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Wristwatch Trend Predictions for 2024

Studio Underd0g 02Series Field Pink Lem0nade

As 2023 comes to a close and we begin to look forward to 2024, one of the questions most on our lips is what wristwatch trends will become popular next year? Unfortunately, despite being called Oracle Time, we haven’t quite worked out how to see into the future yet, although we’re willing to give it a shot. So let’s take a look at the key trends in the watch industry right now and where they are heading.

Titanium

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 2 Tech Gombessa

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 2 Tech Gombessa

The Rolex Yacht-Master 42 RLX Titanium, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Act 2 Tech Gombessa, Grand Seiko Tentagraph, Christopher Ward The Twelve (Ti), Tag Heuer Monaco Night Driver, Tudor Pelagos FXD – in short, almost any major brand you care to name has had a major release in titanium this year.

It makes sense too. The high strength to weight ratio of titanium makes it an incredibly versatile material that allows watchmakers to push the limits of what’s possible. If you want proof of that just look at the Bulgari Octo Finissimo world record collection or the Richard Mille RM UP-01 from last year. Let’s just be glad there’s been barely a bronze watch in sight. Expect this trend to stick around for a long time – a titanium Submariner, a titanium Tank? There’s no telling how far brands can go with this high tech metal as part of 2024’s wristwatch trends.

Vintage Sizes

Tudor Black Bay 54 37mm M79000N-0001

Tudor Black Bay 54 37mm

While recent years have favoured larger watches, we’re currently going through a retro-vintage resurgence that’s seeing case diameters consistently reduced for the first time in a while. Sometimes it’s not even a case of them being reduced, they’re just being launched at sub-40mm or even sub-38mm sizes. The Tissot PRX 35mm, Hamilton Khaki Field 37mm, Tudor Black Bay 54 37mm. I fully expect this trend to continue throughout 2024 as more brands twig onto the fact that small is cool. (Or at least cooler than it was two years ago.)

Of course, whenever there’s a trend towards a certain size there are parts of the industry that push against it. Don’t expect Panerai to suddenly create petite watches. So perhaps 2024 will be the crescendo for the smaller size wristwatch trend before the whole cycle begins again.

Gradient Dials

Studio Underd0g 02Series Field Pink Lem0nade

Studio Underd0g 02Series Field Pink Lem0nade

In 2023 it’s hard to say that one colour has dominated because on balance, most colours have been well represented. You could argue the start of the year saw the tail end of turquoise being popular and at least in the Oracle Time HQ yellow has been a particular highlight. But if you look beyond simple colours you begin to see that actually there have been a huge number of gradient dials released this year. The Studio Underd0g 02Series, more Seikos than I care to count, the AP Jumbo 16202XT, the JLC Polaris Chronograph. Smoky dials are in.

Collaboration Watches

Swatch X Blancpain Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms

Swatch x Blancpain Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms

It’s definitely been a big year for collaborations. Swatch and Blancpain came out with their Scuba Fifty Fathoms, which was a major success despite its mixed reception. Reportedly, Blancpain saw an increase in sales of the Fifty Fathoms following the launch of the collaboration. Showing that collectors are as equally interested in affordable plastic watches as they are legendary heritage dive watches.

One of the other big names in collaboration has been seconde/seconde/, a disruptive force in the watch industry known for their comedic interpretations of watches. An unexpected hit has been their collaboration with Spinnaker, dubbed the Fifty Phantoms. Maybe I should title this section “fake Blancpains” rather than “collaborations”.

Movement Transparency

Marloe GMT Day

This year has seen brands become increasingly transparent about the movements inside their watches. Previously, a brand’s movement supplier was something often kept close to the chest but now it’s very common for even big names to state when they’re using third party movements from Sellita, ETA, Miyota, La Joux Perret or anyone else.

I think there’s two reasons for this. Firstly, Sellita have updated their core movement range and vastly improved the power reserves on offer. In short, third party movements have become very respectable and using them isn’t as taboo as it once was. Secondly, consumers want to know about their watches and if you aren’t transparent about who is producing them and where, you could run into issues if there’s any quality problems. Openness is a 2024 wristwatch trend we need to see continue.

Watch Sales

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph Panda

While billionaires are always going to billionaire, ensuring the top end of the watch industry tends to stay very stable, the wider industry has been contracting slightly. After a few boom years, we’re going through a period of market correction that is seeing pre-owned prices drop to three-year lows. A logical expectation therefore for 2024 is that watch sales will begin to slow as well as people move from riskier investment watches to reliable blue-chip brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin.

