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Feature: 10 incredible watches you can’t ignore

This is going to sound really arrogant, but I have handled a lot of watches. Like, a lot. You know when you’ve eaten a load of Chinese food and then you eat some more and then you have dessert? That kind of a lot. And, just like Chinese food, there are some tasty treats that my mind keeps wandering back to. I can’t help myself. These are the ten watches I’ve experienced that I just can’t stop thinking about.

Kudoke K1

The first of these watches took me properly by surprise. You know when something is just inexplicably right in every way? The Kudoke K1 is one of those watches. It’s 39mm of steel, and that’s just right. The dial is flecked with a sparkling texture like ice cream that’s been in the freezer too long—just the way I like it. The Kaliber 1 in back needs to be manually wound to get the spring sandwiched between those frosted and bevelled plates brimmed.

On paper, it’s really an average watch, especially at around £9,000, but then this is one of those watches that needs to be experienced to be appreciated, in the same way that reading a few paragraphs about a sunset just isn’t going to leave little black blotches in front of your eyes for the next half an hour. If I could pitch the K1 in one word, it would be “satisfying”. It’s the horological equivalent of beautiful handwriting, or the perfect bottle flip.

Christopher Ward Bel Canto

Regulars will be sick of me talking about this watch right now, so apologies, but you’re going to have to hear it again, and I can’t promise this will be the last time, either. It’s not often a budget watch brand takes the world by storm—unless it’s made of plastic and looks poorly equipped for space—but in the case of the Christopher Ward Bel Canto, take the world by storm it did.

Within the 41mm grade 5 titanium—that’s RLX titanium if you’re feeling fruity—case, there’s a little bit of magic going on that turns the Bel Canto from another great value alternative to a definitive choice all of its own. The hour jump mechanism Christopher Ward created a few years back has been finessed into an hour strike, and all the hidden gubbins has been laid out nicely upfront for all to enjoy. And you would expect only the wealthy elite to be able to enjoy such treasures—except Christopher Ward managed to package it all up for less than £3,000. Remarkable.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Chronograph Calendar 4138420

The watchmaker that did all the hard work and let all the other watchmakers take the credit—shortened to the watchmaker’s watchmaker—Jaeger-LeCoultre is just like Fleetwood Mac. What I mean is, if you’ve never listened to a Fleetwood Mac album, you won’t need to, because you’ll be surprised to learn you already know all the songs.

Every track from Jaeger-LeCoultre, whether you know it or not, is a hit, and the Master Control Chronograph Calendar at £15,800, is Jaeger-LeCoultre’s The Chain. It’s just perfect. It’s got the chiselled features of Michelangelo’s David, and a butt to match in the calibre 759, which is rocking a gold rotor weight and over 350 components. It’s the kind of watch you take your hat off for when you see it.

H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Alp Watch 5324-0101

Ever since I first learned about Moser’s cheeky antics, I’ve always wanted one. They’re not afraid to rile up the mainstream Swiss watchmakers, and with the Swiss Alp watch, the feisty brand expanded its swing to incorporate the mighty jaw of Apple. It was the dawn of the Apple Watch, a digital timekeeper that supposedly heralded the end of the Swiss watchmaking industry. Again.

So, Moser did what any self-respecting brand would do and copied the Apple Watch, stuck a gorgeous dial and movement in it and sold it for somewhere close to fifty times the price. I mean, talk about get the popcorn. The crazy thing is that this endeavour really demonstrated how elegant the Apple Watch design really is, only this time it actually gave it some innards worth talking about. It’s like if someone took the BMW I8 and stuck a Lamborghini V12 in it.

A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus 363.179

Right, so the A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus is a funny one, because I know a lot of people don’t like it. It’s kind of awkward, ungainly even, like a person with a neck so thick their head just blends right into their body. That’s honestly what the Odysseus looks like… at least, it does in pictures.

Since I mentioned BMW and Lamborghini, I may as well chuck McLaren into the mix, too. I remember the launch of the 720S, the successor to the 650S, and it looked—well, frankly, it looked a mess, like someone had borked the render and they’d just gone with it anyway. It was less a car and more an exercise in retopology.

