Watches & Wonders: The best new men’s watches of 2023

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The most buzzed-about new men’s watch of last year didn’t fly off the production lines of Rolex, Patek Philippe or Audemars Piguet. The biggest watch story of 2022 belonged to little-old (ok, not so little) plastic-tastic Swatch. Admittedly, the watch in question, the Speedmatser-aping MoonSwatch, happened to be an expertly calculated (it turned out) collaboration with industry titan Omega. And, technically, the watch wasn’t made of plastic, but Bioceramic, a swanky-sounding composite made by fusing ceramic with oil extracted from castor beans. Still, few would have predicted a battery-powered number that would have set you back £228 (if you could get your hands on one (BIG if)) becoming the hottest watch of the year. Or any year, for that matter.

Guess what? Swatch has only been up to it again. At the start of March, after posting a teaser video for something called ‘Mission to Moonshine Gold’, MoonSwatch mania was back. With little to go on, watch heads began speculating that an all-gold variant might be in the offing. Oooooo. That would be cool. Nothing quite so dramatic, it turned out.

Instead, a new MoonSwatch Mission to the Moon with, wait for it, drum roll please, a seconds hand in Omega’s trademarked alloy Moonshine Gold. That’s it. That was the big reveal. The rest of the watch remained the same.

It was only available to purchase in four cities – Zurich, London, Milan and Tokyo – for one day. It would next become available on the next full moon (clever, I like it). All of which was enough to prompt long queues in those four cities and models being flipped online for four times their RRP on the day of launch (the price had been upped by £43 to £250 – still an absolute steal).  

The new Mission to Moonshine Gold might not have provoked quite the same hysteria as the original collection last year. But it did confirm Swatch as the watch industry’s ruling hype master. With 11 references to tap into, the potential for modification is enormous. Which makes you wonder, where will the hype machine roll next?

Of course, there’ll be plenty of other watches vying to wrestle the headlines away from the MoonSwatch in 2023. Keep track of the standout timepieces of the year as and when they drop below…

Omega Speedmaster Super Racing

Let’s start with the MoonSwatch’s muse – and Omega’s first watch out of the gate in 2023 – a brand new Speedmaster. While neon yellow accents, a cool honeycomb dial and a yellow-and-black striped small-seconds hand do for a noteworthy watch make, when it comes to the Super Racing, it’s what’s inside that counts. Since 2015, Omega has guaranteed all of its mechanical watches with an accuracy of 0 to +5 seconds per day. That promise already placed the brand near the top of the industry in terms of precision with only a handful of watchmakers able to promise anything close to that.

Now, however, Omega has gone one further. Fine-tuning a hairspring device, the company has come up with something called the Spirate System. Watches equipped with the device, such as the Super Racing, can now be guaranteed to an accuracy of between 0 and +2 seconds per day. Most significantly, perhaps, the feat provides Omega with bragging rights over market rival Rolex, which can only promise precision rates of between -2 and +2 seconds a day. Slackers.  


Audemars Piguet 37mm Royal Oak Selfwinding

auemars piguet royal oak selfwinding

Turquoise dials, as you already know, have become a sensation. Patek Philippe started it, when it co-signed a dial with Tiffany & Co. on the Nautilus 5711 1A-018 in 2021. Jay Z nabbed one. So did Lebron James, Mark Wahlberg and Leonardo DiCaprio. The mania sent prices of Rolex’s turquoise-dial Oyster Perpetual, launched in 2020, soaring. And the craze obviously wasn’t lost on Swatch, which chose an aquamarine dial for its Mission to Uranus last year. Grand Seiko and Girard-Perregaux have also jumped on the bandwagon. Now, it’s the turn of Audemars Piguet, which has unveiled a new version of its 37mm Royal Oak Selfwinding model crafted in 18-carat yellow gold and illuminated by a natural turquoise dial. Consider it horological catnip to rappers, ballers and Hollywood’s movers and shakers.


Breitling Premier B01 Chronograph 42

breitling premier b01 chronograph

Breitling bolsters its Premier collection, reintroduced in 2021, with six new references. The original Premier watches debuted in 1943 and represented the brand’s top-tier offering. Befittingly, 80 years on, the latest Premiers house the highest-ranking movement within Breitling’s arsenal, the watchmaker’s own in-house, self-winding Calibre 01. That guarantees an accuracy of -4 to +6 seconds per day, and a 70-hour power reserve. The 2023 models arrive with slightly slimmer profiles than their 2021 predecessors, although diameters have been upped from 40mm to 42mm. In the metal, the salmon dial option – black, blue, cream, green and white are also available – charms the most.


Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph 39mm

tag heuer carrera chronograph 2023

The Carrera turns 60 this year. Meaning it clearly ain’t broken. So what do you do? You tweak it. How? With a rounder sapphire crystal dome in the manner of models from the ’70s. Why? To help magnify the tachymeter scale. What else? More pronounced pushers, to make them easier to, err, push. Cool. There’s also a more efficient version of Tag Heuer’s in-house automatic Heuer 02 movement, with an oscillating weight that will now wind the watch in two directions, rather than one. Watch it do its thing through a crystal caseback.


Hermès H08 

hermes h08 2023

Image: Joel Von Allmen

Not that the Hermès H08 didn’t already catch the eye, but the Parisian maison has now rendered the sports watch in attention-commanding shades of yellow, green, blue and, our favourite, orange. Vibrant accents appear on the glass seal, the minutes track and the varnished seconds hand. Debuting in 2021, the H08 doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves. Look at it! These new references might change that.


Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date

vacheron constantin patrimony retrograde day date

Consider the Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date something of a Vacheron Constantin greatest hits compilation. The brand’s combination of platinum case and salmon-coloured dial dates back to the 1990s – in the ’40s it was Vacheron Constantin that became one of the early champions of salmon-pink dials – while for the double retrograde day-date display, the watchmaker sought inspiration from commissions it received in the ’20s and ’30s. Just a shame the typesetting of the days couldn’t be a little more uniform, but maybe that’s just us.


Bell & Ross BR 05 Green Gold

bell & ross br 05 green gold

The Bell & Ross BR 05 Green Gold marries two of the biggest trends in the watch sector of recent years: integrated sports bracelets and green dials. In this case, an 18ct rose gold bracelet (and case) and a luminous green dial meant to mimic the colour of a fir tree (although we’ve never seen a spruce this luminous). The dial changes colour depending on the amount of light hitting it. Which means you’ll be titling your wrist constantly.   


Piaget Polo QP Obsidian

piaget polo qp obsidian watch

Two Piaget epochs collide in the new Polo QP Obsidian. First, we have Piaget as manufacturer of chic, sporty, modern dress watches. See the Polo’s graceful curves and svelte silhouette. Second, is Piaget as flamboyant, ornamental jeweller, a throwback to the brand’s exuberant designs from the ’60s and ’80s. Demonstrated here in the form of a rare obsidian dial and sapphire bedazzled bezel. Only 18 pieces will be made.


Tissot PRX

tissot prx black

Given the success of Tissot’s sporty ’70s throwback, the PRX, which was rebooted in 2021 to what seemed like the universal approval of watch land, it’s of little surprise that the collection has been comprehensively extended. There is a range of dial colours, new rubber straps and a glow-in-the-dark dial option. It’s the few-thrills, quartz-powered black-on-black variant that most rocks it for us though.


A.Lange & Söhne Odysseus Chronograph

With its link bracelet, narrow bezel, athletic looks and – shock horror – use of steel, rather than precious metals, the Odysseus may have sent A. Lange & Söhne purists into a twist when it was released in 2019, but it seems the brand remains committed to exploring sportier avenues. Despite their apparent ubiquity today, propriety chronograph movements remain one of trickiest complications to master. Even among the big boys, many stopwatches continue to be powered by third-party calibres. Not this latest Odysseus. This latest Odysseus is powered by A. Lange & Söhne’s first self-winding chronograph, a feat even trickier to realise than its hound-wound counterpart.


Panerai Radiomir Otto Giorni

panerai radiomir otto giorni

Panerai’s latest Radiomir references the very first Radiomir, which, quite incredibly, appeared all the way back in 1935 (at the behest of the Italian Navy). Whereas the original prototype measured 47mm – great for sliding over wetsuits, not so practical for fitting under the sleeve of a dinner suit – this 2023 model arrives at a slightly more slender 45mm (it’s still a whopper). As the case is made from Panerai’s hand-finished eSteel – a product of recycled steel scraps – each watch will be unique.  


Read more: The best men’s watches under £5,000

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