There is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing a loved one's face light up at that perfect Christmas gift: something that is everything they could possibly have dreamed of and more besides. I've taken a look back over the past year to find a selection of watches that will stop every type of man in their present-opening tracks, be they the type who is drawn to the beating heart of a British bulldog or the gentleman who seeks to literally stop time in its tracks.
Breitling's Transocean Chronograph Unitime World Timer watch is aimed at the luxury traveller. Founded in 1884, the Swiss watchmaker has spent well over a century focussing on watches for aviators. This latest incarnation propels Breitling's own Caliber B05 into a new realm, with a double disc that enables the wearer to view all 24 time zones. Available in steel or red gold, the self-winding Transocean Chronograph Unitime has a 70-hour power reserve and has been officially chronometer-certified by the COSC, the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute.
If you are busy crossing the globe and in desperate need of a break, how about a timepiece that helps you get away from it all? A perfect combination of simplicity and sophistication, Hermes' Le Temps Suspendu is a world first, mixing haute horlogerie with a fresh look at the philosophy of time: it literally stops it in its tracks. Push the button on the side of the case and you can 'freeze the moment' by sending the hands flying back to the 12 o'clock position and keeping them captive until they are summoned back to action and allowed to resume their timekeeping function: all this without loss of precision.
Another exotic globetrotter of a different kind is none other than James Bond, and this year saw the release of the latest instalment in his canon, Skyfall. The OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M 'Skyfall' limited edition is the sort of timepiece that feels right at home in the derring-do world of Bond. Be it the deep-sea dives in Thunderball or the Venetian waters of Casino Royale, this watch is water-resistant up to 600m (a mighty 2,000ft). The diver's clasp is engraved with '007', whilst the 7 on the dial also features the iconic logo. The watch is also equipped with a Si14 silicon balance spring and is powered by OMEGA's exclusive new Co-Axial calibre 8507.
With all the dash and swagger of new designs and modern materials, let's not forget that a little history can go a long way, particularly in a year that proved particularly British. With the resounding success of the Jubilee and Olympics, Bremont is here to keep up the home advantage into the New Year with its limited-edition Victory watch, which takes its inspiration seriously - and quite literally. Each watch incorporates copper and oak timber from the HMS Victory, Lord Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, and is a lovingly realised tribute to when England ruled the seas. Meanwhile, the iconic and proudly British brand Burberry has created a watch that perfectly captures the company's rich heritage. Bold, confident and impressively realised, the Burberry Britain immediately feels at home with the iconic products for which Burberry is famous. Be it the trench coat, a handbag or a scarf, this is a brand whose identity has always been clear to see, and the Burberry Britain watch is another classic piece of Burberry.
One of the most anticipated films of the year was The Dark Knight, and Jaeger-LeCoultre created a very special timepiece as a tribute to the Bat and Bruce Wayne. And what better watch to suit a man with two identities then the original Grande Reverso? Originally created in 1931, the iconic watch is a familiar face, with its unique design and 50 mechanical parts. Initially designed so that polo-playing British officers could turn the dial over to check the time whilst protecting their timepiece from hard knocks during play, the watch has gone on to become a cult object that you can personalise with engravings. Flip this special-edition Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra Thin edition over and the Bat-Shield is revealed.
Winner of the 'Aguille d'Or' or 'Golden Watch Hands' - the greatest distinction at this year's Grand Prix d'Horlogerie in Geneva - was TAG Heuer for its Mikrogirder watch. But if you're looking for a more iconic piece from this Swiss legend, the TAG Heuer Monaco Twenty-four Calibre 36 Chronograph, with a movement that 'floats' in the case and which beats at 36,000 vibrations per hour, could be just what you're looking for. Over the past five years we have seen the development of the TAG Heuer Monaco V4 concept watch, with the unmistakably bold and masculine watch face favoured by Steve McQueen. With the heritage of the Monaco and Bullitt behind it, it's no surprise that the cylinders, belts and other parts of the movement resemble a high-performance racing engine.
As if driving cars at high speed wasn't enough, how about a watch for the man who has a head for heights and a taste for death-defying odds? Felix Baumgartner recently jumped to earth from near-space conditions and into the records books, when he reached speeds of Mach 1.24 (833.9 miles per hour). An ambassador for watch brand Zenith, Baumgartner was wearing his all-new El Primero Stratos Flyback Striking 10th chronograph for the historic jump, which is available with either steel or leather straps.