It’s been a week since we flew back from Watches and Wonders 2024. These last seven days have served well in processing everything we saw during the show. As much as the consensus might be that this year was a bit slower than the last two, there were still plenty of new watches. Brands seem to have aimed more at doing a spot of housekeeping and subtle refinement (with some notable exceptions, of course). Having had the benefit of being able to mull it over, I didn’t have too much trouble finding five favorites from the show.

In putting together this list of favorite Watches and Wonders releases, I’ve decided to try to include some watches that fall slightly outside my comfort zone (I think you won’t have trouble recognizing them). Yet, as impressive as IWC, JLC, and Lange’s releases were this year, nothing overly complicated made it into my top five. In fact, you’ll find that most of my picks reflect the trend of this year’s show — slight iteration on previously existing models. It seems brands played it safe and made cautiously calculated moves during this post-pandemic slump in the industry. In any case, these are the cards that we’ve been dealt, although I’m still pretty pleased with the hand I’ve managed to put together.

Tudor Black Bay “Black”

My first pick is the Tudor Black Bay, now with a gold-accent-free black colorway and all of last year’s upgrades. I won’t dwell too much on each pick if there’s no good reason to. Most of them are based on personal preference, and that’s exactly the case here. I’m a fan of Tudor and what the brand has achieved over the last few years. And though I don’t have a strong distaste for the gilt-tone accents and faux-vintage looks of some of its previous models, it felt like there was a gap to fill in the catalog for a black-dial, black-bezel dive watch with sweet-spot proportions and top-of-the-line specs. Omega has the Seamaster, Rolex has the Submariner, and Tudor has the Black Bay. There are no significant changes here; the brand is just delivering something that many watch enthusiasts have been craving for quite some time.

Priced at €4,510 on the Oyster-style bracelet, it’s an interesting proposition, especially for those who might be considering something like an Omega Seamaster Diver 300M but prefer a watch reminiscent of a five-digit Rolex reference without the sprinkle of golden accents. This Black Bay Master Chronometer is not the most exciting release from Tudor this year — that title goes to the 1.9mm-slimmer and downsized GMT — but it’s still my pick.

Cartier Tank Américaine Platinum

We crank up the classy factor for my second favorite Watches and Wonders launch this year. Once again, it’s nothing new per se, but oh boy, is it not just a lovely thing to look at? I’m a big fan of the Cartier Tank Américaine and its wonderfully curved case. It hugs the wrist like nothing else while maintaining a rugged edge to its chic persona. Sitting at the “touch and feel” session at Cartier is always a sensory overload. It’s one of the brands that truly opens the floodgates, and with hype on its side, there’s no hesitation in releasing a deluge of new watches. Other than the Tortue monopusher chronograph, the obvious favorite for most of us this year, this was the other watch that caught my eye.

Yes, it’s platinum and likely has an eye-watering price tag (information on this model is unusually scarce). But somehow, the silver-toned metal is more subtle than its golden counterparts. It may even appear to be a steel watch to the untrained eye (to which a ruby-set crown holds no special meaning). Paired with the salmon dial and the classic blue Cartier sword hands, it’s a combination that I find hard to fault. If anyone figures out the “infinite money” cheat code, let me know because this would be one of my shortlisted watches I’d pick up immediately!

Nachos favorite Watches and Wonders 2024 releases Zenith Defy Revival A3648

Zenith Defy Revival A3648

There’s not too much to say here. I’m a simple man; give me a beautifully executed, funky vintage diver in black and orange, and I’m happy. Zenith has made it a recurring tradition to include at least one vintage-styled/reissue watch as part of its Watches and Wonders launches. Last year, the brand from Le Locle introduced the stealthy Zenith Defy Revival Shadow, and this year, it’s the Zenith Defy Revival A3648. It’s the rebirth of a reference that made its debut in 1969. This was truly the golden age of diving and dive watches, and other classics, such as the Doxa Sub 300T, were released around that time.

Don’t let its fun appearance and 37mm case fool you; this diver is all business. It sticks to the original’s winning formula with a screw-down crown and case back, a 600m depth rating, and a unidirectional bezel. Side-by-side with the 1969 model, you’d be hard-pressed to find many differences. Even the bracelet, which is likely far more solid than its predecessor’s would have been, looks like something from the early ’70s. Flip the watch over, and through the display case back, you’ll see the (relatively) modern Zenith Elite 670 caliber. At €8,000, the Defy Revival A3648 is slightly out of my budget, but I still appreciate Zenith rummaging through its archives to bring back some of its many brilliant references from the past. Therefore, it gets a well-deserved spot on my list of favorites.

Nachos favorite Watches and Wonders 2024 releases Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time 5164G

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time 5164G

This is perhaps the most unexpected pick on my list of favorites from Watches and Wonders 2024. Had I not managed to charm my way into the depths of the Patek Philippe booth to join Morgan and Thomas for the photo shoot (a two-person limit is strictly enforced) where I saw this year’s novelties in person, this would have not likely even put a blip on my radar. However, having seen the watch in real life (alongside its two blue counterparts), I couldn’t help but fall for it. Perfectly on par with the show’s trend towards iteration, this is not a new watch, just a fresh coat of paint on an existing model. The white gold is new, but an Aquanaut Travel Time in precious metal is not.

As you can see, I’m not at a stage in my watch appreciation where I’m too keen on yellow and rose gold. However, I am not opposed to white precious metals, which can pass as steel at a glance. I found the shade of blue Patek chose for this Aquanaut very appealing. Darker shades of navy blue are common in watches, but this lighter shade of steel blue is quite stunning. Other than that, the travel-time functionality of this model is as useful as it is mechanically interesting. At €62,400, the 5164G is not likely a watch I’ll ever even come close to owning, but it’s still worth acknowledging what a great one it is.

Nachos favorite Watches and Wonders 2024 releases Nomos Tangente 38

Nomos Tangente 38 in 31 colorways

Finally, I can’t not include Nomos in my list of Watches and Wonders favorites. Making its debut at the fair, the Glashütte-based brand decided to go all-in and unleash a bouquet of 31 colorful Tangente 38 Date models. Again, the base model used is not new, not at all. But seeing all 31 watches on a table at the brand’s booth was truly impressive. Within the range, there were bound to be at least a handful of combinations that I could see myself wearing. Some favorites included the Dunkelbunt, Sportbunt, Super Sardine, and the opposing pairs of Stop, Go, Peace, and Love.

As you might imagine, these watches will be limited to 175 pieces per colorway. However, unlike with other brands, this doesn’t mean they’ll command a premium. Instead, Nomos has knocked €395 off the price tag of the standard Tangente 38 Date. It’s a bold and daring move, and I’m here for it. Could it have been a good opportunity for the brand to debut a new model? Yes, but in an industry that tends to take itself too seriously, what Nomos did is very much appreciated. Kudos to the brand for trying something different. For that, the 31 Tangentes earn a spot among my favorites.

Final thoughts on my favorite Watches and Wonders 2024 releases

Was it a slow year? Sure! But new watches are always exciting regardless. Whether you have one favorite or only a small handful of them, it’s a step in the right direction. However, I must admit that picking my top five was slightly more challenging than in previous years. There are some notable absences too. The most significant is Rolex, which failed to truly impress this year (though the Deepsea in yellow gold was certainly a bold move). That said, these were my favorite Watches and Wonders 2024 releases.

What do you think of my picks? Let me know in the comments section below.