It’s been a good year for watches, but when making our picks for our annual GP100 product awards, we try and consider things in terms of superlatives — thinnest, most affordable, most complicated, most influential. Of course, while it’s important to recognize some of the most groundbreaking timepieces in the industry, they aren’t always the watches that resonate most with our individual tastes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of us are reluctant to don a 3mm thick watch or a $15,000 tourbillon. In fact, when it comes down to it, our choices for our personal favorites are generally more pedestrian. So here they are: the five watches of 2016 that our watch-loving staffers liked most.
Seiko Presage SARW027
Andrew Connor, Associate Staff Writer: I came into 2016 not actually knowing or caring much about watches, save for my Seiko fanboyism. After a year of learning and getting to really understand the industry, what’s my current favorite watch? That’s right: a Seiko. The Presage line, previously unavailable in the US, is what happens when Seiko goes upmarket. $1,100 is a lot to spend on anything, but, as always with Seiko, you get a lot for your money — a beautiful cream dial with gold-colored indices, a power reserve gauge and an in-house movement. The SARW027 is just the latest addition to the growing Presage line in the US; don’t be surprised if more of these previously JDM beauties come stateside.
Chris Wright, Associate Editor: When the new Daytona was released in March of this year at Baselworld, the watch world collectively let out their equivalent of an Oh shit! “The new stainless steel Daytona is the watch Rolex lovers have been waiting for,” wrote our own Jason Heaton. “The new watch is reminiscent of the 1965 reference that introduced the black bezel and is much sought after by vintage collectors, a fact not lost on Rolex.”
You could say that again. Two months later, staff writer Andrew Connor reported that because of intentionally low production numbers, the waitlist for the watch was between two and five years. In short, Rolex pulled off the perfect reissue, and made the new Daytona, handsome new ceramic bezel and all, an instant classic. “In fifty years, people will sell those things for half a million dollars,” Connor told me recently with a straight face. Any other watches debut this year for less than $15,000 that can claim that?
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze
Matt Neundorf, Contributor: Maybe it’s because of the amount of gray in my hair, but I’m a sucker for patina. It tells the tales of adventures past and whispers of character instead of being just a bauble with never-ending shine. As a true dive watch, Tudor has maintained all of the traits that have made the Black Bay such a successful line. The snowflake hands and large crown remain, but the bronze edition also receives some updates in the form of numerals at 3, 6 and 9, as well as the addition of drilled lugs. It’s also the first of the family to come equipped with Tudor’s in-house MT5601 movement. Bronze is undoubtedly a polarizing choice for case materials, but few things age as gracefully when exposed to the briny deep. This newest addition to Tudor’s Heritage Black Bay family looks to be the watch of 2016 that I’d like to further patinate with.
Piaget Polo S
Robin Swithinbank, Contributor: To be clear, I don’t do favorites, but if we can talk unmatched significance, nothing beats Piaget’s ’70s–inspired steel sports watch, the Polo S. No watch better illustrates the shift back West in watch sales, or the industry’s realization that watches have become too expensive for next-gen buyers. The Polo S is the first steel watch Piaget has made in 15 years, and it costs considerably less than anything else in the brand’s inventory. Not that it’s cheap — but it brings a fine watchmaking brand into orbit for young, style-conscious guys. Expect to see copy-cat strategies from other traditional Swiss watch brands in 2017.
Portugieser Chronograph Rettrapante Edition “Boutique Milano”
Henry Phillips, Manager of Photography: As a casual watch observer and lover of pretty things, I feel like the IWC Rattrapante Portugieser deserves a shoutout. If you’ve followed my picks any time I’ve been roped into one of these things, you’ll notice a trend (blue dial, gold case), but there’s something about the fragility of the IWC’s dial and thin chrono hands that makes it so intriguing. Pair that with the concentric telemeter and tachymeter scales that overlap and intersect with the chrono registers, and the way the 12/6 markers are mercilessly chopped and you get a watch that is at once both incredibly busy and wonderfully clean. There’s also a super badass serpent on the back.