Holiday Gift Guide 2019 – The Watches


Over 5.000 Euro (or USD or GBP)

Omega Speedmaster “Dark Side of the Moon” Apollo 8 (9.100 Euro)

Well, you knew a gift guide form Fratello would be thick with Speedmasters, so here is our first of two to make the guide: the “Dark Side of the Moon” Apollo 8.  I wasn’t sure about this one when it debuted at Baselworld 2018, but then I saw it months later on the wrist of Roy Davidoff…and I loved it (RJ called it the best of the DSotM collection).  What amazes me on this watch is the impressive dial detail that’s crafted to look like the surface of the moon.  It’s stunning, but the other thing that strikes me as great is the use of the manual wind cal. 1869.  I love a manual movement, but it also makes the 44.25mm diameter ceramic case a lot thinner.  I’d probably change the strap to something a little less sporty, but that’s an easy fix.  Oh, and here’s something interesting that might make a Christmas delivery difficult: AD’s are reporting 4-6 month wait times on the Apollo 8.  Yes, it seems like Omega has a hit on their hands.   Head to the Omega site for more information.  – Mike

Breitling Navitimer 806 1959 Re-Edition (7.700 Euro)

Tapping into the ‘old-is-new’ market that has gained traction with watch consumers over the past 5 years is the  Breitling Navitimer 806 Re-edition. Georges Kern enlisted the help of vintage Breitling expert, Fred Mandelbaum, to oversee and ensure that each detail was faithful to the original 60-year old watch the re-edition was based on. A new manual-winding calibre B09 was developed to keep the dimensions slim and even the knurling on the bezel matched the same number of knurls (94) as the 1959 Navitimer. Fred fought hard to utilise a plexiglass over Breitling’s more robust sapphire glass to avoid the anti-reflective coating that emits a blue sheen on the crystal that would spoil the vintage hues. This is a limited edition of 1,959 pieces but it’s only recently that we have seen the watches being delivered to stores and customers, so those looking for a present to themselves would be able to get one just in time for Christmas.  If I was one of the lucky owners, I would change the two-stitch strap immediately however. The Nubuk ‘vintage style’ leather strap the 806 is supplied with does not resemble the 1959 strap but that is easily fixed with many aftermarket options.  Head to Breitling for more information. – Ben

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph (10.300 Euro on leather)

When we first saw the Jaeger-LeCoulte Polaris collection, this model put an instant smile on my face. It’s one of the things a watch should do. And the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph sure does that. The collection is inspired on their 1968 Memovox Polaris and they’ve done a great job designing a modern version. Both case and dial give you many details and different finishes. Brushed and polished for the case, sunburst and grained for the dial with applied markers and slight variations in height give it great depth. It comes with the in-house chronograph movement ref. 751H, which has a 65-hour power reserve. Waterproof up to 10 bar / 100  meter is convenient so you can use the watch all day, every day. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph is available on a metal bracelet, yet I prefer the version on a leather strap. Current retail price is €10.300 on leather and €11.300 on the metal bracelet. – Bert

 

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time (24.200 Euro)
My choice for the watch over 5.000 Euro is a “holy trinity” piece. Vacheron Constantin introduced this version of the Overseas Dual Time as a Pre-SIHH release in 2018. I remember when this came out, and I immediately thought to myself, “this is a cool watch” – especially as I am not the biggest fan of the Nautilus or the Royal Oak – the usual favorites of haute horology sports watch enthusiasts. Vacheron offers the Overseas with three strap choices, which makes it super versatile, and I wonder why more brands don’t do this. You don’t even need a tool to swap straps, which makes it super convenient and a real contender for the “one watch” watch. Robert-Jan wrote more about it here.  Daniel

Schwarz Etienne Fiji Floral Seconds (7,150 CHF ex-VAT, inclusive of 2 straps and a set of  leather handbag and pouches in place of a watch box)

Yes, it’s a woman’s watch. This is a watch that says she deserves just as much respect in horological terms as you. So you get a kick out of gifting your special someone too. Watches purposefully developed from scratch for women tend to be both rare and a cut above. Schwarz Etienne’s Fiji collection is exactly that. Its 38mm case houses the manufacture’s own calibre ASE 200.00 automatic micro-rotor movement with 86 hours of power reserve. It is certainly no wallflower, not to mention the three-part case construction, and the multi-levelled dial design. Readability is high. The finishing is outstanding. These details add tons of character to the watch while keeping it clean and feminine. It offers a quick-strap change system and two straps for choice. What makes this such a good gift is that it exudes elegance and brains. Everything is so thought-through. Even the packaging is a leather pouch that comes in a handbag. So she gets a set of fine leather goods for practical use on top! This is one of the best women’s watches I have seen that can be a daily watch or dressed to kill. Visit Schwarz Etienne for more. – Sky

