Hear from the whole office here at WatchGecko and our picks for favourite new releases of 2019...
2019 has been a pretty crazy year for watches. SIHH kicked things off in January where we saw the introduction and new step forward for Audemars Piguet in the form of CODE 11.59. Baselworld saw record-breaking releases and more talking points for collectors with an underlying turmoil tone to the show's changes. And more recently we’ve had an influx of stainless steel sports watches on bracelets from Bell and Ross, Chopard and Lange.
But what caught our eye here at WatchGecko? We’re a group of watch enthusiasts all with similar yet at the same time unique personal tastes in watches. So I thought it would be fun to bring some of our opinions together in one place so the team can share which new release caught their eye this year as their favourite. Let’s get into it… - Tim @ WatchGecko
Greg’s Choice: The Zenith Defy Inventor
I first saw this watch on Zenith Watches YouTube channel. Being a 3D artist myself I am interested in the renders & animations other artists create. The Defy Inventor was one that caught my eye. Aside from being very impressed with the video itself, the watch was incredibly striking. I hadn’t seen anything similar previously.
It’s the kind of watch that the more you look at it, the more intricate details you find. I love the Zenith star on the second’s hand, the unique crown design with its blue loop, modern indents and star and of course the very modern skeleton design. The main thing to wow me about this watch, however, is the aeronith bezel.
Due to its stunning skeleton design, the new evolution of the Zenith Oscillator is in full view. When creating a skeletonised watch I feel it is very easy to make the dial look too busy and cluttered. Zenith has done a fantastic job to keep it all under control, with bold indices and hands that follow suit. The contrasting blue also does a brilliant job of separating the mechanics from the design. Easily my favourite pick from 2019.
Richard’s Choice: Breitling 806 Navitimer Re-Issue
In 1959 Luna 1 was the first spacecraft to leave the gravitational pull of the earth. It was a time of technical wonder typified by the release of one of the greatest watches of all time – The Breitling Navitimer. In 2019 we were treated to a faithful re-issue of the original model from Breitling in the form of the Navitimer Reference 806 Re-Edition. The new watch is a beautiful and accurate recreation of the original which is a 24-hour format was the choice of Scott Carpenter when he orbited the Earth in 1962.
The only modern changes to the 2019 model are a more robust level of water resistance at 30m and the use of Super-LumiNova, although, such is the attention to detail, it has been applied with a vintage patina finish to accurately reflect watches of the era. The Re-Edition is powered by a hand-wound in-house COSC Calibre B09 movement. However, for me, the perfect touch on a near-perfect watch is the return of the original Breitling winged logo which embodies my interest in the early days of NASA. With this watch on my wrist, I could not help but be transported back to that golden pioneering time of manned space flight.
Ben’s Choice: Grand Seiko SBGZ001 Platinum 20th Anniversary of Spring Drive
For me, this watch summarizes everything Grand Seiko is about, incredible watchmaking with an iconic and unique design focus which is very forward-thinking yet reserved in its evolution. The use of the hand-wound movement is perfect for that emotional connection between watch and user. The movement is based on the Credor 7R14 and is incredible, as you can expect the finishing is also world-class and even features a new Dufour-esque inward angle! (I'll let the pictures do the talking on that one...).
The snowflake dial is obviously iconically Grand Seiko and I think that the hand-carved case with decoration to match looks stunning in contrast to the black polished hands and indexes, and due to the classic sizing of the case manages to not look too over the top.
The icing on the cake is the engraved logo which adds to the raw feel of the watch and helps translates the snowflake dials character. All in all, just a perfectly executed masterpiece from design to execution.
Tim’s Choice: The Bulgari Octo Finissimo GMT Chronograph
This was a really hard choice. There were so many exciting releases this year for many different reasons. However, due to the fact I’m beginning to look past faux-vintage (my love for genuine vintage is going nowhere), I find myself exploring more modern designs resulting in the Bulgari Octo Finissimo GMT Chronograph taking the #1 spot. This new release broke records becoming the thinnest automatic chronograph with a GMT (6.9mm).
