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While the pandemic halted the annual pilgrimage to Geneva for the iconic Watches and Wonders trade show featuring around 40 prestigious brands, it didn’t stop players like Rolex, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Piaget from showcasing some of their most innovative works of art.
For newcomers to horology, telling the time on the wrist is only a by-product of these mechanical masterpieces with a lineage dating back centuries. Exotic materials, breathtaking design and cutting-edge engineering form the pinnacle of today’s luxury watches. And these are the latest watches you need to know from the event.
It was 20 years ago when luxury watchmaker A Lange & Söhne debuted its first wristwatch with a perpetual calendar. Fast forward to today and that very DNA can be found in the latest Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar, a model now accompanied by a striking moon-phase display with an integrated day/night indicator.
The new model will come in a 41.9-millimeter pink-gold case paired to a grey-silver dial or a limited-edition variant in white gold with a solid pink-gold dial. The latter sees a limited run of just 150 pieces worldwide. The latest self-winding movement, which can be viewed from the watch’s sapphire-crystal caseback, features a sturdy power reserve of 50 hours.
History likes repeating itself and for Watches and Wonders 2021, Swiss luxury watchmaker Baume & Mercier chose one of its best years to revisit. 1973 saw the debut of the Riviera, one of the maison’s most iconic models, which exuded the essence of casual elegance in a distinctive four-screwed dodecagonal bezel design.
Now in its fifth generation, the Riviera revitalizes that distinct 1970s aesthetic alongside today’s demand for sporting pedigree. The result is a range featuring three size variations in steel: 36, 42 and 43 millimeters. While the variation in bold dial hues, case finishing and movements are all welcome options, it’s the 42-millimeter Riviera that resonates closest to the original’s DNA.
The signature bezel encompasses a dial in blue, black or silver, which symbolizes the convergence of the mountains and oceans. The model is accompanied by a matching steel bracelet; however, wearers can also opt for a blue or black rubber strap for an entirely different look. The 36-millimeter women’s Riviera stands out with a striking azure blue or silver dial alongside a quartz movement option.
The mechanical movement models feature the in-house Baumatic caliber with a five-day power reserve, a daily precision of -4 s / +6 s, and a magnetic resistance of 1,500 gauss to provide solid protection against magnetic fields for everyday use.
Thin watchmaking takes center stage once again for the Italian luxury house known as Bulgari. The Octo Finissimo line was first launched in 2014 and has set multiple world records in the race towards ultra-thin watchmaking. Taking that crown for the seventh time is the latest Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar – officially the world’s thinnest perpetual calendar watch.
Arriving in two versions, the timepiece can be finished in a familiar sandblasted monochrome titanium or the new polished platinum and blue combination with matching bracelets. Eight prominent sides make up the Octo Finisssimo’s 40-millimeter case, which tips in at a minuscule 5.8 millimeters thick.
Despite its bare aesthetics, depth and layering of the piece is achieved with the help of a detailed dial design that shows off multiple subdials including a retrograde date indicator, day counter and month indicator. The bottom of the dial even showcases a leap year indicator.
Driving the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar is the Bulgari Calibre BVL 305, which boasts a 60-hour power reserve and is on full display via the transparent caseback.
Pearls and diamonds form the cornerstone of the miniaturized Faubourg timepiece that was first debuted by the Parisian luxury house in 2014. In its latest iteration as the Faubourg Polka, five variants exist across 15.5-millimeter cases set in white gold and rose gold.
While the functions are a simple hours and minutes display powered by a Swiss-made quartz movement, extra room is left for extravagance to shine with appointments such as mother-of-pearl, gem-set or diamond-paved dials. This level of fine luxury extends into a redesigned bracelet with interwoven dots and oblique shapes to blur the lines between watchmaking and contemporary jewelry design.
A new entry in the Cartier Privé line has arrived in the form of the intriguing Cloche de Cartier, the fifth iteration of the maison’s numbered and limited-edition models.
