Top 5 Watches Of 2020 So Far: A Totally Biased Round Table Discussion Of Our Favorite Timepieces Of The Year To Date

In a normal year, you would have already seen two of our traditional round tables published discussing what we saw at SIHH 2020 (now Watches & Wonders) and the new products of Baselworld 2020.

But as this is anything but a normal year we discuss the watches we’ve seen come out in the first half of 2020 thus far! So sit down, grab a glass of your favorite tipple, and settle in for a rich festival of new watches.

De Bethune DB28XP Starry Sky

Our panelists are:

Elizabeth Doerr (ED), co-founder and editor-in-chief
Ian Skellern (IS), co-founder and technical director
Joshua Munchow (JM), resident nerd writer
GaryG (GG), resident collector
Martin Green (MG), resident gentleman
Bhanu Chopra (BC), resident flieger expert
Sabine Zwettler (SZ), contributor
Tim Mosso (TM), watch specialist and media director of pre-owned watch retailer Watchbox

IS: The difficulty in compiling a top-five list like this is usually whittling down the relatively large number of watches I’ve recently handled and loved. This time it’s much more difficult: no matter how good a watch looks in a photo, it’s unlikely to make your heart skip a beat the way it does the first time you put in on your wrist. But here goes anyway.

SZ: For obvious reasons, 2020 has been a challenging year, Ian! It could have well been a horror novel draft by Stephen King.

When I first learned that Baselworld 2020 was canceled back in early February, I could not believe it. Although the world’s most important watch show, which has been in place for more than a century, has faced challenging times due to major exhibitors leaving in recent years, I was quite convinced it would take place – at least this year, even though it might have been for the last time.

However, we had to accept that the current unprecedented pandemic would not only turn the world as we know it upside down, but also shake down the fair landscape and the entire industry, muddling travel plans from journalists, disrupting deadlines and magazine publication, and leave us all in a remarkable situation. With Switzerland one of the European hotspots early in the crisis, Watches & Wonders moved online, the newly minted Geneva Watch Days was postponed to late summer 2020, and most of the big Swiss manufacturers halted production.

In light of this very uncertain situation, brands were reluctant to introduce new product lineups, highly anticipated every year by all involved in the industry – from the brands to the trade to the journalists and, of course, the enthusiasts. Particularly during the long hours of worldwide lockdowns we had to exercise painful patience.

JM: And on that note, Sabine, 2020 has provided a landscape for watch enthusiasm that is entirely different than anything most journalists have ever seen. Yet it is probably better for the general consumer since the brands themselves have made efforts to focus release tactics on digital distribution first. Since most watch fanatics aren’t able to attend the fairs anyway, online magazines and forums were their only resources before. But now brands had to work harder to present digitally to journalists, and the byproduct was a better source of information also shared with fans without filters.

MG: What a beginning of the year it has been! All preparations were made to visit Time to Move, Watches & Wonders, and Baselworld – but none of these events took place. Quite shocking as this means that for this round table, I now have to select watches that I haven’t even seen in the metal. This is not how I like to work, but in the greater scheme of things, it is one of the more modest adaptions we must take in these distressing times. Fortunately, most brands went ahead with their launches as planned, which still makes picking five even in these times of lockdown and digital fairs quite difficult.

ED: Agreed, Martin! I cannot stress enough what Ian said at the beginning: I’m finding it difficult to retain an overview without the tool known as the trade fairs. The sheer amount of email – and in particular the staggered and voluminous way that brands now send it – is more confusing than helpful in trying to retain what pictures of watches I have seen. I will be beyond ecstatic when our watch world normalizes again, and my sense of overview goes back to status quo.

JM: I feel that this year has finally showed the brands that they can do better providing a better resource to consumers amidst this craziness. It has definitely made it more difficult to keep aware of all the releases (I keep seeing new things I missed nearly every week), but I do have favorites among what I’ve seen this year.

ED: So here goes the best we can do given our unique situation!

On to the 2020 watches . . .

GG: It’s so tough to love a watch without seeing it in person! So I reserve the right to change my mind on some of these new offerings once I’ve handled them. But it is fun to exchange views with this group on some of our favorites.

BC: I noticed three trends this year – the most obvious of them being the limited number of new releases; in many cases this has become the “gap year” for companies to focus on delivering pending orders.

ED: Which is a gift if you ask me, Bhanu, and great way to describe it. I have greatly enjoyed how Patek Philippe and Rolex took a step back from introductions in 2020 thus far to allow retail channels a break at a time when it was desperately needed.

BC: The second trend has spilled over from last year: making a “quintessential” steel sports watch with integrated bracelet. I will take great pleasure in seeing this trend disappear. And finally, smaller case sizes that fit the wrist better and, as a consequence, dial layout becoming more symmetrical.

ED: Yes, just look at IWC’s new Portugieser models: for the first time 40 mm watches are included!

GMT Sport by Greubel Forsey (photo courtesy Greubel Forsey)

GG: Also, some real favorites of mine don’t make the cut as they were introduced in the latter portion of 2019. Here, both the Greubel Forsey GMT Sport and Hand Made 1 come to mind as does the A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus – and I won’t cheat by putting the recent white gold variant on my list, as much as I like it. I’m also leaving out other cosmetic variants of pre-existing references, for instance the new treatments of Hermès’ moon phase watch.

And while I’m generally an obedient fellow, I hope you’ll forgive me if I add a couple of honorable mentions at the end.

IS: I was also a bit frustrated that I couldn’t include a few favorites from late last year, Gary, and will follow your lead in adding a few honorable mentions.

SZ: Although most launches have been delayed and may not be as grand and glamorous as in past years both in terms of volume and variety, there is certainly no shortage of magnificent timepieces worth having a closer look at.

My perception is that there are some stunning new versions of sought-after cornerstone collections, like Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new generation of the Master Control: these five new variations are outstanding examples of how savvy manufacturers can succeed in contemporary redesigns that – while making a big difference – recreate the original charisma of the timepieces. Tiniest details, tasteful colors, and adjusted proportions magically provide a stunning appearance. By the way, this is the one aspect I love most about watch companies and their designers: that over the years they just make timepieces look finer, enhancing their sophistication and charisma.

Another great example for a tasteful redesign of a bestseller is IWC’s Portugieser collection. This welcomed no less than 33 new variants this year: among them the Portugieser Chronograph, now equipped with a manufacture caliber, and the Portugieser Yacht Club Moon & Tide, which represents an entirely new complication within the family. This very cool timepiece combines the brand’s double moon phase indication for northern and southern hemispheres with the display of neap and spring tides. The new lineup also serves as a great example of how a collection can run the gamut from classic three-handed timepieces to sophisticated haute horlogerie models, including a chronograph with a tourbillon and a retrograde date and a perpetual calendar with tourbillon.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One with quartz movement

As was to be expected emerging from the trends of the previous years, we are seeing more color in the mix too. For many years blue has prevailed, followed more recently by green. Twenty twenty also sees some stunning examples of red dials, some in the above-mentioned IWC Portugieser family and prominently the new quartz Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One for women, brightening things up further.

IS: My choices include both my personal favorites (I could imagine wearing), as well as watches I appreciate but am not the target audience.

