watches equipped to keep time in two time zones at once, and this being Business
Traveller it seemed only fitting to highlight the design that best meets a globe-trotter’s needs. The Black Bay GMT looks great – especially on the brown leather strap – and is a cinch to operate; the large red diamondtipped hand indicates the time at home on the 24-hour scale around the bezel. To make it, Tudor borrowed the key parts from Rolex’s outgoing GMT movement, so you know the mechanics are foolproof. Best of all, like all Black Bay models, it isn’t outrageously priced – yours for less than the price of a business-class flight. From $3,106.
2 FARER SEGRAVE CHRONOGRAPH
My best-value pick comes from a British brand cutting out such costly encumbrances as retail premises or brand ambassadors. Come on Switzerland – you can do it! But even on its own merits, Farer’s Segrave wins out: an ETA chronograph with characterful design for $2,167 is a no-brainer.
3 PATEK PHILIPPE 5270P
We all have the same dream, only the details change. If you should suddenly become a millionaire, reward yourself with an ageless beauty from Patek Philippe – a perpetual calendar chronograph in platinum with “salmon” dial, for $185,377. It’s so tasteful people will assume you’re old money.
4 GREUBEL FORSEY DIFFÉRENTIEL D’ÉGALITÉ
Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey are perfectionists among perfectionists; their
workshop produces around 100 watches a year and each one is a perfect demonstration of their aim to take mechanical timekeeping as far as it can possibly go, all executed with a level of hand-finishing that is unsurpassed. The Différentiel d’Égalité employs something called a remontoire spring, together with a differential gearing to ensure extremely smooth delivery of the watch’s power to the escapement, which is angled through 30 degrees for greater stability and revealed by the opening that crosses the lower left third of the dial. It’s a mechanical masterpiece ten years in development, albeit one most owners won’t even notice at work, let alone fully examine – and the bits you can’t see are polished just as finely as the ones you can. Nothing sums up the charms of high-end watchmaking better than that. Around $258,861.
5 ROLEX DEEPSEA
Nothing could fill me with more dread than the idea of descending 3,900m below the waves, so I find the idea of this watch being up to the task awesome – in the original sense. Rolex has beefed up the case, bracelet and clasp and upgraded the movement: the tough just got tougher. Priced $12,557.
6 BAUME & MERCIER CLIFTON BAUMATIC
Intricate movements and superstar designs may dominate here, but sometimes you just want a watch that’ll do a great job without fuss. Anti-magnetic elements, a five-day power reserve and good daily accuracy make the Clifton Baumatic the ideal Monday-to-Friday watch. From $2,977.
7 NOMOS GLASHUTTE AUTOBAHN NEOMATIK
To make a “motoring watch” is nothing special, but to make one that eschews racecar touchpoints like punched-leather straps, tyre-print rubber, red-and-black instrument dials and, shudder, carbon fibre, now that’s more interesting. There are echoes of the German motorway and a nod to dashboard design but, at all times, the need to make a beautiful watch has come first. There’s great texture in the concave dial and raised luminous segments, and a sporty simplicity to the single-piece case. Most of all I like the overall sense of lightness that comes from the sparse typography and commitment to white space – it’s a design that never fails to put a smile on my face. Around $4,919.
8 BAMFORD ZENITH CHRONOGRAPH
Watch geeks know Zenith’s pedigree is impeccable, and that George Bamford is flavour of the month for collaborative designs that lace established models with hipsterish designs. What’s unexpected is for his work to be so far ahead of Zenith’s own ideas; while it searches for its missing mojo, Bamford has it in spades. Priced $7,897.
9 ORIS CARL BRASHEAR BRONZE CHRONOGRAPH
Nothing says “I bought my watch in 2018” like a bronze-cased retro-inspired chronograph with a blue dial and a subtly textured leather strap. Luckily, this Oris is more than a box-ticking exercise, it’s a cohesive and compelling overall package that’s also well-priced at $4,660.
10 GLASHUTTE ORIGINAL SIXTIES
Glashutte Original spends most of its time cleaving to classical ideals of German watchmaking, but it’s at its best when channelling the raw, esoteric creativity of the GDR years. It’s cleaner and simpler without the date window interrupting that fantastic rich dial. Priced $6,473.
11 BULGARI OCTO FINISSIMO ROSE GOLD
Sure, the power of an all-gold watch as a status symbol is nothing new – and not always associated with good taste and refinement. Bulgari changes that by giving
the Octo Finissimo a sandblasted finish that dials down the harsh gleam of gold to a warm, powerful glow. Priced $48,806.
12 AUDEMARS PIGUET ROYAL OAK PERPETUAL CALENDAR
This was tough – I’ve seen more than 200 new watches up close this year, and many more that have impressed from afar. So to pick one that was released at the start of the year feels bold – was it really better than everything that came after? Well, in engineering the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar to be thinner than most standard watches ( just 6.3mm) Audemars Piguet pulled off an enormous technical feat. Typically, that kind of achievement does not go hand-in-hand with flawless design, but it’s an aesthetic triumph as well as a mechanical one. Which makes it my watch of the year. Price on application.