Another year, another Watches and Wonders. Mind you, it’s only the second time that Watches and Wonders was a “live” show, as it was postponed the first year and took place online in 2021. Nevertheless, Watches and Wonders 2023 had a strong showing, with a greater number of exhibiting brands – almost 50 this year – and an Asian audience, which was missing last year. There were also nearly 15,000 guests on the public days, highlighting the interest in mechanical Swiss watches. As usual, the show offered a horn of plenty in terms of great timepieces. Some stood out more than others. Here are my personal favorites.
1. Vacheron Constantin Overseas 35 mm
This may come as a surprise, but I like the 34.5-35 mm Overseas from Vacheron Constantin. The esteemed Maison most likely had the female wrist in mind when creating these midsized wonders. But as a man with slender wrists, I appreciate how the watch fits. And while the 37-mm version of the Overseas featured a small seconds at 9 o’clock, this new model features a central seconds hand. This means that the 34.5-35 mm Overseas is smaller than the 41-mm iteration. Speaking of size, models with precious stone bezels measure 35 mm in diameter, whereas standard versions measure 34.5 mm.
Don’t let the size scare you. Try it on! I’m confident you will not feel emasculated.
2. Rolex Daytona
Rolex defied all expectations. No new Submariner, no new Milgauss. In fact, the latter has been discontinued, seemingly replaced by the new 40-mm Explorer. The Daytona didn’t grow a single millimeter. But the 60th anniversary Daytona sees a few new visual tweaks, such as a cleaner dial layout with thinner indices, a ring around the Cerachrom bezel made of the same material as the watch (which I happen to think is an ode to the vintage Daytona ref. 6263), and a revamped case design.
The profile of the new ref. 126500 is chunkier than the ref. 116500. Much to my disappointment, the new watch’s silhouette reminds me of a Tudor Big Block produced from 1976 to 1991. But maybe that’s just me. I’m sure many people will appreciate the new case profile.
Do I like the platinum model’s sapphire crystal case back? Not sure. Nevertheless, this is a first for Rolex, and certainly a notable addition. Not to mention it’s a great way to show off the updated Daytona caliber 4131, which features a skeletonized rotor and Rolex Geneva stripes. It looks nice, for sure.
3. Tudor Black Bay 54
It has never been boring to visit Tudor since they relaunched their highly successful Heritage line in 2010, first with the chronograph, followed by their immensely popular Black Bay collection. Initially offered with a 41-mm case, the Black Bay has since become available in more moderate sizes. The Black Bay 58 in 39 mm, for example, and now the new Black Bay 54, which comes in a 37-mm case.
Again, I dare you not to love this watch, despite its being “small.” Consider the original from 1954, which was a grown man’s watch. Then try this new one on for size, and imagine you’re a military diver of yesteryear. You’ll discover a perfect watch – on a rubber strap or beautiful rivet bracelet – in the style of the original Tudor Submariner.
4. IWC Ingenieur
IWC took some of us by surprise by unveiling a new version of the Gerald Genta-designed Ingenieur SL from 1976. However, as Mr. Genta’s widow told me during a meeting in London some time ago, her late husband was not a fan of reiterations. That’s why IWC did not create a replica of the famed 1976 SL design. Instead, the brand opted for a different bracelet design and a 40-mm case that is not as tonneau as the original. The dial, however, looks very much like that of the 1976 original.
The IWC Ingenieur is promoted as a luxury watch, but not by IWC. Instead, the luxury factor is reflected in the price point, which is a whopping €13,000 (approx. $14,200). That’s almost as much as a stainless steel Rolex Daytona.
I know what you’re thinking: The steel Daytona is beyond the reach of mere mortals. But that doesn’t justify the hefty price for a three-hander with a date display, anti-magnetic to only 500 gauss. That said, I’m sure the IWC Ingenieur 40 mm will sell well. Why? Because it looks damn good — especially the titanium version.
5. Baume & Mercier Riviera Perpetual Calendar
The Baume & Mercier Riviera celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2023. The brand is marking the occasion with several superb new pieces. The best, however, is the 40-mm Riviera Perpetual Calendar in steel.
Not only is the watch a stunner – the perfect size, with the famed integrated bracelet design from 1973 – it’s also available for the attractive price of just €17,000 (approx. $18,500). At that price, there’s no room for doubt that Baume & Mercier is challenging its Swiss colleagues by offering an affordable perpetual calendar movement (Baume & Mercier caliber BM12-1975AC-1, with Dubois-Dépraz 55102). Even so, if it were priced at €40,000, it would still be a beautiful watch with a killer dial and perfect legibility. Bravo!
5. Cartier Tank Américaine
Cartier has been one of my favorite brands since I was a kid. I’ve owned my fair share of Santos models, the Must de Cartier Tank, and the Tank Classique. Early this year, I purchased a white gold Tank Américaine on Chrono24, from a dealer in France who had had the watch in stock for at least a year. Why it hadn’t sold before is a real mystery to me.
Admittedly, the Tank Américaine is not a Cintrée. But neither is it a Tank Classique. Instead, it’s a wonderful mix of the two. The 1921 Cintrée inspired the Amércaine’s curved profile, while the dial is that of the Tank Classique.
This year, Cartier decided to revamp the Tank Américaine by giving it a slightly smaller diameter and slimmer profile, primarily due to the leaner caliber 1899 MC inside. In contrast to the most recent precious metal version of the Tank Américaine, the new model comes without a central seconds hand or date display.
The result is an ultra-elegant timepiece, not to mention a moderately-priced alternative to the very expensive – and beautiful – Cintrée.