15 Watches from 2023 I’d Love to Own – IF Money No Object – and One I’m Most Likely to Buy
by Ian Skellern
In no particular order, here are 15 watches from 2023 that I’d love to own (if somebody else was paying) and one I hope to buy for myself.
Urwerk UR-102 Reloaded
It comes in either black or gray, and it’s the natural titanium with blue dial that I’d love to have strapped to my wrist. To my mind, it’s the perfect modern dress watch.
Price: CHF 56,000 as a box set of two watches (natural titanium and black titanium)
For more information, please visit www.urwerk.com/collections/ur-satellite/ur-102-reloaded
While I admire the intricate complexity of their movements, I’m not a fan of chronographs. While I can see that a chrono might be useful to some, it’s a complication I would rarely, if ever, use and I’d rather admire a clean dial than one full of small indications.
And the De Bethune DB8 has the cleanest chronograph dial I’ve ever seen: you would not know that it’s a chronograph at all. It indicates hours and minutes, while the chrono timing is indicated by the central seconds hand and the minute subdial at 6 o’clock. Just look how that subdial goes right to the edge of the dial, which highlights that the movement is perfectly sized for the 42.4 mm case.
And the icing on the cake is that mono-pusher chronograph button, it’s the sweetest, smoothest chrono pusher I’ve ever operated. Just magic.
Price: CHF 85,000
Further reading: De Bethune DB Eight: The Ultimate in Chronograph Refinement!
For more information, please visit www.debethune.ch/en/collections/db-kind-two-2-2/dbd-season-2
The Czapek Place Vendôme Complicité, was one of my top watches of the year, and I even thought that it had a good chance at taking the Aiguille d’Or at the 2023 GPHG. It really has it all: great design, interesting double escapement complication, and a superlatively hand-finished movement.
I usually prefer more discreet-looking watches, but the red gold case with blue dial is simply stunning. At 85,000 Swiss francs, it’s certainly not a cheap watch, but it offers incredible value for money.
Price: CHF 85,000
For more information, please visit https://czapek.com/complicite/
Greubel Forsey Balancier 3
While it was the mesmerizing Greubel Forsey Cardan with its seemingly rotating, but not actually rotating, inclined balance, that (well-deservedly) got a lot of the attention, it was the eminently wearable Balancier 3 launched at Dubai Watch Week that induced my lust.
While I’m a big fan of Greubel Forsey, their watches have always been too large for my chicken leg sized wrists, so I’ve always admired their watches while not thinking I could ever wear one. But the slim 41.5mm convex case of the Balancier 3 both fits my wrist perfectly and, at 160,00 Swiss francs, it’s the most affordable Greubel Forsey available.
And rest assured that no corners have been cut; the superb quality and peerless hand finishing are everything you expect from Greubel Forsey.
It’s the blue-dialed version that I dream of on my wrist.
Price: CHF 160,000
For more information, please visit www.greubelforsey.com/en/watches/balancier-3
Ressence Type 1 Round Multicolour
There are no hands, the hours, minutes, seconds and days all orbit the convex dial and each other in a light titanium case. Pure magic!
Price: CHF 16,800
For more information, please visit https://ressencewatches.com/collections/type-1-round/products/type-1-round-multicolour
Patria Brigadier Tourbillon Subscription Edition
Love them or hate them, one thing that most collectors know is that tourbillons are very expensive. However, the Patria Brigadier Tourbillon Subscription Edition is my pick for best value for money watch in 2023.
At 18,000 Swiss francs, it’s not cheap, but the beautifully hand finished proprietary Swiss movement is just sensational.
Price: CHF 18,000
Further reading: Patria Brigadier Tourbillon Subscription Edition: A Beautifully Hand-Finished, Swiss Made Tourbillon for 18,000 Swiss francs is the Bargain of the Year, perhaps the Decade!
For more information, please visit https://patriawatch.co/product/brigadier-tourbillon-subscription-edition/
Bernhard Lederer is one of the greatest independent watchmakers, with a career spanning many decades. So it should be no surprise that his Central Impulse Chronometer, with two escape wheels, each with their own remontoir, took the Innovation prize at the 2021 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG).
While my favorite was the blue-dial version, Lederer’s new Central Impulse Chronometer Inverto, which has no dial so that the stunning symmetrical movement is more fully open to view, is now high on my if-somebody-else-is-paying wish list.
