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Oracle Time Watch Awards Winners 2023

Christopher Ward Bel Canto

Here we are! After months of build-up and multiple stages to the competition, we’re here with the final results of the Oracle Time Watch Awards 2023. (If you’re interested in the nominees, check them out here). Bigger and better than ever, the industry’s only reader-centric watch awards had more nominations, more votes and more prizes than our inaugural edition.

Each watch on the shortlist was nominated by you, our readers and now that the dust has settled and the votes are in, we can finally reveal which timepieces across all ten categories have made their mark on the horological year just gone. So, from depth-defying divers to mind-blowing haute horology to impulse buy accessibility, here are your best watches of 2023.

Oh, and to those of you wondering who’s won our five watch prizes – courtesy of Aberdeen-based retailer Finnie’s – keep an eye on your inboxes. You may well be getting an email from the editor very soon.

Best Dive Watch | Omega Seamaster Ultra-Deep 75th Anniversary

Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra-Deep 75th Anniversary Maps the Ocean Floor

Honestly, this wasn’t too much of a surprise. Ultra-Deep by name, Ultra-Deep by nature, Omega’s Rolex-killing depth-diver can manage an incredible 6,000m of water resistance and look damn good doing it. That’s doubly true of the 75th anniversary version, which takes the anniversary Seamaster collection’s theme of watery dials to the bottom of the ocean.

Not only is the dial an inky black, but it’s actually an engraved oceanic map of the Challenger Deep, right at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, where the Ultra-Deep first made its mark on horological history. Sure, Rolex’s latest can somehow go even deeper, but Omega’s balance of cool, rugged design, comparatively svelte construction and insane performance has made the Ultra-Deep 75th Anniversary Edition the Ultimate Dive Watch of 2023.

More details at Omega.

Best Dress Watch | Grand Seiko Majestic White Birch

Grand Seiko Majestic White Birch

Grand Seiko finishing is second to none. It’s what sets the Japanese maestros apart from everyone, including the Swiss, and the Majestic White Birch kicks their dial excellence into overdrive by extending that level of textural, nature-inspired engraving across the entire platinum case.

An homage to the trees of the Yachiho Plateau at the eastern foot of the Kita-Yatsugatake Mountains and created by Grand Seiko’s micro artist studio, it’s the pinnacle of their unique brand of watchmaking. That extends to the manual-wind movement too, which has an 84-hour power reserve and a novel torque return system. This is a watch to turn heads for all the right reasons, enough to deserve being our Dress Watch of the Year 2023.

More details at Grand Seiko.

Best Chronograph | Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 126500LN

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 126500LN

It’s been a good year for Rolex, who haven’t put a step wrong – unless you’re less than enamoured by their puzzle-dial Emoji watch. The newest take on the Cosmograph Daytona shows however that even one of the most iconic watches ever designed can use a refresh from time to time.

The last time, in fact, was in 2016, so it could be argued this update was overdue. The steel model offers myriad subtle changes to the legendary watch, but in a way that modernises the look without actually changing it. Proportions have been shifted across the board, generally making things slimmer and more elegant – it’s evolution, not revolution. Evidently it’s evolution that’s struck a chord in a way that only Rolex can, as our Chronograph category winner for 2023.

More details at Rolex.

Best Travel Watch | Longines Spirit Zulu Time 39mm

Longines Spirit Zulu Time 39mm

The Spirit has become a flagship collection for Longines, so it wasn’t too surprising to see them expand things with the Zulu Time. What was surprising was the focus it put on Longines’ early GMT watches, opening up plenty of conversations-\ about the watchmaker’s enviable heritage archives.

Aviation-inspired rather than a straight-up pilots’ watch, the Spirit Zulu Time’s nevertheless a high flier with its balance of modern elegance and tool watch practicality. At 39mm it’s also incredibly wearable, perfect for the long-haul wrist companion the Spirit Zulu Time is designed to be – a worthy winner for our Travel Watch of the Year 2023.

More details at Longines.

Best Field/Pilot Watch | IWC Mark XX

IWC Mark XX

One of the single most important pilots’ watches ever built – arguably more important to the overall archetype than the Cartier Santos –  the latest version of IWC’s military- slanted Mark series was always going  to cause some excitement, more so even than the new Ingenieur.

At 40mm in diameter, it’s a good deal less imposing than some of IWC’s recent endeavours, a nod back to its vintage roots in the legendary Mark XI. Sure, it shares a lot in common with plenty of other pilots’ watches, but that’s only because those others are riffing off IWC’s original pedigree, a pedigree that’s claimed the top spot as our Pilot’s Watch of the Year 2023.

