Hear from the team as we share our personal number one watches released this year...
We’re back! With almost everything being unpredictable and not guaranteed this year, we’re continuously grateful that the watch world still saw an impressive selection of new watches released. Naturally, everyone here at WatchGecko had certain favourites that stood out over the past 12 months so today we wanted to share those with you and continue on our little tradition we started last year. Enjoy! - Tim Vaux
Alice Anderson: Hamilton PSR
Looking back over the watch releases of 2020 there’s one watch that first comes to mind for me - the Hamilton PSR. As a lover of anything retro alongside my fascination with the universe of sci-fi, this watch quickly stood out among the rest. Hamilton’s space-aged short videos instantly portrayed a classic style of both vintage yet futuristic design which had me hooked!
I think - for me at least - this watch really has brought life back to digital watches, something previously I wouldn’t have ever chosen to buy. It’s like wearing a small piece of history on the wrist which brings a sense of nostalgia with it, whether you were around for the original Pulsar release in the 70s or not. As a twenty-seven-year-old this piece takes me to an era I love which I wasn’t even a part of, alongside somewhere deep into the future that we're all yet to see, so thank you for that, Hamilton!
Dave Sweeting: MIDO Ocean Star GMT
This is the dive/GMT watch that does it all. It has a ceramic 0-60 dive bezel for timing, 200m WR for adventures, Hour-hacking for travel between time zones and 70-hour reserve meaning you can set it down one evening and pick it up 3 mornings later still ticking away. These specifications set it apart from every other GMT in the price range, but specifications alone don’t make you really engage with a watch. Looks do.
The Mido's brushed surfaces and polished chamfers look very classy, along with the rectangular indices echoed in the lume segments of the hands and on the bezel. It is quiet and restrained to glance at but has little flourishes when you look closer. All in all, it gives watches costing three or more times its budget a run for their money, and I have worn mine loads. It is a revelation how good this watch is.
Tim Vaux: Cartier Privé Tank Asymétrique Skeleton in Platinum (and maybe the Sinn U50)
Although this year has been anything but normal, we have been fortunate enough to have been blessed with new watches (something that could have easily been off the cards) and stunning ones at that. In my eyes, my choice is the pique of stunning: Cartier Privé Tank Asymétrique Skeleton in Platinum.
This choice is no doubt a product of my recently developed Cartier obsession, but it’s also an example of two worlds colliding. In the red corner, we have Cartier’s legacy, heritage and class thanks to the model being the ever-classy and unusual Asymétrique. And in the blue corner, we have Cartier’s watchmaking prowess. This blend is perfectly displayed on the dial of this watch as the serious watchmaking, elegance of the indices both comfortably sits on top of the 9623 MC movement. For a lot of people, Cartier is known as ‘style over substance’ in regards to watchmaking, but I see this as another example that proves those people wrong. In fact, I’m going to go and put my Tank on right now…
I must include an honourable shoutout to the Sinn U50. This was easily the best watch I was able to get hands-on with this year and is a brilliant example of Sinn changing with the times and going for 41mm. Click here to check out my Week Away With The Sinn U50.
Chris Parry: Doxa Sub 300 Carbon Aqua Lung US Divers Limited Edition
I have bought a few new watch releases this year. The Tudor Black Bay 58 Blue, Baltic Aquascaphe Bronze, Seiko Safarnie and Seiko SPB143. All of these have been incredible and being someone who never understood the hype around the BB58, I finally saw the light.
But there was a pretty clear winner for me this year and that was the Doxa Sub 300 Carbon Aqua Lung US Divers Limited Edition (Puh, that’s a long name). It has a carbon case with a titanium inner case, rotating carbon bezel, carbon dial and carbon crown, 300m water resistance and a COSC-certified automatic movement. All in a package that weighs only 54g on a Military nylon strap. The finishing is next level and everything feels incredibly solid.
At €4,790 some might feel it’s too expensive, which is understandable. It’s a very specific watch. But having owned one for a few months I have to say, I’m still amazed how Doxa could make something this good at that price. Personally, I can’t think of a past, present or future watch that can beat the Doxa Sub 300 Carbon. I have finally found my grail.
Lewis McCaskill: Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Collection
My favourite watch this year was an easy one. No watch has stayed in my mind more than the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris, and their latest 2020 addition the Mariner. They make great use of textures to create a dial with depth which is emphasised by the strong blue and bold white hour markers. The use of orange gives it a really nice modern touch without taking away from the classic look of the Polaris that I've fallen in love with. I usually consider 42mm to be quite a big watch for me, however, the inner bezel and gorgeous looking dial completely win me over.
Dames May: Yema LED Watch in Silver
So this year, my favourite watch of the year is a very unique one as it was probably someone's watch of the year back in the 1970s; it has to be the YEMA LED in Silver. Growing up and still to this day one of my all-time favourite films has to be Back To The Future (all of them really) and for me this watch embodies that retro and super futuristic design portrayed in the movies. This will definitely be the watch I take with me on my next trip to Tokyo... A photographer's dream really as I can't wait to capture this watch with the neon lights of Akihabara!
Watches are a perfect companion to express yourself, whether that's through bold bright colours, unique designs or memories of the past. And the YEMA LED ticks all of those boxes for me.
I would like to thank YEMA personally for sending this watch over to us as a gift, as the Videographer here at WatchGecko I absolutely love working with their watches and look forward to seeing what next year will hold.
Anthony Peacock: Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 in Turquoise (Tiffany Blue)
I don’t know how many pieces I write over the course of the year – certainly in the thousands – but this is the one that always requires the most agonising over. In the end, you can only make one choice. So I’m going for the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 in Turquoise Blue, introduced a couple of months ago. What I like about it is the blend of tradition and innovation. My interest in Rolex has been re-awakened this year, which is probably the case for many people after the sudden flurry of new launches that included the much-hyped latest Submariner.