Price: CHF 150,000
Further reading: Bernhard Lederer Central Impulse Chronometer*: A Superlative Watch But Is It Really A Chronometer?
For more information, please visit https://ledererwatches.com/the-timepieces/
One of the many great things about Dubai Watch Week is that so many new watches are launched at or for the event. While that’s a treat for collectors, it can make it difficult for brands to stand out from such a competitive field.
However one watch that did manage to rise head and shoulders above the competition – and was the watch of the fair for many – was the MB&F Horological Machine No.11 Architect.
You rotate the whole movement to select the dial you want on display and to wind the movement. HM11 Architect also features a central flying tourbillon and a see-through sapphire crown. But as incredible as the technology and design is, what really blew me away is that at only 42mm in diameter, HM11 is very wearable.
Price: CHF 198,000
For more information, please visit www.mbandf.com/en/machines/horological-machines/hm11
At the very top of the haute horlogerie ladder there are only a very small handful of brands, and Ferdinand Berthoud has well-earned its place among them. While I would be overjoyed to have any watch by this niche brand, if I had to pick one (and someone else was paying) it would be the Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 3SPC.
It’s discreet enough not to attract unwanted attention, but with enough of the sensationally-hand-finished movement on display, including that mesmerizing cylindrical balance spring, to warrant hours of appreciation. The Chronomètre FB 3SPC is at the top of my money-no-object watch list.
Price: CHF 140,000
For more information, please visit www.ferdinandberthoud.ch/en/chronometre-fb-3spc
When I first met Simon Brette and he explained the watch he planned to develop in partnership with the best artisans he could find, I had doubts that it would look cohesive.
However, those doubts were dispelled a year later when I had a chance to see his first prototype. It was just sensational.
Unfortunately for many serious collectors, the series sold out long before it was even officially launched. However, as this is only a dream list of watches I’d love to own, the fact that the Chronomètre Artisans is practically impossible to buy is neither here-nor there.
And it wasn’t just a small group of those who appreciate fine independent watchmaking that thought it was a great watch, the Chronomètre Artisans Subscription Edition took the Horological Revelation prize at the 2023 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG).
Price: CHF 50,000 (sold out)
For more information, please visit https://simonbrette.com/en/product/timepiece-chronometre-artisans-subscription/
It’s hard to believe but the Ulysse Nardin Freak was originally launched over 20 years ago (in 2001). This was a time when wild concept-type watches were extremely rare. Max Büsser, then head of Harry Winton’s watch division launched the Opus 1 by François-Paul Journe that same year, and it was relatively tame Opus compared to those that followed.
There was Urwerk and Vianney Halter back then, but in terms of crazy innovative watches, that was it. The Freak One blew everyone away. It also took the Iconic watch prize at the 2023 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG).
At the 2023 Dubai Watch Week, Ulysse Nardin launched a new Freak: the Freak One Ops. And while kaki green wouldn’t have been among my choices for a watch color – especially such a distinctive watch – I thought that the green worked surprising well.
Another surprise was the fact that thanks to the lugs allowing the strap to hang straight down, the 44mm case was quite comfortable and didn’t look out of place on a small wrist.
Further reading: Ulysse Nardin Freak One Ops Reporting for Duty in Military Green
For more information, please visit www.ulysse-nardin.com/usa_en/2403-500-8a-3a
There are 5 rough categories of mechanical watches:
1. As affordable as possible (e.g., Swatch)
2. ‘Relatively’ affordable higher quality (e.g., Omega/Rolex)
3. top tier bigger brands with nicely finished movements (e.g., AP, Patek, VC, JLC))
4. Rarer superbly finished watches by independents (e.g., Dufour, Voutilainen, Ferdinand Berthoud, Petermann Bédat, Greubel Forsey)
5. And at the top of the (or my) list, there are extremely rare nearly fully handmade watches
In that highest echelon of watches as handmade as possible, using only traditional tools and techniques with no components made with CNC machines, I can only thing of 3 contenders: the Greubel Forsey Hand Made 1, Vincent Deprez’s Tourbillon Classique, and the Oscillon Fundamentum.
While the two former are virtually unobtainable, as far as I’m aware the Oscillon Fundamentum is still within reach (though you will have to wait). It’s a relatively simple looking and unassuming watch, and for me that’s what makes it so desirable.
