Our Top Watches of 2018 (So Far)
While we’re only a month into 2018, a plethora of new novelties have hit the scene. Our editors and contributors choose their top watch of 2018 thus far.
While it may be premature to declare the top watch of 2018, there are still a stunning amount of new references released. We’ll break down our selection of what we love and why.
Chronographe Monopoussoir Rattrapante by F.P.Journe (in Platinum)
We all have in mind the amazing result of the F.P. Journe at Only Watch. But make no mistake, this Chronograph Monopoussoir Rattrapante is not the same timepiece. Surely inspired by the unique piece that fetch over CHF 1 million for charity, this 44mm diameter complicated watch is a totally new reference with a new in-house caliber. I think it ads a strong sport-chic look watch to the catalogue of the brand. Three versions are available. Titanium, red gold and platinum. The last one is just amazingly beautiful and surely the one I prefer. François-Paul Journe made his loyal collectors happy another time!
Cartier Tank Cintrée
We can never emphasize it enough, but Louis Cartier literally laid the foundations for the wristwatch, thereby creating the bass for the still current stylistic trends in watchmaking. While the conspicuous rebirth of the Santos collection was the main focus of the attention, my absolute favorite of this 2018 edition of SIHH would have to be the Cartier Tank Cintrée in platinum. Combining all the intimacy of a personal item of jewelry and the function of a men’s watch, this creation, as subtle as it is refined, discreetly inherits the original spirit of Louis Cartier, and justifiably so. The curved form of the case, prolonged by the sober lines of the bracelet, lends this watch its interesting ergonomics. A word of warning: the platinum version is part of a limited edition of 100 pieces and despite its $23,500 USD price tag, there is already a long waiting list of informed connoisseurs waiting to purchase at the end of 2018.
The Tonda 1950 Galaxy by Parmigiani Fleurier
I'm whisked back to the Val de Travers, my Neuchâtel roots. A touch of nostalgic chauvinism there, perhaps? Or just the desire to point out that beyond the home-grown Geneva hallways of SIHH 2018 there unfolds a watchmaking network that extends deep into the furthermost reaches of the Jurassic arc. In the #IMetAWatch series, I fell in head over heels in love with the starry skies conjured up by the Tonda 1950 Galaxy by Parmigiani Fleurier. A pure kind of blue, that kind of midnight blue that makes your heart miss a beat, that blasts you deep into the infinity of a firmament cleansed by the pure winds of the mountains. Featuring an aventurine dial speckled with copper, rendered sublime by the experimental craftsmanship of dealmakers specializing in rose gold, a 39 mm diameter case and bracelet, a bezel sparsely decorated with diamonds. And within its heart, beating at a rate of 21,600 vibrations an hour, resisting all the efforts of city hype, is the PF702, an automatic calibre crafted by the Vaucher Manufacture.
The Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic
This year, there was a huge array of attractive watches on offer. Among all those likely to grab my attention, however, one leapt out, but not for the usual reasons: the Clifton Baumatic by Baume & Mercier. The first watch of the Maison to be fitted with a workshop-crafted calibre, the Clifton Baumatic is the product of an industrial adventure embarked upon by the Richemont group. In creating this sober, timeless reference, Richemont aimed to demonstrate its ability, thanks to the supreme talents of its engineering work pool and the ValFleurier manufacture, to produce a movement destined for series production that was at once complete and technically ahead of its time. For beyond the product itself, there is a whole design philosophy attached to this magnet-resistant, yet ironically highly attractive, piece in that it is designed to last with no special maintenance. It has an operating autonomy of 120 hours and offers above-average performances, while being affordable, so as to give everyone the chance to procure a top-quality piece of watchmaking at an accessible price.
Greubel Forsey GMT Earth
I’ll admit, this piece is probably completely out of reach for my middling budget. However, the Greubel Forsey GMT Earth is just downright cool. Instantly recognizable as a Greubel Forsey and featuring a small city encased below multiple levels of sapphire. Starting with a sapphire chapter ring that displays the time zones. There’s a rotating globe visible from the front and reverse of the watch that keeps track of time from the North to the South Pole and all points in-between. Featuring an inclined tourbillon set at 25° degrees inside a hand finished German silver cage. With an entirely new (for the brand) dead-beat seconds complication and a bevy of complications that make this one of the brand’s most complicated pieces of haute horology. Encased in a white gold 44mm case and limited to just 33 pieces worldwide. Retail price is a whopping CHF 610,000.
The Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Les Aérostiers in Red
While I haven't been writing about watches for as long as my esteemed colleagues, I have a background in jewelry manufacturing and hand engraving that dates back to 1995, which makes my choice for "Best in Show" a little more understandable.
VC always impresses with their Métiers d’Art novelties, however, this year's Les Aérostiers collection of five timepieces representing early aviation in the form of hot air ballooning occurring in France in the late 1700s, took impression (as well as plique-à-jour enameling) to an otherworldly level.
Available in five versions representing five different flights (Paris 1783, Versailles 1783, Paris 1784, Bordeaux 1784, and Bagnols 1785), the red edition celebrates a flight that took place in Bordeaux in 1784 which depicts a balloon decorated with a scene from an ancient mythological story.
Panerai Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 38mm
To narrow down my choice for top timepiece, I’ve used one criteria: which watch would I want to bring home with me? And I was surprised by my pick, the Panerai Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 38mm (PAM00755). Panerai was never on my wish list before because they were just too big for my taste. But the slimmer (11.2m thick), smaller case of the Acciaio makes the rest of the design details — the typography of the numerals, the lume, the sun ray dial — feel really balanced. It’s also got an upgraded movement, the OPXXXIV, which beats at 28,800 vph and features a silicon escape wheel and pallet fork. This mechanism was developed by Richemont and modified to suit the requirements of Panerai, so the price point comes in around $6,000. So if I’m really good with my money this year, I actually could bring this home with me.
Vacheron Constantin FIFTYSIX complete calendar with moon phase
This is a tough question as there were so many interesting watches this year. But it’s been a long time since Vacheron Constantin came out with an entirely new collection. The FIFTYSIX is the perfect blend of classicism with modern lines, a great automatic movement, useful complications and Vacheron’s high-end finishing. I’m in love with the steel version: two tones sector-type dial, crown protection within the case, côtes de Genève, circular graining, snailing, open-worked 22K gold rotor bearing the Maltese Cross. And that’s just the beginning! This is high-end horology at affordable price (at Vacheron’s level). Wow!
Lange Saxonia with blue copper dial
I may be a bit biased, and I say biased because I have owned a previous version of this watch, but my favorite of this year’s SIHH releases is the new 39mm Saxonia Thin from A. Lange & Söhne with the Blue Copper dial. The svelte case and always-perfect Lange proportions could be criticized as being too perfect or calculated, but in this guise, the Saxonia Thin’s shimmery blue dial gives the watch character. Dressed down on a brown suede strap, this year’s version of the Saxonia Thin will make a rather special daily wearer.
Voutilainen 217QRS in white gold with blue dial
Apart from being extremely elegant and perfectly sized (39mm in diameter), this watch is both classical and contemporary. On one hand, the guilloché main dial is adjusted to a German silver movement driven by an oversized balance wheel and a gold gear train. This is rather traditional and reminds me of the 1st quality chronometers from the early 1900’s.
On the other hand, the retrograde date indicator, which is adjustable by pushing the crown, returns back to the 1st of the month smoothly and that is remarkably innovative.