THE HOTTEST WATCHES FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON
BY LAURIE BROOKINS
A status timepiece is always a welcome gift, especially when it’s from any of these coveted brands.
Status watches are currently enjoying a high-wattage moment among luxury brands, as casual and hardcore collectors alike understand more than ever both the artistic and investment value of today’s hottest timepieces. Such an idea is likewise reflected in the healthy number of watch boutiques offered at South Coast Plaza, which indeed boasts the largest collection of luxury timepiece and jewelry boutiques under one roof in North America.
Whether your taste in high-end watches tends toward ultra-classic or a style that’s racier and more forward-thinking, you’re sure to discover a piece you’ll covet for years to come among the latest selection at South Coast Plaza. Here’s a look at five sought-after brands among aficionados, each a new addition to this sophisticated retail destination, as well as their latest pieces, guaranteed to rank high on every watch lover’s wish list.
SOUTH COAST PLAZA
THE HOLIDAY TIMEPIECE EDIT
Chronomat Automatic 36
Level 2, Carousel Court
From their impeccable craftsmanship to a focus on themes that appeal to today’s most adventurous enthusiasts, Breitling has established itself as the watch brand that loves to push boundaries. That idea is backed up by its impressive range of all-star ambassadors, from Charlize Theron and Misty Copeland to Brad Pitt, Adam Driver, soccer superstar Erline Haaland and the NFL’s Trevor Lawrence. Trailblazers all, these A-listers perfectly represent the audacious spirit for which Breitling has become known.
All of which means: If you love speed, precarious heights or simply the idea of changing the game, a Breitling watch will likely catch your eye. Bold dial colors, rugged styling and thoughtful functions are the hallmarks of this brand, which can be unabashedly sporty while also feeling undeniably upscale. Yet Breitling also excels with dress watches, including this Chronomat Automatic 36, a unisex piece that offers on-trend two-tone styling in stainless steel and 18-karat red gold and can be purchased with or without the splash of diamond sparkle around the bezel on the 36mm case.
The Black Bay Fifty-Eight 39mm with an 18-karat yellow gold case and green dial
Level 2, Carousel Court
Most watch fans know this brand as the sister company to Rolex, which is an impeccable recommendation in itself — but if you dive a little deeper, you’ll quickly find Tudor’s popularity is rooted in its talent for producing exceptional timepieces featuring classic styling you’ll be proud to wear on your wrist every day.
Known for its in-house movements and high-end styling, Tudor’s Black Bay is without question the icon of the brand and the most sought-after piece among collectors. Launched in 2012 as the modern update to Tudor’s Submariner dive watch, the Black Bay is available in a variety of iterations, including a GMT, Day-Date and Chronograph. And while functions like its rotating dive bezel and luminescent hands indeed highlight its dive capabilities, they also add up to a watch that feels equal parts substantial and classic. This Black Bay Fifty-Eight — which indeed takes its name from the styling of a Rolex bracelet in the mid-1950s — offers classic design in abundance, from its 39mm case in 18-karat yellow gold to its hunter-green dial and brown alligator strap, while its self-winding mechanical movement is waterproof to 200 meters and offers 70 hours of power reserve.
Limited-edition Excalibur MT Cobalt 42mm
Level 2, Carousel Court
Another brand that effortlessly balances the duality of sporty and stylish, Roger Dubuis is beloved by watch fans who are seeking timepieces that feel decidedly unique — in other words, you won’t see it on every other wrist at a lunch or cocktail party. Roger Dubuis watchmakers imbue each model with its own unique spirit, which could be inspired by anything from auto racing to the legend of the knights of the round table. A notched fluted bezel and skeleton styling that reveals a star-shaped bridge are likewise signatures of this eye-catching brand.
The Excalibur ranks high among the brand’s most coveted models — this Excalibur MT Cobalt 42mm is limited to just 88 pieces and features a flying tourbillon with carriages crafted in titanium, a detail that increased the power reserve to 72 hours. The hand-wound movement is fully visible via both the skeletonized dial and the crystal case back, all housed in a 42mm case crafted of a non-magnetic cobalt-chronium alloy that’s proprietary to Roger Dubuis.
Big Bang Unico King Gold Ceramic 42mm
Level 2, Carousel Court
If there’s any brand that swings for the fences, it’s Hublot. From its collaborations with sports stars and world-renowned artists to the forward-thinking technology it employs to achieve its distinct look and color palette, Hublot excels at watches that get noticed. Then again, that shouldn’t be surprising for a brand that employs “Big Bang” as one of its most popular model names, and you do indeed get a lot of bang (and plenty of notice from envious friends) from a Hublot watch.
Bold ceramic hues and sculpted cases that feel wholly substantial are among the signatures of a Hublot Big Bang, but its most sought-after design among fans has to be the blend of black and a proprietary 18-karat rose gold alloy — known as “King Gold” in Hublot parlance — seen on this 42mm Big Bang Unico King Gold Ceramic. Featuring a satin-finished and polished King Gold case and black ceramic bezel, the latter affixed with the brand’s signature H-shaped screws in titanium, this Big Bang features the brand’s Unico self-winding chronography flyback movement with column wheel, visible via the matte-black skeleton dial.
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Lake Tahoe”
Level 2, Between Jewel and Carousel Courts
Hollywood A-listers from Tom Cruise to Bradley Cooper have sported an IWC timepiece on their wrists, but social media went wild earlier this year when Tom Brady was spotted wearing the brand while playing in The Match, the latest golf tournament that paired the football icon with fellow star Aaron Rodgers in a tournament against two equally high-wattage names, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. The June battle on the course at Wynn Las Vegas featured copious imagery of Brady wearing one of IWC’s newest styles, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Lake Tahoe.”
That might sound like a mouthful, but not when you break down the meaning in that detailed style name. IWC — which stands for “International Watch Company” — has been crafting pilot’s watches for more than 85 years and honors that legacy with a dial that indeed resembles the instruments in an aircraft cockpit. Since 2007, the brand has partnered with the Navy Fighters Weapons School, also known as the “Top Gun” school widely known from the 1986 film and its 2022 sequel (and yes, Top Gun watches are seen in both).
Released earlier this year, this Lake Tahoe edition features a white ceramic case and matching white rubber strap with a textile-inspired treatment; both are meant to evoke thoughts of white Navy dress uniforms and the winter landscape of Lake Tahoe, where naval aviators often can be found training. The white 44.5mm case also nicely offsets the black dial, which includes functions like a chronograph and day-date window.