If you don’t already know what you’re looking for, picking out a new watch can be an overwhelming process. Just in time for the 2017 holiday season, here are 12 of our favorites, covering a wide range of brands and prices.
Todd Snyder + Timex Blackjack
This striking time-only watch is the latest collaboration between NYC menswear designer Todd Snyder and Timex. The two brands worked together previously on a handful of designs such as the simple Military Watch and the red and white Mod Watch, but this is probably our favorite out of the bunch. Inspired by “speed dials and roulette wheels, the Blackjack evokes the noir glamour of fast cars, hot tires, and midcentury Monaco casinos.” The stealthy PVD case is stark against the white, blue, and red dial, especially with the wickedly cool pseudo-spiral motif created by the concentric rings and blue inserts. Just like the fan-favorite Timex Weekender, a basic quartz movement keeps the Blackjack affordable, while the standard NATO-style nylon strap means this works perfectly with jeans and a T-shirt.
Chopard Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph
With the exception of the Rolex Daytona, it’s difficult to think of a particular watch so indelibly linked to an automotive event more than Chopard’s Mille Miglia special editions. Each year, Chopard teams up with the Mille Miglia to offer a special edition watch to participants, and it usually ends up as one of the coolest bits of memorabilia available from the storied race. For those who can’t swing the exorbitant cost of participation, Chopard will offer “civilian” variants at a later date. At this year’s Baselworld, the brand unveiled a new Mille Miglia Classic Chronograph inspired by past editions. Chopard managed to successfully incorporate its trademark tire-tread strap. It’s not quite as cool as a spot on the starting grid, but there are worse ways to daydream.
Perrelet Turbine Sung Kang
The Perrelet Turbine is one of the most intriguing watches available without a five-figure price tag. Inspired by early automatic movements developed by Abraham-Louis Perrelet in the 18th century, the Turbine family features a free-spinning bladed rotor above the fixed dial. It’s not functional—a traditional semi-circle rotor around back winds the mainspring—but it brings a sense of occasion to the simple act of checking the time. This is the Sung Kang special edition, named for the actor who rose to stardom as Han Lue in the “Fast and Furious” film franchise. The watch wears a number of automotive themes, including a stylistic tachometer on the fixed dial and a staggered 12-hour scale, designed for easier viewing when your hand is on the steering wheel.
Tissot Heritage 1948 Chronograph
$1,400 (base price)
Want a vintage-styled chronograph but can’t spring for the $6,700 Zenith (right)? Be sure to check out Tissot’s new Heritage 1948 Chronograph. This white-dialed Tissot is a throwback to a chronograph pulled from the brand’s archives, packing plenty of historical design into an attractive 40-mm steel case. Underneath the traditional three-register dial spins a trusty ETA 2894-2 modular chronograph movement, a reliable workhorse that is found in everything from Chopards to TAG Heuers. The Heritage 1948 Chronograph is unabashedly old school, from the sculptural bombé lugs to the thin leaf-style hands. The watch arrives on a leather strap, but if you want to stay true to the vintage design, spring for the optional Milanese mesh bracelet. If you’re looking for pinpoint accuracy, the same design can be had with a COSC-certified variant of the ETA, capped at 8,888 units.
Breitling Superocean Heritage II
$4,080 (base price)
Breitling has quite a history when it comes to nautical and aeronautical endeavors, and the clean Superocean Heritage II is one of the best. This is one of Breitling’s classically inspired pieces, pulling cues from the original Superocean of the 1950s and 1960s. Unlike other heritage designs that ape the original watch, the Superocean wears influences from watches of yore rather than acting as a simple reissue of an old design. Underneath the steel case (available in either 42 or 46 mm) beats a Tudor-supplied movement, a new feature for 2017. It’s a tool watch but not one we’d be embarrassed to wear with a suit and tie. The Superocean comes in blue, black, a delicious bronze tone, or two-tone black with contrasting color.
Zenith Chronomaster Heritage 146
Far too many modern chronographs have fallen into the trap of big, brash, and bold, eschewing simple, clean design for huge indices, oversized blocky cases, and extraordinarily busy dials. We’re pleased to see Zenith offer an effortlessly handsome chronograph in the form of the Chronomaster Heritage, especially with such a simple, unadorned design. Underneath the classically proportioned case, Zenith slotted in its famous El Primero movement, a high-beat 36,000 VpH unit that has provided the bedrock for the brand since
the 1960s. This is one of the most versatile watches in this group. The Chronomaster looks just as sharp under the cuff of a suit as it does perched on the thin steering wheel of a Jaguar XK120.
