In previous “best watches released in…” lists, I favored the outliers — the fringe releases that need highlighting. I stand by all my watch picks from prior yearly roundups, so much so that I ended up buying some of the watches featured. This year, however, could be my most uninspiring selection of watch choices, and that’s okay. I shouldn’t have to be adventurous. I should only be true to my tastes and honestly assess where my watch game is right now.

However, due to price and availability, I won’t pick up at least two of these watches. One has the potential to wind up in my watch box. I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to figure out which watch that will be. After many years of collecting watches, I’ve realized that certain timepieces have staying power. My Omega Seamaster 300 is a beloved mainstay in my collection and often finds its way to my wrist. Like Nacho and his Omega Seamaster Professional 300M 2254.50.00, my 300 works on many levels. The following few watches also have the potential to be “flipper-proof” and feature regularly as my daily wear.

best watches of 2023 A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus Chronograph

The best watches of 2023: A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus Chronograph

Typically, when I go for avant-garde watches, I target the lower end to soften the blow if they fall out of favor. A few years ago, I owned a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso with an exhibition window on the flip side. This was when watches from Jaeger-LeCoultre were still at relatively sensible retail prices. Nowadays, a simple Reverso is a hefty plunge that is too risky for me to take. JLC is raising the RRP uncomfortably close to its Richemont-owned German cousin A. Lange & Söhne. Even last year, I classed ALS as too pricey to summon the thought of owning one. But upon testing out the Odysseus Chronograph at this year’s Concours of Elegance, I became entirely smitten, not just by the gorgeous dial design and layout but also by the sheer disbelief of the mechanics on show.

It’s been said before, but Lange deserves plaudits for designing an easy-to-read chronograph that doesn’t look like a chronograph. It manages to be entirely in keeping with the other Odysseus models without sticking out like a sore thumb. I think of the Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph, which has awkwardly placed, unsightly pushers, spoiling the original silhouette. Lange avoids this pratfall without compromising the crown-guard pushers’ original intent. They can still adjust the date and day quickly with the crown pulled out along with also now controlling the chronograph with the crown pushed in. It’s a fascinating design to witness that functions in pure harmony. At €135,000 and with all 100 pieces sold out almost immediately, the Odysseus Chronograph would never be mine. But those few hours wearing the watch with the backdrop of classic cars at Hampton Court Palace made quite an impression.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 126500LN

I may have chosen the most tedious and obvious watch for a year-end roundup. I make no apologies for this, though, as the latest Rolex Daytona is a brilliant iteration of an already venerable collection. Nevertheless, the seismic shift of innovation and design tweaks barely registered as a gentle ripple among the watch community. So, what happened? Rolex and specifically the Daytona have an insurmountable task to meet demand. You may be jumping through hoops within hoops for years before even a sniff of getting one is possible. Some are lucky, but it’s always been the case since the mid-2000s that the steel Daytona was the hot ticket to watch nirvana. Any new iterations are only fuel to the fire, so collectors and enthusiasts write off the notion that owning one is possible.

best watches of 2023 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 126500LN

I can’t assure you that you’ll be lucky to get one, but I implore you to take another look at the newest reference. Even as an object of fantasy, the latest Daytona nails every aspect. While I will always fawn for my steel-bezel 116520, the ability of the Daytona to improve still impresses me. And how does ref. 126500LN evolve? By looking backward, of course. I may have chastised the new Daytona as even more illegible than the outgoing model in our Sunday Morning Showdown, but that was purely for the votes. Those skinny applied white gold markers, which hark back to the 1988–2000 ref. 16520, are an excellent refinement. Even the caliber upgrade to 4131 demonstrates Rolex’s ambition to continually improve on perfection. The case of the latest Daytona may be less svelte and blockier than before, but it still wears as frustratingly well as prior models.

best watches of 2023 Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Summer Blue

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Summer Blue Edition

Last up in my trifecta is the watch most likely to end up in my collection. The Seamaster’s 75th-anniversary collection in the “Summer Blue” guise went down well, even if it was just the seven existing seafaring Omega models (including three rubber-strap options) with varying degrees of blue gradients plus a downsized Ploprof in steel. Having the Seamaster family follow a collective theme in showcasing 75 years of dive-watch innovation is a worthy commemoration. While my Seamster 300 is incredible with its 1957-inspired vintage flair, the Seamster Diver 300M, being from 1993, has almost no right to include faux-aged lume. Therefore, I believe that clean, modern dial colors work best for the more technical Diver 300M.

The Seamaster 300 in Summer Blue is still beautiful, and I defended its merits in a Sunday Morning Showdown here. But the Diver 300M better exemplifies the varying shades of blue to match the tonal theme. Since the Diver 300M sits fairly in the middle of Seamaster depth ratings, the dial is neither too dark like the Ultra Deep nor too light like the Aqua Terra. In real life, the dial and bezel land that Goldilocks blend of blue shades that don’t hamper the ability to serve as a dive watch. You may argue that this watch is mainly unchanged from the 2018 revision of the Master Chronometer Seamaster Diver 300M. But this Seamaster 75th-anniversary model showcases how many elements the Diver 300M got right and remains as relevant as ever. Indeed, it’s a timepiece worth picking up before the Summer Blue celebration ends.

So, those are my three top picks for the best watches of 2023. You’re welcome to share your thoughts and favorites in the comments below.