ED: It’s so fun to discuss our picks, especially since I have noticed that we have assembled such a diverse team with differentiated taste! I love this and hope the readers do too.

The De Bethune DB28XP collection: four from the panel

IS: I’m an unabashed  De Bethune DB28 fanboy and was immensely pleased by the new DB28XP. Same fantastic looks but even slimmer and better; same fantastic movement but now even slimmer and with a longer power reserve. The DB28 is becoming like a Porsche 911: every new generation looks almost the same as the previous one but improved in every way.

De Bethune DB28XP on the wrist

ED: Though, honestly, Ian, I think the brand-new DB28XP collection looks quite different from the previous generations. And my pick for my top five from it is the DB28SP Tourbillon, whose titanium case is only 8.1 mm in height, 1.1 mm thinner than the original DB28 tourbillon. The aesthetics are clearly inspired by the DB28 Digitale, the refined dial dominated the large expanse of handcrafted barleycorn guilloche, cleanly decorated without otherwise superfluous ornamentation. This is beautifully contrasted by the use of “De Bethune blue” on the periphery of the dial, the hands, and certain movement components. A face to instantly fall in love with (not to mention the mechanics)!

De Bethune DB28XP Tourbillon

JM: Finally we have an aesthetic follow-up to the DB28 Skybridge in the DB28XP Starry Sky, the only other DB28 model to feature an entirely blued dial with white gold stars strewn about. I’ve always loved the De Bethune Starry Sky models with their incredible dials bordering on insanity. But there has always been an issue: they were always found on the DB25 models. Don’t get me wrong, these are incredible pieces, but the articulating spring-loaded lugs on the DB28 are, in my opinion, the crowning glory of De Bethune. And aside from the Skybridge there hasn’t been another option for this kind of dial within the DB28 collection.

A tenth-anniversary piece in the collection, the DB28XP Starry Sky, is my favorite from the brand and a top piece for me so far in 2020. It is an ultimately comfortable and wearable timepiece (judging from my experience with other DB28 pieces) and has the De Bethune aesthetics that have always astounded me. And while it won’t usurp the title of my favorite De Bethune away from the Skybridge, it stands as an incredible combination of some of my favorite details from the brand.

De Bethune DB28XP Starry Sky on the wrist

TM: De Bethune’s new DB28XP collection is wonderful because it embodies what I love about the brand. Consider all the objections typically leveled when advocating for De Bethune: “it’s too weird”; “it’s too expensive”; “the brand is too new and untested.” In contrast, I’ve never been told that the watches are too thick. De Bethune watches average between 11 and 13 mm, and in a world where that describes most mainstream Rolex models, the folks from L’Auberson could have stood pat and spent more money on marketing.

De Bethune DB28XP in profile

And that’s why the 7.2 mm thick DB28XP – effectively the ten-year anniversary DB28 – is wonderful.

Denis Flageollet, De Bethune’s co-founder and head technician, continues to optimize his watches in ways that most other watchmakers would never consider. Most brands would buy balance wheels rather than design their own. De Bethune has patented at least half a dozen balance wheels in pursuit of the perfect regulator. Most brands wouldn’t spend borderline crippling amounts of money on pure-engineering R&D, but De Bethune does that too.

Now a true ultra-thin watch, the DB28XP maintains the half-dozen patented innovations of the standard model as well as its blinding array of fine finish. Black-polished titanium bridges the size of an arrowhead, unique engraved “microlight” strakes, and spherical polished titanium hour indices firmly anchor the new DB28XP in the traditions of high horology finish. The DB28XP keeps the 2011 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève Aiguille d’Or winner fresh.

Further reading:

De Bethune DB28: How I Launched It, Why I Bought It, And Why It’s The Perfect ‘One Watch’

3 Brand-New De Bethune DB28s To Celebrate 10 Years Of This Sensational, Now Ultra-Thin Watch With Floating Lugs

Jaeger-LeCoultre: 4 for Master Control and Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication

IS: I could often be correctly accused of having a bias toward small independents and shiny moving mechanisms on the dial that trap my eyes like a cat with a laser pen dot. And it’s easier to write about exciting watches that are way out of my wallet’s capacity. But then there are the watches that many people wear day in day out that simply do their job – telling the time – reliably, with a beautiful movement ticking underneath, and at a relatively affordable price.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date

For that you don’t have to look further than the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date. As with new-generation Porsche 911s, the updated model superficially looks essentially the same, but everything is better: the case a svelte 9 mm high, 70-hour power reserve, non-magnetic silicon escapement, Master Control quality, and priced around $6,700. You do not need another watch.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Calendar

GG: I’m a Jaeger-LeCoultre devotee and I very much like what the brand did this year with the refreshed versions of the Master Control line. My favorite is the new Master Control Calendar with “jumping date” – a central date hand that jumps across the moon and small seconds subdial between the 15th and 16th of the month so that the hand never obscures our view of those two indications. I do wish (based on the renderings) that the day and month windows were a bit bigger with thinner frames, but perhaps that looks fine in person. Looking forward to seeing this one!

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox Timer

ED: I too would like to nominate one of the watches from the 2020 Master Control line for my top five: the Master Control Memovox Timer. And as a vintage Memovox wearer, feel free to call me biased. But I have been enamored of the recent re-editions of the Memovox, most decidedly including 2016’s Master Memovox Boutique Edition, which features an insanely beautiful blue dial.

The new Master Control Memovox Timer also has a gorgeous blue dial combining more than one blue tone, but also a new-generation automatic movement, a moderate 40 x 7.47 mm case size, and for the first time a brand-new function! The “timer” allows this watch to not only ring an alarm, but to count down a set time. I very much look forward to seeing this one in the metal!

Jaeger Le-Coultre Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication

JM: The JLC Master Grand Tradition Grande Complication is a masterpiece. And in a year where a few brands have played a strong hand with grand complications, the JLC comes out on top in my book. And it all has to do with aesthetics. I know the offerings from brands like Cartier and Vacheron Constantin are incredible, but there has been some slacking when it comes to aesthetics. The Master Grande Tradition Grand Complication hits all the right mechanical notes with a superb movement, including an orbital flying tourbillon tied to a sky chart and a spectacular minute repeater with crystal gongs soldered to the rear sapphire crystal and the ever-impressive trebuchet hammers.

But on top of that, the presentation wasn’t focused simply on the mechanical awesomeness, it also took design principles into account and created a dynamic gold “cage” that feels like a combination of models of molecules and large-scale construction design. The filigree cage is entrancing and, combined with the sky chart and orbital tourbillon, this watch has tremendous presentation for the wearer. It is one of the most stunning grand complications I’ve seen in a while, and it’s no surprise since JLC consistently creates beautiful mechanical creations that I crave every day.

Quick Facts Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Chronograph Calendar
Case: 40 x 12.05 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic manufacture Caliber Jaeger-LeCoultre 759, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 65-hour power reserve, silicon escapement
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds; date, day, month, chronograph
Price: €14,900/$14,500

Further reading:

Jaeger-LeCoultre Introduces A New Generation Of Master Control Models: Date, Calendar, Chronograph Calendar, And Geographic

F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance 20th Anniversary

GG: The 20th Anniversary F.P. Journe Résonance looks great, and while I’m a little concerned that the thickness will put me off in person, I think it’s a very successful continuation and improvement of the Resonance line.