Following on from the distinctive designs of the Crash, Tank Cintrée, Tonneau and the Tank Asymétrique, the Cloche de Cartier watch exudes its own unique aesthetic through the ‘cloche’ or bell-shaped case, which first appeared in Cartier timepieces in 1920.
Its daring design will ensure that it remains unique in the realm of today’s luxury landscape, a trait further helped with the extension into the high-complication skeleton models. The engineering feat here involves adapting the complication to the watch’s atypical shape.
Three skeleton models exist in the form of an 18-karat pink gold limited to 50 pieces, platinum limited to 50 pieces, and platinum with diamonds limited to 20 pieces. The case itself measures in at a friendly 37.15 by 28.75 millimeters while the manual wound in-house 9626 MC movement boasts a power reserve of 38 hours.
Hublot has taken the concept of ‘less is more’ to unwavering new heights with the new Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Full Sapphire, the Swiss luxury watchmaker’s ultimate expression of innovation.
Since its first experiment with a sapphire watch in 2016, Hublot has refined its craft in machining extremely hard materials to create an exceptional series of sapphire watches. That has culminated in the latest iteration, which is the first Big Bang with an integrated case and bracelet, both made entirely from sapphire. This essentially gives the mesmerizing appearance of an invisible, floating or holographic watch on the wrist, with every internal element on full display.
It’s a stunning feat in engineering further bolstered by the inclusion of Hublot’s in-house HUB6035 Automatic Tourbillon movement showcasing a perfect balance between the micro-rotor at 12 o’clock and the tourbillon at 6 o’clock. Light will never look the same again once it hits the surface of the stunning Hublot Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Full Sapphire.
A masterpiece across four grand chapters is the only way to describe the latest creation from Jaeger-LeCoultre. The Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 stands as the world’s first watch with four separate faces while signaling the most complicated Reverso timepiece ever crafted.
The iconic Reverso function opens up as per convention with the pivoting main body, only this time around there’s a unique complication on every exposed side including the caseback. A total of 11 complications is built into the white gold case measuring 51 by 31 by 15 millimeters.
Face one wears the hour, minute and tourbillon seconds counter as well as the instantaneous perpetual calendar, date, day, month, leap year, and night and day functions. Face two inherits the jumping digital hour, minute and minute repeater with a dead time avoidance system. Face three displays the Northern Hemisphere moon phase, draconic lunar cycle (height of the moon), anomalistic lunar cycle (apogee and perigee), month and year. Finally, face four on the back showcases the Southern Hemisphere moon phase.
A watch of this caliber requires 12 patents to accomplish alongside Jaeger-LeCoultre’s uncontested mastery of chiming watches, precision mechanisms, astronomical complications and ultra-compact watchmaking spanning 188 years. It will naturally be limited to just 10 pieces worldwide.
Transparency seems to be a key theme in 2021 and joining that trend is the legendary French fashion house, Louis Vuitton. The brand flexes its watchmaking expertise this year with the introduction of the Tambour Moon Flying Tourbillon Poinçon de Genève Sapphire, a trio of watches for men and women, which features a case crafted entirely from a block of sapphire.
The technical feat is a first for the fashion label’s watchmaking pursuits and even comes with the coveted Geneva Seal, a certification reserved for wristwatch movements made in the canton of Geneva.
The openworked manual-wound mechanical movement features an 80-hour power reserve alongside hours and minutes functions, and a skeleton flying tourbillon enclosed within a familiar monogram flower tourbillon cage rotating in one-minute cycles.
The timepiece is offered in three sapphire hues with matching colored alligator straps including blue and pink, along with the standard transparent version, which gets a black strap. A 30-meter water resistance rating rounds out the piece nicely to appeal to a diverse range of owners.
Panerai has a name for serving up bold timepieces embraced by professional divers and Hollywood’s action stars alike. In 2021, that script gets flipped for the new Panerai Piccolo Due MadrePerla, a beautifully crafted piece that bears all the trademarks of the Luminor Due model, but for women.