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic (13.900 Euro)

Although we all want brands to come up with new designs that could be a future classic, in all honesty, it doesn’t happen that often. For a lot of brands, there seems to be a bigger focus on vintage-inspired pieces with a story from the past and that has proven to be a safe bet because it is successful for many of the brands. Although I like a nice piece with a good story, I love brands that push the boundaries of design and come up with something that is different, makes you feel a bit uncomfortable at first but the more you look at it, it starts to grow on you. And that’s exactly what Bulgari has achieved with the Octo Finissimo Automatic. Although the Octo family of watches has been around in its current form since 2012 with a variety of different models (read Robert-Jan’s overview article here), Bulgari struck gold with the Octo Finissimo Automatic in 2017. The combination of the unique design, the titanium material and the record-breaking movement make this a piece that has the potential of becoming a future classic in my opinion. And what Bulgari has done incredibly well is protect the idea of what makes the Octo Finissimo Automatic so special. The brand has introduced the Octo Finissimo Automatic in different materials (I wrote about the ceramic version here) but all of them have that characteristic sandblasted look. My wishlist of watches differs from time to time but the one watch that is high on the list all the time is the Bulgari Octo Finissimo. The only thing I have to decide is whether I prefer the stainless steel version or the titanium version but there is no doubt I will buy one eventually. More information here. – Jorg

Omega De Ville Trésor

 

Omega De Ville Trésor (6.200 Euro)

This watch caught my attention during the Swatch Group Time To Move press event last May when Omega introduced their novelties for the first time outside Baselworld. There are sports watches plenty, from all sorts of brands, but a good dress watch is much harder to find in my opinion. When Omega introduced their De Ville Trésor some years ago, it was only available in precious metals and had price tags way above 10.000 Euro. I have never seen someone in the flesh who bought one of those, as this price range opens up a lot of other options. With these new steel versions, I think Omega did a great job to offer something with a friendlier price tag (below 10.000 Euro). Although I love the Globemaster models, I think that 6200 Euro for this 40mm De Ville Trésor (I did a review here) with its Master Chronometer caliber 8910 is a good proposition. Especially the dial is amazing and reminds me of those rich dials from the 1950s and 1960s that Omega used in their watches. Hands and indexes are all made of 18-carat white gold. The only Globemaster I would pick above this one is the steel & Sedna gold model with a blue dial, but the retail price is much higher (and gold is not for everyone). More information here. – Robert-Jan

Between 1.000 Euro and 5.000 Euro

Minase Divido

Minase Divido (4.680 Euro on Bracelet)

The Minase Divido was probably the most surprising watch I reviewed during 2019 because it was so different yet so elegantly constructed.  The Japanese brand is essentially a passion project by a respected tooling maker and the watches show all sorts of evidence of this heritage.  The finishing is simply amazing and the bracelet is truly a work of art.  No, it’s not inexpensive, but if you want a truly unique piece of artwork on your wrist, this just might be your cup of tea.  I chose purple as the review piece and that’s exactly what I’d select if I were buying.  Head to Minase for more.  – Mike

Omega De Ville Trésor Quartz 36mm (from 3,570 GBP)

The romantic challenges of the holiday season are coming! If you’re after something a bit more special for your loved one, this watch is everything that Xmas dreams are made of.  The Omega Trésor is both functional and stunning. Its 36 mm streamlined case set with diamonds is made from stainless steel. While the diamonds are naturally the outstanding feature of this timepiece, the lacquered gradient burgundy dial with the oversized Roman numerals makes a stylish statement for an everyday outfit. Moreover, a holiday twist on this watch ensures the burgundy leather strap. Meeting practicality needs, a quartz movement is accurate and highly durable. Thinking about making someone feel extra special? Adding a custom element always makes a gift truly unique and sparks joy – luckily for you, Omega offers different straps for Trésor from board selection of colors to materials. Now you can easily put a personal touch on design and give your love one-of-a-kind Trésor.  Head to Omega for more information. – Karina

