Happy holidays, everyone. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to a smooth start to the new year. Most of my colleagues have already shared their favorite watches of 2023 with you, and now it’s my turn. I noticed that 2023 was packed with watch releases. Besides the introductions during the exhibitions in Geneva and elsewhere, it felt like our mailbox was flooded with press releases every single day of the week. However, I didn’t see many new watches that triggered me to pull my wallet out of my pocket. On the other hand, I didn’t see a lot of (really) bad watches either.

Also, as a Speedmaster collector, this was the second year in a row in which I didn’t buy a Speedmaster. In 2019, Omega introduced the very last official limited editions. Sure, one can debate whether the Silver Snoopy 50th Anniversary or Speedmaster Calibre 321 models are limited editions (I don’t think so, to be honest). Still, for the Speedmaster collectors, nothing too exciting happened. I have heard through the grapevine that 2024 will solve that, so let’s see.

I did buy several watches this year, including some of our Fratello collaborations, but the ones I truly want from the “Best of 2023” require some proper saving up.

best watches of 2023 Rolex GMT-Master II

My favorite watches of 2023 — Pick #1: Rolex GMT-Master II

This watch made me smile from ear to ear when I tried it on at Watches and Wonders 2023. I don’t care what anyone else thinks about wearing gold or, more specifically, a gold Rolex. To me, this watch is simply the king of cool.

best watches of 2023 Rolex GMT-Master II 126718GRNR

I’ve always had a weakness for the GMT-Master (II). Over the years, I’ve had several, including two vintage 1675s and a 16710 that I bought new in 2006. I don’t own one currently, but the modern GMT-Master II models have been on my list for a long time. When the Everose gold and Everose Rolesor (steel and rose gold) came out in 2018, I was pretty convinced that one of them would become my GMT-Master II. But with the unavailability and my unwillingness to spend more than retail, it was very easy to ignore them.


Then Rolex unveiled the new GMT-Master II in both full yellow gold and steel/yellow gold Rolesor on the Jubilee bracelet. When I saw these at Watches and Wonders, the GMT-Master II instantly shot to the top of my wish list. With many speculators removing themselves from the watch game, waitlists are getting shorter now. Furthermore, prices on the gray and pre-owned market are also approaching the retail price for these models. I will wait accordingly until I can purchase one at retail.

best watches of 2023 TAG Heuer Carrera Glassbox Golden Panda

My favorite watches of 2023 — Pick #2: TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Glassbox “Golden Panda”

While my colleagues were drooling over the three-hand Carrera watches (I have no idea why…) during Watches and Wonders, I was mesmerized by the new Carrera Chronograph Glassbox models. And a few months later, TAG Heuer decided to drop the bomb in gold.

best watches of 2023 TAG Heuer Carrera Glassbox Golden Panda

I wrote a hands-on review of the Glassbox “Golden Panda” here, and besides the movement lacking some kind of (yellow) gold accents, I found it to be a near-perfect gold chronograph. The vertical brushing of the gold-colored dial is beautiful, just like the two sub-dials at 3 and 9 o’clock with their concentric finishing. The third sub-dial is hiding at 6 o’clock, but I like the designers’ approach here. When TAG Heuer sent us this watch for review, I wore it nearly all the time.

My second pick also comes at a price, with TAG Heuer offering the Carrera Glassbox Golden Panda for €21,750. Still, despite some of the comments we’ve received on the pricing, I think that’s quite acceptable for a gold chronograph. The connection between price and product is nonexistent when it comes to gold watches, so people trying to break down the price for a gold watch tend to (or want to) forget that it’s just about exclusivity.

TAG Heuer did very well with the Carrera Glassbox, and the gold version is a lovely treat!

My favorite watches of 2023 — Pick #3: Longines Legend Diver

Finally! To my delight, Longines brought back the no-date Legend Diver and decided to do so in a 39mm size. As I wrote in my hands-on review, it’s a fantastic diver that honors the original 1959 piece as much as possible.

best watches of 2023 Longines Legend Diver

For now, there are two versions — one with a black dial and one with a blue dial. Both are available with either a strap or a bracelet. My advice is to always go for the bracelet version, and buy the strap later on if you want. The beads-of-rice bracelet suits the watch perfectly and looks better than the mesh bracelet that Longines used to use.