F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Resonance 20th Anniversary in platinum

I am somewhat disappointed that the key timekeeping improvement, the twin remontoires designed to reduce the effects of isochronism, cut out for power-saving purposes at 28 hours into the power reserve, just as the effects of isochronism begin to become substantial! The explanation from Journe is that you should wind your watch every 24 hours, but I’ll give an official GaryG raised eyebrow to that rationale.

IS: I considered the F.P. Journe 20th Anniversary Résonance for my list here, but decided that I needed to handle it first. I’d like to know if it stays in resonance more than the original. But it’s still quite an achievement!

Quick Facts F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance 20th Anniversary
Case: 40 or 42 x 11 mm, platinum or 18-karat 6N red gold
Movement: manual-wind Caliber 1520 with 18-karat pink gold plates and bridges, 2 independent gear trains including regulators, free-sprung balances with 4 inertia weights each, 2 one-second remontoirs d’égalité for constant force, one differential gear, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, 42-hour power reserve
Functions: 12 hours, minutes, hacking seconds; 24 hours, minutes, hacking seconds, power reserve indication
Price: CHF 105,000 (platinum); CHF 101,400 (6N red gold), all prices without tax

Further reading:

4 Exotic New Watches For 2020 By Independent Watchmakers Urwerk, MB&F, F.P. Journe, And Greubel Forsey

H. Moser & Cie. Venturer Concept Vantablack editions

IS: While I wrote in my introduction that a photo of a watch is unlikely to make your heart skip a beat, when I saw the first photos of the H. Moser & Cie. Venturer Concept Vantablack I’m sure I held my breath. Minimalist perfection. The best both subtle and eye-catching dress watch I think I’ve ever seen – from the photos. Just sensational.

H. Moser & Cie. Venturer Concept Vantablack Black Hands

SZ: As much as I have appreciated this watchmaker’s passion for bright colors in past years, black remains my color of choice for watch dials. And there is no black like H. Moser’s Venturer Vantablack timepieces.

Absorbing 99.965 percent of light, Vantablack was created for military camouflage and astrophysical telescopes. It makes also for a breathtaking watch dial, taking the principle of simplicity to new heights.

H. Moser & Cie. Venturer Concept Vantablack Black Hands (left) and Vantablack Tourbillon Black Hands

With no indices and just two filigree hands, it is not only a bold design statement, but also a philosophical approach to the conception of time. The refined look and feel are accomplished by a slim bezel that allows for a maximum expression of the minimalist design, too. The white gold model is powered by a manufacture movement of the high H. Moser haute horology standards: hand-wound Caliber HMC 327 offers a power reserve of three days; the power reserve indicator is visible on the movement side through the display case back so as not to disrupt the design.

Quick Facts H. Moser Venturer Vantablack Black Hands
Case: 39 x 11 mm, white gold
Movement: manual Caliber HMC 327, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, 80-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes; power reserve indicator
Price: $27,600

Further reading:

3 New Tourbillons For 2020 By IWC, H. Moser & Cie, And Jacob & Co

Moser & Cie. Venturer Concept Vantablack: Perfection Exists

How Vantablack And Other Coating Technologies Are Disrupting Watch Norms

MB&F x H. Moser collaborations

IS: MB&F has utilized Moser’s distinctive fumé dial to absolute perfection in the collaborative LM101. First in casing the dial in the sensibly sized 40 mm LM101 case, with its phenomenal movement visible through the display back, and second in hiding virtually everything else. I love it, and while I haven’t handled this particular model, I have played with and strapped enough LM101s on my wrist to have a good idea what it’s like.

Same, but different: MB&F x H. Moser LM101 with minimalist “Concept Watch” influences

I called the Moser Concept Vantablack the best both subtle and eye-catching dress watch I remember seeing: it will be noticed while looking incredibly restrained. But it’s a dress watch to me. The MB&F x H. Moser LM101 with green dial is the Vantablack with a dash of hot chilies and spices: it’s still restrained enough to be called and worn as a dress watch, and when it does it will do more than attract attention: it will entertain, put smiles on faces, and incite questions like “What’s that?” I love it.

MG: Maximilian Büsser, founder of MB&F, is so right that friends make great things even better! He now proves that by collaborating with H. Moser on two stunning limited edition watches. Here, the LM101 has been redesigned to include a fumé dial, a Moser hallmark, giving the watch a completely different look, and one that is breathtakingly beautiful.

The same can be said of the Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon, which not only also features a fumé dial, but, as its name already indicates, a tourbillon with cylindrical balance spring. What makes these two watches so special – and please don’t force me to choose between them – is that the combination of Moser and MB&F results in synergy. The “DNA” of both companies might be blended, but can be easily identified, which is perhaps the most stunning aspect of these two new watches.

JM: Don’t get me wrong, I love these watches. They are stunningly beautiful and masterfully crafted, and from two of my favorite independent brands. I would own them in a heartbeat (with someone else footing the bill, of course). The crossover makes perfect sense and it appears to be a seamless blending of the two brands.

And that, my dear friend, is the problem.

The H. Moser Endeavour is already rather similar in conception and aesthetic to the Legacy Machines from MB&F. So crossing the two is a bit underwhelming in the context of collaboration. When I first saw them I actually thought that it was a one-way collaboration and H. Moser simply gave MB&F some of its dials and hands; that is how well the two brands fit together. It took a minute to see exactly in what ways the two had swapped, including that one was indeed in the H. Moser Endeavour case and the other was the LM101 case.

Moser x MB&F Endeavor Cylindrical Tourbillon (left) and MB&F x Moser LM101

This created an unsatisfying response from me as a fanboy because I remember the days of the MB&F and Urwerk collaboration to create the ZR012, one of my favorite watches of all time, one that clearly was its own creation that could not be too easily said to just be an MB&F with an Urwerk dial or the other way around.

And I understand that collaborations won’t always create something entirely unique, but even the Urwerk x Laurent Ferrier Arpal One created a clear juxtaposition between the two brands, something that seems missing from the MB&F x H. Moser collaboration. Perhaps if the H. Moser had incorporated more of the LM aesthetic like hands or numerals, or MB&F had used the H. Moser dials and hands on an HM machine – now that would have gotten me truly excited. It just felt less than surprising, possibly even expected, so the collaboration felt like a movie that plays out exactly as you would expect it without subverting expectations at all.

And perhaps that was never the point, as the story would indicate that it was more out of friendship and admiration of each brand’s details that created the connection. If anything, this project may be more of a pet project for respective CEOs Max Büsser and Edouard Meylan and less an exercise in surprising fans and clients. And there is nothing wrong with that, but it did disappoint me. And that is something hard for MB&F and H. Moser to do.

GG: I don’t have any candidates for most disappointing watch this time around: whereas at shows you can’t miss them, in the virtual world we’re in now I skim by pieces that don’t interest me so rapidly that I can’t remember them. Besides, why not be benevolent to those who are trying their best in these tough times?

