The rumor that smartwatches, especially the Apple Watch, would destroy the watch industry were greatly exaggerated, as exemplified by the sheer number of new watch releases every year. The industry, as a whole, is growing every year, too, and it shows no sign of letting up. At this point, even watch nerds have to work to keep up with every new release. But for every ho-hum new watch, there are a handful that stand out in the crowd. These are the ones worth considering from major and obscure brands alike.
Ed Sheeran G-Shock Hodinkee DW6900
Pop star and all-around good guy Ed Sheeran is a serious watch guy. This is his first collaboration with the online horological juggernauat Hodinkee, and there are two more to come before the end of the year to make for a trio of timepieces. The first one is (very) yellow to commemorate Sheeran’s May 2023 album, Subtract. The robust G-SHOCK Ref. 6900 gets a bright yellow resin case and bracelet peppered with black splatters from the album’s artwork. The dial is actually an abstract rendering of the crooner’s face along with a subtraction sign at the 12 o’clock position. The rest of the watch is iconic G-SHOCK toughness. The limited-edition watch will sell out quickly. If you miss it, just wait for the next two.
IWC ‘Mojave Desert’ Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Top Gun Edition
IWC’s Pilot’s Watch is an horological icon, and now it gets its freshest colorway and tough ceramic materials. Not only does it look desert-tastic in this tan colorway, but the case has been downsized to a manageable 41.9mm in diameter–quite a bit smaller than the original 44.5mm version that’s too big for most normal wrists. The matte sand ceramic case and dial use a mix of beige and khaki, inspired by Top Gun flight suits rather than the bare chests of the actors from the movie’s beach volleyball scene. The movement is the in-house 69380 caliber with 33 jewels and 46 hours of power reserve.
Momentum Watches SQ30 Eclipse Solar Black Ion
Momentum proves once again that you don’t have to drain your bank account to get a great everyday timepiece. It’s latest offering blends features of classic military dive watches with modern solar power. The black ion plated case measures in at 42mm, and the black dial is peppered with white hands and markers, as well as a bright orange minute hand. When the lights go down, there’s plenty of bright C3 Super LuminNova for easy legibility. The movement’s solar power gives the Eclipse 6 months of timekeeping, and it’s all capped off by a tough sapphire glass crystal. The virtually maintenance-free watch is backed by an impressive 6-year warranty.
The James Brand Timex Ironman
The legendary Timex Ironman digital watch hit the scene back in 1986, and it took the affordable digital watch scene by storm. It’s still made today in several versions, but this new colorway via a collab with knifemaker The James Brand pops like no other. The bright neon yellow case gets red buttons and its own unique black double lug design that’s makes it easy to put on and take off. The upcycled teal ocean plastic strap slips through the lugs quickly, and it wears super-comfy, too. As with all Ironman timepieces, the TJB Ironman has 100-meter water resistance, a super-bright INDIGLO backlight, and a 30 lap memory. It promises to get more looks than a Rolex.
TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Glassbox Gold
Gold watches aren’t just for retirees anymore, as exemplified in this glorious chronograph that pays homage to automotive racing. The Carrera Glassbox Gold 39mm case is made of 18-karat 3N yellow gold, and it’s handsomely contrasted with black snailed subdials and ab lack lacquered second hand. There’s a tasteful amount of Swiss Super-LumiNova for great nighttime visibility, and the gold tachymeter ring is parked just beneath the sapphire boxed glass. Underneath all this beauty is TAG Heuer’s in-house Heuer 02 chronograph movement, the TH20-00. It offers bi-directional winding, 80 hours of power reserve, and visibility through the baseback. The perforated rally-style black leather strap is just the right vintage touch to match.
Fratello × Fortis Flieger F-43 Bicompax Umber Brown Capsule Edition
This is the second watch collaboration on this list, and this time it’s between watch enthusiast site Fratello and German watchmaker Fortis. The Fratello × Fortis Flieger F-43 Bicompax Umber Brown Capsule Edition might just have the best fall watch dial hue I’ve seen in a long time. The 43mm brushed and recycled stainless steel case surrounds the vertically brushed brown dial, twin subdial registers, and the black-and-white chapter ring. The caseback is crafted in recycled stainless steel with “Ultra-Engraving” of the Fratello “f” logo. Inside, timekeeping duties are managed by caliber UW-51, an automatic Swiss Sellita SW510 caliber that’s based on the proven Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement. Finally, the watch gets a handsome and comfy hybrid strap the combines black FKM rubber and brown textile fabric. Although it’s not a limited production watch, only small batches will be made over the course of the next six months.
MALM Air Wolf Viggen Swiss Black DLC Automatic
If you haven’t heard of MALM watches, you’re not alone. This Swedish microbrand collaborates with aircraft pilots and mechanics when it comes to designing their aviation-inspired watches. All watches are built in MALM’s own shop in Linköping, Sweden, the center of the country’s aircraft manufacturing. The Air Wolf Viggen is named after the famous 37 Viggen fighter plane, and the cockpit watch styling is evident in the bezel, dial, and hands. The matte-finished diamond-like carbon coating on the case and bracelet make for a stealthy look, and the Swiss Sellita SW200-1 movement provide accurate timekeeping. The knurled dual crowns provide grip, sapphire glass protects the dial, and Swiss Super-LumiNova C1 remains white during the day and glows green when the sun goes down.
Bell and Ross BR-03-94 Blacktrack
Bell and Ross’s latest watch is the result of a collaboration between Bell and Ross and Sacha Lakic at Luxembourg-based custom motorcycle shop, Blacktrack. The watch draws direct inspiration from Blacktrack’s own futuristic cafe racer, the BT-06 motorcycle designed in collaboration with Lakic, and it also borrows Bell and Ross aviation style, too. The case is a 42mm wide matte black ceramic square with corner beveling, and the dial echoes an analog motorcycle gauge. Bright red coloring shows up on the chrono hand, subdial hand, and the date window at the 6 o’clock position. The movement is a Calibre BR-CAL.301 mechanical autoamtic with 42-hours of power reserve. The tapered black leather strap and red piping matches the case perfectly. Only 500 pieces will be made.
Oak and Oscar Humboldt GMT Titanium
The Humboldt GMT isn’t a new model, but use of Grade 5 Titanium for the case is. The Chicago-based microbrand makes the Humboldt GMT even sportier by dropping the weight by 20 percent, a drop that should make wearability that much better. The 39.5mm case (40mm with the bezel) make for an accommodating size, and the colorway that combines white, dark green, and orange is truly special. The brand is known for it’s sandwich dials, and that design element continues here. Like its stainless steel sibling, the titanium version gets a Swiss GMT complication, an internal anti-shock system, anti-magnetic properties, and a 24-hour bi-directional bezel that matches the case. The green rubber and brown leather straps both get titanium buckles, and it all gets tucked in a canvas watch wallet.
Jack Mason Dr Pepper Strat-o-timer GMT
Who said watches and carbonated beverages make poor bedfellows? That’s clearly not the case with the new colorway for the Jack Mason Strat-o-timer GMT that gets its coloring from Dr. Pepper. It’s another unique collaboration on this list, and it was created to commemorate 23 flavors of Dr. Pepper in the year 2023. It also happens to bring two Texas brands together that might not otherwise meet. The Dr. P coloring of the two-tone bezel pops against the black dial, and there’s a branded rotor viewable through the exhibition caseback. The movement is the ever-reliable Miyota Caliber 9075 GMT movement with jump hour for true GMT functionality. Only 230 units will be made.