The design carries over the signature aesthetics of robustness and strength in a much softer and more stylish palette alongside a 38-millimeter case – the smallest ever adopted by Panerai. PAM01280 also breaks with tradition by inheriting an iridescent mother-of-pearl dial paired to pink-gold colored hands, applied numerals and a date window that gleams with warmth.
The case material is Panerai’s own Goldtech composition, which adds copper and platinum to red gold in order to increase the watch’s resistance to oxidation. Elegance and functionality are ensured with the inclusion of a red alligator strap and a 30-meter water resistance rating.
The flagship model for 2021 in Piaget’s high-end collection is the Altiplano Ultimate Concept La Cote-Aux-Fees, a green version of the luxury Swiss watchmaker’s pioneering high-complication model, which is just two millimeters thick. To achieve this feat, Piaget employed techniques that make it a leader in this area.
The 41-millimeter cobalt-based alloy case, for example, doubles as the watch’s mainplate for the movement, allowing it to be made much thinner than conventional mechanical watches. An ultra-thin movement in the Piaget caliber 900P-UC also delivers functionality without sacrificing valuable real estate. The movement boasts a power reserve of 45 hours and features matching green bridges to make for a true conversational piece on the wrist.
It’s been a decade since the concept of Metamorphosis first graced Montblanc’s finest order of timepieces. As the name suggests, the watch is designed with two unique personalities, with the ability to transform seamlessly between faces at the slide of a lever. That concept has culminated in the latest Montblanc Star Legacy Metamorphosis Limited Edition 8, a watch that reveals a duo of high-complication faces so that wearers can appreciate time in different ways.
Taking five years to develop from conception to final product, the timepiece presents in a striking blue hue paired to a substantial 50-millimeter 18-karat white gold polished case. Delivering drive is Montblanc’s in-house Calibre MB M67.60 mechanical movement with a 50-hour power reserve. On the dial there’s permanent off-center hour and minute hands, and a small seconds hand at 12 o’clock.
In the closed face, the watch displays the world time with the Northern Hemisphere globe surrounded by a 24-hour scale and day/night indication. The open face shows off the one-minute patented Exo Tourbillon, Northern Hemisphere globe surrounded by the sky on an aventurine disc showing the stars and the realistic moon phases, and date display at 12 o’clock. The watch is limited to just eight pieces worldwide.
There’s a watch for any type of personality in the world and for Roger Dubuis, that crowd continues to be those who enjoy breaking the tradition of subtlety. The Roger Dubuis Excalibur Single Flying Tourbillon Glow Me Up proudly carries that label as the first timepiece to feature luminescent diamonds paired to the Swiss watchmaker’s unmistakable skeleton silhouette of the Excalibur.
Limited to just eight pieces worldwide, the watch uses the Single Flying Tourbillon caliber framework adorned with 60 baguette-cut diamonds on the bezel. The case is a 42-millimeter Eon Gold item, but it’s when light fades that an entirely different timepiece comes to life. Roger Dubuis applied Super-Luminova into the grooves holding the diamonds as well as the angles of the movement and iconic star-shaped bridge to give off the colorful glowing hues without having to alter any of the materials used. The lightshow on the wrist is further backed up with a 72-hour power reserve.
The world’s most recognized racing watch looks towards deep space with the introduction of a stunning new dial made from real meteorite to give the Cosmograph Daytona a breathtaking aesthetic 50 years after its inception. For 2021, the popular watch comes in three variations including an 18-karat white gold, 18-karat yellow gold and 18-karat Everose gold – all in 40-millimeter case sizes.
Signature Daytona design cues follow on from there with three distinct bezels matched to each finish. The white gold variant sees a black monobloc Cerachrom bezel with molded tachymetric scale, while the yellow gold variant sees a matching yellow gold bezel with engraved tachymetric scale. The Everose gold model also receives a matching Everose gold bezel with the engraved tachymetric scale.
