2012 in Review: Top 12 Watches of the Year! Japanese watches / Swiss Watches

The year 2012 wasn’t exactly rewarding for the better part of the population. Greece didn’t default, Doomsday didn’t happen and Valve yet again failed to deliver HL:3. However, there were certain bright spots, too: Spain emerged victorious in the 2012 UEFA Euro cup and the European politicians somehow managed to prevent collapse of the single currency. The watchmakers from Europe and Japan, too, managed to introduce a number of great watches, although there was nothing truly revolutionary neither in terms of design, nor technical characteristics (here I am talking about mass-produced models, not some ultra-expensive one-offs).

Here is a list of twelve timekeepers that were introduced in 2012 and enjoyed the most attention from our readers. Enjoy it right after the jump!




Since this blog is slightly biased towards more expensive timekeepers (I find it extremely boring to write about cheap, run-of-the-mill models that do nothing but reproduce the same set of design elements while ruthlessly cutting costs, often sacrificing build quality and eroding the value of the famous “Swiss Made” inscription), there is only a couple of relatively affordable watches in the Top 12 that I compiled based on Google Analytics reports.

Okay, without further ado, here we go!

XII. Breitling Transocean Chronograph Unitime World Time Automatic

Breitling Transocean Chronograph Unitime World Time Automatic

I am not really sure whether it was a crisis of ideas or just a part of a larger cycle, but 2012 was truly a year of remakes, tributes and sequels both for the Hollywood, Gibson and Fender, as well as for the Swiss watchmaking industry. Breitling, the great and terrible, opened the season with a bang by introducing its gorgeous Breitling Transocean Chronograph Unitime World Time automatic watch. Based on the 1950 Breitling Unitime Worldtime model, the watch is powered by their relatively new Breitling Caliber B05 in-house movement.

Although the watch is also available in stainless steel, it was, quite predictably, the version in rose gold (MSRP $31,000) that won the hearts of our readers.

XI. Rado D-Star 200 Automatic Diver

Rado D-Star 200 Automatic Diver

Too, based in Switzerland, Rado didn’t try to exploit the usual references to “traditions” and “heritage” to get its share of the pie. Instead, they turned to the cutting edge of modern technology and years ago started to manufacture watches that sported extremely scratch resistant ceramic bodies and bracelets. This new Rado D-Star 200 automatic diving watch moves in a slightly different direction offering you more “old-fashioned” design with cushion-shaped stainless steel body and more Rolex-styled layout of its beautiful blue dial. Still, it wouldn’t be a real Rado if its unidirectional bezel didn’t feature a glossy ceramic inlay color-keyed to the dial.

X. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra GMT Automatic (Ref. 231.13.43.22.01.001)

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra GMT Automatic (Ref. 231.13.43.22.01.001)

Like many recent entries from Omega, this one didn’t offer anything new in terms of looks or movement design. Still, the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra GMT deserves some attention, since this was the first GMT watch of the famous brand to feature an in-house Omega Co-Axial caliber 8605/8615. Among its other virtues is an easily readable dial and a nicely executed body, which is crafted from high-grade stainless steel.

IX. Zenith Pilot Doublematic World Timer Automatic (Ref. 03.2400.4046/21.C721)

Zenith Pilot Doublematic World Timer Automatic (Ref. 03.2400.4046/21.C721)

Although after the dramatic shift in management of the brand the design of Zenith watches became a lot soberer, the Swiss manufacture still refuses to play by the book. Their Pilot Doublematic World Timer doesn’t look like a study in readability and the number of controls can easily give you a heart attack, but equipped with the gorgeous Caliber El Primero 4046 self-winding movement, the watch brings a number of functions that you can only expect from a fancy Japanese wrist computer.

Its comprehensive list of features (those including an alarm module and a second time zone indicator) can only be matched by its outrageous list price of more than €10,000.

VIII. Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master Blue Dial in Rolesium (Ref. 16622)

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master Blue Dial in Rolesium (Ref. 16622)

Crafted from their exclusive “Rolesium” alloy of top-notch stainless steel and 950 Platinum, the refreshed Yacht-Master not only became even easier to read, but also managed to become more elegant: a real treat for persons who like to wear sporty watches with tailor-made formal suits.

Although, thanks to the 60-minute scale on its bezel, the watch looks like a diver, it is in fact a very refined yacht timer, since the bezel rotates both clock- and counterclockwise.

