This article is part of our Watches & Wonders 2021 coverage. To see all articles in this series, click here.
Where do you imagine yourself in the coming years? Do you picture yourself dancing the night away in a chic discotheque full of glamorous people? Exploring the many wonders of the world uncovering exotic locations? Perhaps you see yourself living in a sci-fi world full of amazing futuristic inventions. It’s our personal dreams and desires that keep us going, the uplifting stories we tell ourselves. For Watches and Wonders 2021, watchmakers have tapped our collective subconscious to deliver creative novelties that fuel our imagination to live our best lives for a much more positive future. What do watch collectors dream about the most?
For many, the dream is owning the now-iconic Ref.5711 from Patek Philippe. Since its initial release in 2006, the Nautilus has become infamous, the decades-long waitlists the stuff of legend. For 2021, what has been reported as the last hurrah of the now-classic stainless steel model, Patek Philippe, has released four new editions to celebrate this highly desirable timepiece. A stainless steel version with a sunburst green dial (Ref.5711/1A), sunburst green in steel with a bezel set with baguette diamonds (Ref. 5711/1300A-001), a Travel Time chronograph in rose gold with a sunburst blue dial (Ref. 5990/1), and a high jewelry edition (Ref. 7118/1450R-001) featuring a fully diamond-set rose gold case and bracelet. Like throwing gasoline on a fire, the thought of one day owning a Patek Philippe Nautilus continues to fan the flames of almost every collector’s obsession.
The new watches from Rolex offer a masterclass of dreams and storytelling. Tapping into the remarkable history of legendary tool watches brings an updated Oyster Perpetual Explorer and Explorer II ready for adventure. Offering new case sizes, new materials, and a highly technical movement (calibre 3230), your dreams of following in Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s footsteps up Mount Everest just might become reality.
Incredible dials for the Oyster Perpetual and Cosmograph Daytona perfectly define what the ideal watch for 2021 might be. A delightful palm motif for the Datejust 36 perfectly depicts the good life, a vision of sunlit tropics, and most importantly, fun and surprise when you least expect it. The same goes for the Cosmograph Daytona’s dazzling meteorite dials. The futuristic play of space and time, combined with the Daytona’s romantic backstory, takes the legendary chronograph to remarkable new heights.
And finally, set with 1,089 diamonds on almost all surfaces, what could be dreamier than a fully diamond-set Rolex Lady-Datejust? Just because a watch can burn your eyes out with unbelievable bling, please don’t take it for granted; the glittering 28 mm case houses calibre 2236, a precise self-winding mechanical movement at the forefront of watchmaking technology. In white or yellow gold, this high jewelry Lady-Datejust easily represents the ultimate in intelligent Rolex luxury.
For the Geneva edition of Watches and Wonders 2021, Tudor envisions technical adventure with some surprising high style details. The beloved Black Bay turned up in three outstanding variations, a sporty Chrono with slick references to the past, along with two versions in precious metal – 18K gold and an icy cool 925 sterling silver. Two very different tool watches might suggest practical dive watch functionality, but made out of precious gold and silver, these Black Bay’s might seem more suited for visualizing a life on the open seas.
If hedonistic nightclubbing is more your thing, the glamourous Cartier collection for Watches and Wonder could be just the thing. Incredible jewelry timepieces in the shapes of snakes and turtles demand to be taken out for a night on the town, while diamond encrusted panthers stalk pave dials, and a Pasha with vibrating diamonds simply begs for a spin on a dancefloor. Among all the incredible offerings this year, the collection’s highlight might be a humble take on the Tank watch of the definitively chic Le Must era. The scene-stealing Tank Must, a colorful quartz watch in navy, burgundy, and green, invokes the freewheeling 70s disco era when Cartier went global, and their unique take on French chic took over the world.
Ulysse Nardin continues to be inspired by its illustrious nautical history by celebrating its 175th anniversary with two innovative timepieces and an extraordinary marine chronometer-inspired desk clock made in association with Maison L’Epée. As part of the 175th-anniversary celebration, Ulysse Nardin introduces a skeletonized limited edition Diver X where the inner workings get exposed for the first time. A re-engineered and redesigned UN-371 movement becomes the center of attention, where X marks the spot with a compelling motif that appears throughout the collection.
The Blast Hourstriker, an innovative striking watch, produces sound and chimes the time in an entirely new way. The UN-621 caliber, the first in-house automatic striking movement, uses 330 components to power an innovative caliber designed to be visible from the dial’s front. The distinctive double X details in rose gold combined with black DLC-treated titanium acts as a hi-fi speaker that amplifies the watch’s tones for the wrist.
For Watches and Wonders Geneva, TAG Heuer revisits a pillar of the collection, the Aquaracer, to reimagine the beloved sports watch’s evolution for the 21st century. The Aquaracer was the first watch for many collectors, and the reimagined Aquaracer reveals its pure essence and enduring appeal. The introduction features seven new references in two sizes, including a distinctive green dial and an exceptional 844 piece limited edition, both in titanium. All water-resistant to 300 meters (30 bar), the new Aquaracer can go anywhere at any time, land or sea.
No category within the IWC lineup is more beloved than the iconic pilot watch. For Watches and Wonders 2021, the collection evolves with thoughtful new proportions, innovative materials, and enormous contemporary appeal. Initially developed in the 1930s as an essential instrument for use in the cockpit, the pilot watch continues to hold modern appeal by combining romantic aviation history with rugged wearability.
The pure essence of the Big Pilot gets rescaled to a more accessible and easy-to-wear 43mm, an ideal size for most wrists. A pilot watch’s sportiness, married with a highly complicated movement, in the Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar is in perfect sync with current collectors’ needs. The exceptionally easy to read and use IWC-manufactured 52615 calibre reveals the day, date, month, four-digit year, moonphase for two hemispheres, small hacking seconds, all visible through the sapphire case back.
The Pilot Watch Chronograph from IWC enhances its performance with a practical and appealing 41 mm size. The stainless steel case and in-house chronograph movement (IWC-manufactured 69385 calibre) take the classic Pilot in an attractive new direction with a choice of blue or green dials. The quick-change strap system further enhances the Pilot Watch Chronograph’s functionality, with wearable applications for an optional sporty stainless steel bracelet or matching rubber and calf leather topstitched strap.
IWC applies the attractive sand color ceramic of the popular Mojave Desert edition from 2019 to two models for 2021, the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar TOP GUN Edition “Mojave Desert” and the Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN Edition “Mojave Desert.” Inspired by the barren desert landscape surrounding the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, a military base where airborne weapons systems tested and pilots trained 150 miles north of Los Angeles. The military watch at its best.
For H.Moser, the dream is often left to your own devices with mysterious and often minimalist timepieces. The iconic Endeavor Tourbillon Concept Tiger’s Eye from H. Moser highlights their understated esthetics and exceptional artistry with spectacular results. Without indices or even a logo, the simple blue or red tiger’s eye dial speaks volumes. A one-minute flying tourbillon in an aperture at 6 o’clock does not require any additional ornamentation, yet it’s impossible to mistake the wit and elegance of H.Moser for any other timepiece.
You can find out more about all of the new releases from Watches and Wonders over at the Watches of Switzerland Group sites, or head to the Watches of Switzerland SoHo showroom in the US to see a select few in person.
In the UK
In the US
CREDIT: Stephen Watson serves as an authority within the US watch industry. He was most recently the Editor in Chief of Revolution following his post as the Editor in Chief of Watch Journal and Executive Editor of Surface Magazine. Stephen Watson is a GPHG academy member.