Five of the Most Underrated Watches of the Last Year

From Rolex to IWC to Breguet, these are major watches that you don’t want to miss.

In a watch world that is so often driven by hype, I actually find it refreshing to know that there are great watches out there still waiting to be fully appreciated. I won’t say “discovered” here, because I’m not talking about the diamond-in-the-rough indy watchmaker or the small artisan crafting a handful of watches each year. No, I’m talking about major releases from some of the biggest brands in the world that somehow get lost in the shuffle or, at the very least, don’t get nearly as much time in the sun as they deserve.

This past year there have been quite a few of these watches. And that’s a good sign. It means that we’re spoiled for choice, that there are so many products being released that catch our collective attention that we don’t even have time for all of the good stuff. I’ll take that over the alternative any day. Here I’ve rounded up five that I think are particularly interesting for various reasons – history, design, watchmaking – and that I wanted to put back on your radar.

Rolex Yacht-Master 42 In Titanium

Say it with me – Titanium. Rolex. It shouldn’t be any more complicated than that. This is the first titanium production watch from Rolex in its almost 120 years of history and something that collectors of all stripes have spent decades clamoring for. But after the initial hype died down, I haven’t heard too much chatter about this very special Yacht-Master 42. I know supply is relatively restricted, which might be partly to blame, but I can’t understand why this watch isn’t getting more regular attention.

Rolex Yacht-Master 42 In Titanium
Rolex Yacht-Master 42 In Titanium

I’ve had the chance to wear one around for an afternoon and it’s a really cool experience. It’s every bit a classic Rolex sport watch, but much lighter and with an almost futuristic feel due to the brushed case and bracelet paired with the matte black ceramic bezel. It’s tomorrow’s Rolex today.

Learn more on Rolex’s website here.

Grand Seiko Tentagraph SLGC001

While we’re talking about firsts, last year’s Tentagraph is the first mechanical chronograph ever created by Grand Seiko. And as if that’s not enough, it’s got a hi-beat escapement, a column wheel and vertical clutch, a three-day power reserve (even with the chrono running), a special mechanism that resets the three chronograph hands perfectly in-sync, and an absolutely beautiful dial that really shows off why Grand Seiko’s are some of the best in the business.

Grand Seiko Tentagraph SLGC001
Grand Seiko Tentagraph SLGC001

I think to some extent, Grand Seiko is almost a victim of its own success here. There are so many quality watches coming out throughout the year that cause renewed excitement and maybe distract from the bigger “tentpole” launches at Watches & Wonders. But don’t sleep on the Tentagraph – I can’t wait to see where GS takes this new model from here.

IWC Portofino Perpetual Calendar

If you follow me on Instagram, this watch being on this list won’t surprise you at all. It’s a watch that, when you first see it, might not scream “IWC” to you. The brand is obviously best known today for sport watches like the Big Pilot and the Ingenieur, but IWC also has a super rich history of making elegant watches and practical complications.

IWC Portofino Perpetual Calendar
IWC Portofino Perpetual Calendar

All of that is wrapped up in this watch, with the case’s short, curved lugs nodding to classic Caliber 89 pieces, the Kurt Klaus Perpetual Calendar mechanism showing off the brand’s technical prowess, and the modern-looking movement displaying IWC’s current take on in-house watchmaking. It’s all there in a package that I think looks damn good on the wrist and makes a true QP something easy to wear on the daily.

Learn more on IWC’s website here.

Breguet Type 20 / Type XX

In a world where many brands are trying to make their watches look more like everyone else’s, I really appreciate that Breuget chose to lean into the Breguet-ness of the Type XX/20 when giving the classic chrono an overhaul last summer. The split naming is because the “civilian” model uses Roman while the “military” model uses Arabic numerals. A bit confusing, but c’est la vie.

Breguet Type 20 / Type XX
Breguet Type 20 / Type XX

Both versions of this watch though are fantastic. You get a seriously high-end flyback chronograph movement that operates at 5 Hz and has a silicon balance spring. And all of this for $18,000, which is a seriously good price for a watch like this. I think I prefer the warmth and slight more crowded dial of the civilian Type XX, but both are fantastic watches that will look old-school cool forever. Most importantly, they’re not trying to be anything but what they are.

Learn more on Breguet’s website here.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Moon Phase Retrograde Date

The Overseas Moon Phase Retrograde Date in some ways has the misfortunes of coming in the wake of the monumental Historiques 222 and alongside eye-catching watches like both the Traditionelle Tourbillon Retrograde Date Openface and the Panda-dialed Overseas Chronograph. Not exactly easy company to stand out amongst. That said, it still might be my favorite watch of the bunch.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Moon Phase Retrograde Date
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Moon Phase Retrograde Date

The combo of retrograde date and moonphase is a classic VC signature, typically found in the more traditional dress watch collections. But here you get all that watchmaking fun in a stylish 41mm Overseas package with an absolutely mind-bending metallic blue dial (another Vacheron signature of late). When people worry about how traditional watchmaking will adapt to changing tastes, I show them watches like this and tell them everything will be a-ok.

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1 comment

  1. J. Quincy Magoo says:
    Breguet 20 / xx

    “18,000, which is a seriously good price for a watch like this.” Do you know what shilling is?

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