More details at IWC.

Best Microbrand Watch | Brew Metric Automatic

Brew Metric Automatic

One of the coolest microbrand releases of the year from one of the coolest microbrands around, the Brew Metric Automatic brings some long-overdue mechanical backing to the coffee-obsessed watch designer’s retro good looks. It’s slightly less caffeine- centric than Brew’s other pieces, which is far from a bad thing as it denotes a shift from novelty value to genuinely cool watch design.

Thankfully it’s lost none of its accessibility, which is rare for something with that typical 1970s integrated bracelet flavour. If this is the direction Brew are heading, we’re on board for more of it – as apparently are our readers, as the Metric Automatic is crowned our Microbrand Watch of 2023.

More details at Brew.

Best Accessible Watch | Baltic HMS 003

The newest version of Baltic’s vintage-inspired HMS 003 is the same price as the 002, but is a straight upgrade. Not mechanically; it still has the Miyota 8315, keeping things very accessible. But the printed indexes have been replaced with applied versions and the entire dial has undergone an overhaul that adds a level of sophistication it was missing before.

As Baltic continue to go from strength to strength, it’s good to see that not only are they offering new pieces like their recent field watch, but taking a new, more seasoned eye to their foundational classics. The end result is a handsome impulse buy that makes for the best Accessible Watch of 2023.

More details at Baltic.

Best High Complication Watch | A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar

Lange and Sohne 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar

When a perpetual calendar that takes decades, if not centuries, before it needs adjusting is just too prosaic for you, why not add a split-seconds chronograph as well? The inimitably German watchmakers, A. Lange & Sohne knocked that particularly niche concept out the park with the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar.

There’s a huge amount of information on the dial and yet it manages to not only remain readable, but somehow feels typically restrained while doing so. Between the mechanical tour de force that is the L101.1 calibre and a level of finishing worthy of a grand manufacturer, this is a special watch in every way, and a true grail piece for the lucky few able to get their hands on one. No wonder it was crowned High Complication of the Year 2023.

More details at A. Lange & Sohne.

Best Integrated Bracelet Watch| Christopher Ward The Twelve

Christopher Ward the Twelve

Christopher Ward’s method of ‘borrowing’ design ideas from other brands and reforming them in their own image has once again paid dividends in The Twelve. Aesthetically reading like a greatest hits of Genta-adjacent 1970s designs, its multi-layered, many-faceted look scratches that Royal Oak itch at a fraction of the price, bringing integrated bracelet sports watches to the people.

With its 3D dial in a scattering of eye-catching colours and a bracelet that stacks up against the best, it’s another win for the foundational British brand and offers a solid base for more variations to come in the future. It may not be one of the true ‘70s superstars, but that’s not a problem given that it’s carved out a niche for itself as our Integrated Bracelet Sports Watch of 2023.

More details at Christopher Ward.

Reader’s Choice | Christopher Ward Bel Canto

Christopher Ward Bel Canto

Here it is, the overall winner of the Oracle Time Watch Awards 2023 – the Christopher Ward Bel Canto! Honestly, this perhaps wasn’t as big a surprise as one might have assumed. Back when it launched at the beginning of the year, the Bel Canto kicked up an absolute storm. It’s not like Christopher Ward was an unknown brand; they’ve been one of the driving forces of the British watch industry since they were founded. But almost overnight, the Bel Canto became one of the most sought after watches in the world.

So, why? Firstly, it’s one of the most inspired bits of utilitarian watchmaking we’ve come across. Essentially, it’s a jumping hours movement that’s been hooked to a chime so that it can actively sound out the hours. It’s not a sonnerie, nothing as complicated as that and can only chime once every hour, but the idea of making an accessible audible complication is nuts. Sure, the Meistersinger Bell Hora has the same movement, but the Bel Canto puts all that ingenuity on full display with a dial-side chime and a stunning layout complimented by myriad gorgeous dials.

Christopher Ward Bel Canto Purple

There’s not really anything else quite like it outside of the likes of MB&F’s LM series and nothing even close to this price range. It’s a masterpiece of a watch in the truest sense, even if it’ll set you back no more than £3,195, proving that accessibility and mechanical excellence can go hand-in-hand. With all that in mind, it’s no surprise that even when given a completely open brief without any shortlist or guidance to go from, a huge number of you were keen to see the Bel Canto take home gold as your Watch of the Year 2023.

More details at Christopher Ward.

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.

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