2021 – A Year To Watch – Pt.1
The Best New Watches of 2021
Written by Justin Mastine-Frost
April 26, 2021
Even though the world remains in varying stages of turmoil, time keeps moving forward, as does the watch industry. Much like in 2020, the year’s global watch fairs have been running digitally in much of the world, and earlier in April a flurry of new watch releases were announced with a healthy dose of fanfare, even without many of the world’s watch journalists being able to evaluate these launches first-hand. In the case of some brands, it was a bit of a quiet year that focused more on minor technical updates, new dial colors, and other nominal tweaks. That said, a good number of our favorite brands came out swinging, launching brand new collections, new complications, or making dramatic changes to existing iconic pieces. In this first installment, we’re focusing on some of the industry’s big guns, and one surprise offering that no one saw coming.
Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar
High on the list of massive news to break from Watches & Wonders, Bvlgari continues on their world record breaking path, revealing yet another ultra-thin record in watchmaking in 2021. The Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar steals the position held by the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar RD2, becoming the world’s thinnest perpetual calendar watch on the planet. The stunning modern titanium timepiece measured a meager 5.8mm thick, all while packing in the perplex mechanical componentry to allow its calendar mechanism to account for the different lengths of months, as well as leap years. These movements are always challenging to execute, even without attempting this record-setting thickness. Compared to some perpetual calendars on the market its price isn’t as exorbitant as you’d expect, coming in at $59,000.
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925
It’s a simple change for the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight this year, but one that got ample attention for a variety of different reasons. Aesthetically speaking, the unique monochromatic grey/taupe colorway is extremely well suited to the vintage-styled diver, even though it’s a combination we seldom see in the industry. That’s not all that’s at play here, though. Tudor decided to fuss around with alloys, and has become the first watch brand to make a watch case using a steel and silver alloy. They’re being quite cagey about the composition of the alloy, for good reason, but seeing the piece next to its stainless-steel counterpart, the metal has a very distinct sheen to it that sets it apart. Though Tudor did put a premium on the new piece in relation to its steel siblings, but not a big one. The Fifty-Eight 925 will retail for $4,700.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Nonantieme
It’s a big year for Jaeger-LeCoultre, as their famed Reverso turned 90 this year. Many were eager to talk about the fact that the brand launched a multi-million dollar reference that is now the most complex Reverso ever made, however the real talk of the year is this Reverso Tribute Nonantieme—hear me out on this one. Sure its sibling is a mechanical marvel, but this reference is absolutely stunning, featuring a digital time display on one side, and conventional time, big date, and moonphase on the other. It’s unique, it’s elegant, it’s wearable, and it doesn’t cost as much as a McLaren Senna GTR. The 190-piece limited edition will retail for $41,600.
And now for the surprise of the show, some of you may be confused here, as the name Hermes isn’t exactly synonymous with luxury watchmaking. That said, they’re a bit of an insider secret. For some time, Hermes has been in partnership with the well-respected Swiss movement manufacturer Vaucher Fleurier, and as such has been producing proper, classic, extremely detailed and wonderfully finished mechanical watches over the last 5 or so years. This year saw the arrival of the H08, a new men’s line in a compact 39mm square titanium case, powered by one of the aforementioned Vaucher calibers. It’s a charming watch with a distinct typeface, fitted with a rubber strap and good for a water resistance of 100m thanks to a screw-down crown. I’ll say it now, this is on my 2021 shopping list, and it should be on yours as well. They’re already available for purchase through Hermes online, with prices starting at $5,500.
A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar
This is another case where you need to look closely at the dial to see what’s changed for 2021, but the arrival of a Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar (without the premium of a tourbillon) is a welcome addition to the line. All of the classic elements remain present—the large date display, the offset subdials for different elements of its time display, an elegant and unobtrusive moonphase complication, and even its prominent power reserve, serving as a reminder should the piece need winding. Now, out on the perimeter of the dial is where things get different. A thin track runs along the edge of the dial, and a small pointer resides at 6 o’clock. Through this indication we see both the current month as well as where in the leap year cycle we are. Much like the perpetual calendar we featured at the top of this list, the Lange 1 Perpetual offers an unconventional take on the complication. Where countless brands are happy to clutter up a dial with 3 or 4 subdials to present the required information, Lange keeps things clean and organized all while ensuring clean and clear legibility. This high level of design and finishing doesn’t come cheap, mind you. Prices start at 98,000 euros in pink gold, up to 109,000 for the white gold reference.
As we noted above, this is our first installment of coverage of this year’s releases. There was a lot to take in in a fairly brief period, and we’re pleased to report that we’ll have more to share in the next week or two. To mix things up a bit, our next installment will follow the thread we started last august, as we dive into more of the often underappreciated unsung heroes of independent watchmaking.