Our judges may be some of the most experienced watch experts around, but do they know exactly what makes the average buyer tick? Well, that's where you come in: the Readers' Choice is your chance to be heard in the Square Mile Watch Awards in association with Red Eight Gallery.
So, get those loupes out, dust up on your watch history, and make your choice from this year's best of the best.
We’ve shortlisted 20 watches for you to choose from: from spectacular advancements in technology to old-school classics of the horological art, there’s something to cater to every taste.
Have a read of our write ups below, do your research, and then make your decision in the poll at the bottom of the page.
Think you know your way around a tourbillon? Here's your chance to prove it…
A Lange & Söhne
Lange 1 Time Zone
The history of A Lange & Söhne may stretch back to 1845, but the watchmaker’s current status as one of the finest high-end watch brands wouldn’t be possible without the 1994 release of the Lange 1.
This Time Zone version is an update to the world timer member of the watch family, with subtle tweaks to the day-night indicator (now neatly incorporated within the dials by a rotating blue sector) and the addition of a daylight saving / summer time indicator elsewhere.
Other than that, this is the same iconic design that blends traditional Saxon watchmaking with an unorthodox dial configuration. For many watch enthusiasts, this is one of the truly great watch designs of the post-war period, and undoubtedly this new model is the latest step in its evolution.
[Re]master01 Self-Winding Chronograph
The vintage-inspired watch trend may have been gaining momentum for the best part of a decade now, but that doesn’t stop Audemars Piguet’s first foray into this area of timepiece design being any less exciting – this is exactly the kind of sure-footed move we have come to expect from the creators of the Royal Oak.
The [Re]master01 name typifies this model’s assimilation of old-school watch aesthetics and modern watchmaking: the watch itself bears a passing resemblance to a two-tone AP watch design from 1943, while the Calibre 4409 flyback chronograph movement is straight from the 21st century.
Really, though, all you need to know about this watch can be seen in the image above. It’s stunning. Truly one of the most visually arresting watches of 2020.
Breguet is not only one of the oldest manufacturers in horology, but also one of the leading lights when it comes to traditional watchmaking craftsmanship. Just take a look at the new-look Classique 7137 – a veritable feast of engine turned guilloché handiwork (the art of creating patterns on the dial) and movement decoration.
Inspired by the Perpetuelle No.5 – a late 18th century pocket watch designed by Abraham-Louis Breguet himself – this timepiece is redolent with antique watchmaking charm, and yet still wears beautifully as a dress watch in the modern era.
If you’d have told us at the beginning of the year that Breitling’s Chronomat collection (never the prettiest pick in the pageant) would end up being one of our favourite tool watches of the year, we’d have asked what you were on and if we could have some.
Yet, the Swiss watchmaker has taken the previously awkward Chronomat aesthetic and given it a highly impressive makeover – transforming it into the kind of stylish, utilitarian collection that watch buyers have been looking for in recent years. The salmon dial in particular is a stunner.
Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic
Another year, another world record to add to the mantlepiece for Bulgari: meet the world’s thinnest tourbillon chronograph.
It might be a niche pursuit, but you’ve got to tip your cap to the watchmaker’s never ending quest for ultra-thin watchmaking.
The Octo Finissimo collection has now broken six world records since launching in 2014 – and in the process has created a line of truly exceptional watches, each fitting within a distinctive design framework that is all its own.
The latest model combines a monopusher chronograph complication and a tourbillon inside a 7.2mm thick (or should we say thin) case. We can’t wait to see what’s next from this ingenious watchmaker.
Sixties Edition Glacier Blue
The latest edition of Glashütte Original’s ode to 1960s watch design features an eye-catching glacier-blue lacquered dial created in the brand’s very own dial manufactory in Pforzheim, Germany. The colours are quite unlike anything else on the market and add up to one of the most distinctive dress pieces one can currently buy.
Glashütte’s demure models sometimes fly below the radar, but this collection more than any other is proof they should be more widely celebrated.
Re-Creations Of The First Grand Seiko
Grand Seiko may be a more prominent brand in the UK these days, but it still hasn’t shaken its cult status among watch collectors. Renowned for its attention to detail and exceptionally accurate movements (thanks mainly to its Spring Drive technology), the Japanese watchmaker offers one of the best pound-for-pound watch collections in the market.
To celebrate the brand’s 60th anniversary, Grand Seiko has revisited its very first watch design. The result is a typically restrained dress watch with striking sharp faceted hands and double-stacked indices. There’s nowhere to hide here – and yet this watch oozes elegance and grace.
Big Bang Integral
“Finally!” say Hublot fans: the Big Bang gets its very own integrated bracelet at long last. But that’s not all on offer here. In order to seamlessly blend the bracelet into the watch case, Hublot has given its sporty chronograph a liberal helping of bevelling and chamfering, and the resulting silhouette is the best rendition of the Big Bang we’ve ever seen: footballer’s watch this ain’t.
Not a bad way to celebrate the collection’s 15th anniversary…
Portugieser Automatic 40
IWC is probably better known for robust tool watches like the Big Pilot, but its dressier collections are more than deserving of a second look.
The 2020 update to the classic Portugieser collection sees the Swiss watchmaker add a 40mm small seconds automatic model to its ranks. There’s a new in-house movement under the hood, while the minimalist aesthetic is sure to tick a lot of boxes for those looking for something relatively smart to wear every day.
Master Control Date
Technical prowess and pared-back design takes centre stage in Jaeger-LeCoultre’s boldly named Master collection. Since its release in 1992, the collection has released a host of timeless pieces that would be difficult to place in any era – they sit outside of any style or trend, instead adhering to the fundamentals of classic watchmaking.
