Feature: Your Handy Watch Industry Guide To 2023
Some watch brands clearly like to usher in the new year with a short, sharp shock and that’s exactly what Rolex has done by slapping an extra 3.5 percent (on average) on its watch prices. Yes, the watch industry’s biggest player has kicked off January—already the dreariest month of the year for most of us—by raising its prices, with Tudor following suit.
Thanks, Rolex! And a prosperous and happy 2023 to you, too!
That’s the bad news out of the way. What about the good stuff? What horological events are happening over the next 12 months that will be of interest to watch aficionados?
Obviously we have the annual, much-anticipated Watches & Wonders event coming up soon, which this year begins on March 22 and ends on April 2. This year’s edition includes two days designated for public attendance, making it less of a closed-shop than previous events. Mark it in your calendar.
Here are some other possible highlights we’re excited about…
Party Time For Rolex
Maybe Rolex raised its prices to pay for all the birthday candles it has to buy this year. 2023 sees it celebrate some major milestones. The Submariner marks its 70th birthday, the Daytona celebrates its 60th birthday, and it will also be 70 years since the Everest Expedition of 1953, when an Explorer famously summitted the world’s tallest mountain.
2023 is a milestone year for some of the most iconic Rolex models, including the Daytona
Would it be too much to expect Rolex to add new models to all three collections? Almost certainly. But surely they’ll pull something out of the hat, and Watches & Wonders might be where it happens, especially given the curveball launch of its GMT-Master II ‘Destro’ at last year’s event.
Fifty Fathoms Turns 70
The Submariner isn’t the only watch turning 70. Blancpain’s magnificent Fifty Fathoms was released the same year as the Submariner and is an iconic dive watch in its own right, as well as the brand’s best-known model.
Blancpain has already kicked-off its Fifty Fathoms celebrations with this limited edition version
In recognition of this, Blancpain’s website promises a memorable 2023 “filled with celebrations” and “punctuated by timepieces and exclusive experiences”. Definitely a brand to keep an eye on this year.
Swatch Hits The Big 4-0
After the monumental success of the Moonswatch collaboration with Omega in 2022, how can Swatch possibly surpass that in its 40th year? Yes, the brand that saved the Swiss watch industry was launched back in 1983 and we expect something special from it this year, too.
As Swatch turns 40, does it have any more special collaborations up its sleeve?
Maybe the Swatch Group has more collaborations planned with its luxury brands. A union featuring Swatch and the likes of Blancpain or Breguet is highly unlikely but we can expect the brand to release some interesting commemorative pieces.
Meanwhile In Japan…
Japanese giants Casio and Seiko have a big year ahead of them. The former is celebrating the G-Shock’s 40th anniversary while the latter is celebrating 140 years since its founder Kintaro Hattori opened a watch shop in Ginza and 110 years since he produced his first wristwatches.
Four decades on, this huge cult favourite is still one of the toughest timepieces around
Seiko has already got the ball rolling by releasing a limited edition Prospex dive watch last month. More special editions will surely follow.
Changing Of The Guard At AP
Finally, Audemars Piguet’s long-time CEO Francois Bennahmias is leaving the brand at the end of this year. After 28 years, during which he has seen the brand’s sales hit CHF 1.6 billion—placing it ahead of Patek Philippe—Bennahmias departs AP in fine fettle.
Financial success aside, Bennahmias’ stint at the helm has seen, among other things, the introduction of the futuristic AP Royal Oak Concept line, the first Royal Oak tourbillon, and the Code 11:59 line.
AP's departing CEO has boosted the popularity of the Royal Oak and introduced new lines
Bennahmias also helped establish an Audemars Piguet museum at the company’s birthplace, Le Brassus. His successor will no doubt be announced to the obligatory fanfare later in the year, but they have big shoes to fill.