In the world of watch collecting, there is always desirability in exclusivity. Watch brands big and small are clearly attuned to this, and year after year, we see a slew of beautiful and interesting limited edition luxury watches hitting the market in small batches. While some limited editions can remain relatively affordable, others (like the Omega Speedmaster on this list) will cost you a pretty penny. That said, in due time these rare pieces are far more likely to appreciate in value than their series-issue counterparts. With that in mind, here are a few of our favorite limited-edition releases that have surfaced in 2019.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Barakuda
It’s been interesting to see the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms collection expand in recent years, as the brand has finally been putting more effort into revitalizing the line using more direct influence from its historically significant dive watches from decades past. This year, the Fifty Fathoms Barakuda (limited to 500 pieces globally) was the star of the show. A comfortable and short-lugged 40.3mm case is fitted with a slightly domed/three-dimensional ceramic bezel insert (as was its predecessors), and all of its indices on its dial and bezel use a darkened beige-colored Super-LumiNova, as do its hands. Fitted with a tropic-style strap, it’s a handsome piece to say the least, and its high-spec caliber 1151 movement is no slouch either. It uses a silicon balance spring and twin mainspring barrels, delivering an impressive power reserve of 100 hours.
Hands-down the most exclusive and expensive piece on our list, this rockstar of an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak was just too special to not discuss. Its case and bracelet are crafted from platinum, and it is fitted with a fantastic ice blue dial that is reminiscent of the platinum Rolex Daytona that has been in the market for a handful of years now. Of course, when you’re talking perpetual calendars in general, those from either AP or Patek Philippe remain the most coveted, but pairing this complication with a platinum casing, the iconic Gerald Genta Royal Oak case design, AND the fact that only 50 examples are hitting the market? This piece is really the king of AP perpetual calendars these days unless you really have your heart set on the ceramic model from a couple of years back.
Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Moonshine Gold Edition
I’m the first to admit that I complain about the sheer volume of limited edition Omega Speedmaster watches that get launched each year (enough already), but for the anniversary of Apollo 11, this big gold beast is kind of fantastic. They’re making 1,014 examples, all using a slightly altered gold alloy that the brand is calling “Moonshine gold.” The production number was chosen because Omega built 1,014 examples of a very similar watch in 1969 in celebration of the moon landing. The Moonshine gold alloy is designed to be a touch more pale and less bright than conventional yellow gold, which is why the new editions so closely match the remaining original examples that served as the inspiration for the design. Though the piece doesn’t contain the brand’s recently reissued Caliber 321, it instead uses a specially-modified version of their Co-Axial 1861 (in this model it is dubbed the 3861) that has some visual modification including a gold plated mainplate and bridges.
Panerai Submersible Limited Edition Experiences
As a very clever move, Panerai launched three very limited watches in 2019, each paired with a distinct and unique experience offered to its purchasers. That’s right, not only were you buying a watch, but also the adventure experience of a lifetime. In the case of the Submersible Mike Horn Edition, invitees would have the pleasure of joining Mr. Horn on a northern exploratory expedition. In the case of the Submersible Guillaume Nery Edition, attendees get to partake in a free-diving excursion with Nery in Moorea, French Polynesia. Finally, in the case of the Submersible Marina Militare Carbotech, guests actually get to take a multi-day training session with an elite squadron of the Italian Navy known as the COMSUBIN. Sadly, these models sold out quick, however, production variants in different color schemes (obviously without the experiences) are still available.
Oris Big Crown ProPilot GMT Reno Air Race Edition
Oris frequently has limited editions on the market, but given the stealthy aesthetics of this 500-piece edition, it was an easy choice for this list. I’ve been a fan of the ProPilot GMT in general since its release, as its quick-setting GMT hand (operated via its textured bezel) is equal parts clever and practical. For this limited edition, Oris added a subtle texture to its dial and replicated the red and white stripes of the air race’s marker cones on the GMT hand, which nicely enhances its legibility over the production variant. Priced just over $2k, it’s really hard to go wrong with this one, so long as your wrists can handle a 45mm “big pilot” style watch.