Luxury watches have always been associated with being blatant shows of wealth, so it was only natural that they were crafted from a material equally gilded. For a long time, that material mainly comprised of gold in all its coloured variations, and then came titanium and platinum. It seems, however, that the humble steel is now having its renaissance as the trendiest metal for watches.
Besides being highly durable and ready for any rough-and-tumble you have up your sleeves, the best steel watches are timeless in style and bring a quiet sophistication to any outfit. The hardy metal is also lightweight and more wallet-friendly, making it the perfect start for those looking to build a reliable collection. If you’re still in doubt, Rolex’s GMT-Master II ‘Pepsi’ has achieved holy grail status despite being rendered in steel, and has an interest list that spans years — if you’re lucky.
Here are the best steel watches released this year to get your hands on now.
If this looks vastly different from the Black Bay you’re used to, that’s because its latest iteration is inspired heavily by a prototype military diver Tudor developed in the ‘60s. Called the P01, the popular diving watch comes in a new case shape, distinguished by a four o’clock crown and hefty bezel locking mechanism to stand out from the regular models.
While still 42mm, the diving watch now sees the addition of a bidirectional 12-hour bezel with a new locking system. This is a diving watch, after all, and a mechanically-locking set of claws which was first tested by Tudor five decades ago now makes its way to this one for safety.
Outside, the steel case blends wonderfully with the brown leather strap and black dial, creating a masculine silhouette with a contemporary yet timeless look.
While Bell & Ross might be synonymous with perfecting rugged beauty via its PVC-coated diving or ceramic aviation watches, the brand also knows a thing or two about being classy. This year, the BR 03-92 Blue Steel is a refined take on its iconic square timepieces, only now with a time-and-date function too.
The steel case here is satin-finished with strategically polished accents for added sophistication, and then paired with a deep blue sunray-finished dial to contrast the white Superluminova markings and partially-polished hands.
Following a complete overhaul of the Santos collection last year, Cartier continues to beef up the hype this year with a set of chronographs in the “Extra Large” size. At 43.3mm x 51.3mm x 12mm, the timepiece is indeed quite a presence on the wrist, but more so with its black ADLC steel bezel. Here, a special diamond-like carbon coating is applied to not only accentuate the curves and rivets of the timepiece, but also protects it from constant wear and tear.
Inside, the 1904-CH MC caliber is tweaked to accommodate the chronograph’s start/stop pusher on the left, while the reset function is integrated into the crown for both symmetry and ergonomics, making it a sports watch you can actually use day in and day out.
It might only be 26 years old, but the Seamaster has garnered quite a following for embracing both Omega’s ocean heritage and its dedication to innovation and design. Crafted from stainless steel, this 42mm timepiece is given a grey ceramic bezel with laser-engraved wave motifs and contrasting white indexes.
As a James Bond-approved watch, the Seamaster Diver 300M also sees a helium escape valve for any deep-sea missions, as well as the Master Chronometer Calibre 8800, which is METAS-approved for being highly-accurate and anti-magnetic.
Precious metals are usually reserved for Patek Philippe’s highly-valued Calatravas, so the 5212A is really a rarity for the brand, as is its key feature: the weekly calendar. Besides displaying the day and date, the timepiece also shows the number of the week in a year.
While not a particularly useful feature today, the complication highlights the brand’s prowess in timekeeping. The weeks are numbered in accordance with the ISO 8610 standard, and the dial’s typography is based on the handwriting of one of its designers, rendering it extremely unique. Inside, the new caliber 26-330 runs the show.