The latest piece? It’s much of the same. If someone told you this watch was from the 1940s, you probably wouldn’t be all that surprised. Under the hood, however, you’re looking at an overhauled calibre 899 movement that features shiny mechanical upgrades.
Heritage Classic Tuxedo
In a world where rebooting an old classic is par for the course in watchmaking, Longines is one of the undisputed leaders of the pack when it comes to launching a vintage-inspired timepiece – and its new rendition of the Tuxedo is a perfect example.
Inspired by a dressy little number from 1945, this 38.5mm round dress piece is quite unlike most of the military or tool watch reboots we usually see brands digging out of their archives.
The opaline central dial and contrasting black hour track makes for a stylish monochrome design that we’d absolutely love to wear to a black-tie party (you know, when they’re allowed to exist again).
Luminor Marina '70 Years Of Luminor' Collection
Dive watch master Panerai has created a series of lume-heavy models that shine a light (geddit?) on its iconic Luminor collection – this year celebrating its 70th anniversary. The three watches feature a new grade of lume called Super-LumiNova X1, which Panerai claims is stronger and longer-lasting than more commonly found variants – and, as such, it’s decked the whole watch in the stuff. Add to the mix Panerai’s penchant for high-tech materials in the form of Carbotech, Fibratech, and titanium case options, and you have the summation of the Italian watchmaker’s vision of the perfect diving companion.
Ref. 5370P-011 Split-Seconds Chronograph
The Ref. 5370P Split-Seconds Chronograph debuted in 2015 to widespread acclaim. The stunning hand-wound split-seconds chronograph movement doubled with a black enamel dial was a technical and aesthetic smash hit.
Well, *newsflash* now it comes in a velvety blue Grand Feu enamel dial. Such is the magnetic pull of the Swiss watch giant, this simple colour change is major news. But look at it: it’s absolutely stunning.
Altiplano Ultimate Concept
When Piaget first showcased the Altiplano Ultimate Concept back in 2018, nobody in their right mind thought the manufacture would be able to transform this ambitious design into a bonafide commercial offering. This is the thinnest mechanical watch ever made – clocking in at an incredible perceptible 2mm thick, or marginally thinner than a two-pence piece. And yet it’s only gone and bloody done it.
After two years of working out the kinks, Piaget is now offering one of the most innovative watches of all-time to buyers – and, get this, you can even specify your choice of colours for all sorts of bits and pieces. Well done, Piaget, very well done.
RM 11-05 Automatic Flyback Chronograph GMT
Richard Mille is renowned for bringing together futuristic designs with cutting-edge technology – and its latest rendition of its genre-defining RM11 watch is no exception. The watchmaker has constructed the casing out of grey cermet: a highly durable material with a hardness almost on a par with diamond.
This being Richard Mille, the movement is as impressive as the innovation found elsewhere. Squeezed within the case is a flyback chronograph with GMT, as well as an annual calendar with displays for the date and the month. The blue and orange colour combination is also reminiscent of Gulf’s Le Mans-winning Ford GT40 #1075 car – no bad thing in our book.
After years of gossip and speculation, Rolex has finally dropped an update to its iconic Submariner collection. In the small world of watchmaking, this counts as very big news.
The headlines are that the new-generation Submariner and Submariner Date now feature a redesigned, slightly larger 41mm case, with upgraded hardware.
No, the new Sub doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it certainly perfects a winning formula. This might be the most wearable iteration yet – which says a lot given it’s a little larger than previously. We were always going to love it, but love it we most certainly do.
Presage Sharp Edged
Seiko may rightly receive the plaudits for its excellent dive watches, but if you ask us the oft underrated Presage collection is worth a second look. This dressier series of timepieces wades into the same balmy waters as luxurious sibling brand Grand Seiko, with its attention to detail and meticulous level of finishing, but does so at a very competitive price point.
This new model, aptly named Presage Sharp Edged, features an angular watch case and a striking engraved dial design based on the hemp-leaf pattern known as Asanoha.
Asanoha, symbolising prosperity and health in Japanese culture, is a fitting motif for a model that showcases Seiko’s wealth of watchmaking riches on display here.
Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition
The Carrera is undoubtedly Tag Heuer’s golden child; its perfect offspring that can simply do no wrong. The design, the history, the racing association, it has that all-important cocktail that leaves collectors clambering for those coveted early references.
The very first edition reference, the 2447S (‘s’ for silver, naturally), is probably the greatest of them all – and is here brought back to life to celebrate 160 years of Tag Heuer.
There are a couple of modern dispensations in the form of a slightly larger case size, sapphire crystal, and a brand-new Heuer 02 automatic chronograph movement, otherwise you’re looking at the same silver fox that beguiled watch fans at its launch in 1964.
Black Bay Fifty Eight Navy Blue
The word ‘icon’ is bandied around watch conventions like confetti these days, but if there was one collection that was deserving of modern icon status it would be the Black Bay.
This collection sits in the sweet spot of the vintage and tool watch trends, and still manages to package it all up in an eyebrow-raisingly accessible price point.
Inspired by the Tudor reference 7924 divers watch (from, you guessed it, 1958), the latest model is dressed in a very charming navy blue – a colour that, perhaps surprisingly, was used by Tudor as far back as the 1960s.
Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton
The Overseas might not have the same historical significance as the Nautilus or Royal Oak, but this sports watch collection is every bit as charming as its better known rivals – and is more than deserving of your attention.
Here’s Exhibit A: the Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton. Vacheron Constantin has given this model its typically astute approach to incorporating high complication into a sporty facade, and created an absolute masterpiece. Add the Maltese Cross-style bracelet and you're looking at one of the best-looking watches we’ve seen all year.