Happy New Year, everyone! I wish you and your loved ones all the very best for 2024, and hopefully, all of your wishes will come true. Before I give you an idea of what will happen here on Fratello in 2024, let me take this opportunity to reflect on 2023.

In early 2023, I purchased one of my “watch resolutions for 2023” pieces, the Breguet 7027

Goodbye, 2023

Let me start by saying that 2023 was a great year for Fratello in general. We published 1,547 stories on the Fratello website, and our audience grew tremendously. So we thank you very much for not only reading our articles but also for leaving your thoughts in the comments below them. That’s very much appreciated.

2023 Rolex GMT-Master II 126718GRNR

Not an incredibly exciting year, with some exceptions

We recently published a series of stories from our editorial team with their favorite watches of 2023, so I won’t go into that again. Still, my favorite remains the new Rolex GMT-Master II in precious metal (including the bicolor model) with the Jubilee bracelet. It’s not very exciting, but it shows that 2023 wasn’t an incredibly exciting year for new watch releases. Most brands seemed more occupied with fulfilling their long wait lists than with putting their creativity to work. Our senior editor Lex will publish an article later today about the “flukes or flops” of 2023, so I recommend you look at that one. I have to say that the watches that positively surprised me in 2023 came from either independents or some of the smaller (micro)brands. You can read about my overall favorites of 2023 here.

That said, 2023 saw a huge number of watch releases. Our mailboxes were flooded with press releases from microbrands, big brands, and everything in between. Ultimately, I’m sure everyone was able to find a few watches from 2023 that they’d add to their wish lists.

Fratello × Fortis Flieger F-43 Bicompax

Continued collaboration

In 2023, we also continued our collaborations with several watch brands. Our projects included the Nivada Grenchen Racing Chronograph (five watches of 40 pieces each), two Aquastar Deepstar IIs (one with a blue dial and another with a pink one), the Straum Jan Mayen Fratello edition with a red dial, our second Minase M-3, and our first Fortis model for the new Fratello capsule collection. We will keep expanding our e-commerce venture with more products that we think you will like.

E-commerce is one way to fund our editorial activities, of course. The other way is having (watch) brands as partners through either classic banner advertising or special placements on the website. These include Watch of the Week, Brand of the Month, etc. For these placements, the articles, images, and videos are still produced by our team, but we promise the partners a specific position on our website. I want to thank all of you who purchased something through our shop, and I would also like to thank our media partners. All the above ensure that you can keep reading our magazine.

George Cramer

Image: George Cramer

On a personal note

Unfortunately, what has been an excellent year for Fratello wasn’t the best year for me. I lost one of my parents for the first time, and that hit me hard. It reminded me how vulnerable we’ll all be at some point, how temporary everything is, and why it’s so important to love and enjoy life as much as possible. I have friends who lost a parent at a young age, so I do consider myself lucky to have had them with me for so long, but it’s still very tough. It’s also heartbreaking to see the surviving parent — my mother — enduring so much pain and stress, and all I can do is be there for her. I received much support from my Fratello colleagues, my friends (including those I’d hardly seen in years and are still closer than I’d thought), and even several brand representatives. It’s much appreciated!

We also said farewell to one of our contributors, George Cramer, who passed away in early 2023, as well as a loyal fan and reader from the very beginning, Hans Collings Polak. In that regard, 2023 is a year I quickly want to forget.

Breguet event in Paris in June 2023. From left to right: Lex Stolk (Fratello), Stefaan d’Hondt (Breguet), Anja van der Borght (WOW Watchers), me, David Bredan (aBlogtoWatch) — Image: Breguet

Traveling and meeting great people

However, in 2023, I traveled a lot (a lot!) and was able to reconnect with so many people (from the industry and also quite a few of our loyal readers) that I had not seen for a long time. Meeting new and familiar faces and talking about watches is definitely the part of my job that I love best.

We also organized a Speedy Tuesday event in Japan for around 70 of you, which was awesome! Although traveling always takes its toll on my private life, seeing many different places during the year is also a privilege. The funny or sad thing, depending on how you look at it, is that I often bump into more familiar faces when I walk on the street in Geneva than when I am in my hometown.

A decline in watch sales

What we also saw in 2023 was the decline of watch sales. Not only retailers but also brands let us know that the sales slowed tremendously. I am afraid that this will continue in 2024. We dedicated a podcast to this (here) and will follow this trend very closely. It also might mean that the market for pre-owned watches becomes more important than it already was. With some exceptions, prices on the pre-owned market are more forgiving than most hot-air-filled retail prices today, and you might suddenly be able to get that particular watch you’ve been looking for at a very reasonable price. In 2024, we will follow the pre-owned watch market more closely and report to you about trends on Fratello.

Daniel Craig white-dial Speedmaster

What will 2024 bring us?

Now that we’ve just entered 2024, the machine is running at full speed regarding Watches and Wonders, LVMH Watch Week, and other upcoming brand releases. I am hopeful about brands coming back down to earth a bit now that the speculators are out and demand is slowing down. Let’s see some creativity again and models that cater to genuine watch enthusiasts. The price increases on watches have been too steep, and I wonder how brands will solve this as I feel it’s part of the slowdown issue. Based on the comments below our articles, it’s clear that some of you feel a disconnect with certain brands because of their new pricing. It’s an opportunity for brands with friendlier prices, but are you willing to look at those more accessible brands if you didn’t even (have to) consider them in the past?

I am hopeful

I want to end this article on a positive note, believing that some fantastic releases await us in 2024. I’ve had the opportunity to look at some watches from various brands and have already put a few on my wish list!

Lastly, I promise you that we, the entire Fratello team, including those who are less visible to you — Brandon (copy editor), Laurits (e-commerce manager), Dave (head of partnerships), Lina (head of growth), and Timo (CEO) — will do everything we can to keep you entertained in 2024!

Happy New Year!