VII. IWC Big Pilot Top Gun Miramar Automatic Chronograph

IWC Big Pilot Top Gun Miramar Automatic Chronograph

This entry from IWC was clearly my favorite among the different “pilots” that I had a privilege to see and I am really happy that visitors of WorldWatchReview.com shared my love to this model.

Named after the famous Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California, USA (aka TOP GUN), the watch was delivered in a deliberately oversized ceramic oxide body and sported their new Caliber 89365 in-house movement with flyback chronograph function and an impressive power reserve of more than seven days.

Its only problem was a tear-jerking price of more than $18,000, but IWC watches were never on the cheaper side.




VI. IWC Pilot’s Watch Worldtimer Automatic (Ref. IW326201)

IWC Pilot's Watch Worldtimer Automatic (Ref. IW326201)

That’s a kind of funny, since this GMT-powered pilot enjoyed almost the same level of attention as the aforementioned Miramar model. Similar in functionality to the well-known Girard-Perregaux WW.TC family of chronographs, this watch, too, features only one hour hand with the other replaced with a rotating 24-hour disk with day/night indication and a list of major cities on the bezel flange.

Initially offered at mere $10,000, it lacked the high-tech ceramic body of the Miramar, but is actually more useful for the guys cruising the skies in their strategic bombers and other frequent travelers.

V. Casio ProTrek All-Analog PRX-7000T

Casio ProTrek All-Analog PRX-7000T

Let the name of the Japanese brand doesn’t fool you: this one wasn’t cheap either. Thanks to its extensive list of features (those including a barometer, altimeter, thermometer, daily alarm and, of course, their famous Multi-Band 6 technology), all of them powered by a quartz movement and represented on an analogue (!) display, the watch was offered at around $2000, but still became one of the most popular offerings from Casio.

Not sure about availability at brick and mortar shops, but you can still find one on Amazon at less than $1500. If you hurry up, you can probably still make a nice New Year present for your loved one.

IIII. Certina DS Action Diver 200M Automatic Chronograph

Certina DS Action Diver 200M Automatic Chronograph

Yes, it was the year of numerous disappointments for lots of people, but Certina somehow managed to offer the watch that looked as good as more expensive, similarly specced models from Omega. Of course, the ETA Valjoux 7753 that powers the diver doesn’t sport an impressive power reserve or some extremely fine complication, but it is as simple as truth and is as reliable as ax, so it certainly deserves its level of attention. And it doesn’t look cheap, too.

III. Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Automatic

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Automatic

Although some snobs regarded this model as a “poor man’s JLC”, it is, of course, far from truth. By a wide margin. Powered by the ultra-thin JLC caliber 899 self-winding movement, the watch brings you everything that one can expect from his first “true” dress watch: slender rose gold body less than 9 millimeters thick and 39 millimeters in diameter; a classic, easily recognizable JLC dial with applied numerals and indices; and, of course, pretty much affordable (for a model in rose gold) retail price of $17,000.

If that’s still too much for your wallet, there is a version in steel, which is priced below $7000.

II. Casio G-SHOCK GW-A1000-1ADF Smart Access

Casio G-SHOCK GW-A1000-1ADF Smart Access

Okay, this one is really cheap. Offering a whole plethora of functions (those starting with world time display and atomic clock synchronization and going all the way up to automatic DST switching and highly accurate temperature measurement), this watch can be found online at $500 or even less.

Reliable and precise, this solar-powered watch comes in a resined stainless steel body and a gel-like substance that protects the movement from shocks and ensures the legendary ruggedness of the timekeeper.

I. Omega Seamaster 300M James Bond 007 50th Anniversary Collector’s Piece

Omega Seamaster 300M James Bond 007 50th Anniversary Collector's Piece

Well, this one was quite predictable. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond movie and entering the market almost simultaneously with the new installment of the series, the watch was literally destined to become a hit (if not in terms of hard cash, then at least as a matter of public interest).

Featuring the traditional “007” pattern on the dial, a highlighted “50” on the rotating bezel and a “bullet” in its solid case back, this one is a perfect present for a die-hard fan of the franchise.

Well, here we are. WorldWatchReview.com takes a break for a couple of days and I hope to see you all next week when life gets back to normal. We have a great number of models to get you acquainted with!


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