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The Watches and Trends We Hope to See in 2024

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Our best guesses at what the future holds for Rolex, Omega, AP and more.

Audemars Piguet, Omega, Rolex

Now is the time of year when we like to look into our crystal ball and make our best guesses at how the next year in watches is going to shape up. (To see how we did last year, head here). It’s entirely possible that none of our predictions come true. It’s also possible that all of them come true (if that happens, I’m buying a lottery ticket). But either way, it’s fun to play Nostradamus for a bit by applying what we learned about the industry in 2023 to the year ahead in 2024.

Speaking of last year, it was a pretty crazy one in the watch world. There were some major acquisitions, with Breitling picking up Universal Genève and Rolex buying Bucherer. There were several viral hit watches from suspects both expected (Tudor) and unexpected (Christopher Ward). And there were purple dials. So many purple dials.

But 2023 is firmly now in the rearview mirror, and it’s time to start asking questions about the industry in 2024. Will you finally be able to buy a Rolex at retail? Will TAG Heuer continue to crush it? Will Audemars Piguet chart a new course that’s less dependent on hype? We don’t know! But here are our best guesses as to what new watches and trends we should expect to see in the coming year.

The Announcement of New Universal Genève Models


One thing I don’t expect to see in 2024 is any new watches from Universal Genève. I know we all got excited when it was announced at the end of 2023 that Breitling’s ownership had acquired the iconic brand with plans to bring it back to its former glory, but watches take years to develop, which means we’re not going to see any new Universal Genève models in 2024 unless Breitling had secretly been working on this deal for the past few years (unlikely).

But I definitely think we’ll be hearing from Breitling on what we can expect from the reborn version of Universal Genève, including some models that will make a return. UG has several icons gathering dust in its back catalog, most notably the Gerald Genta-designed Polerouter and many stellar references from its varied Compax line of chronographs, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Breitling confirms that one or more of these are in the works — the brand has already more or less confirmed that at least the Polerouter will return.

When might Breitling make such an announcement? My guess would be in the days leading up to Watches and Wonders in April to steal a bit of the spotlight, as Breitling does not take part in the show and usually tries to grab its share of headlines right before it starts.

An Anniversary Moonwatch from Omega


Omega is poised for a big year after a relatively quiet 2023. The Summer Olympics will take place in France, which means Omega, as the Games’ official timekeeper, will be rolling out some special editions. 2024 could also bring news on the identity of the next James Bond, which could be accompanied by a commemorative Seamaster. And then there’s Omega’s greatest claim to fame: the Speedmaster and the moon landing.

2024 marks 55 years since the first humans set foot on the moon during 1969’s Apollo 11 mission, and as you’re no doubt aware, astronaut Buzz Aldrin did so with a Speedy on his wrist. And while 55 years may not seem like the most obvious year for an anniversary, I think the brand will definitely release some kind of special Moonwatch to mark the occasion rather than saving all their efforts for the 60th anniversary in 2029.

Why’s that? For one, Omega is never one to shy away from any excuse to pump out a special-edition Speedmaster — the brand already revamped the Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 in January. Secondly, former James Bond and current Omega ambassador Daniel Craig was spotted wearing a mysterious, yet-to-be-released white dial Speedmaster in November, and lastly, Aldrin turned 94 in January. Omega will surely want to make good use of the American hero’s ambassador status to launch the watch while he’s available to do so.

Rolex Being Easier to Purchase


The most frustrating thing about Rolex over the past several years has been the difficulty in purchasing one. Stories abound about years-long waiting lists and ADs withholding popular sports models from prospective customers, rumors make the rounds that the brand is intentionally keeping production low (which is nonsense; the brand pumps out over a million watches a year) and skyrocketing prices on the secondhand market to the point where the idea of buying a Rolex at SRP is laughable. But there are signs that the tide is finally turning.

2023 saw several developments that should spell lower prices for Rolex watches in 2024. For one, the brand is expanding production, and while its main new factory won’t be up and running until 2029, a smaller temporary one will become active in 2024. Rolex also bought watch retail giant Bucherer near the end of 2023 and started its own pre-owned sales program earlier in the year, with both moves giving the brand more direct control over the market for its watches than ever before.

