As the New Year approaches it is a time to look forward and make plans for the future, but also to look back over that which has come to pass. This year was a banner one for tool watches–GMTs and vintage-styled chronographs, particularly. But a few good divers, as well. And as you know, here at Calibre321, we like our tool watches. Below is a selection of some of the best releases from the past year, along with a few solid honourable mentions. We’d love to hear what you were excited about this year so, by all means, let us know in the comments section below. Cheers!
Under $250: Q Timex GMT
In 2019, Timex took the horological world by storm with a faithful reinterpretation of its own 1979 Timex Q. The last three years have seen this collection grow and evolve with addition of new colourways, the M79 line, and now the Timex Q GMT. With the GMT, the brand proves two things: 1) You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to be successful, and 2) You don’t have to break the bank to dress up your wrist in style.
The new Q Timex GMT retains its familiar case, albeit it a little thicker this time around, and employs a bidirectional aluminum bezel with a 24-hour scale. Its bracelet has been replaced by a three-link, jubilee-style, and of course the movement now offers quartz, GMT functionality. You can get it on a strap from $199USD, and on a bracelet for $219USD. Buy now and get a free set of steak knives! (Just kidding about the steak knives. THERE ARE NO steak knives)
Under $500: Seiko 5 GMT
The affordable GMT craze was kicked off by none other than the Seiko 5 GMT. The 5KX line of watches was both popular and controversial as a replacement of the beloved SKX. However, there is no denying that the release scooped a whole new generation of watch enthusiasts. The GMT is just more of the same. Colourful dials, two-tone bezels, dive watch capabilities, and an affordable automatic “caller” GMT movement thrown in.
The case measures 42.5mm diameter and 13.6mm thick, but is offset by a relatively short lug to lug of 46mm, making it very wearable–even for those with sub 7-inch wrists. In addition, the dial elements are lavished in LumiBrite. For $475, it’s difficult to get more bang for your buck.
Under $1000: Citizen Promaster Titanium Diver 200m
Lightweight, tough as nails, and full of charismatic retro-charm, the Promaster Mechanical Diver from Citizen is straight-forward vintage dive watch design at its best–bolstered by contemporary materials. Sporting a 4Hz, in-house 9051 automatic movement, the Promaster offers up accurate timekeeping alongside robust construction.
Decidedly toolish, the timepiece is surprisingly full of fine finishing details–like partially skeletonized Mercedes hands, a gloss black dial, embossed markers, and a polished dive bezel. With 200m of water resistance, it’s also got serious dive chops. The Citizen Promaster Titanium Diver is available for $795USD on a strap and $995USD on a bracelet. However, rebates abound!
Under $2000: Baltic Tricompax
This year, Baltic dialed up the nostalgia with its manually wound, Sellita-powered Tricompax. And there’s more than enough old-school vibes here to satisfy your vintage appetite. Taking their cue from Rolex and AP, these 70s-inspired Panda dials look and act the business. The watches sport drilled lugs, an aluminum tachymeter insert, and snappy, mushroom pushers. The subtle use of colour and decent application of Super-LumiNova are also highlights. And who can resist that sapphire, domed crystal?
Sized just right at 39.5mm in diameter and 47mm lug to lug, the Baltic Tricompax is evidence of a microbrand on the move. You can get your Swiss movement with French flair for $1765USD.
Under $3000: Longines Spirit Zulu Time
This watch…so good. Absolutely value-packed. Sporting an exclusive chronometer-certified traveller GMT movement designed in collaboration with ETA, the Zulu Time is exactly what brand aficionados have been waiting for. Ceramic bezel, domed sapphire crystal, 72-hour power reserve, vintage design language…the Zulu Time has it all in spades.
It’s difficult to appreciate the level of fit and finish in this piece until you have it in your hands. Absolutely first class…right down to the customized strap with deployant clasp and on-the-fly micro-adjust. The Zulu Time is available now or only $2950USD, and worth every penny.
Honourable Mentions: Grand Seiko SBGN013 and the TAG Heuer Professional 200 40mm Automatic “Outdoors.”
Under $4000: Aquastar Deepstar 39mm
This one is a bit of a pet favourite. I’ve owned the 41.5mm version for two years. You wouldn’t think such an incremental change would make that much of a difference. But it does. Without sacrificing its epochal dial design, Aquastar have answered the prayers of fans the world over with this tidy recreation of a 60s icon.
Under the hood is a customized column wheel calibre from La Joux-Perret based on the Valjoux 7750. The decompression bezel is a unique and faithful recreation of the original. But you can’t beat the luscious dive vibes beneath its sapphire dome. Oh, that cyclops eye…The 2022 Deepstar retails for $3790USD on the beads of rice bracelet.
Under $5000: Tudor Pelagos 39
The Pelagos 39 might as well be known as the street style interpretation of its bigger brother. But what an interpretation…Radially brushed ceramic bezel insert, titanium construction, sunray brushed dial, and iconic snow-flake hands. Oh, my. The MT5400 movement, made by Kenissi, is chronometer certified, with 70-hour power reserve and anti-magnetic silicon hairspring. The 3-link titanium bracelet is equipped with the T-Fit clasp and adjustable in five positions on-the-fly. With the Pelagos 39, you will not want.
Some call this “the Sub we’ve all been waiting for.” And you will get no argument here. The Pelagos 39 retails for $4400USD.
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