And at only 38mm in diameter, it’s the perfect size for my small wrists. Santa didn’t put one in my stocking last Christmas, but there’s always hoping for the next.
Price: CHF 155,000
For more information, please visit https://oscillon.swiss/#fundamentum
The death, or at least the demise, of the dress watch, has been predicted for years, but Chopard has been one of the brands keeping the category alive. While purists might fault me for describing a steel-cased automatic-winding watch as a dress watch, I submit that the Chopard L.U.C 1860 fits the bill superbly.
With its 36.5mm Lucent Steel™ case, beautifully finished gold micro-rotor movement, and slim 8.2mm thickness, the L.U.C 1860 oozes timeless elegance from every angle. And that’s all without mentioning (until now) the simply stunning salmon-colored guilloched dial.
Further reading: Chopard L.U.C 1860: It’s Only Downside is that it’s So Good
For more information, please visit www.chopard.com/en-us/watch/168860-3003.html
It’s been over 50 years since Audemars Piguet introduced the horological world to a completely new category of wristwatch. With the launch of the steel cased Royal Oak back in 1972, the luxury sports watch was born.
Now, there’s a plethora of models and brands to choose from, but that has made it harder to stand out in the sports watch field.
With the One Week, Armin Strom has done just that. While the impressive 7-day power reserve in an eminently wearable 41mm case makes it a contender, it’s the distinctive contemporary styling, open dial, and manufacture movement that elevates the One Week to the top of the list. This is a watch you can wear every day and will put a smile on your face.
For more information, please visit https://arminstrom.com/en/collection/system-78/one-week-first-edition/
Andreas Strehler’s reputation as the ‘watchmaker’s watchmaker’ is well merited. As well as making many fantastic watches with innovative movements under his own name, he has also developed and manufactured many incredibly complicated watches for both other larger brands and fellow independent watchmakers.
In 2023 Andreas Stehler surprised us all with a new brand, ‘Strehler’ and a new watch, the ‘Sirna’. And it’s gorgeous! 40mm case, automatic manufacture movement, and a to-die-for blue guilloche dial.
While at 20,000 Swiss francs it is by no means a cheap watch, but the Sirna offers incredible value and is a reachable foot on the step to a watch by one of the world’s greatest independent watchmakers. I’d love one on my wrist.
Price: CHF 20,000
Further reading: The New Strehler Sirna: It Shocked Me!
For more information, please visit https://strehler.watch/
And after a stream of watches well beyond my budget, finally a watch that will hopefully be in reach within the next couple of years: the Tudor Black Bay 39.
As somebody that proves time and time again just how difficult it is to predict winners in the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), there is one safe prediction that has yet to fail me: if Tudor is a finalist in a category it will win. I remember Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson once stating that if you want a car, then a VW Golf will be the perfect car for you in virtually any category.
I feel the same way about the Tudor Black Bay: casual watch, sports watch, office wear, everyday beater, men’s watch, ladies’ watch? You name the category, there will be a Black Bay that is heads and shoulders above the rest.
And while collectors bemoan the unavailability of their favorite Rolex, you can walk in (or buy online) a Tudor Black Bay (or Pelagos) whenever you want.
When I saw the latest Tudor range at Watches and Wonders last year, I went to the pop-up Tudor store in Geneva and bought my wife a 36mm blue dial Black Bay. And ever since have wanted a 39mm version for myself. Superb manufacture movement, highly legible dial. COSC-rated chronometer, excellent bracelet with folding clasp, water resistant to 100 meters.
While I might want many watches that I can’t afford, I really only need one watch and that’s a Tudor Black Bay. And at a touch over 4,000 euros, it is tantalizingly within reach.
Price: €4,040 on bracelet
Further reading: Tudor Pelagos FXD: Better than the Black Bay?
For more information, please visit https://www.tudorwatch.com/en/watches/black-bay-31-36-39-41/m79660-0002
Which money-no-object watches are on your dream list and which ones do you think deserve a mention? I know I’ve missed some well-deserving models, but time and space wait for no man, including me. Let us know your favorites from the last year or so that deserve a shout-out in the comments below.
You might also enjoy:
Chronomètre Artisans Subscription Edition by Simon Brette: Sensational, Superlative, and Simply Sublime Independent Watchmaking at its Very Best
Ulysse Nardin Freak One Ops Reporting for Duty in Military Green