Finally, secondhand Rolex prices fell sharply throughout 2023, coming down from their insane pandemic-era highs and signaling the end of the Rolex bubble. So bust out that credit card; 2024 may finally be the year you lock down a Pepsi for a somewhat reasonable price.

The TAG HeueRenaissance Continuing

TAG Heuer

TAG Heuer has stopped playing around. For the past few years, the brand has been on an unspoken rehabilitation tour seemingly aimed at winning over enthusiasts who had long dismissed the brand as overpriced and underwhelming. TAG Heuer has steadily been upping the quality of its watches and movements while also drawing on classic designs from Heuer’s storied past. This all came to a head in 2023 with the phenomenal rollout of the new Carrera Chronograph “Glassbox,” which honored the 60th anniversary of Heuer’s most important model with the perfect blend of old-school style and new-school substance.

But TAG isn’t going to stop there. I expect to see more straight fire from the brand in 2024 as it looks to become even more of an appealing alternative to brands like Longines, Tudor and Breitling. The brand also has an ace up its sleeve in new CEO Julien Tornare, who came on board in January after transforming fellow LVMH brand Zenith into one of the industry’s hottest brands.

There are plenty of models in TAG’s catalog that would welcome a Carrera-style makeover. Could we see the non-limited return of some classic Autavia chronographs? A smaller, more wearable Monaco? A modernized version of the Link that takes it out of the ’90s and makes it a compelling competitor in the integrated bracelet luxury sports watch segment? The possibilities are nearly endless and very enticing.

A Hot Market for Carl F. Bucherer


Even for those who claim to hate the brand, there is no debating that Rolex runs the show when it comes to the Swiss watch industry. According to Morgan Stanley’s latest annual report on the state of the market, Rolex’s sales alone — not including subsidiary Tudor — account for 29.2% of the market share. That’s greater than the next five best-selling brands combined. (Cartier, Omega, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe and Richard Mille, for those keeping score at home.) I’ve already spoken about Rolex’s acquisition of Bucherer, but one aspect of that sale that’s flown under the radar is the fact that The Crown also picked up watchmaker Carl F. Bucherer in the process. Add that label to the other biggie under its umbrella, Tudor, and that effectively makes Rolex a three-brand portfolio conglomerate.

Now, Rolex has stated that CFB will retain its current management and will operate independently, but I don’t think that stipulation matters much. Eventually, the word will get out to more people that Rolex owns CFB, and the typical hype that follows everything Rolex does will inevitably come calling, driving up demand and prices for Carl F. Bucherer watches. And frankly, the brand deserves the attention.

CFB, which has a history dating back to 1888, is rarely talked about in American enthusiast circles and sells nearly half of its watches in Asia. But the brand’s catalog shows a ton of potential, as it’s filled with proprietary technology, complicated movements and potentially popular sports models, like a carbon fiber flyback chronograph that could keep IWC up at night and a sharp dive watch with a COSC movement and a 500m depth rating that Rolex can sic on the Seamasters and SeaQs of the world.

Christopher Ward Joining the Big Boys

Christopher Ward

Few brands have been on as much of a tear as Christopher Ward in the past few years. The brand reinvented itself following the departure of its namesake from the company in 2020, coming out with a new logo, increased quality (and prices) and an endless parade of hit watches. 2023 was especially impressive for the brand. It launched a new line of integrated bracelet sports watches in The Twelve that became one of the most buzzed-about watches of the year. And it continued to draw plenty of attention and accolades for the Bel Canto, the sub-$4,000 chiming watch it introduced at the end of 2022, which won the GPHG “Petite Aiguille” award for the best watch priced between CHF 2,000 – 8,000, besting models from Tudor, Bulgari and others.

Some may think CW has peaked and can only go down from here, but I suspect it’s about to have its biggest year yet. 2024 marks the 20th anniversary of the brand, which was founded in 2004 as the world’s first online-only watch brand, as well as the 10th anniversary of its merger with Swiss manufacture Synergies Horlogères SA.

This occasion tells me that Christopher Ward is going to surprise people even more with the kinds of releases it will unleash on the market in 2024, to the point where we’re going to have to start asking ourselves why we’re still surprised by the brand’s watches. Christopher Ward has arrived as a legitimate Swiss-made luxury watch brand rather than an upstart micro, and 2024 will cement that status.

