Continuing our Deployant Reacts series, today we take a look at and react to the GQ UK’s list of best new watches in 2023. On to the Sunday Roast!
Deployant Reacts: The GQ edit of the best new watches in 2023
The article lists 40 watches which are ranked from 1/40 to 40/40. Interesting list, to say the list, and caught our attention not only for it being published by a well established title like GQ, but one which is highly unusual for the watches selected.
The GQ edit of the best new watches in 2023 list was published in June 21, 2023 and had the byline by Zak Maoui, who is their Style Editor and Mike Christensen, their European Lifestyle Editor whose work includes some watches. Though the article does say “Every week, we present the best new watch releases on the planet”, suggesting that is a summary of watches released on that week (June 15-21), the opening paragraphs goes on to say “Go get amongst – these are the best new watches we recommend adding to your collection (or at least stick on the wishlist).” This suggests that this is a list to abide by, and as implied by the title. So we have taken it at face value – “best new watches in 2023”.
And while we are aware that we might have (intentionally) interpreted the purpose of the article in our view, we are not being completely reckless. Firstly, GQ does not do a weekly new drops article. And secondly, many of the watches featured were not released the week prior. For eg, the VC in the list was released in May 10, the Breguet on June 7, the Oris on May 12, the Citizen on May 15, the AP on April 3, the Moser on April 20 and the Grönefeld was even released way earlier in September 5, 2022.
Of course, this reaction article purely our own opinion. And done for just for the fun of it, with no malice intended. Here we go, with links to our original articles in the sub-titles here…if we have them.
We love what Breitling has done to their Top Time Collection. Beautiful watches. Excellent designs, handsome good looks and good execution. Every single one of them. Including the one which GQ has chosen – the latest release with Breitling’s collaboration with Deus Ex Machina. All the Top Time collection’s adjectives apply, and coupled with the excellent in-house B01 movement to boot!
This is certainly an excellent choice. Having said that, and at the risk of offending Breitling, it would probably not be our no.1 choice. We will definitely keep the Deus in our Top 40 list, though. So, GQ, in a way, we are off to a good, though slightly rocky start.
2/40 Piaget Polo
In position no.2, GQ selected the Polo by Piaget. Specifically the model chosen is the new Polo Field, which is the Polo S with a new dial. This is a novelty released in June 13, 2023, and what is new over the standard Polo S is a new dial. And in an emerald green dial which carries a slightly different gadroon pattern from the earlier releases. They are now a series of full and half grooves arranged such that the shorter lines appear on the periphery, encircling the center as a medallion of full grooves . The grooves also appear to be thicker, a pattern which is picked up on the interchangeable rubber strap.
So no basic objection to the pick of the Piaget Polo, other than this is perhaps not the obvious collector choice. And if this is our list, probably not in this position. Especially when there are other considerations like the Chopard Alpine Eagle, the Moser Streamliner, the Czapek Antarctique, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas and other Genta inspired variants of the Patek Nautilus and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak which are probably as strong or stronger options.
3/40 Raymond Weil Freelancer Pilot Flyback Chronograph
The Raymond Weil would hardly make our list of Pilot Chronographs. In fact, Raymond Weil would not make any of our lists. The brand is more known for their fashion timepieces than serious watchmaking. Though, the Freelancer is perhaps an attempt to be more mainstream horology. It is a bi-compax flyback chronograph powered by what they call the caliber RW5530 which offers a respectable 56-hour power reserve. No other details are known except that it has 29 jewels, and RW hints that it is in-house.
Our choice for a Pilot Chronograph would run along the lines in our article linked. In addition, we would strongly recommend options from either IWC, Zenith (watch out for our hands-on review of the new Zenith Pilot Big Date Flyback Chronograph tomorrow), Breitling, Breitling, Breguet and Hanhart.
4/40 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Le Mans Special
While we do not disagree that a Rolex is certainly an essential piece for a collector, our pick would probably be a more basic model like the GMT-Master II or Submariner. The GQ pick is the latest June release of the Daytona Ref. 126529LN to honour the 100th year of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The price tag which is POA on the Rolex site, but which we are reliably informed is circa EUR 42k .
This is a white gold model (if we had to pick a Daytona, we would have chosen a SS model), which is based closely upon the updated references launched at Watches & Wonders this year. The watch is in a reverse panda dial with “Paul Newman” sub-dial styling, a nice touch by Rolex. It is also has a special black ceramic tachymeter scale that features the “100” indication in red, and sapphire glass display back to showcase the new C.4132 movement. Yes, not the C.4131 which was the new movement released with the W&W revised Daytona collection, but the C.4132, with the hour totaliser counting to 24 hours. To obtain this new 24-hour display, it now features an additional, patented gear reduction mechanism made up of seven components. This system simply replaces a transmission wheel in the C.4131 and halves the rotational speed of the gear train that turns the 24-hour hand. A very clever and elegant engineering solution, as expected from Rolex.
We are also surprised that Rolex did not give grief to GQ for placing their watch in the no.4 position. Rolex has always insisted that in the event that an article is a list, they must be placed as the first position. Or even more preferred, they should be the only watch in the article. We have continued to ignore this requirement (and other very rigid mandates from them), and as such, have been more or less excommunicated by Rolex.
5/40 Breguet Type XX
In no.5 is the new Breguet Type XX, released recently in two versions. A civilian model pictured here, and a military model (see our review linked). Both are handsome watches with the impeccable pedigree of the Breguet maison. The design and execution is spot on, as is usual for Breguet. Interestingly, the short paragraph on GQ also discusses the debate over the date vs no date that is so common and familiar to the hard core watch enthusiast.
The finishing, as noted in our review linked above, is good, and fully within the expectation of a brand like Breguet. We mostly agree with this pick, so we have nothing more to add.
6/40 Oris Aquis Small Second Date
The paragraph opening the GQ recommendation for the Oris starts out as “In case you didn’t know, anyone who wants to be considered as an authority on watches basically needs to own an Oris to be taken seriously.” Hmm. This is a far stretch of imagination in our assessment.
Truth be told, the Chief Editor does own an Oris, so don’t get us wrong, Oris makes respectable watches. We have covered them several times, and often, their pieces represent good value. But in our books, Oris is in the genre of tool like watches appropriate for the sub SGD 5k price level. And while the brand does have a good heritage, and does have some in-house calibers (and transitioning to have more and more of their watches bearing these movements), the movement finishing is very industrial, and certainly not the focal point of the maison. The designs are basic, with no horological breakthrough innovations. We might keep an Oris in a top 40 watch list, but certainly not in a Top 10 position.
Quite a motley selection of watches. We do not see any clear criteria applied to the list. And safe for a Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers (no less,) and the AP Royal Oak Offshore 30th Anniversary, there are no high end watches. For example, there are no Patek Philippe, nor A. Lange & Söhne on the list. We cannot argue that this is because the list excludes the unobtainable watches, because it does include the very elusive Rolex Daytona, and both the VC and the AP would have long wait lists. Neither are there any Grand Seiko, or Jaeger-LeCoultre. We would certainly have included some watches from these maisons in any list. Even a Top 10 one. This is despite several Tissots, Omegas, Seikos on the list, which is also very thin on independents. Unless we recognise UN and GP as new independents with the recent management buy-out, the independents are only represented by a Moser Streamliner and curiously, a Grönefeld in position 40/40, with a very low resolution photograph of their Deltaworks.
Note: Profile photograph is from GQ website.