ED: I agree with you, Gary, which is why we so seldom call out things that we don’t find great here on Quill & Pad. But I do find Joshua’s point more than valid – and I have to admit that I felt a tinge of his emotion upon seeing the photos of these watches too. You are the only one among us who has had the pleasure of seeing these in the metal thus far!

Quick Facts Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon H. Moser x MB&F
Case: 42 x 19.5 mm, stainless steel with high domed sapphire crystal; height without crystal 9.4 mm; crown at 9 o’clock, sapphire crystal on case back
Dial and hands: main dials in sunburst-pattern fumé: Funky Blue, Burgundy, Cosmic Green, Off-White, and Ice Blue; hours and minutes displayed on 40-degree tilted sapphire crystal dial at 6 o’clock; leaf-shaped hour and minute hands blued on the Off-White reference and with lume on others
Movement: automatic Caliber HMC 810; 21,600 vph/3 Hz frequency; one-minute flying tourbillon with cylindrical hairspring; power reserve 72 hours
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: limited series of 15 examples in each of five dial colors (75 total examples)
Price: $79,000 via authorized dealers; Ice Blue edition available only online from

Quick Facts LM101 MB&F x H. Moser
Case: 40 x 16 mm, stainless steel with high domed sapphire crystal; box sapphire crystal on case back; double-sided anti-reflective coating on crystals
Dial: sunburst-pattern fumé: Funky Blue, Red, Cosmic Green, and Aqua Blue (the latter for retailer Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons)
Movement: three-dimensional in-house manual-winding MB&F movement; aesthetics and finishing specifications by Kari Voutilainen; Straumann double hairspring; gold chatons with polished countersinks, nineteenth-century style hand-finishing; 18,000 vph/2.5 Hz frequency; power reserve 45 hours
Functions: hours, minutes; power reserve indicator
Limitation: limited series of 15 examples in each of four dial colors (60 total examples)
Price: $52,000 via authorized dealers; Aqua Blue edition available through Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons

Further reading:

Hands On & Live Photos: MB&F x H. Moser LM101 And H. Moser x MB&F Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon

MB&F HM10 Bulldog

JM: With the new HM10 Bulldog released back in March, I was surprised and delighted to find MB&F had created a timepiece combining aspects from its entire history, sparking my glee for the new watch. With the large dome, hemispherical hours and minutes, simple but distinct case shape, suspended balance wheel, and long, articulated lugs, the HM10 is a sample platter of some very unique MB&F touches combined into an incredible assembly.

MB&F HM10 Bulldog in profile

And something very unique, but sampled from the numerous clocks done in collaboration with L’Épée: the power reserve is an animation that has contextual meaning to the name and design of the watch. A set of teeth slowly close as the power reserve winds down, another fun and interesting way to add flavor into a watch that, from the brand’s inception, is supposed to be about mechanical creativity first. It’s probably my favorite HM piece since the HM4, which was the first insane departure from the norm for the brand, even considering how wild the HM1, HM2, and HM3 were.

IS: My favorite MB&F Horological Machine is HM6, Joshua. But the HM10 Bulldog is not far behind. It’s a watch I’d need to try on to feel how comfortable it sits, but my guess is it will sit very well on the wrist thanks to those articulated lugs. I’m also a fan of the sharp-teeth power reserve because it makes me smile (at a safe distance) and highlights that Büsser still has a good sense of playfulness.

Quick Facts MB&F HM10 Bulldog
Case: 54 x 45 x 24 mm, titanium or red gold with titanium
Movement: manual winding in-house caliber with flying balance wheel, 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph, 45-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes; power reserve indication (bulldog jaws)
Price: CHF 98,000 / $105,000 / €92,000 (titanium); CHF 112,000 / $120,000 / €105,000 (red gold/titanium); all prices without tax

Further reading:

4 Exotic New Watches For 2020 By Independent Watchmakers Urwerk, MB&F, F.P. Journe, And Greubel Forsey

Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Opal and Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Skeleton

GG: Vacheron Constantin has been doing great things with its Overseas line, and the new ultra-thin skeletonized perpetual calendar is just fantastic looking – and has serious horological chops based on its use of legendary Caliber 1120.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Skeleton

I particularly like the dark treatment of the rotor as it really pops within the pink gold frame of the case back. The $115,000 price tag is a bit eye-watering, but I’ll be tracking this one in the pre-owned market over the next several years.

For more information please visit

ED: That is a great watch, Gary, and I almost nominated it too, but decided in the end to nominate Jaquet Droz’s latest iteration of the Loving Butterfly automaton with opal dial, which blew me away (even though it is in essence a new dial iteration).

Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton with opal dial in white gold

Lavish, shiny, aesthetically pleasing, and boasting stunning and imaginative mechanics: I don’t think that there’s a better way to celebrate the high art of watchmaking than this new version of the 2017 Loving Butterfly automaton.

I do understand that it’s “just” a dial update, but as I have handled other versions of this watch – and loved each and every one – I know what this will look and feel like to me in the metal. And I can’t help myself; I am such a sucker for the use of opal in watchmaking.

IS: The Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Opal is one of my favorites as well, Elizabeth. I was already a fan but the opal dial really adds to the overall experience.

Quick Facts Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton Opal
Case: 43 x 16.63 mm, red or white gold
Movement: automatic Jaquet Droz caliber 2653 AT1 with silicon balance spring and pallet lever, double spring barrel, 68-hour power reserve plus manually wound automaton with its own spring barrel activated by pushing the crown button, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, Cupid and butterfly animation
Limitation: unique piece in each case metal
Price: upon request

Further reading:

Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton: Millions Of Years In The Making

Blue dials par excellence: Breguet Classique 7337 and Glashütte Original Sixties Annual Edition 2020

IS: While just a bit more complicated than I need, the blue guilloche dial of the new Breguet Classique Reference 7337 just looks so perfectly balanced visually and so quintessentially Breguet in spirit.

Breguet Ref. 7337 with blue dial on the wrist

SZ: After a bold green dial with a historically inspired pattern in 2018 and a bright orange one with stunning color gradience in 2019, Glashütte Original chose a decidedly subtle hue for the 2020 Annual Edition: a glacier-like blue with a soft dégradé effect.

Glashütte Original Sixties Annual Edition 2020 time only (left) and chronograph

Inspired by the Alps’ pristine water springs and highlighted by a sunray finish, it serves as a magnificent backdrop to the fine hour markers and the signature retro-style numerals. As is the case with all Glashütte Original’s watch dials, this one too is crafted in a complex process with a high portion of handicrafts involved in the brand’s own dial manufactory in Pforzheim, Germany (see more about this in Sixties Iconic: Glashütte Original’s Richly Multicolored Homage To Vintage East German Style). The noble impression is further enhanced by a domed shape that also distinguishes the sapphire crystals of the three-handed watch.

While the front displays a paragon of simplicity, the back offers a front seat to the sheer beauty of Caliber 39-52, where it’s easy to pick out beloved characteristics of Saxony’s art of fine watchmaking, including Glashütte ribbing, circumferential and flat polishing, beveled edges, and a swan-neck fine adjustment.