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M (€ 4.600 / € 4.900 depending on strap/bracelet)

It’s hard to go wrong with a diver, even with the knowledge that most probably won’t get close to challenging water depths. Nonetheless, they are very popular, together with chronograph watches. Where some of the big brands have upped their game on the price tag (or made them near impossible to acquire) this doesn’t go for the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Master Chronometer. Still high on my wish-list, as I also own two previous models which I enjoy a lot. With the latest model, you get the best of mechanical watchmaking, combined with the toughness of a diver. And besides that it simply looks, and wears great. The ‘standard’ version in stainless steel will set you back 4.600 Euro on a rubber strap, or 4.900 Euro with a matching stainless steel bracelet. – Bert

Speedmaster Professional 3570.50

Omega Speedmaster Professional (4.600 Euro)

I’m probably stealing the thunder of most of my teammates with this pick, but there’s little better in the watch world than a bone stock, “normal” Speedy Pro.  I checked out the official listing for this watch and at 4,600 Euro here in Germany on a bracelet, it still qualifies as a heck of a deal.  The simple, but effective cal. 1861 ticks away and requires your assistance every 48 hours or so, which is an endearing quality indeed.  The Hesalite crystal also adds an uncommon warmth to a modern-day watch.  Sure, none of us love the bracelet, but it’s more than presentable and if you truly can’t live with it, the Speedy looks great on literally any strap.  We TRULY have no news on how Omega might or might not change the Speedy in the next year or so, but with the co-axial cal. 3861 finding its way in more and more Speedmaster watches, we wouldn’t be surprised if we’re getting towards the end of the line for the current model.  That’s not a reason in itself to buy reference # 311.30.42.30.01.005 but consider it a little nudge.  – Mike

 

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight (3.090 Euro / 3.380 Euro depending on strap/bracelet)

I just bought this watch – ‘nuff said.
Ever since Tudor introduced this watch at BaselWorld in 2018, I have been a big fan. I already liked the design on the predecessor, but the dimensions weren’t for me. The former incarnation of the Black Bay had and still has a big following, and it was an immediate hit when they released it back in 2012. BUT many say, as significant as the design and the quality for the price are, the dimensions are suboptimal. Especially, as the in-house movement version of the Black Bay became even taller than the previous ETA version (14.8mm vs. 12.8mm). The slab-sided flanks did not help either. Tudor partially fixed this issue on the Black Bay GMT with a slight bevel at the lower side of the case flank to give it less “visual heft” but the regular Black Bay models lack this. Anyway, the dimensions of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight are perfect for me and the waiting list for this watch proves that many others think so as well. A winner in my book.  Mike wrote about it here.  Head to Tudor for more info. – Daniel

Sinn 206 Arktis II (starting at 3490 Euro, 3670 Euro with the steel bracelet)

I love Sinn watches and I think they did a very nice job with this updated Arktis model. The ice blue is simply stunning and something totally different from all the black dial sports watches out there. Like most Sinn watches, it is heavily equipped with all sorts of technical solutions and innovations to prevent the watch from malfunctioning. Functional between -45 and +80 degrees Celsius, a captive bezel, Ar-dehumidifying technology, resistant to 30 bar and so on. Sinn also made sure it complies with a number of German standards for diving watches. Of course. The movement inside is based on Valjoux’s 7750 and even here Sinn made sure it complies with some German standard (DIN) for anti-magnetism. It is all very German, so great built and reliable. Often, that doesn’t go well with a proper design, but Sinn pulled it off in this wonderful-looking chronograph you can wear on a daily basis. Although you can lower the price a bit by buying this Sinn 206 on a leather or silicone strap, the steel bracelet is the way to go. More information via Sinn’s website. – Robert-Jan

Under 1.000 Euro

anOrdain Model 2 (950 GBP)

The anOrdain Model 2 is a real breath of fresh air within a sea of what often feels like very similar watches.  Both Tomas and I reviewed a Model 2 (Tomas a white enamel version while I went with a more expensive green fumé edition) and we loved them.  Everything from the case shape, the 36mm size, the use of a manual wind movement and those unbelievable dials turned us into absolute fans.  These pieces from the small Scottish independent brand would make for a truly unexpected gift…I’d take mine in Torr Blue.  Visit anOrdain for more information. – Mike

