When I was asked to build a watch collection with €25,000 earlier this year, I decided to blow the whole amount on one watch, a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. And because I already did that, there’s no JLC on my subjective list of the best watches of 2023 — those had their moment in the spotlight already. So, what watches did I pick? Well, my favorite watches of the outgoing year have Patek Philippe, Chopard, and Louis Moinet on the dial.

I’m not going to put a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso in my Top 3 of the best watches of 2023 because I already picked one as the foundation of an imaginary watch collection. But at the end of the article, I will share two wonderful pictures — front and back; it is a Reverso after all — of the Reverso Tribute Duoface Tourbillon that Morgan shot during this year’s Watches and Wonders because they capture the beauty of one of the best-looking watches of the year. No, I won’t highlight the presence of two time zones and one flying tourbillon or how splendid the rectangular, 3.9mm-thick, 254-part JLC caliber 847 looks. What I will do, however, is talk about my three other favorite watches of 2023. The first one is from Chopard. It’s the extremely well-proportioned Alpine Eagle 41 XPS with its delicate dial.

Lex's Favorite Watches

One of my favorite watches of 2023 is the Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XPS

This watch is not an alternative to the Nautilus or the Royal Oak. No, those watches are in a league of their own and cannot be replaced by other watches. The watch I picked won’t scratch the Nautilus or Royal Oak itch. But if you crave something else that’s also a little bit the same — get it? — the Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XPS is a worthy candidate. This steel Alpine Eagle iteration woos you with a sophisticated “Monte Rosa” salmon-pink dial with small seconds at 6 o’clock. It continues to captivate the eye and heart with the in-house, 176-part caliber L.U.C 96.40-L with a micro-rotor and a slim 3.3mm profile. And if that isn’t enough to get your watch-loving heart beating, the 41 × 8.2mm case dimensions and proportions are quite possibly perfect.

All aspects of the Chopard Alpine Eagle 41 XPS (ref. 298623-3001) are delicately sophisticated. The COSC-certified movement, for instance, bears the prestigious Poinçon de Genève. That quality seal not only tells you that the watch is made with exquisitely hand-finished parts but also that it was subjected to five tests to ensure its quality and reliability. All that quality comes at a price, but that price could be way higher with a different brand name on the dial. This supreme Alpine Eagle has a current price of €24,900 / US$22,900. Look at the slim micro-rotor movement, spot the Poinçon de Genève marking, and experience the sublime proportions. Allow yourself to be hypnotized by the dial as well, and then try to tell me that the price is not justified.

Image: Swisswatches Magazine

Another favorite is the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar 5261R-001

The fact that I put something by Patek Philippe on my small list of favorite watches of 2023 is hardly surprising. But maybe you didn’t see the Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar 5261R-001 (CHF 52,000) coming. I didn’t even see it myself. During the Patek Philippe novelties presentation during the 2023 edition of Watches and Wonders in Geneva, this watch was presented as a ladies’ watch. Well, there are no male or female watches any longer; there are just watches that you like or dislike.

That’s what I quickly found out when I picked up this pink gold Aquanaut. The color combination of blue-gray with pink gold is what made me do it. The colors are instantly captivating and somehow comforting at the same time. This watch looks just right. Not particularly feminine or masculine, it’s just right for everyone. The 39.9 × 10.9mm case size is also an important factor. It’s large for a traditional ladies’ watch, modest for a men’s watch, and perfect for a unisex — do people still use that term? — watch.

On the wrist, the Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar is even better. You will have to take my word for it because, during the presentation, I was so impressed that I forgot to take a picture. And somehow our photographer also missed it among the other 16 Patek novelties on display. Anyway, this is the first Aquanaut to feature an annual calendar. So what you get is the classic Patek dial configuration mixed with a slightly subtler engraved pattern. Honestly, I’m not the biggest fan of the Aquanaut. But this iteration is subtle, sporty, classic, and refined. And it’s got swag. I guess I’ll use that word to describe a rather busy dial that still manages to look balanced.

Lex's Favorite Watches

My final favorite of 2023 is more predictable since it’s a Louis Moinet

One of my favorite watches of 2022 was the Louis Moinet Memoris Spirit. That was quite surprising because I generally don’t care for open-worked watches that much. But somehow, the size, colors, choice of material, design, and finishing of the watch won me over. This year, Louis Moinet managed to show me an even better version of the Memoris Spirit in the shape of the Time to Race (CHF 30,500) chronograph. It’s almost the same watch. You still get a 40.7mm Grade 5 titanium case with a domed sapphire crystal. The biggest difference is the small dial that displays the time. Now it looks like the number on a race car.

There are a few versions that find inspiration in the classic racing colors of different countries. It was the German edition (ref. LM-96.20.8A) in black, white, red, and silver — inspired by the racing Silberpfeile of yesteryear — that I got to try on. Trust me; this watch could make for an effortless daily wearer. That’s thanks to its size, lightweight case, and the fact that it’s a striking yet fairly inconspicuous piece of high horology.

Lex's Favorite Watches

Subtle exuberance

The Time to Race chronograph comes in a series of 99 individually numbered pieces. Each one- or two-digit number will only be used once for the watch. The use of colors is quite subtle but still offers a touch of exuberance and flair, just as you would expect from Louis Moinet. The design leaves room for the dramatically gorgeous caliber LM96. It’s a monopusher chronograph movement with a column wheel and a total of 311 individual components. This 4Hz caliber has a power reserve of 48 hours and shows classic Swiss decorations, such as Clous de Paris hobnail patterns, Fleur de Lis engraving, circular-satin-finished gear trains, and diamond-polished sinks. And I’m not the only one who appreciates this incredibly wearable piece of Haute Horlogerie. The jury of the Red Dot Design Award does too.

So, those are my three favorite watches of 2023. You’re welcome to share your thoughts on them and/or your favorites in the comments below. But before you do, let me share the two pictures that I promised of the Reverso with a flying tourbillon. Isn’t it fabulous?