BC: Glashütte Original leans toward being a more conservative and traditional brand. Of late, the previous Müller/DZM dial factory in Pforzheim, now part of the Swatch group, has produced wonderfully colorful and complex dials for its owner’s popular Sixties Annual Edition. This domed glacier blue dial goes through multiple steps to achieve the sunray pattern and unique blue color. There are no other changes to rest of the Sixties and Sixties Chronograph edition other than the dial color here, but wow!

ED: These annual editions are really working for both Glashütte Original and the watch-buying public. I too was enamored of the green and orange versions – and cannot wait to see this Glacier Blue variation in the metal. It looks gorgeous to me and I pick it for one of my top five as well.

Quick Facts Breguet Classique 7337
Case: 39 x 8.65 mm, pink or white gold
Movement: automatic Caliber 502.3 QSE1 with silicon hairspring, 21,600 vph/3Hz frequency, 45-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; day of the week, date, moon phase, age of the moon
Price: $43,000

Quick Facts Glashütte Original Sixties Annual Edition 2020
Case: 39 mm x 9.4 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber 39-52, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 40-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Price: €6,600, $6,700

Further reading:

Breguet Classique Ref. 7137 And Ref. 7337: Small Changes Can Make A Big Difference

Glashütte Original Sixties: Retro Chic Returns In A Stylish New Green

Sixties Iconic: Glashütte Original’s Richly Multicolored Homage To Vintage East German Style

5 Vibrant New Timepieces From Patek Philippe, Tutima, Glashütte Original, Nomos Glashütte, And Grand Seiko

Krayon Anywhere

JM: When I first saw the Krayon Everywhere a couple of years ago, I was immediately pumped about the idea (largely because I had a very similar idea eight years ago that I sketched into my notebook) and absolutely loved it when it came out.

Krayon Anywhere front and back

Now, Krayon’s Anywhere takes the original piece and streamlines it to make it easier to read. Including a new movement, Krayon has pretty much optimized the entire package. I loved the original, but now I dream about the Anywhere. It has made an incredibly complicated piece a masterfully simple piece that I hope will be well received by collectors and fans alike.

The movement is visually much more restrained than the previous movement but highlights the heart of the mechanism – the sunrise/sunset cam – in a stunningly clean way. I always like seeing all the mechanisms within complex movements, but if you are going to go simple, Caliber C030 is a masterclass in taking that complexity and presenting it marvelously clean.

GG: I was deeply impressed by the technical achievement of Krayon’s Everywhere watch and its ability to show the times of sunrise and sunset at any point on earth, but its thickness and aesthetic design were not to my personal taste. The new Anywhere, which can be adjusted quickly by a watchmaker to show sunrise and sunset at any location of your choice, is slimmer, prettier, and retains the key sunrise-sunset and length-of-day display. And it costs a fraction of the Everywhere’s price.

Quick Facts Krayon Anywhere
Case: 39 x 9.5 mm, white gold, pink gold or stainless steel
Movement: manually wound Caliber C030, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, 86-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, day, month, times of sunset and sunrise, month, length of day and night
Price: CHF 116,000 (gold), CHF 96,000 (steel)

Further reading:

Krayon Everywhere: Who Knew Mechanically Calculating Sunrise/Sunset (Nearly) Anywhere On The Planet Would Be A Mental Workout (For The Author)? Plus Lots Of Videos

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept, the world’s thinnest watch

MG: My favorite watch introduced so far in 2020 is the thinnest mechanical watch ever made. I saw this Piaget as a prototype in 2018 at the SIHH and was completely blown away. It didn’t even look like a watch, more lick a thick piece of photo paper with the image of a watch printed on it.

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept

I am absolutely thrilled that Piaget has been able to move it past the prototype phase and into production – which means that this Altiplano has a degree of reliability, which is the biggest challenge when you get in this range of thinness.

I also think that the buck stops here: Bulgari – who has been “warring” with Piaget over world records – will not go any thinner because even if it can, the commercial viability of such a watch is as slim as the timepiece.

That said, I can see Piaget being crazy enough to try to make this Altiplano Ultimate Concept with a flying tourbillon in the future. What I am also excited about is that this Altiplano can be customized (because it is only assembled upon order).

This has me dreaming of a green version.

Can you see it? Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept from the side

TM: The Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept is 2020’s biggest misnomer and one of the year’s best watches. Technically, 2018’s prototype was the concept, and this year’s watches are production models, but semantics can be forgiven. Rarely is so much time and money spent to create something so sublimely subtle.

At 41 mm in diameter and 2 mm in height, the cobalt-alloy case of the Altiplano Ultimate Cconcept is a record-setter. Ceramic bearings replace many pivot jewels; barrel and balance hang suspended on single-sided pivots; the case back and the movement base plate are one and the same; a collapsible crown drives a reimagined keyless works built around a worm drive. The sapphire crystal is 0.2 mm thick. Somehow, all of this still boasts a 40-hour power reserve and a factory warranty.

Years of work and five patents underpin this thing, making it a refreshing alternative to apex watches that equate ever more complexity with prestige. Piaget makes a different pitch, and it’s refreshing: more is less. Now, the CHF 400,000 price will take some explaining, but limited customization options soften the blow to a degree.

So, how does Piaget’s marketing team convince a skeptical client to part with 400 grand for a watch with fewer than four tourbillons? As it happens, I still have a phone full of showcase videos filmed with the prototype at Watches & Wonders Miami in 2019. Piaget, give me a call.

Quick Facts Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept
Case: 41 x 2 mm, cobalt alloy, sapphire crystal 0.2 mm in height, flat telescopic crown
Movement: ultra-thin manual-wind Caliber 900P-UC, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency, 40-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 3 per year, by special order only, only available through Piaget boutiques
Price: on request (and customizable)

Further reading:

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept, The World’s Thinnest Watch: Shaving Microns To Make Millionths

Steel sport watches: Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon, Czapek Antarctique, H. Moser Streamliner

JM: I decided for myself to categorize these together because I love so many of them and I am very excited that brands are finally moving into this category so that people who like to wear their watches have some options, which can be as versatile and varied as each person that buys it. The only problem is I can’t pick a clear favorite because they each represent a different purpose for me. So I’ve picked my favorite three: the Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon, the Czapek Antarctique, and the H. Moser Streamliner Flyback Chronograph. All three of these watches represent fantastic forays into the sport watch category, and each one is a piece that I would gladly wear every day if I was lucky enough to own one.

Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon

The Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon is more surprising for me because it is simply an update with a steel bracelet. While I liked the previous version with a rubber strap, the steel bracelet is what finally made this piece a sure thing in my mind. I have always loved the brand and its aesthetic, and this piece is simultaneously both bold and under the radar.

SZ: Who says that a tourbillon and a sports watch can’t go together? Some independent brands have proved that this daring combination is not only possible but can be quite a statement if well executed. Of course, a timepiece from Laurent Ferrier meets these criteria. First introduced last year on a rubber strap, the Grand Sport Tourbillon is distinguished by its complex, almost architectural cushion-shaped stainless steel case featuring a beautiful arrangement of rounded edges. The sector-like gradient dial with bold, prolonged indices and prominent subsidiary seconds at 6 o’clock offers perfect legibility – crucial for a “sports watch.” Further underscoring the sporty nature of the timepiece, Laurent Ferrier now offers it with an all-new integrated metal bracelet with brushed and polished links.