Seiko Sumo Prospex Diver

Seiko SPB103J1 ‘Sumo’ (830 Euro)

This pick really was a no-brainer for me. In my opinion, there is no better watch available under 1,000 Euro than the new Seiko SPB103J1 or Sumo as it’s more commonly referred to. When Seiko introduced the new Sumo earlier this year (we covered it here) I was happy to see they changed my biggest design issue with the previous generation Sumo and that’s the style of the numbers on the bezel inlay. Some puritans might argue that the old font type is what made the Sumo stand out in the Prospex collection, but I like the more serious look of the SPB103J1 a lot better especially in the green colourway. Next to updating the aesthetics, Seiko also introduced the new Seiko 6R35 automatic movement with an increased power reserve of 70 hours and fitted the new Sumo with a sapphire crystal. Sure, the price of the Sumo increased significantly from 595 Euro to 830 Euro but the improvements make it worth every Euro of its price. The new Sumo is without a doubt the best watch your money can buy under 1,000 Euro. – Jorg

 

Khaki Field Mechanical 38mm Black PVD

Image by HODINKEE

Khaki Field Mechanical 38mm Black PVD ($545)
This is a no-frills tool watch, and the design has stood the test of time. I love the dimensions of this filed watch that comes in at 38mm, add that there is no date, the drilled lugs, and you have a great watch packed with an impressive 80 hours of power reserve. I almost bought this watch, to be honest, but after purchasing the Black Bay Fifty-Eight, my war chest was empty. There are four new versions of the classic Khaki Field Mechanical, but the stealthy black PVD version is my pick of the lot. Our friends over at HODINKEE are the first to offer it. – Daniel

Seiko 5 Sports (269 – 329 Euro)

I gave the Seiko 5 Sports a pretty tough time when it was first released this past summer for sporting a very SKX007-like case without a screw-down crown.  My teammates, on the other hand, reminded me that there’s very little in the watch world today made with similar quality at this price level.  And, furthermore, while a screw-down crown is an unfortunate omission, the watches are fine for 100 meters of water resistance and that’s about 90 or so meters more than what most of these will see.  The fact that there are something like 26 different variants of this watch makes it nearly Swatch-like and some of the options are like an answer to longtime Seiko lovers.  Head to the Seiko 5 Sports site for more information or your local Seiko boutique.  – Mike

 

Casio Vintage Edgy, ref. A700WE-1AEF (€ 39,90 incl VAT)

It’s safe to say that the black resin Casio F-91W is thé most sold watch in the world. And I think we’ll find the stainless steel variations of this model, like the A159WA, on a solid second place. These watches seem to be with us forever; but in fact, the F-91W ‘only’ has its 30th birthday this year. While the F-91W didn’t change much over the years, the stainless steel models had a bit of an evolution. Gold color and an electroluminescent backlighting system are the most noteworthy. Now, however, Casio decided to really enter the world of refinement. They managed to realize the latest offspring of this iconic watch with a height of only half of that of the former models. On thickness, with its height of only 6 mm, it almost competes with the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo. This gift won’t break the bank and is certified to be a success. More information on the new Casio Vintage Edgy can be found here: www.casio-vintage.eu – Gerard

Casio G-Shock Origin ‘Square’ GW model (Starting around € 129)

Back in 1983, the first G-Shock was launched in the shape of the DW-5000C. With its square case and matching resin strap, it stood the test of time. You don’t have to break the bank for a Casio G-Shock Origin, they are very durable and simply put, cool. Personally I prefer the GW version of this watch. When you look at the G-Shock models you will notice how they come with various codes. DW, for example, is short for digital water resist where GW is short for ‘G Wave Ceptor’. The latter one is perfect for occasional wear as these models pick up the accurate time through radio signals. So it corrects itself regularly, if necessary that is. Combined with ‘tough solar’, you never have to worry about an empty battery. Now the hardest part, which model to get? If you want to get close to the first original G-shock, the GW-M5610-1ER is the one to get. But depending on taste, there are so many options. From simple black to all kinds of bright colours and combinations. Even limited editions, like the one pictured (GW-S5600-1JF) from my personal collection. New models in metal have been released, yet these come at a different price level. The G-Shock square models come packed with useful functions like an alarm, stopwatch, timer, automatic backlight and so on. Besides that, they are nearly indestructible. The G-Shock Origin GW starts around € 129 — Bert


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