2019 was a particularly good year for timepieces. Some of our favourite brands released game-changing new designs and complications, some reached deep into their archives to pull out fresh versions of cherished (and highly sought after) classics, while still other fresh designs announced bold new players in the space. There were many more notable watches than could ever possibly fit on a best-of list like this one. Still, these are the pieces that stood out for us most of all — and that have us excited for another year of watch releases soon to come.
Read Part Two of our list for even more of our favourites.
Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955
Named for its unusual lugs resembling cow’s horns, this is a faithful reproduction of a 1950s piece that was Vacheron Constantin’s first water-resistant chronograph. In a nod to modern tastes, it’s slightly larger than the original at 38.5 mm, and comes equipped with a patinated calfskin strap made by revered Milanese leather brand Maison Serapian.
Rolex GMT-MASTER II
Purists might argue that there’s nothing that can improve a “Pepsi bezel” GMT, but at least one Gotham City resident would disagree. The newest GMT-Master II — unofficially dubbed the “Batman” — may not have any stated connection to the Dark Knight, but it seems designed
to look right at home behind the wheel of a matte black Lamborghini nonetheless.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition “The Longest Flight”
When two pilots set out to circumnavigate the globe in a WWII-era Spitfire fighter plane last summer, this was the watch they took with them. In honour of that historic voyage IWC released this limited-edition of its Timezoner Chronograph. With a rotating bezel showing the current time in any of the world’s 24 time zones, it’s useful at any altitude.
Patek Philippe 5520 P-001
Patek Philippe has a reputation for being the best in the game, and this is a great example of why. Housed in a polished platinum case, this mechanical marvel features a “grand complication” that combines Patek’s dual time zone Travel Time system with a 24-hour alarm mechanism featuring a hammer that strikes on a tiny gong. Go ahead, say you don’t want one.
$280,100 at Humbertown Jewellers
Zenith Defy El Primero Double Tourbillon
Zenith made one of the first automatic chronographs, and that tradition of innovation continues with incredible machines like this. Not one but two tourbillons ensure the accuracy of this Defy El Primero’s chronograph down to 1/100th of a second, with the second hand making a full sweep of the dial sixty times per minute. The best part? You can watch watch it all happen through the skeletonized dial.
Panerai Submersible Carbotech 47MM PAM01616
Given that Panerai’s model lineup contains just three basic styles of dive watch, the amount of variety they are able to offer is genuinely impressive. This new Submersible’s matte black look comes courtesy of Carbotech, a proprietary material made out of thin sheets of carbon fibre compressed under high pressure. It’s the same, but totally different.
Mido Ocean Star Tribute Special Edition
Revised to mark the 75th anniversary of their first Ocean Star model and sporting a Swiss automatic movement, it hits all the right notes of midcentury dive watch design.
Seiko Prospex LX SNR033
Designed in collaboration with Ken Okuyama — the famed designer of the Ferrari Enzo — this GMT edition sports a 5R Spring Drive movement that Seiko tested in space.
This new “horological smart watch” ensures you don’t have to choose between analog and smart watch. Once connected to your phone, the ALPINERX will collect data on not just your physical activity, but also your GPS coordinates, your sleep patterns and much more. Knowledge is power.
Hublot Big Bang MP-11
Undeterred by the impossibility of creating a watch case out of solid green sapphire crystal, Hublot has gone and created the new limited edition Big Bang MP-11 with a case made from SAXEM, a combination of sapphire aluminum oxide and rare earth minerals like thulium and holmium.
Norqain Adventure Sport Chrono Auto #nosnownoshow
Backcountry skiing enthusiasts will appreciate the passive transponder embedded in this watch’s RECCO reflector strap. Using a tiny antenna and diode, it can identify your position to emergency rescue crews.
Tudor Black Bay Bronze
The newest member of Tudor’s Black Bay family may be its most eye-catching yet. With a bronze bezel, a slate grey dial, “snowflake” hands and a TUDOR Manufacture Calibre MT5601 movement inside, this watch gives fans of retro-inspired dive watches yet another tantalizing option to add to their wish list.