Back of the Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon

Inside the Grand Sport Tourbillon ticks Laurent Ferrier’s hand-wound tourbillon movement fitted with a double balance spring. The movement finishes are breathtaking, with meticulous attention to every detail, and the tourbillon stands out between the ruthenium treated bridges.

JM: As for the Czapek Antarctique collection, this presents probably the most dramatic shift for a brand, one that has had clear intentions for its pieces, which have never reflected this direction. And I like that. The Antarctique collection is decidedly retro aesthetic, which makes for a sharp-looking steel sports watch that looks like it could show up at any point from the mid-1960s until now and nobody would have batted an eye. But it also doesn’t feel dated or stale. It seems like an all-around great watch with a surprisingly fantastic movement that hopefully will be a big piece for the brand.

Czapek Antarctique

Finally, the H. Moser Streamliner Flyback Chronograph Automatic is a surprise from a brand known for very subdued, minimalist watches. Which the Streamliner is decidedly not. But it also isn’t out of line; it is just a very unique design that goes down its own path and has created an aesthetic that I am very excited to see developed. But that’s not all: it also features an evolution of the AgenGraphe by Agenhor, which in itself would make this watch for me. I am heartily a movement guy, and any watch that bears a version of this movement is going to be high on my list.

IS: The H. Moser Streamliner Flyback Chronograph Automatic is one of my honorable mentions, Joshua. I saw and tried it on during Dubai Watch Week 2019 and loved it.

H. Moser & Cie Streamliner Flyback Chronograph Automatic on the wrist

TM: The H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Flyback Chronograph manages to exploit a trend without submitting to it, guys. While most of the recent sales pitches for integrated-bracelet sports watches draw on the timeless elegance of the 1970s (e.g., the watches designed by Gérald Genta), Moser tapped the timeless weirdness of the 1970s.

The Streamliner echoes the innumerable cushion-case chronographs of the period, the 1978 Ebel Sport Classic, and perhaps a bit of the alien presence of Omega’s immortal Speedsonic Seamaster Chronograph “Lobster Tail” bracelet. As a result, this Moser avoids the towering heap of Genta emulators that seems to grow by the day.

Moser’s watch feels like something a 1970s Heuer engineer might have created with an unlimited budget and a time machine. Its dial-side color gradient is recognizably Moser, even as the “racing dial” outer track is recognizably vintage. Hands are an underrated feature of good watch design, and Moser scores well on this count: these compound-material hands sport color, volume, and handsome details.

The case size – roughly 42 mm – is large, but it wears well on my 16 cm wrist, so I dig it. Ergonomics aside, the quality of the bracelet on the Streamliner feels equal to its $40,000 price, and the sensual aspects of the watch experience deserve at least as much attention as the ever-present tech specs. It’s not thin at just over 14 mm, but it wears well.

Tapping Agenhor for the Moser HMC 902 movement was a winning move, and the unique chronograph caliber’s suite of virtues – an exclusive clutch, a hidden rotor, a flyback function, central chronograph minutes – leave no room to second-guess Moser’s rare use of a purchased movement. With 120-meter water resistance and the eyebrow-raising claim that chronograph pushers can be used while submerged, the Streamliner is everyday tough too.

Quick Facts Laurent Ferrier Tourbillon Grand Sport
Case: 44 mm, stainless steel
Movement: manual Caliber LF 619.01 with one-minute tourbillon, double balance spring, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, 80-hour power reserve, officially chronometer certified
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds
Limitation: 12 pieces
Price: CHF 172,000

Quick Facts H. Moser & Cie Streamliner Flyback Chronograph Automatic
Case: 42.3 x 14.2 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber HMC 902 developed with Agenhor, column-wheel chronograph, 60-hour power reserve, peripheral rotor under the dial
Functions: hours, minutes; chronograph minutes, flyback seconds
Limitation: 100 pieces
Price: $39,900

Further reading:

Moser & Cie. Streamliner Flyback Chronograph Automatic With Full Metal Bracelet: Inspiring Amnemori!

The AgenGraphe By Agenhor: The Most Significant Chronograph Since . . . Since The Invention Of The Chronograph (With Videos)

LVMH Watch Week picks: Zenith Elite Moonphase (x2) and two Bulgaris

MG: The Zenith Elite Moonphase is one of the very few watches I was able to see in the metal during the LVMH Watch Week in Dubai earlier this year. While I am usually a big fan of classic gold-encased watches, I prefer this Zenith in stainless steel. The reason for this is the stunning grey dial with its deep sunburst guilloche pattern. Combined with the grey alligator strap this watch is an incredible all-rounder.

Zenith Elite Moonphase

I always feel that the Elite collection doesn’t get the attention that it deserves. The movement is one that we already know from some of the ladies’ models of the Elite collection, yet I think that it works better in this model as there is still some dial around the complications. With a diameter of 40.5 mm, this watch is modernly sized and should be able to win over quite a few modern-day gentlemen – as it did for sure did with me.

SZ: For most people, the name Zenith is synonymous with El Primero, the brand’s legendary chronograph introduced more than 50 years ago. And rightfully so: as one of the first automatic chronographs it represented the cutting edge and was designed for all things associated with sports and precision.

Zenith’s Elite collection is quite different, mostly comprising dress watches for men and women with timeless aesthetics, some of them with moon phases.

In 2020, the line received a makeover and is now offered in two sizes (36 and 40.5 mm). Like Martin, my favorite newcomer is also the men’s version with a dark, slate-gray dial. Its pronounced, almost sculptured sunray pattern adds an expressive depth while offering a subtle play with light and shadow. The classically styled moon phase distinguished by a midnight-blue sky with some stars and a rhodium-plated disk takes center stage at 6 o’clock while the more discreet subsidiary seconds are at 9 o’clock. The overall impression of all elements, from the indications to the dauphine-style hands to the faceted hour markers, is very balanced and harmoniously proportioned.

This Elite offers a power reserve of 50 hours and is also a feast for the eyes, sporting a new star-shaped rotor and top-quality finishing, including perlage on the base plate and Geneva waves on the bridges.

Quick Facts Zenith Elite Moonphase
Case: 40.5 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic manufacture caliber Elite 692, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 50-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, (hacking) small seconds; moon phase
Price: CHF 6,900 / €6,800

Bulgari Octa Finissimo Steel and Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon

BC: I own the original Octo Finissimo in titanium and think it is almost the perfect all-rounder watch – except for the 30-meter water resistance rating. Bulgari solved that problem with the 2020 Octo Finissimo steel’s negligibly (0.1 mm) thicker case, screw-down crown, and 100 m water resistance rating. Now it is a great every-day, take-anywhere watch. I also think that the black lacquer dial has injected some personality into the rather muted watch.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic in steel

ED: In our round table directly following the LVMH Watch Fair, where the new steel Octo Finissimo was introduced, Robert-Jan Broer said almost the same thing, Bhanu!

