After trudging the stands at this year’s Salon Internationale d’Haute Horlogerie (better known to you as SIHH) and Baselworld, and following much deliberation thereafter, our team of experts has finally come up with a list of new watches that Prestige readers should be aware of in 2019. Our watch nerds sorted tirelessly through mountains of ticking timepieces that ranged from classic to contemporary, dressy to sporting and simple to ornamental, as well, of course, for men and women. We sincerely hope you’ll find among their final shortlist the very watch you were looking for – a timepiece, in other words, that suits you so perfectly it might well have been made with you alone in mind.
Our Watch Nerds’ Top Picks of 2019
Our Watch Nerds’ Top Picks of 2019
Prestige explores the masterpieces of haute horlogerie of 2019.
For years Audemars Piguet and Royal Oak have been more or less synonymous, but things look set to change with the introduction of Code 11.59, a completely new watch collection that’s arguably the brand’s most significant product launch in the past two decades.
The Code 11.59 is a round watch, but one with numerous twists. For a start, its octagonal case middle is reminiscent of the Royal Oak’s bezel and is a nod to the brand’s heritage of experimentation with shapes; the octagon’s sides are each divided into three facets, which are either polished or linearly brushed. The sapphire crystal is also unusual, in that the top surface is curved on two axes to resemble a
saddle – a detail that’s only revealed when the watch is seen from the side. And then there are the lugs, which are only attached to the casing at the top; the lower ones float freely, with the tiniest gap showcasing the close manufacturing tolerances.
Code 11.59 was introduced with six models: time‐only, chronograph, perpetual calendar, flying tourbillon, skeletonised tourbillon and minute‐repeater, which are mostly available either in pink or white gold. According to CEO François‐Henry Bennahmias, the new line – which will eventually account for 20 percent of the brand’s total sales – is currently sold only in Audemars Piguet boutiques.
With a heritage that goes back more than 280 years, Blancpain is the oldest surviving watch brand in the world. For 2019 the company, now part of the gargantuan Swatch Group, is delving deep into its vast reserves of tradition to create a new limited‐edition version of the Villeret Quantième Perpétuel, a run of just 88 watches in a platinum case and with a deep blue dial that are available exclusively at Blancpain boutiques.
Named after the village in which the brand was founded in the 18th century, the seven‐ hand Villeret incorporates a perpetual‐calendar complication that’s regarded by Blancpain as the embodiment of classical horological values. In this incarnation, it indicates the day of the week, date, month and year (including leap years) until 2100, without any adjustment, with three sub‐dials at 3, 9 and 12 o’clock and a moonphase at 6; a large central hand also counts off the seconds. The absence of visible pushers to adjust the complications enhances the Villeret’s classic elegance; instead, these can be altered by small under‐lug levers.
This beautiful timepiece is powered by Blancpain’s 5954 calibre, which offers a power reserve of 70 hours. It comes in a 40mm platinum case with double‐stepped bezel and is water resistant to 3 bars. A blue alligator strap with folding clasp completes the sophisticated package.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the unveiling of the J12, Chanel’s wildly popular dive‐style watch in black or white ceramic that can be seen adorning the wrists of fashionable females around the world. So what better way for the maison to celebrate this milestone than by giving it a major upgrade?
Although this 38mm three‐hander closely resembles its predecessors, within its case beats an entirely new heart. Out has gone the old
ETA‐sourced calibre, and in its place is a movement from the recently established Swiss manufacturer Kenissi, which has close ties with Chanel. The new 12.1 movement, which is COSC-certified, very nicely finished and visible through a case-back crystal, offers a more than respectable power reserve of 70 hours and, in keeping with the J12’s more sporting mien, the watch’s 20‐bar water resistance means properly professional marine capability.
Otherwise, the 2019 J12 is pretty much as before, with case and bracelet in highly polished ceramic and, as one would expect from a house that’s famous for its lacquer beauty boxes, an exquisitely lacquered dial with luminous Arabic numerals that, for this major internal upgrade, have been slightly updated; as before, the date window is located between 4 and 5 o’clock.
If the J12 has always been far more than a pretty face, Chanel’s latest upgrades have elevated this latest iteration of its contemporary classic beyond merely modish. In fact, this always elegant timepiece now deserves to be taken very seriously indeed.
For 31 years a supporter of the Italian Mille Miglia automobile classic, which today is less a race than a somewhat more leisurely re‐enactment of a once-brutal event, Chopard co‐president Karl‐Friedrich Scheufele is almost as passionate about motor cars as he has been about re-affirming his company’s horological heritage.
Embodying both of Scheufele’s enthusiasms is this latest novelty from Chopard, the Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph Zagato 100th Anniversary, a splendid limited‐edition salute to the famous Italian carrozzeria, which was founded in 1919 and today still creates beautiful and bespoke car bodies. With a lustrous lacquered dial in Italian racing red, this stylish 42mm six‐hander in steel features both the Chopard and Zagato logos at 12 o’clock, and Superluminova‐coated baton hour and minute hands and markers, with a date window between 4 and 5 – and to emphasise the timepiece’s sporting intent there’s a tachymeter scale on the internal bezel.
