Photography by Marten Ascenzo

WATCHES are at the forefront of the cultural conversation in 2023, expressed in contemporary ways through the lens of fashion and entertainment, art and design—no longer is a watch simply just a tool for telling the time. And leading this shiny renaissance are playful, colourful and animated timepieces that are the amalgamation of true watchmaking expertise and cultural savviness.

Here are six of the more whimsical timepieces released this year that are guaranteed to capture your attention and fire your imagination. 

Omega Seamaster
Seamaster Aqua Terra 38 MM watch, $10,675, by Omega; clothing by Zegna.

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 300

In early 2022, Omega surprised the watch world with the inclusion of five new colourful dials in its under-40mm Aqua Terra collection, one being the beautiful terracotta dial you see pictured above.

In terms of everyday appeal, you can’t look past the Aqua Terra; it’s stylish and sleek on its fully polished stainless steel bracelet, and offers just the right amount of pop to make it a point of difference from other watches you’re likely to peruse in the wild. Above all else, Omega is quite exceptional when it comes to paying homage to its storied past, and the Seamaster Aqua Terra is a superb tribute to the brand’s rich maritime heritage, while remaining evidently modern.

Panthère de Cartier yellow gold and steel watch, $14,800, by Cartier; clothing by Calibre.

Cartier Panthère de Cartier

The Cartier Panthère de Cartier is arguably one of the world’s most iconic watches. Period. While favoured by a host of stylish women—Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, Dua Lipa and Anne Hathaway are all fans—upon its release in 1983, it was worn by some of the era’s biggest male stars, like Pierce Brosnan, Charlie Sheen and Keith Richards. In more recent times, there has been an uptake in men wearing the Panthère—and smaller watches of similar style—once more. Why? Because it strikes the perfect balance between a dress watch and an everyday staple watch; it looks just as good with formalwear as it does with jeans and a T-shirt at the weekend.

Oyster Perpetual 41mm watch, $9,500, by Rolex; clothing by Mr Porter.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41

When the Rolex Oyster Perpetual “Celebration Motif” was released at Watches & Wonders in 2023, it was a statement from the luxury Swiss watchmaker that coloured, playful dials are here to stay… at least until Rolex say they’re done. In the aftermath, scores of watch enthusiasts and collectors alike have eagerly waited for their chance to purchase the ‘Bubble OP’.

This piece pays homage to the (surprising) 2020 release of the coloured Oyster Perpetual dials, with its multiple dotted bubbles of ranging sizes adorned in the same hues of the 2020 release—like coral red, candy pink, turquoise “Tiffany” blue, yellow and green. The effervescent design is the result of Rolex’s dedication to artistry and masterful technique.

H08 green rubber strap watch, $11,000, by Hermès; clothing by Zegna x The Elder Statesman.

Hermes H08

Hermès doubles down on the success of its 2021 H08 release with this year’s release of four new iterations in blue, green, yellow and orange. The striking mix comes with the favoured rubber straps matching the coloured accents of the watch, second hand and chapter ring. Designed by Philippe Delhotal, the Creative Director of Hermès Horloger, this sporty-chic watch features a smooth cushion-shaped case that measures 39mm, and impressively, all the H08 pieces are powered by Hermès’ own movement, the H1837, which comes with a 50-hour power reserve. The impressive technical aspects of this watch, paired with its contemporary design elements, make for the perfect everyday watch.

TAG Heuer
Carrera 36mm Automatic, $4,600, by TAG Heuer; clothing by MJ Bale.

TAG Heuer Carrera 36mm

While not one of TAG Heuer’s biggest releases of 2023—the Swiss watch brand went particularly hard on launching new commemorative Carrera Chronographs in celebration of the iconic model’s 60th anniversary—this ‘Barbie-pink’ Carrera 36mm ticked all the right boxes; it’s a whimsical treat!

For starters, it’s the perfect size for unisex wear, with 36mm favoured among many men and women alike. Its vibrant pink dial is distinctive and unmistakably TAG Heuer, but surprisingly, can fly under the radar should you want it to. Above all else, it represents what watches should be in 2023: fun!

Limelight Gala Precious Rainbow watch, $227,000, by Piaget; clothing by MJ Bale.

Piaget Limelight Gala Precious Rainbow

There’s no mistaking the high-watchmaking pedigree of Swiss Maison, Piaget. Often heralded as the watchmaker for watchmakers, Piaget has, since 1894, combined watchmaking savoir-faire with groundbreaking design, and is one of few watchmakers to design, develop and produce its watch movements completely in-house. Case in point, the Limelight Gala Precious Rainbow—where “captivating curves meet radiant elegance”.

Crafted from 18K rose gold set with 32 brilliant-cut sapphires, five brilliant-cut tsavorites, three brilliant-cut rubies, and two baguette-cut hessonite garnets, this stunning timepiece is the result of what happens when high-watchmaking meets high jewellery. Its 18K rose gold “Decor Palace” bracelet is impressive as the diamond-adorned bezel. This beautiful guilloché effect was first created by Piaget in the 1960s and today, is completely hand-made in-house by Piaget’s Ateliers de l’Extraordinaire. The result is a beautiful radiance, which needs to be seen and held to be understood.

Featured in Esquire Australia Issue 02
Photography by Marten Ascenzo
Styling by Grant Pearce


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