It’s been a tough year of course, one to forget some might say, but there have been some fantastic examples of watchmaking launched on the market. To give you some Christmas cheer, here’s a round up of the best wristwatches of 2020. We divided them into categories including Under £500, Dive, Automatic, Dress, Technical Achievement, Retro, British Built and Best Investment. Add your own top picks below.
Hamtum Kraken H3
How can you beat a Sellita powered automatic, titanium case, steel bracelet, plus a GMT hand, for just £350 on the Kickstarter early bird offer price. No wonder the H2 was a sell-out, Hamtum are a classic example of how indie watchmaking can take on entry level Swiss branded watches and offer a true alternative that any collector would be proud to own.
Enosken Deep Dive
Hard to choose from the hundreds of dive watches launched in 2020. Some, like the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscape offer decades of Swiss heritage behind them, others have bronze cases, in fact the bronze cased dive watch has been perhaps the biggest trend in 2020. But our top pick is the German made, Belfast designed Enosken Deep Dive for the simple reason that it is pure function; a watch designed to survive depths of up to 1000 metres. The best part is that it costs just £390, and that price makes so many Swiss prestige dive watches look like a bit of a scam to be blunt, unless you want to buy a dive watch for posing, not diving.
Tudor Black Bay 58, Navy Blue
You want a Rolex Sub? Naturally. But let’s say you don’t have £8000 plus to spend nor two years of your life to wait in limbo. The Black Bay 58 offers an in-house movement that delivers a 70 hour reserve, wearable 39mm case size, a smooth bezel action, beautiful understated detailing and all for just over £2500. The 58 Blue is a watch that you don’t have to apologise for, like some Tudor models of old that featured the humble ETA 2824 Cal movement. It stands out as part of a new generation for Tudor and we predict some stunning models in 2021.
Omega Constellation 41mm
The Constellation is always a great dress watch choice of course, but for 2020 Omega really added some extra pizazz, with a Manhattan art-deco kind of edge to the style. The Constellation `claws’ on the bezel are blended in, and look all the better for it. The two-tone colour choices also make the Omega stand out on the wrist. The test of any dress watch is this; does it add a finishing touch to a tailored suit at the races? Yep, Omega does that with the 41mm Constellation, big enough to impress, but not crazy-ass big like a 45mm footballer’s showboat watch.
Richard Mille RM 72-01 Chronograph
Not just an in-house movement, but the RM 72 Flyback chrono separates the chrono functions from the rest of the watch gear train. Then there’s the little gear indicator on the right side of the skeleton dial and the six column wheel. It’s a tech tour-de-force and for those of you who have cash to lavish the RM Chrono is a watch that fascinates. Yes, this watch costs house purchase level sums of money to buy, but it’s all about the movement and we say that still matters.
Longines Marine Nationale
A truly stunning re-creation of a historic Longines, the 2020 Marine Nationale gets all the details correct and offers modern technology inside the case. You have to love those French blue hands too. That military themed plain dial and bold, functional numbers capture the essence of service watchmaking of the past, where the design was all about getting the job done, not impressing shoppers or collectors. But this is a collectable watch and a 2020 model will eventually outpace most other retro Swiss watches in terms of resale value in the long run. It just looks right.
OK, the pandemic has thrown everything off track this year, but Bremont are still cracking on with their new factory in Oxfordshire and this is arguably the greatest achievement in UK watchmaking since Accurist closed its factory back in the 70s. It was scheduled to open in September this year, but the Covid-19 panic and the economic disruption caused has led to a delay. Yet this factory is a turning point. Most UK brands are small scale, and outsource much of the production, not just of movements but of crystals, bezels, cases and more. A few make steel cases here in the UK, a few like an Ordain make their own dials. But Bremont are trying to make mass-production a reality in the UK, and for that they deserve a tip of the hat.
How can it be anything else, with long waiting lists for the latest 2020 models and the comforting knowledge that the new Subs are actually great pieces of engineering. Beautifully finished, bright superlume, ever improving bracelet tech, interesting dial colours for a change and increased reserve power. The Sub is already changing hands for as much as 5K above list price, so yep, this is the mother of all watch inverstments and likely to remain so for a few years yet.