I also have a favorite from that fair, one that really, really deviates from my normal likes because it is so very feminine: the Bulgari Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon. This delicate, elegant timepiece features a brand-new tourbillon movement that fits within the svelte serpent-head-shaped case of Bulgari’s iconic Serpenti – in itself quite a feat!

Bulgari Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon in pink gold

But the new tourbillon also holds a magic trick: a sapphire crystal bridge to make it look as if it were a flying tourbillon. While I agree with what Martin wrote in Bulgari Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon: Precious Metal, Precious Stones, Precious Movement, that the overall finishing of the movement could have used a bit more attention, I think these were prototypes (and perhaps Bulgari has done just that in the final versions) and that the ingenuity of the piece still deserves wider recognition.

The result is a spectacular watch with modest dimensions. It is the smallest tourbillon movement currently available on the market, measuring 22 x 18 mm. And when you take all of that into consideration, even the price for the least diamond-set version (which is still set with 299 diamonds/2.88 ct on the case, bezel, dial and buckle!) of €86,500 seems very fair.

IS: The Bulgari Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon is another of my honorable mentions, Elizabeth. It’s one of the best ladies’ watches I’ve seen in years.

Quick Facts Bulgari Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon
Case: 34 x 8.9 mm, pink gold, set with a total of 299 diamonds (2.88 ct) on case, bezel, dial and buckle
Movement: manual wind Caliber BVL150 with one-minute tourbillon with sapphire crystal bridge, power reserve 40 hours, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: €86,500

Quick Facts Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic
Case: 40 x 5.25 mm, stainless steel
Movement: ultra-slim automatic Caliber BVL 138, 2.23 mm height, 36.6 mm diameter, 21,600 vph/3 Hz frequency, 60-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Price: $13,900 on a bracelet, $12,800 on a strap

Further reading:

LVMH Watch Week 2020: A Round Table Discussion Of A New-Generation Group Fair And A Photofest Of New Watches From Zenith, Hublot And Bulgari

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic: Enchanting Ultra-Thin In Titanium, Gold, Ceramic And Now In Steel

Bulgari Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon: Precious Metal, Precious Stones, Precious Movement

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic: To Live With Is To Love

Cartier fans

GG: My fifth selection is in the artistic crafts department: Cartier’s Ronde Louis Cartier Straw and Gold Marquetry watch. I’m a big fan of marquetry, and the images I’ve seen of this piece look just superb with a highly dimensional panther seeming to look up confidently into a freshening rainstorm.

Cartier Ronde Louis Cartier Straw and Gold Marquetry

MG: While I had high expectations for the new Pasha, I was slightly disappointed when the photos were released during the digital Watches & Wonders fair. It seems to offer very little new, and I also don’t consider it better than predecessors like the Pasha de Cartier 42 and the sportier Pasha Seatimer.

Cartier Santos-Dumont XL in steel

I am, however, quite taken by the new Santos-Dumont XL. Not only are its proportions spot on, but the quartz movement has been replaced with a mechanical one supplied by Piaget. This is the best of both worlds, as I have always been a fan of Piaget’s Caliber 430P, which has over the years also proven a reliable choice. I know that many watch connoisseurs have been waiting for a mechanical movement for the Santos-Dumont and now they have what they wished for!

Cartier Privé Tank Asymétrique

BC: I think Cartier’s Privé Tank Asymétrique is one of the most stylish watches of 2020. If I wore this to visit our resident dandy, Martin, he would gladly welcome me to his private cigar lounge!

I like the unusual case, asymmetrical dial layout, slim profile, triple-lug construction, and cabochon crown. My first thoughts were that I hope it comes in a steel case, but after contemplating further, I don’t think it would do this dandy watch any justice.

Quick Facts Cartier Santos-Dumont XL
Case: 46.6 x 33.9 x 7.5 mm, stainless steel, two-tone steel with pink gold, and full 18-karat pink gold
Movement: manual-wind Caliber 430 MC, 3Hz/21,600 vph frequency, 38-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: €4,700 for stainless steel; €6,500 for steel/gold; €12,500 for full gold model

Further reading:

3 New Watches For 2020 From Cartier, Montblanc, And Roger Dubuis

IWC Portugieser Automatic 40

MG: The IWC Portugieser Automatic 40 is perhaps not the most eye-catching introduction so far this year, but what a timeless beauty it is.

Even in a smaller dimension, IWC been able to maintain the appeal and oversized look that has always characterized the Portugieser. By changing subtle details, it remains quite sporty in stainless steel with blued hands and numerals, while it immediately receives a more classical note when variation is chosen with gold hands and numerals.

IWC Portugieser Automatic 40 in pink gold and stainless steel variations

Powered by a manufacture movement with Pellaton automatic winding, it has a healthy 60-day power reserve. I can only say that this is a watch that might not be the flashiest or most complicated, but it leaves very little to be desired.

BC: Even though I am personally most comfortable with the IWC Pilot series, I have to say that the brand has finally released a Portugieser that hits the sweet spot for many wrists with a 40 mm case size. Applied numerals and the in-house 82200 movement are music to my ears. I can safely predict that Portugieser 40 in steel will be a commercial success for IWC in this otherwise down year.

ED: The only thing I would worry about is the price of these time-only watch . . . am I the only one who thinks they are a bit high?

Quick Facts IWC Portugieser Automatic 40
Case: 40.4 x 12.4 mm, stainless steel or red gold
Movement: Caliber 82200 with Pellaton automatic winding system, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 60-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Price: $7,000 in stainless steel; $16,000 in red gold

Further reading:

7 Brand-New IWC Portugieser Watches For 2020

Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic 10547

SZ: The Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic 10547 is yet another great example of a well-made evolution of a sophisticated timepiece.

The Geneva-based brand made quite an impression with the introduction of the original at the SIHH in 2018, gift-wrapping a new manufacture caliber including silicon technology (which was unfortunately later removed), chronometer-quality precision, and a five-day power reserve. It combined these technical features with a fine sector-style dial, offering it at a very competitive price.

Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic 10547

It was only a question of time as to when this model family would welcome additional complications. And here we are with the Baumatic day date moon phase, whose two complications are beautifully integrated into the clean gradient, lacquered gray dial with the weekday indication at 12 o’clock and the moon phase comprising two silver disks revolving between a starry night sky and a smoked sapphire crystal aperture. That subdial also integrates the date display.

At the heart of the watch ticks an upgraded version of the BM14 Baumatic caliber, offering Genevan fine finishing such as perlage, côtes de Genève, and an openworked rotor.

For more information, please visit

Quick Facts Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic 10547
Case: 42 mm x 12.95 mm, pink gold
Movement: automatic Caliber Baumatic BM14-1975A C2, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 120-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; moon phase, date, weekday
Price: $12,200

Further reading:

Give Me Five! 5 Of The Best Value-For-Money Watches At SIHH 2018

Naughty Or Nice? A Down-To-Earth (Under $5,000) Wish List Including Breitling, Baume & Mercier, Tutima, Nomos Glashütte, and Seiko Presage

Top 5 Value-For-Money Watches At SIHH 2019 From Jaeger-LeCoultre, Cartier, Baume & Mercier, Montblanc, And IWC

Sporty does it: Breitling Chronomat Frecce Tricolori, Doxa Sub 300 Carbon Aqua Lung U.S. Divers, and Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Original

TM: The Doxa Sub 300 Carbon Aqua Lung U.S. Divers is the best new Panerai of 2020. Why is that? Let’s count the ways. Do we have a well-worn basic shape iterated for the umpteenth time? Does this limited edition arrive in the wake of innumerable predecessors? Is a different case material cause to announce a new model? Is this an in-your-face XXL watch tenuously tied to a distant and receding history? Finally, is the watch pitched under an unwieldy and meandering model name?