Omega Speedmaster Racing Master Chronometer
The enduring Speedmaster is forever linked to its time on the lunar surface, but the chronograph began life in 1957 marketed toward drivers and race technicians. Ever since it cemented itself on the wrist of Apollo astronauts in the 1960s, the Speedmaster spawned an incredible amount of variants with different colors, complications, and designs. This orange-on-black Speedmaster Racing Master Chronometer was unveiled during last year’s Baselworld watch and jewelry show with a new name for 2017. This model is the new crown jewel of the Racing subfamily, packing some serious horological heat under the 44.25-mm case. This two-register chrono is home to Omega’s 9900 series movement, deemed accurate and exact enough to wear the Master Chronometer certification from the Swiss Federal Institute of Meteorology. If you’re not a fan of the colors, it’s offered in different liveries in steel and gold cases.
Bulova Moon Watch
$550 (base price)
If you want to grab a watch inspired by one worn on the moon, the $5,000-odd entry cost for Omega’s Speedmaster can be a bit steep. Thankfully, Bulova also found its way to the moon in the early 1970s, and it recently released the chronograph following the original, real-deal moon-landing example’s sale earlier last year. Visually, it’s a close copy of the original with only minor variations. The biggest change is the addition of a high-beat quartz movement, a feature Bulova is known for. Some enthusiasts might decry the lack of a mechanical heart, but consider this: The reissue is accurate to just a few seconds every year, making the new watch far more accurate than any of the ones—Omegas included—that landed on Earth’s satellite.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
$27,500 (base price)
In terms of evolution, Rolex likes to operate on timetables more geologic than seasonal. So, when arguably the world’s most famous watchmaker unveiled new Daytona variants at this year’s Baselworld, it was a surprise, to put it mildly. This is a followup to the wildly popular Daytona debut last year that included a new black Cerachrom ceramic bezel but adds in a new bracelet and case metal choice. In addition to steel, the ceramic bezel can be ordered on white, yellow, or rose gold, each wearing contrasting black subdials. What’s most surprising is that buyers are able to purchase a Rolex Daytona from the Bienne factory with Rolex’s Oysterflex bracelet, which is made of rubber. Prices for the new variants begin at $27,500 and climb from there.
Autodromo Group B Evoluzione
Creating an automotive-themed watch is easy; doing it well and tastefully is not. In that sense, Autodromo is the best in the business, seamlessly weaving cues from all eras of vintage cars and racers into its varied product lineup. Of all the unique designs in its stable, the wild Group B is a lightning strike of color and individuality, especially in the case of the Evoluzione. Pulling inspiration from the short-lived rally class of the same name, the Autodromo Group B Evoluzione builds on the already vibrant Group B and adds a specialized case composed of aerospace-grade aluminum. It’s powered by the same Miyota 9015 automatic movement that powers the regular watch, so it’s as rugged and reliable as it is striking to look at. If you like it as much as we do, get your order in soon. Production is limited to just 200 units per color.
TAG Heuer Autavia 02
$5,150 (base price)
In an unprecedented move, TAG Heuer opened the virtual doors to its design studio and asked fans to vote on the final design of a reissued Autavia. The online voting was done bracket style with head-to-head eliminations. After the digital dust settled, the Autavia ref. 2446 made famous by wrist time on racer Jochen Rindt took the laurels. This is more homage than full-bore reissue, considering the Autavia 02 features a fair bit of aesthetic differences from the older 2446. Most notably, it wears larger with a 42-mm case and thick, wide bezel. This is forgiven when you notice the incredibly cool classic “Heuer” script at 12 o’clock and take a peek under the hood at the beautiful and state-of-the-art Calibre 02 chronograph movement, a powerhouse that has been in development for quite a while.
BRM V12-44-MR-01/02 Martini Edition
We get it. You’re fed up with boring, bland vintage-inspired watches. You want something big, bold, and colorful. For those who prefer an uncorked big-block Top Fuel dragster to a buzzy Formula 1 car, BRM offers a large lineup of watches with effortlessly expressive designs. It’s hard to pick just one, but we’re going with the Martini Edition chronograph, the newest edition to the BRM family. Even from a distance, you won’t mistake the V12-44-MR-01/02 for anything else, thanks to liberal use of the blue, white, and red color scheme, with either a white or blue dial as the base. Inside the large steel 44-mm case ticks a trusty ETA Valjoux 7753 movement, so service and replacement parts won’t be too difficult. The Martini Edition is limited to just 150 of each color.