Although not powered by an in‐house calibre – it’s actually supplied by ETA – the movement carries COSC chronometer certification, so the Zagato is a seriously accurate timepiece. With a 42‐hour power reserve and 5‐bar water resistance, it’s supplied on a bund strap with tone‐on‐tone stitching that references both the fasteners on old‐time car boots and the finishing on Zagato upholstery.
As its name at least partially suggests, the limited‐edition Lab series in Corum’s Heritage collection is all about risk, experimentation and (to employ a word now overused to the point of meaninglessness) disruption – indeed, according to the brand, it’s about “establishing a dialogue between the past and the present”.
To that end, the new Lab 01 timepieces are statements in themselves, being made from a contemporary interpretation of an ancient alloy known as Damascus steel. This metal of exceptional hardness and resistance to shattering dates as far back as the 4th century CE, when it was developed for the manufacture of weapons. It also has a distinctive waved pattern, which can be admired in the barrel‐ shape cases of the Corum Heritage Lab 01 Damascus watches, every one of which will, in its own subtle way, be unique.
Both timepieces are powered by the CO 410 skeleton calibre, which features Côtes de Genève finishing, is designed specially to fit the case and offers 50 hours of power. Also visible through the crystal is Corum’s signature micro rotor with its arresting spiral pattern. Treated with black DLC and with Superluminova-filled hour and minute hands and dial accents in either blue or green, these two additions to the Lab family are each offered in limited runs of 99 pieces.
London-based jeweller Graff was flexing its watch‐making and métier d’art muscle at Baselworld with a range of artistic and highly complicated GyroGraff timepieces, among which were two watches that pay tribute to a pair of the most historic structures in China.
Depicting respectively the Great Wall of China and the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, each watch features intricate craftsmanship such as hand‐engraving, miniature painting and gem‐setting, with results that appear three‐ dimensional and almost lifelike. Shown here, the GyroGraff China Great Wall of China depicts, in relief layers, an aventurine starry sky, hand‐engraved gold‐mount towers and walls with ink‐patinated brick detailing, a green painted forest of finely hammered gold, and a paving of baguette‐cut diamonds.
Both GyroGraff China watches are powered by a hand‐wound calibre that’s regulated by a double‐axis tourbillon and features a pair of complications: a three‐dimensional moon phase and a power‐reserve indicator. In a 48mm rose‐gold case and featuring 11.49 carats of diamonds, it offers a 65-hour power reserve and is worn on an alligator strap.
Originally developed in the mid‐1950s as a chronograph designed for use in field sports and motor racing, the Speedmaster (it was named for its then‐exclusive tachymeter scale that today is a feature of many chronos) became far better known in the late‐’60s after its adoption by Nasa for its Gemini and Apollo space programmes.
So it’s more than fitting that to mark the 50th anniversary of astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s moonwalk on July 21, 1969 (Aldrin – pictured right – strapped his Speedy to his wrist above his spacesuit), Omega has unveiled its own magnificent tribute to this achievement, in the form of the Speedmaster Apollo 11 Anniversary Limited Edition, 1,014 pieces of which are on sale from next month. A recreation of the commemorative Apollo 11 Speedmaster of 1969, but in a special gold alloy known as Moonshine, this new 42mm anniversary masterpiece features a gorgeous burgundy bezel with yellow‐gold dial and onyx hour markers.
It’s powered by the hand‐wound Omega Master Chronometer 3861 calibre with co‐axial escapement, which can be viewed in all its gold‐ plated magnificence through the transparent case back and, beating at 26,100vph, offers 48 hours of power. And, as if to hammer down this particular Speedy’s out‐of‐this‐world heritage, the case back ring also features a commemorative inscription, as well as beautifully created proportionally sized representations of areas of the Earth and its Moon.
One of Parmigiani Fleurier’s two collections of round watches, the Tonda has proportions that can easily be tweaked into various sub‐lines. Among these, the Tonda 1950 is the most classically styled and represents a return to basics for the family. All models are ultra‐thin, yet display the collection’s signature elements, from long curved lugs to delta‐shaped hands.
This year sees the addition of four new references, three of them featuring diamond‐ set bezels and the fourth an array of coloured stones formed into a rainbow, and have wider bezels to accommodate the stones, which in turn means a slightly reduced dial area.
Conversely, to balance the altered proportions and serve as a counterpoint against the gem‐set bezel, the brand signature on the dial has been slightly enlarged.
Featuring 51 round diamonds, the Tonda 1950 Stone-Set model is offered in rose gold with a pink, deep blue or mother‐of‐pearl dial. The Tonda 1950 Rainbow, on the other hand, has 36 baguette‐cut stones – 21 sapphires in various hues, six tsavorites, six amethysts and three rubies – and is only offered in pink gold with a mother- of‐pearl dial. And thanks to the ultra‐thin, 2.6mm PF701 calibre, these Tonda 1950 timepieces maintain a svelte 8.3mm profile.