It’s that time of the year! The days are short, and Christmas is fast approaching. If you weren’t already in a sentimental mood, here is a personal year’s overview to bring you there. Grab some hot chocolate milk, throw on your ugliest sweater, and gather around the screen. These are my favorite watches of 2023, a highly subjective assortment of pieces that impressed me over the past year.

I have followed no guidelines other than my gut feeling. A watch makes my list if it tempted me to buy it for my own wearing pleasure. But before I share my 2023 favorites, let me briefly describe the overall impression that the watch world made on me in 2023.

The watch world in 2023

This year has been an interesting one for watches. We all knew it would be different after the boom and subsequent correction in the market halfway through 2022. I think, however, we have seen a lot of things that were set in motion much earlier come to fruition now. The huge increases in retail prices, for instance, seem out of whack with the current market. But with big businesses setting strategies long in advance, I wonder if that move still makes sense today.

Regarding the actual watches, I feel we have seen a broadening of offerings in different sizes. Rather than gambling on a large or small case, it seems that more brands are willing to offer options, which is great. We have also seen more and more colors. To my annoyance, every other new watch in 2023 was fitted with a vignette dial. That is one trend that I would be happy to see end in 2024. Admittedly, that is a matter of personal taste.

I think 2023 also caused a lot of aficionados to look at watch buying a bit differently. Many of us turned to microbrands and neo-vintage watches as big brands rapidly grew out of reach. With prices going up and discounts becoming rarer, many watches are simply no longer attainable for the average watch admirer. I think many big brands will live to regret this soon. With that little backdrop sketched, let’s see what watches impressed me most over the past year.

Longines Legend Diver Favorite watches of 2023

My favorite watches of 2023 — Pick #1: Longines Legend Diver

If you had told me in January that I would feature a watch from Longines on my list, I would have been surprised, to put it mildly. Honestly, I struggle with modern-day Longines. As I described before, I feel the brand is purposely held from greatness by group politics. At the same time, the average Longines has become a pretty darn expensive watch nowadays. Admittedly, that is precisely why I fear I will never own one of my favorite watches of 2023, the Legend Diver. As much as I like it, €3,600 just seems disproportionate, especially considering what the chronometer-rated GMT Spirit Zulu Time 39 offers at a lower price.

That’s quite a lot of preamble for a supposedly favorite watch, right? So why feature it? Well, I feel the new Longines Legend Diver shows what can happen when big brands listen to the more hardcore watch community. The Legend Diver was always cool, but with a modest downsizing and omission of the date, it has become better — a lot better.

The fit on the wrist is spot on. Its refined, classical aesthetic turns this diver into a perfect everyday watch. The bracelet suits the look perfectly, although I think it is even cooler on a Tropic-style rubber strap. I have always liked the Legend Diver, but with these small new tweaks, everything now falls into place for me. Well…everything except the price. I would look at neo-vintage Omega or modern Tudor instead if I were to spend this kind of money. Still, purely on the Legend Diver’s merit, it is easily one of my favorite watches of 2023.

Favorite watches of 2023 Sinn T50

My favorite watches of 2023 — Pick #2: Sinn T50

We remain submerged for a bit longer. I just have a huge soft spot for this genre. Back in March of 2023, Sinn introduced the T50 line, a new series of titanium dive watches in a more wearable size. As you would expect from Sinn, the specs are off the charts. A 500m depth rating in a package that measures only 12.3mm thick is quite the feat. The Teginented bezel and Ar-Dehumidifying tech are big value adders too.

best watches under €5,000 Sinn T50

But it is the looks of the Sinn T50 that truly drew me in. It somehow refines the typical Sinn boldness to precisely how I like it. The dark shade of the titanium paired with the stark white of the dial printing works wonders. I would opt for the full-titanium version, but the options with Goldbronze are quite compelling too.

At €3,340, this is a whole lot of watch for the money, especially since it is built to survive just about anything. If you like the idea of future archeologists finding traces of your existence, my advice would be to start wearing a Sinn T50.

My favorite watches of 2023 — Pick #3: Parmigiani Tonda PF Minute Rattrapante

Okay, let’s get out of the water for something Haute Horlogerie now. This year’s Watches and Wonders saw the release of another one of my favorite watches of 2023, the Parmigiani Tonda PF Minute Rattrapante. This new and nifty complication is designed not to be seen. How about that? Parmigiani has devoted itself recently to creating complicated watches that maintain a clean aesthetic. As a big fan of simple design, that resonates with me quite strongly.

