We can all agree that the year 2020 was massively horrendous for humanity but if you thought that would have affected the quality of watches that came out during this year’s Watches and Wonders, think again. Here are all the watch trends we’ve picked up from these 2021 novelties.
In 2020, “everything that could go wrong went wrong,” FHH President Emmanuel Perrin tells me over a call. Jaeger-LeCoultre CEO Catherine Renier also tells me in a call that it was indeed a challenging year, but it had only made the brand stronger. Sentiments such as these are echoed by the various CEOs and top management that I’ve spoken to over the duration of the digital watch fair in April.
“It was really difficult at that time – in a way it’s almost scary to be in that situation,” says Renier. “But it turned out for us to also be a very strong moment of learning about our own agility and our capability to adapt to these types of situations. After that, you know, you’re a lot stronger.”
The watch industry is indeed a resilient one – it survived the Quartz Crisis in the ’70s and laughed off the “dangers” posed by the smartwatch revolution just a decade ago. What the global pandemic of 2020 has done was strengthen the industry’s resolve to share only the best of the best watches it could muster, and at this year’s Watches and Wonders, it certainly does seem as if it’s done just that.
It’s a simple formula really. When the going gets tough, keep your head down and do what you do best. The brands that focussed on pure and authentic expressions of their heritage, while embracing change and looking ahead, have only grown stronger. In times of crisis, timelessness, meaning, and reliability are what we look and strive for and we instinctively gravitate towards things that speak to those values.
This year, brands really took the time to reflect on their own portfolios and collections, and what we’re seeing is a more streamlined approach across the board. With decreased capacity, brands are forced to produce only the strongest designs – designs that they truly believe in – and it shows.
And so, it’s almost funny that in a year where you’d least expect to find discernible trends, we’d see so many new releases with green dials, starting with the most coveted, final version of the Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 5711 that’s been released in a stainless-steel case with a gorgeous olive-green dial.
There’s also the fun and funky Rolex Datejust 36mm with a green palm-motif dial, Tudor’s gold Black Bay Fifty-Eight with a green dial and bezel and a display caseback, Pilot’s Chronographs by IWC in a new 41mm case and green-dial options, as well as TAG Heuer’s new Aquaracer in titanium, which comes with a green ceramic bezel and dial.
From Jaeger-LeCoultre, the Reverso Tribute Small Seconds, available in blue and burgundy, is now also in an elegant dark green. Piaget’s Altiplano Ultimate Concept is given green embellishments for a totally new look.
Props goes to Montblanc, which has even developed a new kind of gold – lime gold – that’s composed of a special alloy of gold, silver and iron for a distinct and appealing tint of jade green, paired with lime green cathedral hands and indexes.
And then there was the other kind of green, the sustainability kind, that in recent years has become an unavoidable topic in the world of luxury. Social responsibility, ethics and the environment are no longer separate departments within a company, but part and parcel of the brand. Leaders in this evolution – Chopard, Panerai, and Cartier – best express this in their offerings. Chopard pioneered this change in the past few years, first with making its collection with 100 percent ethical gold, and then with the launch of Lucent A223 recycled steel.
Panerai, too, has turned to recycled steel in its new trio of eSteel watches. The brand also made waves this year with the Submersible eLab-ID, constructed from EcoTitanium and claimed to be the watch with the highest percentage of recycled-based material ever made. Moreover, Panerai has revealed its list of suppliers for the watch in a bid to make watchmaking practices more circular and sustainable for the future.
Cartier’s relaunched Tank Must collection features the world’s first solar-powered luxury watch, with a movement called SolarBeat that won’t need to be serviced for 16 years. The watch also uses recycled gold and is a clear statement of Cartier’s dedication to making luxury sustainable.
Lastly, where would watchmaking be if it weren’t for innovation? Jaeger-LeCoultre has pulled out all the stops to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the revered Reverso. The new Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadriptyque is the most complicated Reverso yet, boasting 11 different complications and 12 patents in an absolutely wearable case size.
Celebrating 175 years, Ulysse Nardin designed the UFO, a table clock that’s a modern tribute to the brand, encapsulating all of its horological achievements in one singular object – from the marine chronometers of the 19th and 20th centuries, to complex timepieces such as the Freak of 2001 and the Blast of 2020.
IWC’s Big Pilot’s Watch Shock Absorber XPL comes with the capability of protecting the movement from 30,000Gs in impact tests, Bulgari yet again sets a world record for the thinnest perpetual calendar, while Hublot establishes itself as the ultimate purveyor of sapphire with the Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Full Sapphire, a world-first with its integrated sapphire case and bracelet.
It would be impossible to list here all the amazing pieces we’ve seen during the two weeks of Watches and Wonders 2021, and you’ll be able to read more of our watch coverage here. The world of watches has rarely been as exciting as it is now.