6 minutes

The Best Watches to Wear on New Year’s Eve

By Pascal Gehrlein
The Best Watches to Wear on New Year’s Eve

The Best Watches to Wear on New Year’s Eve

One of the draws of mechanical timepieces is the memories of special moments, days, and events they carry with them. New Year’s Eve and ringing in the new year are two such moments.

People around the world celebrate the start of the new year in various ways: In Tokyo, the chiming of bells fills the night air. In Spain, everyone eats twelve grapes. In South America, locals carry empty coffins, and in New York, people gather on the streets to watch the famous ball drop. Many of you have likely already made special plans to honor the occasion. We’ve chosen four typical NYE activities and paired each with the perfect timepiece.

The Dinner Party

Let’s start with the classic dinner party. Obviously, this isn’t the time or place for a massive pilot’s watch or a professional diving watch with a helium escape valve. A classy dinner party calls for a classic dress watch. Of course, you aren’t here to read the obvious. You’re probably wondering what model would best suit the occasion. Let’s get a bit more specific: In my opinion, a watch that embodies the term ‘dress watch’ unlike any other is the Rolex Cellini 50509 Time. This watch was created in honor of Benvenuto Cellini, a Renaissance-era goldsmith, and is the epitome of an elegant timepiece. It’s only fitting that the Cellini is made of either 18-karat white gold or Rolex’s Everose gold. The Rolex Cellini is available with a date display, moon phase or second time zone. However, I’d recommend staying away from any extra complications and selecting the purest, most classic edition for a New Year’s Eve dinner party. Size matters for watches that are meant to be worn with dinner jackets. I personally think a classic dress watch shouldn’t exceed 40 mm in diameter – the more understated, the better! The Cellini fits the bill with its 39-mm white gold case. There’s always room for a little glitz and glamor, of which the rich black-coated dial offers plenty. To top it all off, Rolex completes the elegant look with a black alligator leather strap. The reliable Rolex 3132 caliber ticks away inside this watch and will accurately let you know when it’s time to raise your champagne flute with friends – cheers!

Chances are you’ll be the only one with this Rolex model on your wrist for the night. Unless, of course, you run into Barack Obama wearing his Cellini 50509 with a white dial. In that case, you’ll have the perfect conversation starter.

The Cozy Movie Night

Jaeger-Lecoultre Polaris Memovox
Jaeger-Lecoultre Polaris MemovoxImage: FratelloWatches

“What? Barack Obama was at the party I slept through last year?” If that sounds like a familiar situation and you don’t want to miss out on any other major events, it’s time to get your hands on a Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Memovox. Place this classic Jaeger-LeCoultre watch on your nightstand for a gentle reminder prior to important events. This timepiece has featured this intriguing complication since 1950. There are a number of interesting Memovox models, including one with a diving alarm and parking meter. This model, introduced to at SIHH 2018, comes in a 42-mm stainless steel case and is water resistant to 200 m (656 ft). The vintage-style dial features luminous indices and a rotary disc next to the date display. The disc displays and helps set the alarm time, together with a crown at 2 o’clock. The automatic 956 movement has a 45-hour power reserve, ensuring the time and alarm functions will keep running reliably. If you do manage to wake up before the clock strikes 12 and decide to head out to a party after all, don your tux and replace the Memovox’s rubber strap with a leather strap to give it an added touch of elegance.

The New Year’s Trip

If you’re dreaming of fireworks at the Eiffel Tower or a Time’s Square NYE after three years of dinner parties with friends, you’ll need the right companion for your wrist. For trips further afield, a watch with a second time zone will always come in handy. This complication, also known as a “GMT” function, was ubiquitous among this year’s releases from the major brands. Some of these models include the Tudor Black Bay GMT, Rolex GMT Master II “Root Beer”, and TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 GMT Chronograph. I was particularly impressed by the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere. This watch goes far beyond a second time zone: With the Geosphere, you’ll be able to keep track of the first moments of the new year in 24 different time zones. If your travel budget allows, you can even take it with you as you celebrate around the globe. Introduced at SIHH 2018, this watch features a world time complication displayed via two curved, rotating hemispheres. The hemispheres sit at 12 and 6 o’clock and make one full rotation (in opposite directions) every 24 hours. This complication is made possible by the MB 29.25 automatic caliber, which features a 42-hour power reserve. A compass is embedded into the ceramic bezel, meaning you’ll never lose your sense of direction wherever you go. The 42-mm stainless steel version comes with a NATO or rubber strap and is readily available, unlike the limited edition bronze version. With this timepiece on your wrist, you can see which friends and family members are celebrating the new year around the world, regardless of whether you’re in Tokyo, Paris, or New York.

Family Night

Zenith Defy Lab
Zenith Defy LabImage: Zenith

If globetrotting is a bit too much and expensive flights, hotel rooms, and overcrowded cities all sound less than appealing, you can’t go wrong with a cozy night at home with your family. You might be wondering why you’d need a particular watch for a night in. Well, I’ll happily give you two examples: If you’re headed to your in-laws home, you certainly don’t want to show up late. Also, while everyone else is glued to their smartphones during the countdown, you’ll be watching on your mechanical timepiece! Thus, a precision watch should be at the top of your list. The perfect choice is the Zenith Defy Lab. The Defy Lab debuted in 2017. It’s the first watch that doesn’t feature a conventional escapement with a balance wheel and spring. Zenith developed a new kind of escapement system for the ZO324 caliber. It is comprised of a single piece of monocrystalline silicon, which Zenith refers to as the oscillator. At just 0.5 mm thick, it’s thinner than a piece of human hair. The escapement vibrates at 108,000 alternations per hour, which is three times faster than the El Primero, a movement known for its accuracy. Thus, this movement only deviates from the correct time by an impressive 0.3 seconds per day. Seeing as the escapement is one single piece, there is no friction created, meaning it functions without any lubrication.

Adrenaline on the Ski Slopes

Dinner parties and tradition aren’t for everyone. If you’re the type who wants to start the new year with a burst of adrenaline or will be using the holidays to head to a winter wonderland, you’ll need a watch that can withstand cold temperatures and ice. My recommendation is the Tudor North Flag. This model looks as good on as it does off the slopes, a clear advantage over other ski and sports watches, such as the Breitling Emergency, Oris Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter, and Linde Werdelin Spido. It’s the perfect watch to wear to an après-ski party or dinner out. While the North Flag was inspired by the Tudor Ranger II from the 1970s, it’s actually much closer to a watch suitable for outdoor exploration like the Tudor Oyster Prince models worn by researchers during the British North Greenland Expedition in 1952. It’s easy to read, even in extreme conditions, thanks to its prominent yellow indices and second hand. The clean case design is accentuated by a ceramic ring that links the dial and case and breaks up the otherwise stainless steel timepiece. An integrated stainless steel bracelet comfortably sits on the wrist. The finishes on this watch are absolutely sublime, and the movement is Tudor’s first in-house caliber: the COSC-certified MT5621. You can see how much of the 70-hour power reserve remains via a rotating disc at 9 o’clock. This Tudor watch ticks all the boxes for a sporty yet elegant expedition watch and makes the perfect companion for a trip to the mountains.

The only question that remains is do you choose your watch to suit your plans or your plans to suit your watch?

Happy New Year from all of us at Chrono24!

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About the Author

Pascal Gehrlein

Hi, I'm Pascal. After spending many hours searching for my first luxury watch on Chrono24, I ended up visiting their "Legal details" page and saw their headquarters …

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