The recent Watches and Wonders shows heralded a renewed confidence in the world of horology, with brands flexing their versatility through a wide range of novelties that span accessible favourites to signature complications. Feast your eyes on the new releases in this first of two reports.
The Crown’s 2021 novelties include refreshments to the Oyster Perpetual Explorer range, some over-the-top bejewelled additions to the Day-Date 36 and Lady- Datejust collections, and a number of striking new dial designs for the Datejust 36 and the ever-expanding Day-Date 36. And then there’s the Explorer in two-tone Rolesor, which really does seem to be shaping up as the watch for all seasons and reasons.
However, the Rolexes that are catching our eye this year are the trio of Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytonas, each with a unique dial that’s been sliced from a chunk of meteorite. The new 40mm models are available with a white-gold case, monobloc Cerachrom bezel in black ceramic and a super-comfy and rather discreet Oysterfex bracelet; with a yellow-gold case, bezel and bracelet; or with a case, bezel and bracelet in Everose gold.
Aside from the dials (which also feature contrasting black subdials), the new references are little changed from existing models: the Superlative Chronometer Certified automatic calibre 4130 beats at 4Hz for a power reserve of 72 hours and claims an accuracy of +2/-2 seconds a day.
As to which of these Rolexes we’d actually chose for ourselves (were we, of course, chummy enough with our local Rolex dealer to elbow our way to the front of a very long queue), that’s tough. The meteorite looks especially cool against the Cerachrom bezel, but we reckon the contrast between the grained rock surface and yellow- gold case and markers is so fabulous that we might just go for that one.
The Cloche de Cartier watch is the fifth creation in Cartier’s Privé Collection, which revives the maison’s historic models through limited editions. Named after the cloche or bell shape, because its outline resembles that of a service bell found at counters, the first Cartier timepiece to incorporate the quirky silhouette was a 1920 brooch-watch with diamonds and onyx. Although it’s featured in Cartier’s repertoire for decades, it was only ever produced in small quantities, with the last relaunch being in 2007. It still flaunts a dial that’s rotated 90o clockwise from the conventional position, so the wearer can read the time by extending the arm, instead of bringing the wrist towards him or her.
Another unexpected feature of the watch is its ability to be read like a clock when placed upright on a nightstand or table. The rail track and hour markings are adapted to the dial’s asymmetrical shape and the crown is set with a cabochon gem. Two new calibres were made at the Cartier manufacture at La Chaux-de-Fonds to adapt to the unique case shape.
There are six 37.15mm by 28.75mm references for the Cloche de Cartier. Each a numbered limited edition of 100 pieces, the two-hand model is offered in yellow or pink gold, and platinum, and is equipped with the hand-wound 1917 MC movement. Driven by the 9626 MC movement, the Cloche de Cartier Skeleton is available in pink gold and platinum (each in a numbered limited edition of 50 pieces). Lastly, a platinum diamond-set open-worked version is offered in a limited edition of just 20 pieces.
From the raft of newcomers presented by Le Locle-based Montblanc, we’ve decided to focus on a theme first presented at the final SIHH in 2009. Housed in a 40mm rose-gold case, the Heritage Manufacture Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition 100 (Ref MB 128669) is a beautiful timepiece that effortlessly straddles the classic and contemporary, features an especially eye-catching burnt- caramel dial with sunray finish, and – given the complexity of the complication – is a paragon of elegant simplicity.
In addition to time, day, date, month, moon-phase and leap-year functions, the self-winding movement also powers a second time-zone hour hand and a 24-hour display. Since levers have been eliminated from the mechanism (they’re replaced by wheels and cams), the time can be adjusted in either direction. Aside from the colour, this is no different from the white-dial model presented two years ago; however, the rich new tone elevates it to a new level of desirability.
The 77-jewel, 378-component Calibre MB 29.22, which is based around a Richemont three-hand movement, oscillates at 4Hz and provides a reserve of around two days. The watch is supplied on a brown alligator Sfumato strap with rose-gold buckle and comes in a limited edition of 100 pieces.
