Credit: Courtesy A. Lange & Söhne
Just in time: The 10 best luxury watches of 2018
In the world of watch-making, 2018 will be remembered as a year of disruption and celebration.
Multiple records have been broken and at least two famous watches -- one favored by the famous and equally suave British spy James Bond, no less -- celebrated their birthdays.
Traditional styles have been revamped with modern materials, and crowd-sourcing newcomers provided fresh alternatives to established brands.
To that end, as the countdown to the New Year begins, there has never been a better time to buy a quality timepiece. Here are 10 of our top luxury watches from 2018.
Hublot Big Bang Meca-10 P2P
In September, Hublot unveiled a limited-edition variation of its Big Bang chronograph to celebrate the 10th anniversary of bitcoin.
Nodding to the fact the world's most famous cryptocurrency is limited to 21 million bitcoins, just 210 Big Bang watches were made available for pre-sale at $25,000 apiece. (They'll be delivered to those lucky few buyers in early 2019.)
Each watch will feature a unique engraving on the bezel derived from the identification transaction number, and its skeleton movement offers a 10-day power reserve -- another nod to the 10-year milestone.
In keeping with the theme, the Hublot Big Bang can only be bought using bitcoin, which may or may not be a good thing depending on the current downward trajectory of the currency itself.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic
Breaking one watchmaking world record is difficult, let alone three. But the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic did exactly that earlier in the year, when it became the thinnest automatic watch, the thinnest tourbillon and the thinnest automatic tourbillon. Its astounding 3.95-millimeter depth is thanks to a tiny movement measuring a mere 1.95 millimeters.
The strap and case are made from sandblasted titanium, while the dial is of the beautiful skeletonized variety. Just 50 will be made and the price is said to be $118,000 -- a price befitting of the sheer watchmaking sorcery needed to create it.
Patek Philippe 5270P Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
Patek Philippe is one of the most highly regarded watchmakers in the world and the 5270P, available for the first time with a platinum case and salmon dial, is particularly distinctive.
An update to the original 5270 released in 2011 (which was itself heir to a watch from 1941), it features a 30-minute counter, date display, and can even show the phases of the moon in rather pretty fashion.
It can also resist water of up to 30 meters in depth and is said to feature six patented innovations, earning it grand complication status.
The hand-stitched dark brown strap, meanwhile, is made from alligator leather and features a fold-over clasp to compliment that distinct face. The price? Somewhere north of $180,000, depending on where you look.
Omega Seamaster Diver 300M
The Omega Seamaster Diver 300M diving watch, first introduced in 1993, has been worn by James Bond in every movie since 1995's "Goldeneye." So it comes as no surprise that current Bond Daniel Craig was named the official ambassador for the latest 300M.
In celebration of 25 years, the watch was fitted with a new anti-magnetic chronometer movement, and an updated helium escape valve, which protects the watch from damage when its wearer emerges from the depths of the ocean. (Those of us who are not experienced divers will just appreciate how it looks.)
A. Lange & Söhne Triple Split
A rattrapante, or split-second, chronograph movement is exceedingly rare and very expensive, which is why the A. Lange & Söhne Double Split made such an impression when it was launched in 2004. Then came a new version earlier this year.
Building on former glory, the A. Lange & Söhne Triple Split has two sets of hands for counting the seconds, one of which can be stopped for timing -- just like the Double Split -- but also has extra hands for minutes and hours, allowing the wearer to measure and compare time intervals for up to a period of 12 hours. As of now, it's the only watch in the world with this capability.
Just 100 were made, all in white gold and at 43.2 millimeters in size. The price? $147,000.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph
For those with enviably deep pockets, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore collection -- which, like the Omega Seamaster 300M, debuted in 1993 -- has received a variety of covetable new additions.
These include a limited-edition Tourbillon Chronograph, which can be had in either steel or pink gold. Just 50 examples are available for each color, so expect to pay north of $100,000 for the privilege of ownership.
An Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph re-edition is also available, complete with a stainless steel case, a decorative guilloché dial and white gold hour-markers.
Nomos Zurich 806
If your tastes are more understated, the slender Nomos Zurich 806 automatic is a winner. The stainless steel watch features a flat, white silver-plated dial and a leather strap the brand claims is "almost indestructible," courtesy of Chicago's family-run Horween Leather Company.
A specially designed leather wallet completes the package and provides extra protection when in transit -- not that you would ever want to take the watch off.
Rolex GMT-Master II
The Rolex GMT-Master II has many nicknames, including Batman -- thanks to its blue-and-black color combo. The latest version has been dubbed Pepsi because the red-and-blue colorway bears a resemblance to the soft drink maker's logo.
Originally available in 18-carat white gold, the Rolex GMT-Master II is now available in stainless steel and, unusually for the range, uses a five-piece Jubilee strap made from oystersteel. Another notable addition is the 15% more efficient 3285 movement.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time
For those who find themselves stuck between two timezones, the Vacheron Constantin Dual Time is a stylish solution. One dial lets you know the time back home, while the AM/PM indicator provides an indication of how sociable or unsociable the hour is.
Two hundred and thirty-four components, including 37 jewels, make up the movement, which sits inside a case made from 18k pink gold or stainless steel. The dial comes in silver or a deep blue, and the strap can be had in stainless steel, blue, black or brown rubber or brown alligator.
At $25,000, it will be a serious investment for most people. But also a very beautiful one.
IWC Big Pilot's Watch Annual Calendar Edition 150 Years
IWC watches are some of the most desirable in the world and the Big Pilot's Watch Annual Calendar Edition, unveiled at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie show in Geneva in January, is a fine way to celebrate 150 years of watchmaking. Fittingly, only 150 were made.
The Annual Calendar Edition, unusually for an IWC watch, features a full date display. But thanks to its stainless steel case, blue dial, rhodium-plated hands and alligator strap, it's no less easy on the eyes than its simpler counterparts.