Just like those familiar hands that constantly circumnavigate the dial, the world of watchmaking never stops for a moment. It’s always moving forward. Each brand tries to carve out a niche, and each expert watchmaker tries to outdo all the others with new advances in the art and technique.
1. Rolex Daytona, in Steel
This year there are some interesting developments afoot, and the leading brands in Haute Horlogerie are taking bold steps into the future with their 2016 debuts. I have selected five new arrivals to showcase here – in my opinion – the most important of the lot.
It’s one of the most anticipated watches to have been released by Rolex since 1965. The brand new Daytona with a black Cerachrom bezel has caused a stir at Baselworld, and the waiting list is already a long one.
What makes it so appealing is the fact that it pays homage to one of the most desirable vintage models – the Ref 6240, the ultimate racing Rolex.
The Daytona’s distinctive identity is sealed with the charismatic black bezel engraved with a tachymeter scale for measuring average speeds of up to 400 miles or kilometers per hour.
It’s made from Cerachrom, which is corrosion resistant, virtually scratchproof and completely unaffected by UV rays.
2. Tudor Heritage Black Bay 36
This is a brand with proud historical ties to Rolex, but it developed a unique personality of its own among military and diving circles throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s.This year Tudor released the heritage range, all featuring the classic ‘Snowflake’ hour hands. The Black Bay Bronze and Black Bay Dark are each appealing in their own way, but what caught my eye was the Black Bay 36. The name refers to the 36mm case which is perfect for finer wrists, and the watch wears particularly well.
3. Tag Heuer Monza Chronograph
It seems that going back to the vintage design roots is a popular theme this year. Tag Heuer have re-invented their 1976 classic, the Monza, but this time they’ve used grade-5 titanium for the case instead of steel. Now light as a feather, this racing classic is as attractive as it was 40 years ago. Perhaps even more so – I’m still undecided.
Black and white lacquered hour and minute hands and indices in vintage orange SuperLuminova offset the matt black dial to perfection.
The 42mm case with naked steel pushers and the calf-skin strap complete all the aesthetic lines, true to the vintage in many ways, but updated to today’s exacting standards.
4. Omega Speedmaster CK 2998The perennial classic ‘Moonwatch’ returns this year with a visual twist. The new Speedmaster retains the ever-faithful Calibre 1861 movement, one of Omega’s best, but this year’s new release is in striking blue.
I love the return of the instantly recognizable “lollipop” chronograph hand, and the tiny touches of style like the Seahorse medallion embossed on the screw-in case back, along with the number for this release which is limited to 2,998.
5. Patek Philippe World Time Chrono 5930GAs usual Patek Philippe has released a watch that is hard to compete with this year. Their latest offering, the World Time Chrono combines the Genevan manufacture's imposing World Time mechanism with a self-winding chronograph movement. It’s a feat of micro-engineering that hasn’t been seen in watchmaking since the 1940’s.
The striking blue dial is manually guilloched, and surrounded by white gold. It has a moving ‘city disk’ with each place name representing one of the 24 international time zones, plus a moving 24-hour ring on which the time is indicated.
The dial is a busy place, with lots of movement, but all harmonized to perfection in Patek Philippe’s consummate style, as always.
Among the many new developments in horology, these five are at the very top of my list. There’s one more important item to add, however, even if it is as an afterthought. Rolex has just announced the limited release of the new Platinum Day Date featuring Arabic Hindi numerals and an Arabic calendar. It’s intended exclusively for the Middle Eastern Market.
Like the steel Daytona, you can expect a lengthy waiting list. I expect them to be in high demand, judging by the popularity of previous GCC dial Rolexes from the 1950’s which are extremely rare. Those watches have become highly collectible over time, and probably some of the most sought-after watches in the entire Middle East, with prices steadily climbing. As an investment, they’re definitely worth mentioning in any list of important watches.