Watchonista Staff Picks: Our Favorite Watches of 2023

Watchonista Staff Picks: Our Favorite Watches of 2023

Before we celebrate the start of 2024, we wanted to highlight our staff’s favorite watches of 2023.

By Elena Fichtel
Deputy Managing Editor

As many of my colleagues note during the discussions about their selections, 2023 offered up a veritable smorgasbord of enticing new watches. Unusually so, in fact.

Yet, despite this, it seems that, for each of us (me included), coming to a decision about our “favorite watch of 2023” was much less fraught than in previous years. Curiouser and curiouser!

So, without further ado, let’s jump right into Watchonista’s favorite watches of 2023.

My Pick

Seeing as this was the first year I attended Watches & Wonders, I thought that, for sure, I would choose something from that show. But in a surprising twist, my favorite watch of 2023 is, hands down, the Longines Legend Diver.

Officially released in mid-November, I got the chance to test drive this 39mm beauty inspired by the original 1959 model for a few weeks in October. And to say that I enjoyed the experience would be a gross understatement. For starters, the new Legend Diver’s visually pleasing and utterly classy (and classic) dial design, with its elongated indices and rhodium-plated, polished arrow-shaped hands, cannot be overstated.

However, where Longines really outdid itself was in the realm of comfort because, despite being made from heavy stainless steel and having two crowns, the Legend Diver all but disappeared on my wrist. Perhaps this was due to the shape of the lugs or the design of the bracelet, but for whatever reason, once on the wrist, it felt as light as titanium.

By Mike Espindle
Executive Editor

I had really, really hoped to select a favorite watch for 2023 that was a bit off-piste of my well-known predilection for chunky sport watches. But, alas, as I looked back, I kept returning to this Alpina Alpiner Extreme Regulator Automatic on a steel bracelet.

Regulators (which tally hours, minutes, and seconds with their own dedicated hands and dial surfaces) are probably more associated with pocket watches. As such, they often get treated in an overly precious manner on a wristwatch. But that is not the case here.

By encasing the regulator function in a steel 41 x 45mm case, brushed H-link bracelet, and cool textured blue/grey dial, Alpina has created a watch collecting rarity in what I like to call a “bar” watch format. It’ll serve as a conversation starter for anyone along the rail interested in atypical timekeeping, and it’ll leave a mark on the other guy in the event of a cocktail altercation, as well.

By Marco Gabella
Chairman & Executive Publisher

Across the board, 2023 has been one of the richest years for watch releases in almost all categories (i.e., sports watches, dress watches, jewelry pieces, etc.). As a result, I thought choosing a single piece to declare my favorite would be difficult. But, quite unexpectedly, a specific watch immediately popped into my mind: the Louis Vuitton Tambour Automatic 40mm.

First, the integrated strap is very well-conceived, meaning the watch is extremely comfortable on the wrist. Meanwhile, its design seems to maximize your ability to appreciate the subtle beauty of the case and dial construction. Plus, by using Louis Vuitton’s iconic “LV” logo in its bridge architecture, the new Tambour offers a singular look via the caseback.

As unique as it is immediately recognizable, the 2023 Tambour Automatic 40mm sets a new long-term standard of quality in fine watchmaking for the brand by exploring a new universe of aesthetics that has resulted in a design as strong as it is iconoclastic to the brand’s own identity.

By Rhonda Riche

I’ve been anticipating this assignment for a while. Usually, choosing a piece involves a lot of handwringing. However, when TAG Heuer brought back the Skipper in July under the Carrera banner, I pretty much lost my mind.

The bezel-less “glassbox” interpretation of the Carrera collection was already a brilliant innovation for TAG Heuer. When they brought back the Skipper back under the Carrera banner, I pretty much lost my mind.

It’s an emotional choice, but this is the watch for me because I love the sea, and its combination of blue, teal, sea foam, and orange color on the dial seems scientifically arranged to make one feel happier (not to mention the Skipper’s storied history is practically a siren song for history nerds).

Finally, its bezel-less “glassbox” construction was the icing on the cake because it allows for more of this glorious dial to be displayed.

By Steven Rogers

My 2023 pick is not so much a watch as a watchmaker: the one-man, Geneva-based brand Oligo that was founded last year by former Christie’s, Apple, and Vacheron Constantin employee Olivier Gaud.

I discovered Oligo at Geneva’s Time to Watches fair, and its timepieces really stood out for me because of their ultra-minimalist display featuring “floating” hands with no apparent connection to the dial center. The clever feat is managed by depositing chrome on a pair of coaxial sapphire discs.

Moreover, Oligo’s pared-down dial design is complemented by an equally sober case whose pure lines flow freely thanks to a lugless design. Meanwhile, Oligo’s ethos is to use local suppliers and sustainable materials, including recycled stainless steel for the 41mm case and vegan eco-suede for the slim 18mm strap.

But my favorite Oligo has to be the more recent FM01 because its face is all about sleek modernity, with a 12-point geometric pattern adorning a glossy, Zapon-treated dial.

Turn the watch over, and you can ogle at the more classical-looking, manual-winding Fleury manufacture-made movement inside, whose curvaceous, finely-finished bridges are made from a zinc alloy upcycled from the electrical industry.

By Barbara Palumbo

As October came to a close, I knew that, inevitably, I’d have to select my favorite watch of 2023. But with all the wonderfully complicated and beautiful releases this year, I knew my selection could not be made lightly. Then, November rolled around, and I found myself at Dubai Watch Weekand it there was. Game over. My choice became clear: the MB&F HM11 Architect.

With this piece, MB&F has surpassed any expectation I might have had for a new end-of-year novelty from the independent brand. Not only is it a visual throwback and architectural masterpiece comprising four equally laid out “rooms,” but it is also a mechanical marvel, with each of said rooms offering four different complications: traditional hours and minutes, a power reserve indicator, a thermometer, and finally, a room for setting the time in the form of an oversized crown. To wind the watch to its full four days of power, the wearer just needs to rotate the case on its base.

Nothing even came close because the HM11 Architect is the quirkiest and most beautiful fidget spinner someone could ever dream of owning. A dream that once again began within the quirky and beautiful mind of the one and only Max Büsser.

By Ash Longet
PR & Business Development

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 24 Hours of Le Mans for the 100-anniversary of the race? My absolute favorite watch of 2023. It’s not just wrist candy; it’s wrist royalty, and let me tell you, Rolex has cracked the code to make it the ultimate eye-catcher.

It’s giving off major Paul Newman retro vibes with its reverse-panda dial, crafted in a sleek 18-karat white gold case. Plus, it’s powered by the latest race-ready calibre 4132 movement, which features a Chronergy escapement, Paraflex shock absorbers, bridges decorated with Rolex Côtes de Genève, and a Superlative Chronometer (Rolex + COSC) certification.

This bad boy can count a full twenty-four hours, a slick nod to the race’s intensity. Indeed, it’s all about the new Daytona 24 Hours of Le Mans. Truly, Rolex is playing in a league of its own, and this timepiece is its MVP.

By Nicole Jarvis
Community Manager & Commercial

In September, Cartier released this slender-man version of a classic: the Les Rééditions Tank Cintrée.

The watch is a faithful remake of a vintage Cintrée that Cartier produced all the way back in 1924. This piece does that watch justice with a gorgeous eggshell dial and Breguet numerals.

Cartier has been on a heckuva heater the past couple of years, and watches like this Cintrée are why; it’s the perfect mix of classic and proof that sometimes “less is more.”

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