Our 2023 Watches of the Year – Bilofy.com

Turns out the seller is an Air Canada pilot, and the Navigator has 50+ hours of flight time.  How cool is that? He was selling it because he had just acquired his dream watch, a 90s Breitling Aerospace, which he got from a dude at a bar in Asia. Literally bought the watch off his wrist. He went on to explain that pilots do not like thick watches. Airplane cabins are super tight, and he had recently destroyed his Speedmaster bracelet when jamming it between his seat controls and other instruments.

Since its acquisition, the Marathon has become a little more than just my nighttime watch. I catch myself keeping it on more often than I care to admit. Its +/- 10 sec a year accuracy and its bang on precise ticks right on the hash marks really satisfy my OCD. I could not stand the pass-through strap it came with, so I replaced it with an inexpensive mesh band, and it is an incredible combination. 

The Marathon Steel Navigator is super comfortable, ticks all the boxes I was looking for and the fact that it is a Canadian company is just icing on the cake. This is my Watch of the Year.

Christoph McNeill 

Watch of the year? Was it some great new “Heritage” release, or a stunning one-off for Only Watch? Nope. Was it my most-worn watch this year (Tornek-Rayville TR-660)? Nope. For me the answer is simple, it’s the only watch that I added to my personal collection this year, a vintage 1968 King Seiko 45-7000.

The King Seiko 45-7000 has been my White Whale for well over a decade, and I was finally able to reel one in this year. I’ve been a huge fan of Seiko’s Grammar of Design watches since I first laid eyes on them, with their broad flat planes, razor sharp edges and incredible contrasting brushed and polished finishes. Most of the vintage King and Grand Seikos exhibit these design elements, but the 45-7000 truly is the epitome of that aesthetic. Coupled with the fact that it has a manual wind movement and no date window, this watch checks all the boxes for me as a vintage Seiko collector. The gorgeous case with those wide, flat lugs, the classic silver dial with simple steel baton markers, no date, perfectly finished steel dauphine hands, the beautiful gold KS medallion on the back, and the stunningly finished manual wind caliber 45 movement….ahhhhh yes.

If you’ve read any of my offerings here in the past, you will know that while I’m not averse to patina, I greatly prefer no patina on the dial of my vintage watches, and I absolutely detest a polished vintage case. So, it was my task to find a vintage Seiko 45-7000 that had a perfect dial and unpolished case. I mean, how hard can that be? Well…..pretty darn hard it turns out. I scoured the various watch forum sales corners and checked my saved eBay search daily for over ten years searching for the perfect example of this watch. I had determined that I would be patient, and wait until the right one presented itself.

Rewind to April of this year, and while I was on vacation, scrolling through Instagram, I came across a “for sale” ad for a nearly perfect 45-7000, from a seller in Singapore. After a few messages back and forth, funds were sent, fingers were crossed…and eventually my White Whale arrived at the post office! The watch was as good as advertised, the seller couldn’t have been more professional, and the watch even came with a correct, vintage KS buckle along with a custom black strap. 

Nathan Schultz

My watch of the year award goes to the watch that went in (and then back out) of my online cart more than any other watch this year: The Bulova Oceanographer GMT. Earlier this year I reviewed a Bulova Oceanographer from my own personal collection, more commonly known as the Devil Diver. I wrote about how I’d made a mistake when I sold a previous Oceanographer and that, despite its flaws, the Devil Diver was a watch worth purchasing and keeping. Well… I didn’t follow my own advice and I sold the darn thing (again). But it’s not my fault. While writing the review, I got in my head about two flaws of the watch, and simply wasn’t able to look past them again. 

The first downside to the regular three handed Devil Diver is the movement. Mine was powered by a Miyota 821D, a perfectly functional movement, but that lacked hacking and had the notoriously loud rotor we’ve all grown to love from 8000 series Miyotas. Here is what I wrote in my review:

It’s fun to dream about an Oceanographer with a high beat 9000 series Miyota that hacks and doesn’t require ear plugs. Citizen acquired Bulova in 2008 and could probably make it happen, but doing so would come at a cost. 

After picking on the movement, I set my sights on the applied name and the inexcusable amount of adhesive (or whatever that is) blobs securing it to the dial.

And then, as if to tell me to shut up, Bulova did exactly what I had asked for. They fixed the applied logo issue (or at least made it less noticeable) and threw in a high beat Miyota 9075, in turn converting my favorite dive watch into a true automatic GMT. Even better, these substantial improvements had a minimal impact on price. The new Bulova GMT retails for $1295, but I see them on sale all the time from authorized dealers for less than $900. Who knows, maybe the third time’s the charm and I’ve finally found the Oceanographer with some staying power. 

Tanner Tran

2023 was the best year of my life: I found a new job, moved, and best of all, got married to my best friend. My Watch of the Year is easily my 1991 Submariner 14060, a watch that I’ve written and shared about here before. It was a wedding gift from my parents, and I wore it on our special day. I’ve since had it engraved with my wife’s and my initials and wedding date, and it’s a watch that will be with me forever. Wearing it is a sweet reminder of the family and friends with whom we celebrated.

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