Doxa Sub 300 Carbon Aqua Lung U.S. Divers

Without a doubt, the “DS300CALU.S.D” (my parody name for this Doxa) is the best new Panerai of 2020. But here’s the difference: the Doxa costs an eminently reasonable $4,790. Compare: my buddy just received a quote for $1,300+ just to replace the chipped bezel on his PAM 616 Carbotech. Advantage: Doxa.

More than an iteration, Doxa’s new Sub 300 Carbon is an intriguing option in a price class where design quality and detail refinements can be huge differentiators. The use of a chronometer-certified movement is a nice gesture in a segment where base-level ETA and Sellita movements tend to be the exception rather than the rule. Doxa’s bezels are world-class for feel and sound, and this is also a major advantage. And at 87 grams, this is knocking on the door of F.P. Journe LineSport titanium models; carbon fiber generally does a better job of hiding scratches than PVD-coated titanium.

In a world where $10,000+ sports watches rarely leave the office, Doxa’s new synthetic Sub is a refreshing option for rough assignments. And it might save you from paying the bezel bounty to Panerai.

Breitling Chronomat Frecce Tricolori

BC: My best of 2020 wouldn’t be complete without a pilot’s watch, of course! And I choose the Breitling Chronomat Frecce Tricolori, which is a tribute to the original 1980s Chronomat made in cooperation with the Italian Aerial Squadron. Think of it as the Italian Maverick wearing it for the reboot of Top Gun. The updated bezel with four rider tabs and Rouleaux bracelet make this modern Chronomat far more appealing than the original. I am ready to ride into the danger zone!

TM: Ball watches don’t seem to receive much attention outside of collector forums, and that’s a shame because the products tend to be built like Tiger tanks and packed with clever features. The 2020 Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Original (EHO) is an imaginative alternative to standard dive watches. From the dial to the movement, Ball exploited every opportunity to add value that makes this $3,200 diver difficult to compare to the Oris, Breitling, TAG Heuer, and Seiko models that dominate this price class.

Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Original

The Engineer Hydrocarbon’s visage is legible and clean, but the real intrigue starts with a dial design that combines the depth of Panerai’s traditional sunken-lume sandwich construction with 30 tritium Traser capsules. This avoids the matchstick-art dial aesthetic of previous Ball watches while retaining the light-independent lume capability of tritium.

The day-date is a useful function, but it’s the proprietary combination of Ball Spring Lock shock protection and 80,000 A/M magnetic resistance – effectively 1,000 Gauss – that enhances this basic ETA practical for rough use. Chronometer certification further differentiates the model in its price cohort. Ball’s crown protection lock is more gimmick than innovation, but it can be forgiven in the larger context of product value.

I have recorded videos of more than 6,000 individual watches, and Ball’s specification of case, bracelet, and clasps stand out as memorable. If this EHO is built like previous Ball divers, the hardware is likely to give the impression of a far more expensive watch.

But a friendly 40 mm case might be this Ball’s most attractive feature. Following a period when most Ball designs felt sized for offensive linemen, this one seems tailor-made for the anatomy of an average engineer.

Quick Facts Breitling Chronomat Frecce Tricolori
Case: 42 x 15.1 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber 01, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 70-hour power reserve, column wheel control of the chronograph, vertical clutch, officially C.O.S.C. chronometer certified
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, chronograph
Price: $8,250

In conclusion and honorable mentions

GG: As honorable mentions: I’ll first give a shout out to Joshua Shapiro for his ultra-cool Infinity Series P.01 with guilloche meteorite dial – I brought it up on a call with friends the other day, and two of them had already ordered it!

J.N. Shapiro Infinity P.01 Meteorite

ED: I would love to see this piece! I have a feeling it could become one of my favorites too.

GG: My second honorable mention goes to the Ming 27.01 ultra-thin watch; I saw and loved a prototype of the case last fall and it looks as if the finished watch will not disappoint.

BC: This year I would have celebrated my fifteenth consecutive trip to Baselworld, but 2019 trip turned out to be my last ever . . .

IS: Never say never, Bhanu!

ED: I hear you, Bhanu. It seems absolutely surreal that this fair is no more. But I’m not going to tell you how many years I’ve been going!

GG: Here’s to the times when we could meet up with watch friends and handle – and debate – the year’s new offerings. May they soon return!

ED: Hear, hear!

You may also enjoy:

LVMH Watch Week 2020: A Round Table Discussion Of A New-Generation Group Fair And A Photofest Of New Watches From Zenith, Hublot And Bulgari

5 New Watches For Women We Would Have Seen At Watches & Wonders (SIHH) 2020 By Cartier, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin, Hermès, And MB&F

3 New Tourbillons For 2020 By IWC, H. Moser & Cie, And Jacob & Co

4 Exotic New Watches For 2020 By Independent Watchmakers Urwerk, MB&F, F.P. Journe, And Greubel Forsey

3 New Watches For 2020 From Cartier, Montblanc, And Roger Dubuis

7 replies
  1. Gav
    Gav says:

    Nice! Glad you considered the Breitling Chronomat – I kicked myself for not including it in my suggestions.

    Was also glad to see Gary’s eyebrow raised. Mine’s in the middle of my forehead. What’s up with Journe’s new QP by the way – no fanfare whatsoever. Is it that I’ve just noticed it, but it was released ages ago?

      • Elizabeth Doerr
        Elizabeth Doerr says:

        Challenge definitely, but the Innovation and Audacity prizes are given at the jury’s discretion, so we won’t know that until the big night. This roundup wasn’t about the GPHG, btw, just about our biased favorites from this year so far.

  2. Thomas 37 Grad
    Thomas 37 Grad says:

    oooh how nice, very entertaining and a great fun to read, dear Elizabeth, dear panelists. This is a great line-up of all spectacular new watches to be nominated. And I am so happy to see that you all have not nominated and discussed the (horrible word:) “Iconic” category. You are simply all too wise to discuss about the “influence on watchmaking history for more than 20 years” – cause it is simple and obvious: The Lange 1 … hahahahaha. All agreed? Ich höre keine Gegenstimme.
    Greetings, Thomas

  3. thewatchidiot
    thewatchidiot says:

    “BC: The second trend has spilled over from last year: making a “quintessential” steel sports watch with integrated bracelet. I will take great pleasure in seeing this trend disappear.”
    What a strange comment. We all have biases and desires. I certainly can appreciate your bias on this disliking this category but to wish it would disappear? Are purchasers not entitled to buy what “they” like. Are companies not supposed to make what consumers want to buy? Am I supposed to wait to like what a journalist tells me I should like? These were my thoughts when I read that statement. Sur wish you could clarify your dislike?


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