5 of our favourite watches of 2023

The wristwear that made an impression this year

What a year it has been for new watches, and, so, when the team at Gentleman’s Journal asked if I would put together a list of my top 5, I was genuinely perturbed over curating the ‘ideal’ selection. It’s tasking enough to look back and remember all the new models we have seen in the past 12 months, let alone pick a choice few – but, here we go…

Simon Brette Chronomètre Artisans

Simon Brette's announcement as an independent brand was probably 2023’s most shared and liked image on social media (among the horology geeks, that is). A distinct gold dial, beautiful finishing and a tiny run of first watches all played into why his Chronomètre Artisans was likely the timepiece of the year. After having worked with other brands, most notably MB&F, Brette broke out on his own with this subscription piece that immediately found an audience of dedicated collectors. Oh! And it even won the GPHG Revelation prize.

Rolex ‘Le Mans’

This year was the 60th anniversary of the Daytona, so we knew something special was coming; we just didn’t know it was going to be so hyped. When the 100th anniversary of the Le Mans race came around in June, Rolex made the 126529LN / 'Le Mans Daytona’. This new model is in white-gold, with bright-white subdials contrasting against the black sunburst dial; there's a ceramic bezel with a red ‘100' marker; a white-gold border for further contrast; and a display caseback.

The cherry on top? The lollipop subdial indicators, reminiscent of a Paul Newman Daytona, show that Rolex can still acknowledge the fans and their own history without making an homage.

IWC Ingenieur 40

For years, the collector community had been waiting for IWC to readdress the old Genta classic. Let’s not forget that it was in the 1970s that the legendary designer was asked to revamp the line. And, fits and starts over the years never really nailed that thin, integrated steel sports watch that was craved.

That all changed this year. IWC left no stone unturned in its full ground-up redesign. Between the 1970s Genta-centric heritage of the Ingenieur (and the design codes that come with it) and the classic Ingenieur logo on the dial, this watch feels steeped in its own history. And, yet, with the checkerboard dial, modern IWC logo, and 40mm sizing, no one is going to confuse it with a vintage creation.

Chopard 1860 L.U.C

Chopard is one of the few family-owned watchmakers at the top table of the game. Moreover, it has seemingly been on an endless positive trajectory in recent years. This new 1860 model launched at Watches & Wonders 2023 and was the talk of the show. Based on the ground-breaking L.U.C 1860, from 1997, it is one of the best time-only designs of the year.

There are indeed plenty of similarities with the older version, with a 36.5mm case that measures 8.2mm in thickness, a hand-guilloché gold dial, and a COSC-certified, Geneva Seal micro-rotor calibre. The winning combo here is a lack of date window at 6, and the white-metal-and-salmon dial.

Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon Pursuit

Though many brands have entered the 1970s-inspired sports watch foray, this model is different. It wears in a very distinct way, like all Laurent Ferrier offerings. Notably, it’s incredibly elegant, with small design touches all over it, such as the circular brushing on the bezel. Introduced in 2019, the Grand Sport Tourbillon reflected Laurent Ferrier’s love of motor racing, and the latest iteration comes in a lightweight titanium case with a lovely salmon-pink dial.

At 44mm diameter, it shares the same case specifications as the former editions, but is now housed in a grade 5 titanium case that weights just 118g. This timepiece joins the label’s permanent collection, yet remains highly exclusive since only 15 pieces will be produced a year. The price is on request. The whole package is full bore, unapologetically sports chic – and I, for one, am all in.

Want more watch content? Technically sound and elegant on the wrist, this is why Longines’s new models are your perfect travel companions…

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