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The Best Men’s Watches of 2012

Every year, at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, the best watches of the year are selected. The great watchmakers of the world recently convened for this competition and a lot of great models were there to be judged. Here is a quick look at some of the best men’s watches in the show.

The watch that won the Men’s Watch prize was MB&F’s Legacy Machine No. 1. The unique design of this watch’s movement is immediately apparent- part of it is “floating” above the dial.  The balance wheel hovers above two large subdials that do all the timekeeping. Each one can be set to a different time, so it’s a good watch for traveling. The case is 44 millimeters wide and is 18 karat red gold (there’s also a white gold version available).  A sapphire window on the back of the watch shows the beautiful movement that powers this strange-looking watch.

Another excellent watch at the show was the Chapter Three Reveal from Maitres du Temps. Its name comes from a display the watch puts on for you when you press a pusher on the crown. Little doors open to “reveal” hidden indicators on the watch. It’s a fascinating timepiece. The dial is reminiscent of a map or some kind of star chart.

IWC was also on their A-game this year. The Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun has a wonderful movement, very accurate and with an incredibly efficient self-winding mechanism. The clean lines and perfect choices of shapes in the dial enhance the watch’s sporty look, giving it a hint of a luxury flavor. “Big Pilot’s Watch” is an apt name for this model, given its size (48 millimeters) and that it fulfills all the requirements for a professional aviation watch.

The next watch is also an aviation model. Zenith’s Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 was the name of a classic aviation watch from the heyday of flight. Now, Zenith has created a more modern version of this classic. At 57.5 millimeters, the case is enormous, but it’s great on readability. Its great size allows for large numbers on the dial. It has a highly accurate movement (this watch is a chronometer) that is hand-wound and, of course, very large.

From Panerai this year came the Radiomir 8 Days GMT Oro Rosso. This watch’s style is definitely inspired by watches of yesteryear. The in-house movement is a version of Officine Panerai’s P.2002 calibre. The power reserve on this movement lasts up to eight days. The case is a lovely pink gold, 45 millimeters, with a brown dial and brown alligator strap.

Lange and Sohne came out with a new version of the Datograph, UP/DOWN. While this watch doesn’t constitute as much of a blast from the past a few of the other watches on this list (the first Datograph was released in 1999), it is a fine example of how great watchmakers can start with inspiration from an older model and come out with something that is the same yet much better.  This watch includes a tachymeter, a fly-back chronograph with two sub-dials, a Big Date, and an “Up/Down” indicator for the power reserve.

One of the most classic and stunningly beautiful men’s watches at the Grand Prix was the Laurent Ferrier Galet Micro-Rotor Limited Edition Platinum. The movement of this watch is the FBN Calibre 229.01, a pretty advanced movement. The platinum case contrasts well with the dial, which is enameled in brilliant white with grand feu ceramic material. Tall, thin, black Roman numerals and long, thin hour and minute hands complete the elegant look of this watch.

Another of this year’s great watches is Urban Jurgensen’s Chronometer P8 with Swiss Lever Escapement. A brand new hand-wound movement, the Calibre UJS P8, is housed within the watch’s 42-millimeter pink gold case. The silver dial has an engraved pattern of tiny ovals on it, with a sort of crosshatch pattern on the chronograph subdial. All of the hands are thin and blue, and the hour hand has a large pink-gold ring near its tip.

Last but not least, Audemars Piguet recently launched a couple new lines of their ever-popular Royal Oak series. This one is extra-thin, the Calibre 2121 movement being only 3.05 millimeters thick thick. The case and most everything else on the watch are made of stainless steel (a pink gold version is also available). The dial is blue and engraved with a Petite Tapasserie pattern. There is a date window at three o’clock, two batons at twelve o’clock, and one baton marking each of the other hours.

These are just some of the Best Men’s watches around in the year 2012, according to the judges at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. Though only one really took home the prize, the rest are also excellent timepieces and definitely worthy of mention.

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