The Square Mile Watch Awards is the UK’s original annual consumer watch awards celebrating the best of mechanical watchmaking.
Each year, we pit the world’s top watchmakers against one another in a range of different categories to see which timepieces are the best in their field.
In most cases, the voting is decided by an expert panel of industry specialists. But arguably our most important category – the Readers’ Choice – is voted for by you.
Take a look at the shortlist below and vote for your favourite in the poll at the end.
A Lange & Söhne
The headline of the Odysseus Chronograph is simple: this is the watchmaker’s first automatic chronograph, housed inside its first sports watch (launched in 2019). But the devil is in the details. Lange has plumbed the very depths of its horological knowhow to create a self-winding chronograph that utilises all 516 movement components to execute watchmaking feats that other watches simply can’t.
For example, the chronograph is improbably capable of running even while you are adjusting the date or day of the week. Now that’s a clever chrono.
Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin 41mm
When Audemars Piguet revealed the Royal Oak RD#2 concept in 2018, at the time the thinnest automatic perpetual calendar in the world, watch fans everywhere yearned to see the Le Brassus brand utilise the technology in a production model. After all, it took five years to develop. Thankfully, AP has obliged – to the tune of a 200-piece limited edition.
Measuring 41mm wide and just 6.2mm thick, the new Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin comes in all titanium and weighs a barely-there 75 grams; a true mechanical marvel.
Type 20 ‘Military’
The Type 20 name refers to the original specification sheet distributed by the French Air Force to several watchmakers invited to apply for the open contract to produce a purpose-built flyback chronograph intended for use in flight. The winner? Breguet, bien sûr.
As a tribute to this 1953 original, Breguet has launched the Type 20 ‘Military’ and the Type XX, complete with the new calibre 728 and 7281 movements doing the heavy lifting. Both are beautiful, but the Type 20 tips the balance for us.
There is more to life than the Navitimer. The AVI ref 765 was released in 1953, a year prior to the Navitimer, at the height of Breitling’s powers as a producer of instrumentation for Europe’s aviation manufactures, and featured a novel counter at three o’clock that measured 15 minutes; the time it took pilots to conduct warm-up procedures and pre-flight checks.
Now it’s back as part of a fully fledged modern collection, 70 years after its creation. While the 15-minute counter has been replaced with a standard 30-minute chronograph counter, it retains much of the charm of the jet-setting original with a contemporary movement.
Privé Tank Normale
The Privé Tank Normale is inspired by the very first Tank designed by Louis Cartier in 1917. More than a century on, this new watch borrows the same proportions as the original, as well as some of the key aesthetic codes that became the cornerstone of the collection: the square shape, the bevelled sapphire crystal, the satin-brushed brancards and, of course, the Roman numeral dial with inner railroad track.
There are five new references in the collection, but the star of the show here comes complete with a matching precious metal seven-row bracelet. It’s the first time since the 1980s that Cartier has executed such a bracelet in platinum and the result is absolutely exquisite.
Majestic White Birch SBGZ009
Grand Seiko’s Micro Artist Studio is responsible for some of the most intricate pieces of craftsmanship you’ll see anywhere on the planet, and its latest creation only goes to underline this point.
The Grand Seiko Majestic White Birch features a hand-engraved platinum case and matching metallic dial, with the manual-wind Spring Drive at its heart. Pictures simply don’t do this phenomenal piece of craftsmanship justice. In the metal, the handiwork is nothing short of dazzling with every turn of the wrist starting a veritable light show of colour and shade. It’s like a piece of optical art that tricks the eye into seeing motion where there is none.
H08 Monopusher Chronograph
Hermès views time a little differently to its nearest competitors and it’s for this reason that its H08 sports watch, with its cushion-shaped case and multi-layered dial, looks so striking compared to what we are used to in this portion of the market. Maybe it’s a French thing, a certain je ne sais quoi, but the Hermès design language creates some of the most bold lines you’ll find in watchmaking.
The latest addition to the brand’s ranks is the H08 Monopusher Chronograph, which builds on the success of the sports watch launched in 2021, and adds a monopusher chronograph function, operated by a button on the crown. Add to the mix a pair of square registers and you have a watch that is as well balanced as it is quirky.
Ingenieur Automatic 40
Following the riotous success of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Phillipe Nautilus, Gerald Genta was contracted by IWC to create its own iteration of the sports watch. Using the name Ingenieur, first seen in 1954 on an anti-magnetic watch designed for doctors, scientists, and of course engineers, the new watch launched in 1976 and followed Genta’s model for success: an integrated bracelet coapting to a shapely case with a contrasting textured dial, but with the magnetic protection of its Ingenieur predecessors.
The Ingenieur has had multiple rebirths over the years, but this iteration more closely adheres to the original with a couple of subtle modern tweaks.