This particular watch offers an entirely new way of countdown timing. A hidden minute hand can be sent ahead via pushers, to a desired future moment. In my life, that would most likely be the time when my pizza should be taken out of the oven. Hey, it’s my life, okay? Once the actual minute hand catches up, the gold timer hand hides under it, and the watch looks like a time-only piece again.

I love the looks of Parmigiani’s Tonda PF line. I also love the philosophy behind these hidden complications. Put those together, and you have an obvious entry for my favorite watches of 2023. At €31,200, the Tonda PF Minute Rattrapante will not be joining my collection anytime soon. But one can dream, right?

Grand Seiko SBGW303 Favorite watches of 2023

My favorite watches of 2023 — Pick #4: Grand Seiko SBGW303

Last year, Grand Seiko introduced smaller versions of its iconic 44GS case style. As much as I love the 44GS, the big ones just don’t look right on my wrist. When I reviewed the new 36.5mm versions, I mentioned that I would love to see them on a bracelet. Well, I feel heard!

This year, Grand Seiko introduced the SBGW303 on a bracelet! But that wasn’t even the most important thing about this release. The absolute showstopper was the new dial. A light, warm green hue on a beautifully textured dial with a gold logo and zero clutter? Carry me away! I honestly feel this is one of the prettiest dials of all time. These are big words, but I stand by them.

Now, I am going to be a bit critical here too. Although I love that this watch comes on a bracelet, it suffers from one issue I constantly see with GS. Unfortunately, the brand doesn’t seem to design bracelets specifically for the watches’ cases. Here, too, you see that the bracelet doesn’t reflect any of the 44GS sharp, angular design language. If GS addressed this, the SBGW303 would be eerily close to my idea of a perfect watch. But as it is, it is still one of my absolute favorite watches of 2023. The SBGW303 is priced at €6,300.

Favorite watches of 2023 IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XX

My favorite watches of 2023 — Pick #5: IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XX with a white dial

My final entry for my favorite watches of 2023 is from IWC. Interestingly, the brand is also responsible for a release that was probably the biggest letdown of the year for me — the Ingenieur. That’s a topic for another day; let me keep it positive here. An IWC that I could see myself owning is the latest Mark XX. The silvery-white dial released this year is a serious contender.

Now, our photographer Morgan and I have been obsessing over the Mark XX and its predecessors recently. I think Morgan will probably beat me to the chase and add the white Mark XX to his collection very soon. Knowing him, it could even happen before the end of the year. Stay tuned!

To me, the Mark XX is one of those iconic designs that is so perfect in its simplicity. I am leaning ever so slightly toward the black dial, but this white version is very appealing. Oh, and if I had to point out a fantastic bracelet and weren’t allowed to mention Rolex, I would point at the IWC Mark XX’s bracelet. On the bracelet, this watch comes in at €6,850. I fear that I am going to be very jealous of Morgan when he pulls the trigger…

Closing thoughts

There you have it — my favorite watches of 2023. Two things are notably missing. First, I usually have a Tudor release that sings to me, but this year, not so much. I almost loved the Black Bay 54, but in the end, my fatigue for vintage-inspired watches weighed too heavily on me. Second, there are no microbrands on my list. This is simply down to my favorite small independents not having introduced specific new models that truly sang to me. That’s something I hadn’t noticed until compiling this list.

Interestingly, I haven’t bought a single one of my listed watches. I am very much in that demographic of people who are pushed away by current prices. I honestly feel that all of my favorite watches of this year are too expensive, making me feel uneasy about buying them. My biggest watch purchase this year was a neo-vintage watch, my Panerai Radiomir PAM00210. Besides this one, I have done some serious downsizing of my collection in preparation for launching my very own watch early next year. In this sense, it has been a quiet watch-collecting year for me.

Of the watches above, I think the IWC and the Grand Seiko stand the greatest chance of finding their way to my collection at some point. Then again, let’s see how much wrist time remains for anything other than my VPC Type 37HW once that comes out. I have a feeling that it might keep me satiated for the foreseeable future. Let’s see!

I would love to hear about your favorite watches of 2023 if you haven’t already posted them under one of my colleagues’ articles. For now, let me wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!