The Best And Most Controversial Watches of 2023: Predictions for 2024


In the fast-paced realm of luxury watches, the year 2023 was marked by a blend of excitement and contention. From groundbreaking releases to daring collaborations, the watch market experienced a lot of innovations and surprises. In this comprehensive recap, we delve into the top four best releases, the four most controversial watches of 2023, and intriguing predictions for the upcoming year.

I. Top Four Best Releases of 2023:

1. Rolex Daytona Le Mans (Reference #126529LN)

Rolex Daytona LeMans edition on wrist

Picture showcasing the Exhibition Caseback of the Rolex Daytona Lemans

The Rolex Daytona Le Mans is a 40mm white gold Daytona released in celebration of the Le Mans race. It features the Paul Newman sub dials, which gives it a vintage look for a modern Rolex, and an open caseback which is a new and unusual characteristic for a Rolex. It also features a 24-hour chronograph which sets it apart from other Daytona models which usually have a 12-hour chronograph.

Despite its initial retail price of $50,000, the scarcity of this model, rumored to be limited to only 100 pieces, has propelled it's value to over $200,000 on the gray market.


2. Rolex Yacht Master RLX Titanium (Reference: #226627)

Rolex Yacht Master Ref#266627 featuring RLXTitanium

This Rolex Yacht Master stands out as the first Rolex crafted entirely from titanium, excluding the oversized Deep Sea Challenge model. Boasting durability, lightness, and scratch resistance, this timepiece represents a remarkable feat in watchmaking.

It has a retail price set at $14,000, but commands a staggering $45,000 on secondary markets because of it's exclusivity and desirability. 

3. AP Perpetual Calendar with Full Set Factory Diamonds (Reference #26625 BC)

AP Royal Oak 26625BC Perpetual Calendar Factory diamonds

This AP Perpetual Calendar, reference number 26625 BC, goes over the top with its intricate perpetual calendar and opulent display of factory-set diamonds. This watch not only showcases horological sophistication but we see it as a symbol of a shift away from aftermarket bust-down culture.

It's one of those pieces where, even if you're not a fan of iced out watches, you can't deny that AP executed this watch to perfection. We are unsure of its retail price due to its discontinuation, but its resale value ranges between $600,000 to $800,000.

4. AP Code 11.59 RD#4 (Reference #26398BC.OO.D002CR.99)

 Audemars Piguet Code1159 RD4 Reference #26398BC

The AP Code 11.59 RD#4 Reference #26398, is a technical watch in a fancy suit with 40 functions and 23 complications, including a flyback chronograph, a tourbillon, a minute repeater, and a perpetual calendar. We call this particular 11.59 a horological masterpiece.

For the past few years, and this last year especially, Audemars Piguet has been focusing heavily on the Code 11.59, showcasing Audemars Piguet's desire for innovation and creativity past the Royal Oak. Despite initial skepticism upon its release, the Code 11.59 collection has garnered increasing popularity.

Because of the complexity, one cool thing about the RD #4 is that AP is only making a handful of these every year. "It's a true feat of insane watchmaking, and they're going to cost in the millions for sure." 


Top Four Most Controversial Watches of 2023:

1. AP x Cactus Jack Collab (Reference: #26585CM.OO.D301VE.01)

AP Royal Oak: AP Cactus Jack Collab

The AP "Cactus Jack" is a 41-millimeter Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar open-work crafted in brown ceramic, which is the first time we've seen this from AP. This watch features a perpetual calendar and a number of Travis Scott's original designs most prominently on the dial and on the moon phase and the caseback.

All in all, the Cactus Jack Royal Oak has a lot of off-kilter design features which lends it to being controversial. To some, unusual design like a Perpetual Calendar on a canvas strap or the little faces on the sun and moon, can be considered a breath of fresh air, but to others the watch may feel out of place, uninspired, or low effort. 

2. Patek Philippe Ladies Aquanaut "Rainbow" with Minute Repeater (Reference: 5260/1455R-001)

Patek Philippe Aquanaut "Rainbow" fully iced with minute repeater

Total of 779 multicolored baguette sapphires and 131 diamonds fully covering the watch, and a minute repeater, this is the final boss of Aquanauts. The Aquanaut is already a controversial watch, with a 5167A-001 being a stainless steel watch with no complications that fetches $80,000.

This example takes the absurdity to the next level. It's as loud as a watch can get, but it's executed beautifully and wears like an extravagant piece of jewelry. Another really nice touch is fitting a minute repeater into this small of a ladies watch, but because of the price point and flash, we don't find it very wearable for Patek Philippe standards, and for that reason, it's 2nd on our list of controversial watches. 

3. Rolex Day Date 36 with Puzzle Dial (Reference: 128238)

Rolex Day Date-Reference #128238-0106 Emoji Puzzle in Yellow Gold

The Rolex Day Date 36 Reference #128238 is controversial because of its unconventional and whimsical Jigsaw-Puzzle dial and other design elements. Adorned with puzzle pieces, emojis, and words of affirmation, this model targets a youthful audience, challenging traditional notions of luxury. 

Although its retail price and market availability remain undisclosed, its emergence reflects Rolex's willingness to experiment and cater to evolving consumer preferences. All examples feature multi-colored baguette diamond hour markers, and this model also comes in White Gold and Rose Gold. 

4. AP Royal Oak Spiderman Concept (Reference: 26631)

AP Royal Oak Spiderman Concept 26631IO.OO.D002CA.01

The AP Royal Oak Spiderman Concept, Reference #26631, is audacious with its design featuring a Spiderman motif on an open-work dial. Despite its playful aesthetic, this model's retail price of $215,000 and resale value exceeding half a million dollars underscore its exclusivity and appeal to collectors seeking unique horological expressions but it also raises the question of, "who is buying this watch?" However, its polarizing design raises questions about the boundaries between haute horology and pop culture. 

Predictions for 2024:

These collaborations and designs also offer a fresh audience to the watch world, which is always great to help grow the market. Just wanted to add two predictions that we think may happen in 2024:

1. Rolex may discontinue the Pepsi Bezel due to production challenges.

Rolex GMT watch featuring "Pepsi" (Blue top, Red Bottom)Bezel and a Black Dial.

Our first prediction is that Rolex is going to stop producing the Pepsi bezel. Apparently, Rolex has a hard time producing the red in the Pepsi bezel. And also, this watch has been hard to find on the gray market and not as common as it used to be because they are slowing down in production. This may lead to the discontinuation of the Pepsi Bezel. There are many different pieces with a Pepsi bezel available with us, such as this Mother of Pearl Dial or Black Dial with Jubilee bracelet

2. Patek Philippe might introduce a fully open-work dial on an Aquanaut.

Patek Aquanaut Openwork Concept

The second prediction we have for 2024 is that Patek is going to release a fully open work dial on an aqua. We've already seen the 5650G with that tiny sliver of an open work dial and this kind of serves as foreshadowing and we would really love to see an open work dial from them in 2024.


As we reflect on the whirlwind of watch releases in 2023, it's evident that the industry is evolving rapidly, embracing new designs, collaborations, and technologies. Whether you're a seasoned collector or a newcomer to the world of luxury watches, there's no denying the excitement that lies ahead. With predictions pointing towards further innovations in 2024, the future of watchmaking looks brighter than ever.

We invite you to share your thoughts on the standout watches of 2023 and your own predictions for the year to come. Like and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more insights into the fascinating world of horology. Until next time!