12/14/2023
 5 minutes

Five Watches That Flew Under the Radar in 2023

By Donato Emilio Andrioli
Omega-Seamaster-Aqua-Terra-Shades-220.10.38.20.12.001-2-1

Five Watches That Flew Under the Radar in 2023

2023 is drawing to a close – the perfect time to take a look back at the year in watches. Today we’re putting a different twist on things, and focusing not on the watch world sensations of 2023, but on those timepieces that might not have gotten their due attention.Were any of these watches on your horological radar?

Nicht alle Uhren haben im Jahr 2023 solch eine Aufmerksamkeit bekommen wie die neue Rolex Daytona
Not every watch turned heads in 2023 like the new Rolex Daytona.

Back Seat to the Black Bay 54: Tudor Black Bay 36/39/41

2023 couldn’t have been better for Tudor fans. The new Black Bay 54 saw the Rolex sister company achieve the next stage in the evolution of its classic diver’s watch. The Tudor Black Bay 54 truly set things off, just a touch too much apparently, because as good as it is, the new 37-mm Black Bay 54 overshadowed another great new Tudor release, the Tudor Black Bay in 36, 39, and 41 mm.

Compared to other watches, there were fewer reviews and less news to be had about these releases. That’s a shame, because these new takes on the original Tudor Black Bay bring plenty to the table. These all-rounders not only offer great-looking new sunburst-pattern dials, but a new in-house movement as well – something that wasn’t the case with their now-discontinued predecessors.

The new model also has a five-link bracelet with a T-fit quick-adjustment clasp, which is similar to the Jubilee bracelet from Rolex and delivers an amazing wearing experience. Priced at around $4,300, this new Tudor is an outstanding, affordable alternative to the Rolex Oyster Perpetual, and a great all-round watch for any occasion. Don’t let the lack of spotlight on this collection fool you: The new Tudor Black Bay is quite the hit among watch enthusiasts in the know – which is why you won’t see this timepiece gathering dust in a display case.

Im Schatten von Black Bay und Black Bay 54 hat Tudor einen tollen Allrounder veröffentlicht
Second to none: Tudor released an all-round beauty amidst 2023’s Black Bay 54 excitement.

Better Late: Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra “Shades”

I know, I know, the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra “Shades” came out in 2022… never to be seen again. Not online, not at ADs, nowhere. Vanished into thin air? Well, no. Rumor has it Omega wasn’t completely happy with the final product, and held them back to make one or two more design tweaks on these watches.

About a year (and several price increases) later, the big day came, with a very quiet release. I plead guilty to no longer having had the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra “Shades” on my radar, and did a double take when by chance I came across them in a shop window. I of course had to try one on. 38 mm is the perfect size for this kind of watch. The housing is now fully polished, and the polished mid-links on the bracelet look and feel sensational. The absolute star of these models are of course their colorful brass sunburst dials. The popular, iconic teak dial on the standard Aqua Terra isn’t available in this series, but is that really going to stop you from falling in love with the watch’s other breathtaking color options?

Whatever color you go for, the dial is what your eye is going to be drawn to first. You’ll love the varying color tones and the play of light, which changes depending on your surroundings. The METAS Master Chronometer-certified movement inside the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra “Shades,” not to mention its polished case, new bracelet, and brass dial make it second to none. If you get the chance to try this watch on, please do so, because the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra “Shades” is easily one of 2023’s best timepieces.

Ein durch und durch gelungener Allrounder: Die Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra „Shades“
Excellent in every way, and for all occasions: the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra “Shades”

Hypeless: Blancpain X Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms

Remember the hyper-buzz generated by the Omega X Swatch MoonSwatch in 2022? Well, the release of the Blancpain X Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms wasn’t able to replicate it. Sure, the fans and watch media were excited, but this timepiece seems to have come and gone within a week. Very low-key, and nothing like 2022, when the lines of eager, would-be MoonSwatch owners stretched out the Swatch Store door and around the block.

Swatch X Blancpain: Swatch Returns to Earth to Explore the Oceans

When it comes to hype, this year’s cooperation between Swatch and Blancpain didn’t come close to the horological hysteria generated by the MoonSwatch. This was a bit strange, if you consider that this time around, Swatch listened to the fans, ironing out two things they didn’t like about the MoonSwatch: the BIOCERAMIC Fifty Fathoms now has an automatic movement, and a higher-quality, more comfortable NATO strap that harmonizes perfectly with the rest of the watch.

Its $400 price tag also helped keep the ballyhoo around this watch well below a dull roar. Then there was the watch itself: The Omega Speedmaster is an absolute icon, while the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms is more of a timepiece for those in the horological know. In any case, if you want to feel that classic Fifty Fathoms vibe without breaking the bank, this watch might be for you – no frenzy required.

Die neue Blancpain X Swatch Scuba Fifty-Fathoms konnte nicht solch einen Hype generieren wie die MoonSwatch
The new Blancpain X Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms didn’t generate the red-hot horological hysteria of the MoonSwatch.

Back to the 80s: IWC Ingenieur

It was only a matter of time before the never-ending Genta trend would bring forth a new IWC Ingenieur. After all, the IWC Ingenieur was probably the Swiss watch manufacturer’s top model in the 1970s and 80s, and remains one of the greatest-ever Genta icons to this day.

This IWC new release delivers everything Genta fans want in a watch: an iconic design, a prominent, smooth bezel with screws, and an integrated bracelet – all of which take the wearer back to the 1980s. These features made it all the more surprising for me to see the lack of attention the IWC Ingenieur received in 2023 compared to the year’s other new releases.

Does this signal the end of Genta mania? Or is the lack of interest due to something else, perhaps the IWC Ingenieur’s official list price of over $13,000? That’s admittedly on the stratospheric side for a steel watch.

Regardless of the price, it’s still a great watch. The new IWC Ingenieur is an exciting 2023 release that has yet to receive the attention it deserves.

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A Bold New Move: The Titanium Rolex Yacht-Master 42

With the Oyster 1908 and new white gold Rolex Daytona, Rolex demonstrated once again in 2023 that, yes, the brand with the crown is more than up to the task of introducing new watches to their catalog. Both have a display case back, enabling you to see the movement and inner workings of the watch. This was nearly unimaginable prior to Watches and Wonders 2023, and took me by surprise.
The Titanium Rolex Yacht-Master 42
The new Rolex Yacht-Master 42 sees Rolex offering this model in titanium for the first time. It’s an unusual choice, if you ask me; the Rolex Yacht-Master, with its precious-metal gold or platinum construction, has until now always stood for luxury. Maybe that’s one of the reasons this year’s sporty titanium release went relatively unnoticed, and why the watch flew under the radar of many watch fans.
Nevertheless, this 42-mm watch delivered in a way only Rolex knows how to. Its outstanding titanium construction brilliantly achieves the typical Rolex look we love, offering an amazing wearing experience. Tool watch aficionados are going to be impressed by this new Rolex model, and Rolex fans no longer have to peruse the Tudor catalog to find a titanium watch to their liking.
Die Rolex Yacht-Master 42 in Titan hat für ein Rolex-Sportmodell erstaunlich wenig Aufmerksamkeit erhalten. For a Rolex sports watch, the titanium Rolex Yacht-Master 42 drew surprisingly little attention.


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About the Author

Donato Emilio Andrioli

With the purchase of my Tudor Black Bay 41, I discovered a passion for mechanical watches. I am particularly drawn to iconic watches with long and exciting histories.

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