Although if you want to pick a bargain, 2024 could be the perfect time to buy low before prices rebound. Particularly with popular watches in the mid-range of price, such as Tag Heuer, Tudor and Omega.

Waitlists

Rolex Factory

One of the constant problems the watch industry experiences is the bane of waiting lists. An archaic system of sales that feels impenetrable to new collectors while seeing friends of top brands wearing the latest releases moments after release. Part of the problem in recent years has been broken supply lines, with shortages caused by Covid in 2020 crippling large swaths of the industry.

Well, Covid is very much in the rear-view mirror and brands have adopted new materials (e.g. titanium) to overcome shortages in other materials (e.g. steel). Which means overall waiting list times for regular releases will hopefully get shorter. Rolex waiting times in particular have dropped significantly as they were one of the most affected and times should continue to drop in 2024.

Colourful Dials

Rolex Day-Date Ref. 128239-0056 Emoji

Judging by demand, more colours = better watch. Between the Rolex Day-Date ‘Emoji’ and Oyster Perpetual ‘Celebration’, the Tissot Sideral, Tag Heuer Skipper, and basically anything by Farer or Zodiac, the more colourful and outrageous a watch design, the more desirable it is. The watches of Only Watch 2023 as well were particularly colourful, although the sale never took place in the end. For 2024 wristwatch trends, I think we will continue to see more brands explore colour in extravagant ways. A new Rolex GMT Master II colourway perhaps, or at the very least the return of the Cola edition. As well as more rainbow offerings from Audemars Piguet and Patek.

Lume Experimentation

Omega Seamaster Ultra Deep 6000m Co-Axial Master Chronometer 75th Anniversary Summer Blue

Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 6000M ‘Ultra Deep’ 75th Anniversary

2023 has seen lume used in some creative ways beyond its traditional use on a watch’s hands and hour markers. The Omega Ultra-Deep Anniversary model uses lume to add some invisible graffiti to the dial reading “Omega was here”. Even smaller brands like Isotope are doing it as well with the HydriumX Exit, featuring a hidden lume exit symbol. In fact, full lume dial like the HydriumX are becoming far more common with IWC, Tag Heuer, Studio Underd0g and Signum all creating full lume editions. 2024 will likely see creative use of lume become even more popular.

Microbrand Creativity

Batavi Atelier Dune

Batavi Atelier Dune

Microbrands and small independent brands are on a continual grind to push the envelope on what is possible to produce. In 2023 we’ve seen some techniques and styles of design that were once exclusive to major brands make their way into the sphere of microbrands. Batavi are exploring guilloché styles, Kieser are experimenting with natural patterns and there are a million more examples I could give. Grand Seiko watch out because intricately patterned dials inspired by nature isn’t quite so niche as it once was. And exciting dials is set to be a dominant 2024 wristwatch trend.

Oracle Time is Growing

Oracle Time Magazine Annual Subscription

It might be a little cheesy but 2023 has been a great year for Oracle Time. The team behind the scenes is expanding, we’ve produced some of our most successful magazines and our readership is growing as well (you can subscribe to our printed Magazine here). It’s a trend we very much want to see continue in 2024 and hopefully you will stay with us for the journey.

We have some exciting things planned for the new year. Our 100th issue is imminent (a great excuse for a party) and we plan to bring back the Oracle Time Watch Awards even bigger and better than before. There’s also probably a hint about some upcoming projects elsewhere in this article. Assuming we manage to publish this article on time, this should be our final article of 2023, so enjoy the holidays and we’ll see you in 2024.

1 Comment

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  • Hi Michael
    Enjoyed your article very much and have always wondered why titanium was not a popular choice for watch makers. As you mentioned its light and durable along with a matt finish. Lorus have had a good range of Titanium watches for many years..for example I bought my son a Lorus chronograph titanium watch for his 18th birthday 20 years ago and it is still working perfectly along with a military style strap, both light and comfy.
    Still available @ £60-00 ! Fabulous value.
    Secondly I’m pleased that the trend of watches is going to get smaller chunky big pieces are too heavy and again not that comfortable…you may as well strap an alarm clock (with a bell ) on your wrist 😀
    I still prefer Mechanical movements which have a heartbeat and precision engineering
    Fond Regards and a Happy New year
    Keith

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.