Style / World of Watches (WOW)

The Most Popular Watches in the World from 2023

Different demographics have different tastes and horological preferences change around the world. Here’s what LUXUO found out

Feb 11, 2024 | By Florence Sutton

Taste and preferences in timepieces differ across the globe. While the majority of Italian clients may look at trends or opt for fashionable pieces, Americans may show a preference for Swiss manufacturers while Japanese customers enjoy a blend of functionality and aesthetics. LUXUO rounds up the most popular watches in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the USA, and the UAE in 2023.

German Timekeeping

Swatch MoonSwatch “Mission to the Moon”

The Swatch MoonSwatch “Mission to the Moon” conquered the hearts of German watch enthusiasts in 2023. The Germans are known for attaching great importance to both quality and punctuality. While the MoonSwatch hasn’t fulfilled this mission directly, the Omega Professional Moonwatch has been known to save lives with its precise movement. The thrilling story took place in 1970 during the Apollo 13 mission, when an explosion on board disrupted the craft’s electronic equipment. The historic Omega Moonwatch‘s hand-wound movement was so accurate that it could be used to measure engine burns, allowing the spacecraft to reposition itself and eventually return safely to Earth. The historic highlight of the Omega Moonwatch, however, was undoubtedly the 1969 Moon landing, when Neil Armstrong, the first person to ever walk on the Moon, wore the watch on his wrist. This rich history inspired Swatch to launch 11 “Mission” models in 2022, each named after a celestial body in our solar system, and each in a different corresponding colour. The most popular variant in Germany is also the most classic in terms of design: The Mission to the Moon’s gray case and black dial harkens back to the original that inspired it, the Omega Moonwatch. In second place is the Rolex Datejust 41, while third place is once again taken by a MoonSwatch: this time the “Mission to Uranus”. With its icy blue case and matching blue dial, this eye-catching timepiece imitates the planet Uranus, which is largely made up of ice. Germans place more emphasis on the details of utility and engineering when it comes to watches, choosing robust, technical superiority and quality over complicated designs, placing performance ahead of aesthetics. Take, for instance, German manufacturers the likes of Glashütte Original and A. Lange & Söhne that highlight sobriety over-exuberance.

Italian Style

It’s no secret that fashion and aesthetics hold a special place in Italy and are deeply rooted in Italian culture. In 2021, Italian watch trends showed a clear preference for the Rolex Daytona. But market dynamics have changed a lot since then. Interest has shifted in favour of the Swatch MoonSwatch, which helped make the “Mission to the Moon” variant the most popular watch in 2023 not just in Germany, but in Italy, too. The popularity of the MoonSwatch is not unfounded: Its simple colour scheme makes it a great accessory for any outfit, and at USD 260, it’s eminently affordable. The second most popular watch in Italy in 2023 was another MoonSwatch, the “Mission to Mercury.” The design was inspired by the planet Mercury, which is why the timepiece shines in a gray case and dial. The MoonSwatch “Mission to Saturn” took third place in Italy this year. The watch has a beige case and a subdial at 6 o’clock that looks like the planet Saturn with its seven rings. One of the reasons for the model’s success is certainly its sporty yet elegant design. The MoonSwatch appeals not only to the fashion-conscious but also to watch enthusiasts who appreciate the rich history of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch. 

Japanese Sensibility

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch

The Japanese have their own unique sense of style, which is why the results of our 2023 top watches survey for Japan look very different from the other countries on this list. You might think that Seiko is the most popular watch brand in Japan, but the reality is surprising – Citizen has emerged as the real favorite. In particular, the Citizen Tsuyosa, with its unique light blue dial, seems to have won over Japanese watch lovers in 2023. With its integrated bracelet and elegant oval case, it strongly resembles the Tissot PRX – a perfect blend of functionality and aesthetics. Such is the enthusiasm for Citizen watches that the second most popular model in Japan is also the Tsuyosa, this time with a deep yellow dial. The watch in third place, however, was a pleasant surprise: the 36-mm Rolex Oyster Perpetual, which stands out with its simple elegance. With three hands and a lack of complications such as a date display, the watch focuses on the essentials. Since 2020, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual has been available in a range of eye-catching colors, from subtle dark blue to vibrant coral red. This range of colour options adds a touch of excitement to a simple watch, and its popularity in Japan reflects the diverse tastes and preferences of Japanese watch lovers.

Tissot PRX

American Finesse

Iconic luxury watches dominate all three top spots in the USA. One reason for this could be a strong appreciation of quality, with Americans opting for only the best movements from Swiss manufacturers. Perhaps more so in the United States, a watch is also a status symbol and the Rolex is the personification of personal success and achievement and gives the wearer instant credibility. This is probably why the most popular watch among Americans in 2023 was the 41-mm Rolex Datejust, which features a fluted white gold bezel that refracts light in a scintillating way. Americans are so passionate about the Datejust 41 that it was also the second most popular watch in the US in 2023. Unlike the first Datejust 41, the second model has a smooth stainless steel bezel. The Datejust is available in a wide range of dial colours, from slate gray to mint green with a wave pattern, as well as a variety of hour markers, allowing buyers to choose between normal line indices and Roman numerals. It’s worth mentioning that few if any, brands bank on shine as much as Rolex. Whether steel or gold, a Rolex will outshine the competition and Americans are hyper-competitive. The third most popular watch in the US in 2023 was the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch. There is a link in American history to the OMEGA Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch, having been chosen by NASA in 1965 for all manned space missions. The watch has been a part of the greatest explorations of space, and most notably, became the first watch worn on the moon during the Apollo 11 lunar landing in 1969. This nostalgia and patriotism tugs at the heartstrings of Americans. Unlike in Italy and Germany, the hype surrounding the Moonwatch has yet to reach the United States. As a result, Americans seem to be more enthusiastic about Omega’s high-end counterpart.

UAE Prosperity

Mission To Uranus Bioceramic MoonSwatch Collection

When it comes to shopping trends in the United Arab Emirates, it is generally known that the population has considerable financial resources and a strong penchant for luxury goods. When it comes to buying watches, there has been a remarkable interest in the MoonSwatch in 2023. Emiratis seem to be particularly enthusiastic about the striking gray-on-gray “Mission to Mercury” version. The 41-mm Rolex Datejust is a much better cultural fit and came in second in the UAE this year. Both Americans and Emiratis nations prefer the same luxury watch model, with the same eye-catching fluted white gold bezel. A fascinating discovery in our survey of UAE watch data is that a MoonSwatch once again occupies third place. This time, it’s the ice-blue “Mission to Uranus.” However, there may be more to this colour preference than just aesthetics: In Arabic culture, light blue is associated with happiness and prosperity, as it is linked to paradise in the Islamic tradition. This light blue element of the Mission to Uranus could be considered a good luck charm.

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