The best part of this watch (besides the new 39mm case) is the dial. And it’s without a date this time. The dial design has a modern twist and, hopefully, a timeless one. The Longines Legend Diver starts at a very reasonable €3,350, but as mentioned, go for the steel bracelet in any case (€3,600).

best watches of 2023 Parmigiani Tonda PF Minute Rattrapante

My favorite watches of 2023 — Pick #4: Parmigiani Tonda PF Minute Rattrapante

Nicknamed the “pasta timer” during its introduction, the Tonda PF Minute Rattrapante is very capable of timing such things. It has an extra minute hand that can be advanced by either five minutes or just one minute using the pushers at 10 and 8 o’clock. Functioning as a countdown timer, this hand stays locked at the specified time until you resync it with the main minute hand via the pusher in the crown.

This new Parmigiani Tonda PF Minute Rattrapante is, like the GMT Rattrapante, an interesting complication to add to the Tonda PF collection. Admittedly, a GMT without a date and a Minute Rattrapante are not the most practical complications, but it’s also about fun, of course.

Even as I was writing this, a friend came to our Fratello office showing his newly acquired Parmigiani Tonda PF. These watches are triggering an “I want one” response, and I find it hard to fight it. First, the finishing of these watches ticks a lot of boxes for me. The micro-rotor is also a pleasure for the eyes, and the overall design is just great. If I had roughly €25K to splurge on a steel luxury sports watch, the Parmigani Tonda PF would be very high on my list.

This Minute Rattrapante is a bit more expensive than the regular three-hander and comes in at €31,200. I like the design of the two additional pushers and the Midas touch on the extra minute hand and pusher in the crown.

My favorite watches of 2023 — Pick #5: Chopard L.U.C 1860

Completely unprepared, I entered the Chopard booth at this year’s Watches and Wonders exhibition in Geneva. I saw some nice Mille Miglia models and a new, thin Alpine Eagle (XPS), but they saved this 36.5mm dress watch for last — the Chopard L.U.C 1860. Last Friday, we published my hands-on review, and I urge you to read it if you like the looks of this watch as much as I do.

Based on the original 1997 L.U.C 1860, this new salmon-dial model in Lucent Steel demonstrates that brands don’t have to go large (or supersize!) on new iterations of classics. The folks at Chopard understood that their clientele prefers an understated look and wisely kept it at 36.5mm in diameter and 8.2mm thick. Inside, just like the Parmigiani Tonda PF, you’ll find a movement with a micro-rotor. The movement’s finishing is a feast for the eyes, but the real magic happens on the front. The salmon-colored gold dial features hand-made guilloché decoration.

The Lucent steel that Chopard has used has a lovely white shine, reminding me of white gold, and according to the Swiss manufacturer of all things elegant, it is 50% harder than regular steel. At €25,700, the price also reminds me of white gold, but I also have to admit that I have been wearing the L.U.C 1860 with such pleasure that I think I could get over the fact it’s not in gold at this price point.

Seamaster PloProf 75th Anniversary

Other noteworthy releases of 2023

But there was much more in 2023 that deserves at least a mention! In June, Omega showed me the new Summer Blue collection that celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Seamaster collection. Every Seamaster variation in today’s collection received a Summer Blue update. In addition (and this is my favorite), Omega added a new Ploprof version (ref. in a size that is true to the 1970s original. Another Omega I enjoyed seeing in person was the Seamaster Diver 300M Olympic Games 2024 edition (ref. 522. In the press images, it looked pretty dull, but it was a nice surprise in real life.

Another 2023 release worth checking is the new Grand Seiko SBGW305 that Mike recently covered here. I’ve always had a soft spot for the SBGW231 with its beads-of-rice bracelet, and the new SBGW305 looks very similar. It has a silver dial with a sunray finish, and the GS caliber 9S64 is inside. The 37.1mm case diameter makes it a perfect all-arounder, and it can also be used as a dress watch (perhaps put it on a strap if you want to).

This year, Tissot also came with a big surprise, re-introducing the Sideral watches in funky colors. They’re perhaps best suited for a summery day, but the colorful watches and straps made me smile when I saw them in the flesh. For €1,100, you get a very nice carbon watch with a Powermatic 80 movement and a colorful rubber strap.

Lastly, Audemars Piguet had some excellent introductions this year. It’s way outside my budget, and availability is still an issue, but the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin ref. 26586TI.OO.1240TI.01 was very impressive. So was the new Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph “The Beast” (ref. 26238CE.OO.1300CE.01) in full black ceramic, including the bracelet. Emmanuel Gueit, the designer of the original Royal Oak Offshore in 1993, told me last week that ceramic is the new steel.

What do you think of my picks and honorable mentions? Let me know in the comments. Also, feel free to share your favorite watches of 2023 there too if you haven’t already.