The watches all feature Rolex’s in-house caliber 4130, which is COSC certified and drives the hours, minutes, seconds, small seconds and trio of chronograph counters. The Cosmograph Daytona boasts a power reserve of 72 hours alongside a water resistance rating of 100 meters across all three models.
This year saw TAG Heuer revive one of its most famous adventure luxury tool watches known as the Aquaracer. The model holds a rich heritage at sea spanning more than 40 years, and for the 2021 iteration, the Aquaracer Professional 300 expands its reach across seven stylish references boasting new materials.
The one that matters most is the Aquaracer Professional 300 Tribute to Ref 844 Calibre 5 Automatic Limited Edition – a long name but one that’s positioned as the collection’s most coveted version. The name picks up on the story of the fabled Ref 844 divers’ watch, first introduced in 1978. Only 844 examples will be made to salute the model’s heritage while complementing the core collection.
TAG Heuer mixed a 43-millimeter high-grade titanium case with a number of visual elements from the archive piece. A flat black opaline dial carries the Ref 844’s red 24-hour scale. The scale was originally intended as a quick conversion chart for on-the-field professionals reporting the time against the 24-hour clock.
The Calibre 5 Automatic movement delivers hours, minutes and seconds functions alongside a date window at the 6 o’clock marker. It boasts 300-meter water resistance while legibility under water is helped with a flat sapphire glass with a double anti-reflective treatment. A perforated black rubber strap ensures the diving aesthetic remains robust.
Lovingly known as the accessible Rolex, Tudor is the premium name in Swiss watchmaking without the ultra-premium pricing. As the sister company to the luxury crown watchmaker, its design DNA is unmistakable, but over the years Tudor has stepped out of its sibling’s shadow. In 2021, that culminates in the gorgeous Black Bay Chrono, which features a reworked case and two monochrome dials, that’s certain to set motorsport hearts racing.
The watch takes inspiration from Tudor’s first chronograph, launched in 1970. The latest variant features a 41-millimeter stainless-steel case paired to a steel bezel with an inserted black anodized aluminum tachymeter scale. A COSC-certified caliber MT5813 movement delivers a 70-hour power reserve while driving the hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph counters and date window at 6 o’clock. Owners have bracelet options from riveted steel to a black aged leather cuff to black jacquard fabric. The watch has a 200-meter water resistance.
Diving takes the path of haute horology with the latest offering from Swiss watchmaker, Ulysse Nardin. The Diver X Skeleton is a celebration of the company’s 175-year history and it’s used a stripped-down version of the original Diver X model to do it. A 44-millimeter case is coated in blue PVD and paired to a blue Carbonium bezel for a striking timepiece on the wrist. This is especially the case for those opting for the orange rubber strap instead of the blue.
Ulysse Nardin’s UN-372 caliber Automatic movement can be seen through the X dial while presenting hours, minutes and seconds. The watch features a 96-hour power reserve and water resistance of 200 meters. Only 175 examples will be made.
Vacheron Constantin’s Historiques American 1921 marks the 100th anniversary of a limited-edition model that was first released in 1921. Evoking the aesthetics of the time is the signature cushioned case and diagonally positioned dial with an off-center crown.
In its 2021 iteration, the watchmaker introduces three variations in two white gold models and a 100-piece Collection Excellence Platine limited edition. The watch is driven by the in-house movement, Calibre 4400 AS, which boasts a 65-hour power reserve. The silver dial is where the classicism shows itself off with black Arabic numerals and a small seconds subdial paired to elegant hands. The case is reproduced in two sizes, 40 and 36.5 millimeters.
While these models enjoy 18-karat white gold appointments in its construction, the limited edition utilizes a 40-millimeter 950 platinum case paired to a matching 950 platinum sandblasted dial. The hands and numerals have been switched for 18-karat white gold items while a pop of blue steel can be seen on the seconds hand.
The limited-edition model will be paired with a dark blue Mississippiensis alligator leather strap that’s hand-stitched with platinum 950 and silk, while the non-limited version receives dark brown calf leather with Serapian patina.