2020 has been an incredibly turbulent year for many reasons. The growth of the watch industry has certainly been a more positive side effect of the crisis. 

We of course saw the cancellation of Baselworld, the ceasing of production for many watchmakers and we also saw a number of brands struggle throughout the crisis. But watch prices have been stronger than ever, showing that demand is only increasing, and the community is growing as a whole, which is very positive to see. 

But arguably the most interesting element of 2020 for the watch industry is the releases that came out this year, offering us the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Finding just five of the best was almost impossible, but here’s our selection of the best releases from this year. We’ve covered nearly every price point here, offering you the best picks for every budget.

The Tudor Black Bay 58 ‘Navy Blue’ 

The Tudor Black Bay 58 ‘Navy Blue’ 

mage Credit: Hodinkee

  • Reference: m79030b-0001
  • Diameter: 39mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel
  • Movement: MT5402
  • Water Resistance: 200m
  • Price: £2,760

I think most watch enthusiasts have opened their eyes this year to Tudor and the incredible value that they offer for their price point. 

At £2,760 on the bracelet, this is a value proposition in anyone’s eyes. Tudor has been overshadowed for many years by Rolex, but this watch certainly marks a turning point in Tudor’s history. 

They are no longer Rolex’s cheaper alternative; they’re forging their own path and creating unique and standout watches in their own right. 39mm proves to be a perfect set of proportions for almost everyone, and with slimmer lugs than a modern Submariner, this watch wears very true to size.

 This isn’t a perfect watch, there are elements such as the faux-rivet bracelet that are somewhat contentious, but Tudor, in releasing this watch, has almost entirely changed their industry perception.

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date

mage Credit: Hodinkee

  • Reference: Q4018420
  • Diameter: 40mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel
  • Movement: Calibre 899 Automatic Movement
  • Water Resistance: 50m
  • Price: £6,000

I think you could say we’ve been more than complimentary of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control range and in particular the Master Control Date. 

This is probably our favourite release from JLC in the past five years. Not only does this watch exude elegance and sophistication at a quick glance, but when you take a deeper look you come to appreciate the craftsmanship. 

There’s a reason JLC is known as the watchmaker’s watchmaker; they produce some of the best movements out there. And to that end, some of the best watches out there. Everything about the Master Control Date is no exception. 

If you’re looking for an under-the-radar, sporty and highly legible watch, it’s difficult to find a better option. Jaeger-LeCoultre has developed the movement inside, refined it and ensured that it is more durable and powerful than ever. 

The power reserve is up to 70-hours, making this watch a perfect everyday companion. For those who perhaps prefer more clean and refined designs this could be a brilliant everyday wearer. Equally, for those who want a well-proportioned and versatile dress watch, you’ve found the right watch in the Master Control Date. 

Personally, I struggle to find a better watch for a similar price point. 

The Omega Speedmaster Cal. 321 Ed White

The Omega Speedmaster Cal. 321 Ed White

mage Credit: Hodinkee

  • Reference: 311.
  • Diameter: 39.7mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel
  • Movement: Omega Calibre 321
  • Water Resistance: 50m
  • Price: £11,950

When it comes to reissues, not many brands can compete with Omega. There are two dimensions to Omega’s success with reissues. The first is their heritage; in order to make reissues there has to be a significant in the first place. 

But the more important dimension is their ability to remain true to the heritage of the watch whilst bringing it into the modern day. The Calibre 321 ‘Ed White’ Speedmaster epitomises both of these dimensions perfectly.  

We are massive fans of the original Ed White, possibly one of the best-looking chronographs ever produced. However, one thing, that is difficult when owning one of them nowadays is their value. 

You have to be careful because there are few parts, if any, laying about, so it certainly isn’t an apt everyday wearer. But what Omega has done with the new Cal.321 is bring the same design and almost the same movement into the 21st century, meaning you can enjoy all the vintage charm of an Ed White without the constant worry. 

Of course, you forego the vintage charm, but that is the case for all modern reissues. The 321 movement is one of the best on the market, Omega competes with Rolex, and the like, in terms of build quality on this model. 

This is everything you can want from a modern chronograph. I’m not sure about you, but the reproduction of the 321 movement and the release of this watch certainly brightened my year.

The Laurent Ferrier Classic Origin Opaline

The Laurent Ferrier Classic Origin Opaline

Image Credit: Hodinkee

  • Diameter: 40mm
  • Case Material: Grade 5 Titanium 
  • Movement: LF116.01 Manually Winding Movement
  • Water Resistance: 30m
  • Price: CHF 28,500 (roughly £23,000)

We’re beginning to move up to the next tier of watchmaking, not only in terms of price but also quality and craftsmanship. 

Since its inception in 2009, Laurent Ferrier has gone from strength to strength, proving itself to be one of the greatest watchmakers. As well as his eponymous brand, Laurent Ferrier is renowned for his classic refined eye and technical ability. 

The Classic Origin Opaline is undoubtedly a physical representation of just that. Before you take in every aspect and angle of this watch you are immediately blown away like no other watch can do. It is just spectacular in its symmetry and its refined design. It feels less like a watch and more like art. 

It’s hard to pick a preferred element for this watch, but two main design features stand out. The beautifully domed crown adds a dynamic element to a rather modest overall look, as do the Burgundy touches on the dial. These two elements are really what sets this watch apart. And when you have the whole package, from every angle, this watch exudes sophistication but in a quiet and subdued manner. This is only a statement piece to those who truly understand the technical ingenuity of Laurent Ferrier. The ultimate dress watch? I think so!

The A Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold

The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold

Image Credit: Hodinkee

  • Diameter: 41mm
  • Case Material: Lange Honeygold
  • Movement: L101.2
  • Water Resistance: –
  • Price: €126,700 (£114,000)

Now we’re talking! Can you get better than an A. Lange & Söhne 1815? Yes, an A. Lange & Söhne 1815 with a black dial. And a step further than that is the Honeygold case. And just to top all of that off, this new Lange 1815 with a black dial and Honey Gold case, is a Rattrapante (A Rattrapante is more commonly known as a split-seconds chronograph). 

This is one of the three high complications (the others being a perpetual calendar and a minute repeater – all three make the Grand Complications, by the way). Anyway, I digress. 

Lange has released their first split-seconds chronograph, which may be surprising to you. 

What may be less surprising is the price. At around £114,000, this isn’t a drop in the ocean, it’s the same price as a supercar. That said, it is more than justified. Not only is it a limited piece, but the craftsmanship required to produce a split-seconds chronograph is also extraordinary. 

The overall package you get in this watch is the pinnacle of horological artistry. You get more than a watch when you buy any Lange, and you get more than just any Lange when you buy the 1815 Rattrapante. 

This is an otherworldly creation, not only visually but also in the build quality and craftsmanship. Lange has taken a huge step in releasing their first split-seconds only chronograph, making this probably their biggest release of the year.

The Verdict

Out of this list, it’s not possible to pick just one watch. They cannot compete with one another for obvious reasons, they each sit in completely different categories and each serves completely different functions. 

Indeed, picking just five was quite the challenge. So, here’s a short list of watches that didn’t quite make the top five.

  • Baltic x Worn & Wound Limited Edition HMS (everyone is a sucker for salmon)
  • Tag Heuer Carrera 160 Silver Limited Edition
  • Rolex Submariner 124060 41mm
  • Zenith Defy 21 Land Rover Edition
  • JLC Polaris Mariner Collection
  • AP Royal Oak Self-winding 34mm
  • Patek Philippe 5270J Perpetual Calendar Chronograph