WatchAdvice 2023: The Most Exciting Releases, As Chosen By Us

by Sameera Gamage

With 2023 finished, all of us at WatchAdvice look back on what has arguably been one of the best years to be a member of the watch community. From shocking business acquisitions and unexpected collaborations to innovative feats of artistry and engineering, nothing was left on the table when it came to showing what the world of horology was still capable of. However, the biggest treat for us is the slew of new timepieces released this year! Here are the pieces that caught our attention for 2023.

Sam’s Pick: Hublot Big Bang Unico Sky Blue 42mm

Picking one single favourite timepiece from 2023 is most certainly a hard task. So many pieces have been released that have caught my eye that I’ve mentally put them on my bucket list.

Timepieces like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo in white gold, Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph, Breguet Classique Quantieme Perpetual 7327 or the Laureato Absolute Chronograph 8 Tech from Girard-Perregaux. While all these timepieces have an elegant luxury finish (besides the Laureato), what stood out to me almost instantly was that they are far from the design and aesthetics of what these pieces are.

More recently, I’ve developed a taste for the colourful timepieces. I do love coloured dials, but in particular, baby blue/sky blue dials. I’ve already picked up a Tissot PRX sky blue this year for this reason. This also leads me to pick the Hublot Big Bang Unico Sky Blue as my favourite watch of 2023.

While this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, when I wrote this article for this watch in May this year, all I was thinking to myself was, I have to get my hands on one day. The Hublot Big Bang Unico Sky Blue released this year was a re-edition of the 45mm version released back in 2020. The 2023 model retained all the same design and aesthetic details; however, the size was reduced to a much more accommodating 42mm case size.

Simply looking at this watch brings about happy emotions and, as intended, reminds one of clear sunny skies during summertime. The watch has a ceramic case and bezel made from a combination of sky blue and white colours. The straps provided follow the same colour theme while being made from rubber/leather materials, perfectly suited for the occasion the watch is designed for: outdoors.

Matt sporting the Hublot Big Bang Sky Blue

The watch is backed by Hublot’s in-house Unico HUB1280 movement, giving out a pretty decent power reserve at approximately 72 hours while operating at a high accuracy frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz). With the sky blue colour and skeletonised dial, this watch is bound to stand out in a good way!

Matt’s Pick: Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph is probably my pick for the 2023 releases. Whilst there were lots and lots of great watches released over the past 12 months, the Polaris Chronograph stood out to me as being a pic for several reasons.

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph in both grey and blue variants

The first reason is just that beautiful design of the dial. Jaeger-LeCoultre has used hand-applied lacquer on the dial, and on both blue and grey variants. Whilst both are stunning, I ended up favouring the grey variant at the end of the year mainly because the smoked effect stood out much more, and the grey dial is completely unique to most other watches that you will find out there.

The grey looks stunning in real life!

Another reason why I’m picking the Polaris Chronograph is its wearability. Having a rubber strap on both of the variants, plus a steel bracelet with the blue or beige textile strap on the grey variant means it’s highly versatile. Honestly, my preference though was the rubber strap as it is super comfortable and provides such a great contrast to the dial on either of the watches.

And last but not least, the fact that it is a dressier sports chronograph with 100 metres water resistance really tops it off. I feel that Jaeger-LeCoultre have done a brilliant job here in designing a beautifully crafted watch, one you can wear both dressed up or dressed down. The blue model would be my pick if you want a more dressy piece, however, if you want something different and a little bit more out there, then the grey variant would be my pick.

These sports watches, especially the Polaris range, is the direction I feel Jaeger-LeCoultre should be heading in the future, especially in countries like Australia where we are a little bit less formal and a little bit more casual. The blend of refinement, sports and dress just works on both of these pieces.

It certainly impressed me and if you missed the Hands On Review I had the privilege of doing a few months ago, then you can read about it here.

Mario’s Pick: MB&F HM11 ‘Architect’

My financial status is always one Snickers bar away from ‘destitute.’ As a result, I always gravitate towards affordable and effective timepieces. This is not one of them, but it’s good to have dreams, right?

The MB&F HM11 first debuted at Dubai Watch Week this year, and I can only assume there was shock and awe from those who were in attendance. The design is unlike anything ever seen before. With renowned designer Eric Giroud at the helm, they pulled much of their inspiration from retrofuturistic 1960s architecture. Max Büsser had always been enamoured with the conceptual ‘houses of tomorrow’ and endeavoured to create something that exemplified the wonderment he had felt from viewing that era.

The HM11 was the result, with a multifaceted, rotating case comprised of four sections – the hours & minutes, the power reserve, a mechanical thermometer, and the sapphire crown, with a tourbillon set in the centre of the watch. Of course, a thermometer doesn’t sound like everyone’s cup of tea regarding complications. However, remember that the HM11 is supposed to be designed as a house.

As is to be expected from a company where abstract is the new normal, both design and engineering are perfected in every facet of the timepiece. It’s a piece that exudes not just status and mechanical prowess but fantastical appeal and, more importantly, pure, unadulterated fun. Sometimes, the echo chamber of the watch world takes itself a little too seriously, especially in the realm of haute horlogerie, so it’s refreshing to see Max Büsser & Friends create designs like these at such a high level. 

Champsg trying the HM11 at Dubai Watch Week

So, while it’s a long, long way away, it’s pieces like these that make me eager for the day I get something like this, just for someone to ask me “What in the hell are you wearing?” Hopefully, my reply will be, “MB&F.

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