Anyway, that car actually looks incredible in real life, and so does this watch. Easy for me to say because never mind the undisclosed price, it’s just generally an undisclosed watch, so you will be very unlikely to ever prove me wrong. In the meantime, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst 730.048

Oh, check out Mr. Predictable over here, it’s another A. Lange & Söhne! I couldn’t decide between this and the Odysseus and then I remembered that it’s my list so I decided to go for both. This is a version of the already incredible 1815 Tourbillon, but it’s the one where A. Lange & Söhne said, “Yeah, shall we give this one a proper go?” It’s a bit like the makers of the Saturn V saying, “Shall we move away from fireworks and build a rocket?”

And build a rocket they did, A. Lange & Söhne watchmakers literally hewing the brand name from solid metal like miners at a rockface with hilariously tiny equipment. Not only is it beautiful how the dial features are rendered in relief by taking the rest of the material around them away, there’s something distinctly alluring about a watch that’s been built on hard mode. Shame it was a limited edition. Oh, and about £180,000.

D. Dornblüth & Sohn Caliber 99.1 Medium

Shout out to these guys for basically missing the memo when it comes to how to market a watch and just sticking with the old-fashioned method of providing high quality for reasonable pricing. For around £4-5,000, depending on specification, D. Dornblüth will build you a watch that’s startingly good.

Heat blued hands, silver frosted dial, beautifully decorated movement; it’s all there in the 40mm stainless steel case and you’d better believe it’s every bit as good as it looks. Yeah, that’s a Unitas movement, but it’s been modified so heavily that it’s basically Trigger’s broom. It’d be easier to unpaint a wall than it would be to find original, untouched parts here. If you like watches and you don’t like spending money, this is your sweet spot.

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 11 50th Anniversary 310.

This is a gold watch and I like it. Does that mean I’m old now? I hope not, because that gives me even less time to find the means to buy this £30,000 special edition Moonwatch in celebration of something something space Apollo something. There may be more special edition Speedmasters than there are unnecessary analogies in this video, but that doesn’t make the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary edition any less special. The gold and burgundy version of the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary, I mean, not the other one.

It's a replica of the Moonwatch made to celebrate the moon landings the first time around—Omega really do have some stamina, don’t they—which, side by side, is almost identical. This time around, the latest calibre 3861 is on show and in a rather fetching gold suit to complete the look, and I think it looks incredible. Oh no, I’m getting old, aren’t I?

Patek Philippe 5960/01G

Because I’m cool and contrarian, there’s like a million watches I’d rather have before I get a Patek Philippe. They’re so, you know, mainstream. Except you’d twist my arm with the 5960 because it’s basically the perfect wristwatch. It’s complicated with the annual calendar chronograph, it’s sporty with the blue dial flashed with red, and it’s timelessly classical with the 40.5mm white gold case. Yeah, it’s pretty great. You could have that and nothing else and be totally happy. Only, at £50,000 in my case it’d be literally nothing else and just that. Anyone know how to successfully live in a watch?

Grand Seiko SBGY007

So, I’d be a complete bonehead to sell it all and try and buy a Patek Philippe, but when it comes to the £7,800 of the Grand Seiko SBGY007 Omiwatari, things feel a bit less like that one dream I had where I bought a mansion and couldn’t afford to pay the upkeep. Yes, that’s the kind of stupid boring dream I have.

Instead, take one thin, elegant, 38.5mm steel case, add a splash of ice, the Spring Drive calibre 9R31 and—presto—you’ve got yourself a watch worth making questionable decisions over. I don’t know if it’s the way the powder blue dial hits bright silver in some lights or the snarky satisfaction I get from explaining it’s a quartz, actually, or even that it borrows from the end game calibre 9R02 from the Micro Artist Studio, but it all comes together to make a watch that’s got me doing a lot of thinking. Hmm.

What’s the watch that’s got you checking down the back of the sofa?

Shop pre-owned Jaeger-LeCoultre watches

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