A New Direction for Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet | Marvel

If there were one brand watch enthusiasts loved to complain about in 2023, it was Audemars Piguet. A historically important brand in the industry and considered a member of haute horlogerie’s “Holy Trinity” alongside Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin, AP has been more than happy to cast aside tradition in recent years while producing pop culture-driven hype watches and seemingly chasing clout. That leaning was most evident this past year when the brand released a Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar collab with rapper Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack clothing brand and a Marvel-signed Royal Oak Concept Tourbillon with a prominent Spider-Man on the dial. Both watches, particularly the Marvel one, were derided by many collectors. But change is afoot at AP.

To kick off 2024, the brand welcomed a new CEO for the first time in three decades, with Swiss-Italian national and cosmetics industry veteran Ilaria Resta taking over from exiting CEO François-Henry Bennahmias. But before you go blaming Bennahmias for any perceived problems at AP, you should know that he saved the brand rather than killed it. Bennahmias ran the company for 30 years, making it a household name (it ranks fourth in market share among Swiss watch brands) and transforming the Royal Oak from a 1970s relic into a global icon.

So Bennahmias’s exit does not necessarily mean no more pop-culture collabs, but change at the top usually means changes down the line, so we shouldn’t expect the same AP moving forward. Whether that means more or fewer hype watches and controversial collabs, I can’t say, but I look forward to finding out.

Collabs Galore


2023 was all about collabs, and almost no brand was immune to the trend. From heavy hitters like the aforementioned Audemars Piguet to budget brands like Timex, watchmakers were constantly mixing it up with other companies on limited-edition models. But the craziest thing was just how many different types of collabs we saw. There were pop culture collabs, celebrity collabs, retailer collabs, artist collabs (seconde/seconde was everywhere), product collabs (bourbon watch, anyone?), clothing brand collabs (Rowing Blazers went hard last year), collabs that involved a comical number of collaborators (four cooks in this kitchen) and even collabs between watch brands.

And while you might think people are sick of collabs by now, that doesn’t seem to be the case, as many of these collabs (though decidedly not all) were snatched up as soon as they went on sale. Collabs are just fun, for the most part. Brands seem to enjoy doing them as it allows them to work with new people and do things they wouldn’t normally do, and buyers like them because it lets them see a new side of a brand they like while also getting a chance to purchase something limited in nature. I expect we’ll see even more collabs in 2024, as this trend isn’t likely to die anytime soon.

Exotic Dials Everywhere


Another trend that began to pick up steam in 2023 that I expect to explode in 2024 is the trend toward using exotic materials for dials. Over the past handful of years, there’s been a massive shift toward using more color in dials, but watch brands are continuing to find new ways to stand out by incorporating unique and visually stunning materials into their dials.

In 2023, Oris released a ProPilot with a laser-treated dial that contains no pigment and constantly changes color in light. TAG Heuer made a dial out of a lab-grown diamond. Stone dials made a big comeback in pieces from Girard-Perregaux, Rolex, AP and others, while Rolex and AP — along with more affordable brands like Christopher Ward — also slapped starry aventurine dials on a few of their watches. I think we’ll see brands get even more experimental with their dials in 2024, making use of materials and treatments that no one has ever seen before.

Smaller Divers and Sports Watches


After two decades of oversized watches, the industry has finally, slowly begun to turn toward more classically sized watches in recent years. That trend got a shot in the arm in 2023, thanks mainly to Tudor, which released its 37mm Tudor Black Bay 54 dive watch at Watches and Wonders. Other brands also churned out sports watches and divers smaller than 40mm, like Longines with its 39mm Legend Diver and Spirit Zulu Time GMT and Tissot with the 36mm version of the PRX Powermatic 80. Even IWC shrunk its Big Pilot’s Watch (it’s still big at 43mm, but that’s a lot more wearable than 46mm).

In 2024, I expect (and hope) this trend will continue with the growing acceptance of smaller sports watches and dive watches. We could finally see a return of the midsize Omega Seamaster 300m, or a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms smaller than 40mm (or at least smaller than the current 45mm version), or maybe even a new 39mm Rolex Explorer II (can you imagine?). Small is in when it comes to divers and sports watches, and brands should take advantage of the public sentiment in 2024 — just think how much they’ll save on material costs!