But it’s the OP that immediately caught the eye: quite literally thanks to the arresting range of five new colours. For whatever reason, ‘Tiffany Blue’ seems to be the shade of the moment, and for me, the turquoise dial stands out as the one to have. The other major change is the return to a 36-inch case (the 39-inch having been retired) as well as a new movement, with an impressive 70-hour power reserve. The lineage with Rolex’s previous OP models is very clear to see, but there’s also a playfulness that’s been missing up to now. There’s a 41-inch available too, but in this case, less is definitely more.
Richard Brown: Formex Essence Leggera in Electric Blue
In the world of watch reviewing, you occasionally come across a model which really resonates and speaks to you. The Formex Essence Leggera in Electric Blue, which I reviewed in August here, was such a watch. It was stunning on initial unboxing, with a compelling Dégradé sunburst blue dial in the richest colour set against a composite black case and blue fabric strap. When handled it always elicited genuine surprise at the lack of weight but somehow it felt thoroughly solid and robust.
It was a watch designed completely without compromise using hi-tech materials such as carbon fibre composite, titanium, and Zirconium Oxide ceramic. On the wrist, it felt like it could face any challenge you would throw at a COSC chronometer but in a package that was a fraction of the weight of many competitive models.
For me, the Essence range, typified by the Leggera models, are a game-changer for the Formex brand. They take an existing portfolio of highly functional tool watches based on extreme sports, to a new level of sophistication in both technology, manufacture, and design. With the new REEF model available very soon, I am excited to see how Formex develops through 2021.
Greg Mayo: The Omega Speedmaster 'Silver Snoopy Award' 50th Anniversary
My favourite watch of 2020 has to be the Omega Speedmaster “Silver Snoopy Award”. It’s been a while since a watch caught my attention quite as strongly as this stunning chronograph did, the moment I saw it I had to know more. I think everyone is very familiar with the design of the Speedmaster but this one stands out from the crowd. It’s no secret this colourway works incredibly well on most watches but Omega has executed it fantastically, with the main kick of blue from the subdials and bezel, but also down to the details like the blue Omega logo.
If the dial isn’t enough to win you, turning the watch over reveals a caseback that is just on another level. Displaying a captivating space landscape with a mechanism to show Snoopy flying over the moon.
Overall, this watch just has such a big wow factor compared to the Speedmasters we are all used to seeing.
Ben Adams: Naoya Hida & Co. NH Type 2A
My watch choice of 2020 has to go to the Naoya Hida & Co.Type 2A, a watch which I think pays the perfect homage to a true 1950's dress watch whilst still being the perfect example of a modern timepiece. It has great proportions and presence at 37mm wide and 10.7mm thick yet doesn't disrupt the classic design language which is typical of slightly smaller watches. They have executed the details perfectly, the level of finish and attention to detail that the dials have is incredible, and the standout feature to me is the incredible shaping of the hands which even though is produced by CNC really captures the feeling of handmade hands of the '50s.
It’s the one detail which can be overlooked by modern high-end brands where the hands can sometimes lack depth and character. Not here though.
Adam Teague: The Ming 27.01 (and Rolex OP Candy Pink)
This was a really difficult choice, hence the reason why I slipped in another pick. Ming is a brand I believe is doing all the right things and 2020 has been a huge year in terms of their evolution. The 27.01 is the watch they imagined when they released the 17.01 three years ago, it is beautiful. Hand-wound, 6.9mm thin, a gorgeously modified movement and intricate case, means this one takes the top spot for me. I am excited to see if we get another iteration, like that of the mind-blowing gradient sapphire dial on the 27.02 concepts auctioned in November. 2021 maybe even better.
When Rolex released their new OP line in September, people were lamenting the discontinued White, it was a genuine shock due to their popularity. My initial reaction to the new colour line was ‘meh’, but on second look the Candy Pink 36mm dial may be the finest Rolex release since the OP White 3 years ago. I can’t leave it out, sorry.
James Mulvale: Seiko SPB143
In case you couldn’t tell from my review earlier in the year, my favourite release of 2020 has got to be the Seiko SPB143. Like many Seiko fans, I was delighted when they bought out the SPB line, for the simple fact that it closely resembled the 62MAS, which was Seiko’s first ever diver.
In my opinion, the SPB143 does an excellent job of updating the sleek retro look of the original and combining it with modern specifications, such as a sapphire crystal and a 70-hour power reserve. There are lots of reasons to love the SPB143 besides that though, with its sleek case, bright lume, and gorgeous two-tone handset, the watch has plenty going for it. Overall, it’s a fine example of why Seiko divers are so popular, and I can’t see it leaving my collection any time soon.
Guy Parker: The Longines Heritage Classic 'Sector' (ref: L2.822.214.171.124)
Longines has been on a roll this year, but the Heritage Classic is my pick of the bunch for its winning combo of perfect proportions, great design and pure charm. At 38.5mm and 11mm thick, this is bang on my sweet spot. Its symmetrical sector dial with crosshair and small seconds at six o’clock is just perfection and I don’t even mind the sideways ‘three’ and ‘nine’ indices. Stunning blued hands add a nice contrast and the whole package strikes the perfect balance between dressy and casual, meaning it will be worn often! With a respectable L893 movement and 64-hour power reserve, it’s got everything you need for a reasonable £1,800.
What is your favourite 2020 release?
Do you have a favourite pick from the team? What about your personal favourite watch in 2020? Let us know in the comments below or over on Instagram @watchgecko...
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