Watch collectors who feared that the Patek Philippe Nautilus in stainless steel had become a thing of the past with the discontinuation earlier this year of the blue-dial 5711/1A-010 need fear no longer. For just as Watches & Wonders kicked off on April 7, Patek revealed a new steel Nautilus – Ref 5711/1A-014 – but this time with its ridged dial in olive-green sunburst.
Whether you’re a “green” or a “blue” person, there’s no doubt that the new colourway suits the Gérald Genta-designed Nautilus perfectly – though perhaps it doesn’t work quite so successfully on the Ref 5711/1300-001, which features a bezel set with baguette-cut diamonds; time will tell. In almost all other respects, though, this is familiar territory for the 5711: the 4Hz 26-330 S C automatic calibre with Gyromax balance and Spiromax silicon balance spring, which offers 35-45 hours of power, has been in use for the past couple of years. The 12-bar water resistance, applied hour markers and hands in white gold, and an eminently wearable 40 x 8.3mm case size are equally par for the course.
Aside from the new dial colour, then, nothing has really changed with the “entry- level” Nautilus. As discreetly classy as the 5711 ever was, it will also be impossibly difficult to get hold of: back in 2019, the New York Times reported an eight-year wait – if, that is, you could even get on to the list. As word has it that, green dial or no, this is the final year of production for the 5711, all we can say is: in your dreams.
It’s undeniable that Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo range has made an indelible mark in the world of haute horlogerie. The maison has racked up seven world records in just seven years, the latest being for the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar – the slimmest watch of its kind in the world. Reinterpreting a classical horological complication in a resolutely contemporary manner, the 40mm timepiece spotlights the brand ’s finesse in rewriting traditional watchmaking codes.
No fewer than 408 components interact within the extremely tight space provided by the ultra-slender 5.8mm case. The development of the 2.75mm calibre BVL 305 required the design engineers to devise new solutions, such as the use of a micro-rotor and the optimal use of the space between the components without reducing their dimensions. A testament to true genius in the realm of miniaturisation, this development powers the hours and minutes hands along with all the perpetual calendar functions: retrograde- display date, day, month and retrograde-display leap years.
They’re adjusted by means of three correctors: one for the date at 2 o’clock, another for the month at 4 o’clock and a third for the day between 8 and 9 o’clock.
The owner will be able to read the time without having to adjust the indications before February 2100, a leap year that will require the adjustment of the functions. The timepiece is offered in titanium with a matching bracelet, as well as in platinum with a blue lacquered dial and accompanied with an alligator leather strap.
Among the new Tudor novelties were two Black Bay Fifty-Eight divers in precious metals and with exhibition casebacks, one being the brand’s first ever dive watch in a silver alloy case, and the other – the Fifty-Eight 18k (Ref 79018V) – an even more extravagant version of what’s essentially the same timepiece. As the name suggests, the latter comes in a 39mm solid yellow gold case, which is matched with a dial and rotating bezel in olive green.
Even more interestingly, Tudor has given the case a matte treatment, so that what might have looked blingy instead has the appearance almost of bronze, which is certainly more in keeping with the Black Bay’s classic tool-watch design codes. And though we suspect that most gold dive watches rarely get closer to the waves than the deck of a superyacht, it’s also been endowed with water resistance of up to 20 bar.
A sapphire caseback is an unusual move for Tudor and, to be absolutely honest, there’s nothing especially remarkable-looking about the manufacture calibre MT5400 that it reveals. That’s not to say, however, that it isn’t a worthy mechanism, as it features a non- magnetic silicon hairspring, is COSC-certified with a claimed daily accuracy of +4/-2 seconds, and oscillates at 4Hz for a reserve of around 70 hours.
Wrapping up the package is an alligator strap that gives the 18K a distinctly vintage appeal, and it’s also supplied with one of Tudor’s excellent matching fabric alternatives in green and gold; both come with buckles in the same yellow gold.
Louis Vuitton’s contribution to high watchmaking this year is a flying tourbillon GMT creation peppered with house motifs and the glorious initial “V” – a tribute to Gaston Vuitton. Developed by the maison’s own manufacture, La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, the Tambour Curve GMT Flying Tourbillon features a case whose shape is an extrapolation of those of the Tambour Curve Flying Tourbillon Poinçon de Genève, launched last year.
