Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

The best watches of 2010

| By Frank Geelen | 5 min read |

Now the year has almost come to an end it’s time to look back and to see which watches made the best impression. So here is Monochrome’s selection of Best Watches of the Year 2010.

Like every year, there where many new watches. Some expected for a long time, some unexpected and a total surprise. But the question is which one made a lasting impression? Some have only been released on the drawing board, but are not completely ready yet. These watches, although some are really impressive, won’t count for this years election.

Because watches come in all price ranges I can’t compare a $500,000 watch with a $1,500 watch. So there will be a few categories, based on price. The first category is without any limits, the second category is up to $200,000 , the third category is up to $15,000 and the fourth and last category is below $5,000. The only verdict is my personal opinion 🙂

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Around Baselworld many websites declared the Jean Dunand Palace the best watch of the fair. At the time I was also totally blown away by this watch, but I wanted to wait until the first rush of enthusiasm faded away. Somehow my enthusiasm for this magnificent piece hasn’t faded and I still think Jean Dunand’s masterpiece of watchmaking, design and architecture, all brought together in the Palace, is the absolute winner of 2010.

My friend Robert-Jan from Fratellowatches wrote an excellent article about the design elements of this exceptional timepiece and I can really recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it. Ian Skellern posted some very nice photos of Jean Dunand initiator Thierry Oulevay, showing his newest creation to watch journalist Elizabeth Doerr.

The Jean Dunand Palace looks amazing on the photos, but this is a timepiece you really need to see yourself. From every angle you look at it, you will discover new things that will amaze you. Its design is not only from the outside, but is consistent throughout the entire watch including the movement. Master watchmaker Christophe Claret is responsible for the movement featuring a one minute flying tourbillon, a 60 minute chronograph, a second time zone and a power reserve indicator. The entire movement exists of no less than 703 parts!! The price is $ 410,000 USD.

In the price category up to $ 200,000 it was much more difficult to choose a winner. Of course there are more watches released in this category and this year there where a lot of stunning releases in this second highest price range. I guess my choice was made after Max Busser showed it to me this summer. The MB&F Horological Machine 4 Thunderbolt is a watch you need to ‘experience’.

After seeing the movement during Baselworld, which was shown as a teaser, I really had no idea what the watch was going to look like. And I guess not many people would have come up with such and idea, unless your name is Max Busser. He is pushing the limits of his imagination and of technical possibilities! Manufacturing some of the crystals have almost driven the crystal manufacturers crazy. But persistency made it possible that the HM4 is perfect in all of it’s details. And that’s exactly what you can expect from Max Busser and his friends.

The price for this true horological machine, HM4, is $ 158,000 USD. Ian Skellern posted some very nice photos of the HM4 on his Under the Dial Facebook page.

The following category is up to $15,000 and there where a lot (strong emphasis) of new released watches in this category. The new Rolex Submariner with black ceramic bezel insert really appeals to me. This is no new or innovative design, at least not by my standards. On the contrary, Rolex has been making fairly the same watches for several decennia and they’ve done this very successful. There is one thing that bugs me and that’s the thicker lugs. This makes the bracelet which is still 20mm wide, look smaller or slightly out of proportion.

Of course there where many, many beautiful watches to consider, like the Zenith El Primero Striking 10th. A very interesting and beautiful watch. But there can only one be my number one and that is Cartier’s Calibre de Cartier. With a brand new in-house developed and produced movement, calibre 1904 MC, this is sort of a landmark watch in my opinion.

With a starting price of $ 6,500 in steel it offers a lot. The automatic twin barrel movement with a 48-hour power reserve comes in a brand new designed case. Elegant, sophisticated yet robust. A beautiful classic to be, especially with the for Cartier so typical white dial with roman numbers.

The last category is up to $5,000 and during Baselworld I was convinced I’d seen this category’s winner. The Tudor Heritage Chronograph was, together with the Jean Dunand Palace and Rebellion T-1000 (with 1000 hours of power reserve!!), the talk of the town… or at least of Baselworld. Somehow this watch lost its gloom soon after Baselworld ended. Fratellowatches already noticed the Tudor Heritage Chronograph was offered on Chrono24, soon after it came available at dealers.

Another watch I thought would make a good chance, is the Glycine Airman Base 22 and to be honest I still really like this watch a lot. The watch that made the best impression came by surprise. Recently I was invited to the launch of a new watch Marvin created together with Sebastien Loeb, 7-time world champion rally racing. Some of the details of this watch are simply stunning, especially considered its price tag of $2,500.

The distinct rally racing style elements give this watch a sporty look, but to be honest this alone does not set it that much apart from its competitors. Two things that really did it for me where the flexible lugs and the chronograph pushers. The flexible lugs with springs that look like rally car shock absorbers, make this watch easy to wear for every wrist size. The chrono pushers look like the pedals of a rally car, which takes the rally racing design elements a step further than I would have expected. And for that I think this new Marvin LOEB Special Edition, which is limited to 777 pieces, rightfully deserves to win in the category up to $ 5,000.

At the end of 2010 many brands are already announcing their new watches for the upcoming SIHH and Baselworld watch fairs. Monochrome will visit the SIHH in Geneva (January 2011) and Baselworld in Basel (March 2011) and post about the new watches.

1 response

  1. Dear Mono,

    Thanks for some fun reading/browsing here! I like the list you have provided, but I am somewhat peeved by the inclusion of the Rolex, Marvin and Glycine watches. Although they have successfully done what they intended to do, it is impossible to argue that these rather common designs — and let’s be honest; a mere change in bezel colour for the Rolex… — justify inclusion here. I think watch companies have to do more to deserve that. You might as well include all companies that have used new materials to successful existing designs (in 2010) in that case (e.g. Panerai, Jaquet Droz). I think that the Tudor and Zenith watches have, on the other hand, shown how you can really do something new with something traditional, and yes, Cartier have also launched a great new men’s watch, but where is the Ressence Zero series, with its wonderful new design and revolutionary way of indicating time, and where is Piaget, and where is Glashutte’s PanoMaticCounter XL? Those designs (and complications) should have been included here. But then again, this list seems not to favour true innovation… ;o)

    Happy New Year!


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