The Tambour has existed as part of Louis Vuitton’s watch collections since 2002, and is synonymous with the brand’s horological prowess, so it’s no surprise that LV should launch a new age of its watchmaking capabilities with the release of the Tambour Steel: an integrated steel sports watch unlike any Tambour we’ve ever seen.
LV has a reputation for not following the general conventions most adhere to in the watch space, but here they have used the design cues of the sports watch to great effect. Better still, it features the first proprietary automatic three-hand calibre designed by Louis Vuitton, created in partnership with Le Cercle des Horlogers.
Radiomir California PAM01349
Commissioned by the Royal Italian Navy to supply high-precision instruments, Guido Panerai patented the Radiomir back in 1916. This year, the now iconic Radiomir has had a significant refresh – including an update on its California.
The striking dial, characterised by alternating Roman and Arabic numerals and indexes, dates back to the 1940s when Panerai helped pioneer the ‘error proof’ design. Fast forward to 2023, and the Radiomir California PAM01349 delivers in trademark style a smaller 45mm case size, new green dial, and a Brunito eSteel case – a brand-new finishing technique from Panerai, completed by hand, giving each a unique character.
Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Chronograph 5924G
The Pilot Travel Time first made a splash in 2015, not least because no one was expecting Patek to drop an aviation watch.
Inspired by its 1930s aviation pieces, Patek decided to place the two lock-down pushers on the left hand side of the case. While the watch had plenty of merits, the aesthetics looked somewhat out of kilter. For 2023, Patek has now reverted to the traditional right-hand side, and as an added bonus, armed it with the first-ever flyback chronograph in the collection.
Two excellent colourways, steel-blue and a khaki green, are the cherry on top. Patek is onto another winner here, we wager.
Oyster Perpetual Day Date ‘Emoji’ 36
Meet the Day-Date 36 ‘Jigsaw Dial’, aka the Rolex ‘Emoji’. Let’s start with the basics. This is a 36mm Day-Date that features the usual Oyster case design, the iconic fluted bezel, and the cyclops date window. Rolex has also plumped for 18k white gold for the case material here, which adds a luxurious edge to the usual Day-Date aesthetic.
However, this is a Day-Date that neither tells you the day or the date. Instead, the day function is replaced with seven positive words printed in different colours: “Happy,” Eternity,” “Gratitude,” Peace,” “Faith,” “Love,” and “Hope”. At 3 o’clock, the date is replaced with 31 Rolex-designed emojis, including rainbows, hearts, and animals. It is bonkers – and that’s why we love it.
Prospex 1965 Divers SJE093 ‘62MAS’
Seiko were busy bunnies in the 1960s. At the start of the decade, it launched the first Grand Seiko, creating a new benchmark for Japanese watchmaking, and by 1969 it had changed horology forever with the release of the world’s first quartz watch, the Quartz Astron. And to top it off, Seiko launched its first dive watch, the Seiko Diver ref 6217 in 1965.
Known by collectors as the 62MAS, this formidable dive watch has seen plenty of recreations over the years, but the new Prospex 1965 Divers Re-creation SJE093 is easily the most faithful iteration we’ve seen. It’s nigh-on identical, save for the modern movement inside.
Carrera Chronograph Glassbox
Celebrating the Carrera’s 60th anniversary in 2023, TAG Heuer has pushed the boat out by rejuvenating its collection with a stone-cold classic design inspired by the past.
The new-look Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph, dubbed the ‘Glassbox’, features a curved sapphire crystal that calls to mind the domed hesalite crystals found on 1970s Heuer Carrera models. The redesign includes a curved tachymeter scale and concave dial that enhance legibility and create a seamless flow from dial to case.
This might be the best TAG Heuer we’ve seen in years.
Fresh out of its new Le Locle factory is Tudor’s new and improved Black Bay with burgundy bezel. First launched in 2012 as the first ever Black Bay reference, the new version takes the winning formula of its predecessors and refines it.
It boasts the new MT5602-U movement complete with METAS Master Chronometer certification, and 70 hours of power reserve to boot.
Elsewhere, there’s a curvier, slimmer case, polished edges on the case side (previously brushed), a redesigned screw-down crown, and the teeth of the bezel are now wider apart for improved grip. It’s 1.3mm thinner than the 2016 iteration and wears much more comfortably as a result.
Overseas Moon Phase and Retrograde Date
The retrograde complication has never featured in Vacheron’s sporty Overseas collection, but that changed this year thanks to the Overseas Moonphase Retrograde Date.
The date function here sweeps across the upper portion of the dial and comes paired with a moonphase complication at six o’clock that only requires a one-day correction every 122 years.
This timepiece is typical of modern day Vacheron: utilising the skills and knowhow of yesterday to create a contemporary masterpiece.