These future classics best capture the technology, trends, and moods of 2018.
TAG Heuer Carbon Aquaracer
The bezel is made from lightweight carbon and black PVD steel, while the cases are made of PVD-coated Grade 5 titanium. They also come with hands and markers in three different colours: yellow, blue, or rose gold. For sport watches, they definitely have an avant-garde style — but at the same time offer a competent automatic movement and water resistance up to 300 metres.
From $4,950, tagheuer.com
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Chronograph
The Royal Oak is Audemars Piguet’s flagship watch, and while the company announced many audacious versions in 2018 (Complications! Colours! New case materials!) this model, with its textured gold finish and blue tapisserie dial, manages to evolve the look of Gérald Genta’s classic 1970s design without overthinking it.
Cartier Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat
One of 2018’s biggest trends is toward thinner watches — especially with dress watches. And no watch is more elegant than the Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat in yellow gold. Its 39 mm cushion-shaped case makes it versatile enough to serve as an everyday watch, and despite its slim, 6.6 mm silhouette, it has plenty of wrist presence thanks to its brushed case finish.
Citizen Eco-Drive Professional Diver
This watch offers something very new: the world’s firstsolar-powered watch capable of saturation diving. That’s right: this hulking timepiece will work at depths of up to 1,000 metres. And while it’s large (52.5 mm large and 22.2 mm thick), the titanium case makes it relatively lightweight. And it comes with an additional strap extension that’s long enough for most divers’ wrists and suits.
Baume & Mercier Baumatic Chronometer
Affordable luxury was big news in 2018, with many watchmakers introducing new entry-level models meant to engage new collectors. But Baume & Mercier really nailed this concept with the Baumatic Chronometer — a timepiece that not only looks good, but offers innovative features such as a five-day power reserve and, thanks to components like its silicon hairspring, antimagnetic properties.
Frédérique Constant QP Tourbillon
Swiss watchmakers Frédérique Constant celebrated their 30th year in business with the introduction of the QP Tourbillon. Perhaps the best bang for your buck when it comes to a double-complication watch (tourbillon and perpetual calendar), the stainless-steel, closed-dial version represents an especially worthwhile investment piece.
Price Upon Request, frederiqueconstant.com
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Fifty-Eight
Most homage watches — timepieces inspired by vintage standouts from a brand’s archives — are usually scaled up to suit today’s taste for bigger case sizes. The Black Bay Fifty-Eight, which debuted at Baselworld 2018, is a tribute also to vintage sizing, measuring 39 mm in diameter and just 11.9 mm top to bottom. In order to fit these proportions, Tudor also had to invent a new, smaller, thinner calibre — the much-lauded MT5402.
IWC Big Pilot’s “Le Petit Prince”
Pilot’s watches are always aces. IWC issued its first in 1940. And, with its distinctive crown, military triangle at 12 o’clock, and san serif numerals, the Big Pilot is their signature model. But time stands still for no watchmaker, and the “Petit Prince” edition also features a trendy blue sunray finish dial. It happens to be the watch Bradley Cooper wears in his IWC advertising campaign — and Cooper is also having a pretty good year.
Breitling Superocean Héritage II B20 Automatic
Under new CEO Georges Kern, Breitling has been shaking up the industry by paring down its collections, unifying the look of its branding, and simply focusing on its essence. And this COSC-certified three-hander with a blue dial and Ocean Classic bracelet sums up this new direction brilliantly.
Vacheron Constantin Fiftysix Self-Winding
Inspired by a vintage Vacheron design from the mid-1950s, the Fiftysix Self-Winding ticks off all the boxes for an of-the-moment watch. Sure, its sector dial, alternating Arabic numerals, lumed baton hour-markers and hands, box crystal, and recessed crown feel sort of retro. But the case shape and size are clean and contemporary, and the Vacheron calibre 1326 automatic movement is new to the brand.
Chopard LUC All-In-One
This timepiece is massive — not just in case size (a whopping 46.0 mm x 18.5 mm) but also in horological achievement. The front tells you the time, date, day of the week, month, and leap year, and shows off a fancy tourbillon. The back displays the equation of time, power reserve, day/night cycle, sunrise and sunset, and synodic orbital moon phase. And this year, Chopard updated it with new case materials: it’s now available in 18K rose gold or platinum.
Price Upon Request, chopard.com
Mido Ocean Star Captain Automatic
Mido is a storied Swiss watchmaker (it is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2018) that for some reason flies under the radar in North America. But that just means the brand can dip into its archives and update a classic like the Ocean Star Captain Automatic and still be fresh and new, even while projecting the vintage look that’s so popular right now.
Apple Watch Series 4 Gold Stainless Steel Case with Gold Milanese Loop
While the jury’s still out on whether the Apple Watch is more wearable tech than timepiece, the redesigned Series 4 does have many appealing features for watch enthusiasts, such as a larger size and a gold-toned stainless-steel case with a narrower, curved bezel, which makes it look exceptionally smart.
Hublot Big Bang Unico Red Magic
It’s big. It’s red. It’s a Hublot. But beyond being a statement watch, the Big Bang Unico Red Magic also represents an important technological achievement: the world’s first vibrantly coloured ceramic finish — one with a scratch-resistant surface that is said to be even harder than traditional ceramics.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Geographic
Most jetsetters favour mechanical watches over smart watches because they don’t have to use up precious carry-on space packing chargers and adapters. This world time watch includes all major time zones, plus a second time zone indicator at 6 o’clock. And while there’s a lot going on in the dial, the blue finish is traditional enough that you can wear this watch from beach to boardroom.
Montblanc 1858 Automatic
Montblanc has been building on a rich horological heritage, and the evidence is in the 1858 collection, which focuses on watches designed for military use and mountain exploration. We like it because it’s not a full-on tribute piece. Just as the case and bezel are a marriage of steel and bronze (two-tone is another emerging trend), this everyday watch represents the intersection between the past and present.
Rolex GMT-Master II
This is the watch that the Internet willed into existence. Collectors have been calling for a reissue of the red-and-blue 1955 “Pepsi” bezel for ages. And when Rolex announced the 2018 edition at Baselworld in March, the watch world went wild. There are a few updates: the bezel is now made with the brand’s Cerachrom finish and the bracelet is a five-link Jubilee version instead of the original three-link Oyster style. There’s a reason it’s been one of the most talked about watches of 2018.
Panerai Luminor Marina Logo 3 Days Acciaio
The new Luminor Marina Logo collection is not only accessible price-wise; the elegant, artdeco inspired designs are also agreeable to collectors who want to wear a Panerai that’s a little more modest. But the really big news is that these watches are now equipped with an all-new in-house movement: the P.6000 with a three-day power reserve, a balance securely fixed by a twin-supported bridge, and a device that stops said balance upon the crown being pulled out.
Rado HyperChrome Ultra Light Bronze
In watches, ceramic is hot right now. Rado has long been at the forefront of this scratch-resistant technology (they introduced their first ceramic in 1986), and the HyperChrome Ultra Light Bronze represents the culmination of all of the company’s design and technological know-how. This warm finish also rides the new wave of bronze watches, except the patina of this case will never change.
Victorinox Alliance Sport Chronograph
The Alliance Sport Chronograph is a most useful tool watch, with an easy-to-read tachymeter scale and a sensible dial display. It also features an anti-reflection sapphire crystal, screw-in and see-through case back, and a self-winding movement. Which is a whole lot of watch for not a whole lot of money.