Made of shot-blasted grade 5 titanium, the 46mm case middle of this dynamic model draws inspiration from the Möbius strip. Stretched and elongated, it catches the eye with the convex curve of its bezel and crystal.
The watch has two push pieces on its right side of the case in order to simplify the setting of the GMT function. This enables the dedicated indicator, positioned within the open counter at 3 o’clock, to move forward or backward.
At the same time, it also allows Louis Vuitton to maintain the symmetry of the watch and further highlight the case’s soft proportions.
Powered by the in-house calibre LV82, the Tambour Curve GMT Flying Tourbillon is available entirely in titanium; with lugs, push pieces and winding crown in pink gold; or in a full titanium version with a dial carved from the Gibeon meteorite that landed in Namibia and hour markers set with baguette-cut diamonds.
Melding brilliant gem-setting techniques with a beautiful skeletonised movement, Chanel’s 2021 interpretation of the J12 X-Ray watch plays with a rainbow of colours. The J12 X-Ray Electro Calibre 3.1 builds upon the same foundation that made the collection a must-have for high-jewellery watch lovers.
As indicated in its name, the watch is powered by the hand-wound Calibre 3.1 with 55 hours of power reserve, whose moving parts are all secured by sapphire bridges, including the minute counter bridge, baseplate and cogwheel bridge. The dial thus exhibits incredible transparency and is also punctuated by 12 baguette-cut rainbow sapphire hour markers of almost 0.48 carats. These are further complemented by 46 baguette-cut rainbow sapphires weighing approximately 6.46 carats and set on the white-gold bezel, while the white-gold non-screw-down crown flaunts a brilliant-cut diamond.
Transparency flows on to the watch’s unique bracelet, in which each link is made of sapphires bound together by white-gold pins. The devil is in the details – and though this picture doesn’t show it, two links on the bracelet are set with an additional 34 baguette-cut diamonds totalling 1.96 carats. The watch is produced in a numbered and limited edition of just 12 pieces.
The Admiral collection debuted more than 60 years ago, and over the course of its existence the watch has been reinterpreted multiple times. This year is no different. Visually stunning, the Admiral 45 Automatic Openworked Flying Tourbillon Carbon & Gold marks the introduction of an all-new case material by Corum.
Although the watch is limited to 48 pieces, no two of them are aesthetically identical, thanks to a composite of carbon and gold glitter that makes up the dynamic case. As gold flakes seesaw within the carbon/resin mix during the manufacturing process, they begin to settle organically in a random distribution, resulting in a one-of-a-kind appearance. As the material is lighter than steel and titanium, this 45mm timepiece still feels comfortable on the wrist.
At the heart of the watch lies the extravagant open-worded CO 298 automatic flying-tourbillon movement that provides 72 hours of power. Developed in-house and accented with gold, the 3Hz movement pairs well with the gold-flecked case and its black PVD-coated components can be seen from the front and back of the case. A power-reserve indicator is positioned at 9 o’clock, while a felicitous three-minute counter appears at 3 o’clock as a nod to the house emblem, a key with three petals.
The manufacture commemorated its 25th anniversary by entering the world of jumping hours with the understated L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25, which features a 40mm ethical rose-gold case and the prestigious Poinçon de Genève hallmark.
A jumping-hour watch is unique in the way it indicates time. By eschewing a customary hour hand, it features a digital display with an hour disc that works with the minute hand. When the minute hand passes the 60-minute mark, it triggers the disc to leap forward to the next hour.
As this motion consumes more energy than a traditional display, Chopard has made the sensible move of equipping the timepiece with the L.U.C 98.06-L manual-wound movement, that’s fitted with four barrels and is based on Chopard’s exclusive Quattro technology. This provides the watch with a power reserve of up to eight days – more generous than many contemporary jumping-hour models – in spite of beating at a relatively brisk 4Hz.
One of few maisons to have mastered the centuries-old art of enamelling, Chopard endows the watch with a gorgeous white grand feu enamel dial in ethical rose gold, made by an enamelling artisan at the Chopard manufacture in Fleurier. Only 100 pieces of the L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25 will be produced.