Watches & Wonders 2023 has wrapped up and we are finally seeing a return to normalcy. As the flood of hurriedly uploaded videos becomes a trickle, templatized blog posts begin to wind down, and the horological dust begins to settle, we turn to Google Trends to understand which brands received the most search interest online since Watches & Wonders 2023 kicked off.
To do so, we compared online search interest (query volume) for all the brands that were present this year, during the week of March 27 – April 2 and compared it to the week prior (March 20-26, 2023).
The Most Popular Brands from Watches & Wonders 2023
In absolute terms, the watch industry’s crown jewel, Rolex, dominated the public’s search interest coming in 1st, just as everyone expected. There was no escaping the fact that Rolex released a new Titanium Yachtmaster 42 — whether you cared to know about it or not. Just shy of the first spot was Cartier which came in 2nd, while Patek Philippe just made the podium in 3rd. So far, so good.
However, when we looked instead at the relative increase in each brand’s search interest that week compared to the week prior, the results became a lot more interesting. By looking at the relative rather than absolute increase, we can determine which brands created the most buzz (for better or worse) during this year’s Watches & Wonders event. Here are the top 10, in ascending order, according to the data:
Coming in 10th place was Rolex. Yes, the new Daytonas got people talking, the 1908 caught everyone by surprise, and the colorful Celebration Motif OP was the cause for much debate. An argument can be made that this is because the baseline (ie. how many people were already looking Rolex up the week before Watches & Wonders 2023) was already quite high. Regardless of the reason, Rolex did not see a massive week-on-week increase in online search interest this year.
More on Rolex from Grey Market:
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The Most Popular Rolex Watches
Panerai had a relatively quiet year. The brand’s novelties for 2023 centered around the Radiomir line and skewed heavily toward precious metal pieces with hefty price tags to match. The fact that Panerai generated more buzz compared to the week prior than Rolex points to the fact that its core audience, the Paneristi, remain loyal to the brand and continue to look out for its latest releases. Either that or Richemont put so little effort into promoting the new models that the community had to actively go online to find out what was new.
Related: How to Sell a Panerai Watch
8. Grand Seiko
The longtime darling of YouTube Watch channels released a couple of new models this year which are either incredibly innovative or utterly lazy, depending on how you look at things. The Grand Seiko Tentagraph SLGC001 from the brand’s contemporary Evo 9 line is also its first mechanical chronograph and takes a swing at established industry heavyweights such as the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch and the Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Sports. On the other hand, how many Lake Suwa dial models can you possibly release before collectors begin to roll their eyes (collectively)?
7. Jaeger LeCoultre
The watchmaker’s watchmaker dropped the mic at W&W 2021 when it released the very complicated and ultra cool four-faced Reverso Hybris Mechanica Caliber 185 Quadriptyque. Last year’s releases were more toned down, with a focus on the Master and Polaris collections. This year, JLC once more turned to the Reverso line for its novelties, with a number of expected iterations on the Tribute line, but also a pleasant surprise in the form of the Reverso Tribute Chronograph. Business on the front, party in the back.
6. A. Lange & Sohne
Talk about being confident in your brand. A. Lange & Sohne came to the party this year to release just one watch. You read that correctly. Not one new line of watches, but rather a single new watch. While the MSRP has left many scratching their heads, there is truly no denying that the new Odysseus Chronograph is a masterpiece on technical merit alone.
5. Parmigiani Fleurier
It would be a lie to say that anyone expected Parmigiani Fleurier to grab the 5th spot on this list. There were several stunning new releases from the Tonda line, including the exceptional Tonda PF Minute Rattrapante and, on the more niche end of the spectrum, the Xiali Complete Chinese Calendar. Generally speaking, other than having prolonged DMCs with Jean Claude Biver, there is simply no such thing as a magic crystal ball in the watch industry. If the Google Trends data from Watches & Wonders 2023 tells us anything: Parmigiani Fleurier is on the rise among the already rising “independents” segment.
4. Jacob & Co.
If bling is your thing, Jacob & Co.’s latest releases are probably right up your alley. If you think of the Billionaire Timeless Treasure watch with its 482 yellow diamonds (weighing an incredible 216.9 carats) as less of a wristwatch and more of a modest sovereign wealth fund on the wrist, the cool $20,000,000 price tag becomes a lot more reasonable. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the design of that particular timepiece, there is no denying the amount of effort that went into creating such a work of art.
The 3rd spot on this list goes to a brand that is making a comeback of sorts. From the much debated Chronomaster Sport to the recently reinvented Defy Skyline, Zenith is making moves in the watch industry and it wants everyone to know. At Watches & Wonders 2023, a revamped Pilot line was released, and it did not disappoint. Both steel and ceramic options are available and make a strong case for one-and-done style watches. The spike in online search interest for Zenith says that the watch community is taking note.
Where do we begin? For years, collectors and enthusiasts had been begging IWC to stage a comeback for one of its most historically beloved lines: the Ingenieur. Not any Ingenieur would do, however. Enthusiasts were specifically calling for a return to the Gerald Genta-designed DNA of the Ingenieur SL with its integrated steel bracelet, screwed in bezel, and industrial 1970s design language. After what feels like an eternity, IWC finally brought the Ingenieur back with a bang. The brand pulled out all the stops for this launch: Its most loyal customers were given a sneak peak under NDA, the late Genta’s spouse was brought on to promote the release, and one could make the case that not a single watch journalist or YouTuber was left untapped. Based solely on how many interviews he gave, CEO Chris Grainger-Herr must surely have a twin–to borrow from this year’s Oscar-winning movie, the man was giving interviews to everyone, everywhere, all at once. Collectors flocked to online resources to learn more about every single little detail of the newly released Ingenieur, including its much discussed price point, which made this the undisputed, most controversial release of Watches & Wonders 2023.
More on IWC: Introducing the IWC Portofino Complete Calendar
Coming in at number 1 this year was Tudor. With a plethora of new releases, Tudor was the brand that sparked the most online search interest. The beloved burgundy Black Bay Heritage model was put on a diet and given an all-new Jubilee-style bracelet (or as they call it “5-link bracelet with T-Fit Clasp”). The standard Black Bay now comes in a variety of sizes, shapes, and configurations, with the COSC-certified in-house Manufacture Calibre MT5602. Vintage Rolex Submariner fans were given reason to celebrate with the 37mm Black Bay 54. A new
white opaline dial option is available on the Black Bay GMT. A few new iterations on the Royal line were also unveiled but you would be forgiven for not noticing. And not to be forgotten (because their new promo video will remind you repeatedly): Tudor’s brand spanking new Manufacture was also announced. All in all, Rolex’s younger sibling was the one that generated the most buzz this year. Tudor may have been “Born to Dare”, but it was also “born to take market share” and the numbers say it will.
More on Tudor: Rolex and Tudor Watches Only Meant for North America