Getting hands-on with this watch at Baselworld increased my appreciation for this watch and the ability of Bulgari and LVMH tenfold. The brilliance of the case and bracelet design, the way the chronograph pushers play the role of crown guards and that oscillating rotor all results in such a special piece. It helps it is unbelievably comfortable as well.
I genuinely haven't stop thinking about this watch periodically since its release and to me, it is THE defining watch of 2019.
(Special honourable mention to the platinum AkriviA Chronomètre Contemporain with blue dial for OnlyWatch.)
Al’s Choice: Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Worldtimer Master Chronometer
Nine months on, my Baselworld dalliance with Porsche Design’s 1919 Globetimer UTC has cooled. Instead, another worldtimer, an OMEGA, has won my heart. As a graduate geographer and keen traveller, I love GMT and world time watches with their evocative maps, GMT hands and circumferential city references. Now add a liking for the design language of OMEGA’s Seamaster 300 and Aqua Terra GMTs – in stainless steel, with blue dials…
So, imagine my delight at OMEGA’s new stainless steel version of 2017’s limited edition Aqua Terra Worldtimer – OMEGA’s first worldtimer. It was an indisputably nice timepiece, though slightly too dressy for my taste as it seemed to try emulating Patek Philippe’s 5130/5131 World Time references.
However, with this year’s Aqua Terra Worldtimer, the sporty-yet-authoritative blue dial, red accents and ablated-titanium gnomonic map appeal at a different level – for £37k less. There’s no room here for details about the Co-Axial 8939 METAS-certified calibre. No worries; as an OMEGA it delivers everything I want.
Best of all, my new love captivates with a sublime blend of water-capable sports watch and serious globetrotter that begs to travel. The only question is where!
Alice’s Choice: Rolex Yacht-Master 42 in White Gold
The watch I have been obsessed with the most this year has been the new Rolex Yacht-Master 42. Let’s be honest, Rolex sure knows how to create stunning visual content of their pieces, so I found myself re-watching their short clips over and over, enjoying this piece even more every time. Looking at hands-on coverage of the release its matt black ceramic bezel with the raised, polished numerals, white gold case and use of the Oysterflex are all extremely aesthetically pleasing.
The only aspect that doesn't work for me is the size. I have small wrists so the increase in size would look make the piece look relatively large but I could get over this pretty quickly...
Damon’s Choice: The Grand Seiko Spring Drive 20th Anniversary LE Chronograph GMT
My pick for my favourite watch of 2019 was an easy one. Anyone who knows me will understand my obsession with Japan, so it had to be a Grand Seiko...more specifically the 20th Anniversary Chronograph GMT. There are a few reasons why it’s my pick. To start with the dial is insanely beautiful and I’m pleased to see Grand Seiko invest more into their sporty offerings. The watch also uses a polishing technique called zaratsu which is the same technique found in traditional samurai sword making. Anything Japanese is of interest to me hence why it only makes sense for this to be my watch of 2019.
Anthony’s Choice: Glashütte Original Sixties Panorama Date Fiery Orange
In German, it’s called “Liebe auf den ersten Blick” – love at first sight. And that’s how I felt when I first set eyes on a gorgeous Glashütte Original Sixties Panorama Date earlier this year.
It’s a breathtakingly beautiful, highly original watch packed with unique details: just look at the numerals, for example. But what sets it out more than anything else is its fiery orange face, which complements the deep brown alligator strap and polished stainless steel bezel perfectly.
It’s a watch that walks the delicate balance between attracting instant attention yet never appearing garish. A green face version of this watch appeared in 2018; then at the start of this year we saw the same thing in orange, which suits it even better. The design is billed as being of the 1960s, but in reality, it’s timeless.
Glashütte may not be a name that’s at the top of everyone’s wish list, but it’s a brilliant company that gives back to the industry too with its watchmaking academy and museum in the East German town it’s named after, close to the Czech border. There’s nothing else I want for Christmas, but have I been naughty or nice?
What is your favourite 2019 release?
Do you have a favourite pick from the team? What about your personal favourite watch in 2019? Let us know in the comments below or over on Instagram @watchgeckomag...