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Watch Editor Robin Swithinbank's Perfect Wishlist For Those Seeking Luxury

By Robin Swithinbank | 5 minute read

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This article is part of our series of wishlists for the festive season. We have selected a range of buying experts, journalists, and influencers to share with us their wishlist for themselves, as well as friends and family. This Christmas curate your own dream wishlist here to share with friends or family and be in with a chance of winning up to £1,500 towards it. The perfect gift, perfect time at Watches of Switzerland. Click here for more details.

Christmas time gives us the perfect reason to celebrate with best-in-class festive food, decorations that add sparkle and luxe to your home, and gifts that light up the faces of our loved ones with the biggest and brightest of smiles.

For some, those gifts come in small packages under the tree that capture the hopes and dreams of those looking for a little extra luxury in their lives. Make a dream come true by gifting a luxury timepiece to someone special…and don’t forget to add something to your own wishlist too! Be inspired by Robin’s top luxury picks for the perfect gift at this perfect time.

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It’s a cliché, but this is a timeless classic for someone with timeless style.Robin Swithinbank

At their purest, Swiss watches convey a sort of perennial, unflappable sophistication. Sure, they can be impressively high-functioning, or doused in engineering few fully comprehend. Some come dripping in precious stones and metals. But fundamentally, their role is to communicate an appreciation of culture and style. Somehow, Breitling’s latest automatic chronograph, the Premier Datora, captures this brief perfectly. Its 42mm case creates ample space for the watch’s secondary functions – a chronograph and a calendar display that shows the day, date month and moon phase – and together with the warm glow of 18-carat red gold, the off-white silvered dial and brown alligator strap, these combine to make something akin to the Swiss-est of Swiss Made watches.

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The Portugieser isn’t going anywhere any time soon, either. Instead, it continues to be a first-choice watch for style mavens the world over.

As colours go, there’s none more cross-seasonal than green. Spring is verdant, summer is grassy, Christmas is spruce… Green is also neutral, everlasting, rejuvenating and serene, with every shade capable of representing something upstanding. Such an appraisal might explain why green is experiencing fresh novelty in watch design, and why it is unlikely to fade any time soon – among other things, it’s also a tangible vehicle for our appetite for a post-pandemic restart. IWC’s spin on the theme is an emerald-dialled version of its evergreen \(had to be done\) Portugieser Chronograph. The everyday form is soothing in its own right, albeit for different reasons, namely that because it was created in 1939.

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A deft, captivating signal that Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of the classiest of all Swiss watchmakers. One for urbane sybarites

In a time when watches have once again become a little shouty in a bid to catch our attention, Jaeger-LeCoultre continues to produce modest, calm, reassuringly simple-looking watches. Its Master Control Calendar epitomises the approach – its round case (40mm, stainless steel, sensible) and silvery dial provide a clean palette on which to display the day, date, month and phases of the moon. Not all is entirely as it may seem, though. In the event we were lulled into thinking simple might convey a lack of mechanical sophistication, Jaeger-LeCoultre has given the date function a natty twist. While that red-tipped central date hand moves forward in equal steps for 30 days of the month, between the 15th and 16th it takes a giant leap over the moon phase so as never to obscure it.

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A powerhouse of a watch for a powerhouse of a woman.

Turning first to the nuts and bolts when describing a bejewelled 18-carat gold ladies’ watch might seem ill-judged, but only if we’re working to the outmoded notion that women watch buyers care solely for what perfumes rather than what performs. As it is, while OMEGA’s unquestionably precious Aqua Terra 150m is an extremely elegant, feminine creation, it’s also a technical tour de force. The case, bracelet, crown and hands are formed from OMEGA’s own Sedna Gold, a bespoke red gold that doesn’t fade in the way standard 18-carat variants do; the automatic movement is a modern marvel, delivering class-leading levels of anti-magnetism and accuracy; and the whole package is water-resistant to a very sporty 150 metres. The 12 marquise-cut diamond hour markers and further 138 brilliants woven into the dial aren’t shoddy, either.

Grand Seiko Elegance GMT

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Details such as this are what make Grand Seiko so appealing to people who like to be ‘in-the-know’.

Japan’s reputation for being a nation of detail obsessives is well won. Where older generations will recognise the country’s bulletproof cars and electronics, the younger will appreciate the refinement in its sushi and fashion. Amid all that is Japan’s Grand Seiko, a high-end watch company in its own right that sits in the more familiar Seiko’s wider empire. Its watches are exquisitely designed and detailed, and always attract admiration from aficionados, one such piece being this steel second time-zone piece, which is powered by an automatic mechanical movement that’s electronically regulated to be accurate to within a second a day. But it’s the gently speckled dial and burned yellow GMT hand that singles this watch out. It’s inspired by one of the 24 – yes, 24 – seasonal phases understood in Japanese culture, in this case Tōji, a snowy season of sharp light and crisp sunsets that falls around the winter solstice.

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A louche, highly credible watch for a wearer unafraid to step away from the beaten track.

They say the sports luxe watch category is having the time of its life, but since its genesis half a century ago, it’s rarely lagged. If there’s a reason for the heat, it’s because the fire has been stoked by novel designs such as Zenith’s Chronomaster Sport, introduced this year. It picks up Zenith’s El Primero high-frequency automatic chronograph movement story, itself more than 50 years in the making, coming in with a 1/10th of a second mechanical chronograph function displayed via a central seconds hand that makes a full tour of the dial in an entertainingly rapid 10 seconds. But what’s primary here is the design. With its signature Zenith overlapping subdials, vintage pushers, classic three-link bracelet, and hard-wearing ceramic bezel (which carries the 1/10th of a second scale), the Chronomaster Sport has the visual bona fides to join the pantheon of sports luxe watch greats.

JOIN US IN GIVING THE GIFT OF LUXURY TIMEKEEPING THIS FESTIVE PERIOD.

Robin Swithinbank is a former editor of Calibre, and now writes for The New York Times, British GQ and the Financial Times.

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