Now that the 2021 Watches & Wonders Geneva show is over, we're pleased to bring you the list of our favorites.
One of the biggest watch conventions in the world went digital for 2021 with major players like Rolex, Jaeger-LeCoultre and a host of other distinguished names unveiling future classics for both men and women.
Exotic materials, breathtaking design and cutting-edge engineering is what forms the pinnacle of today’s luxury watches. And these are the latest watches you need to know from the event.
A Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar
Updated for 2021, the Perpetual Calendar variant of the A.Lange & Söhne Lange 1 collection is a rare beast indeed. It features all the displays necessary to indicate which month it is and whether it’s a leap year or not, but it does it with Saxon style.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadritriptyque
The Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185, AKA the “Quadriptyque”, is the first four-faced wristwatch in history – and the most complicated incarnation of the Reverso ever made.
The obverse of this Reverso has been adorned with a dial showing the time alongside the workings of a minute repeater that chimes the hours, quarter hours and minutes when a button on the side of the watch is pressed. Across the other three dials are further complications including – take a deep breath – a perpetual calendar, date and day indications, a day/night indication, a flying tourbillon, three different northern hemisphere moonphase indications, plus one for the southern hemisphere.
Given its eleven total complications, you’ll be pleased to hear that each of the ten watches being produced by the brand comes with a specially made box that will automatically set the watch for its owner.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
How do you take a classic watch, perennially popular since the 1960s, and update it in a way that’s both emphatically new yet also keeps the horological DNA of the original? In the case of Rolex’s 2021 Daytona, the answer is to introduce three new models with dials made from meteorite.
It can be had in white, yellow or pink ‘Everose’ gold case options and, for every model, Rolex has been careful to select slithers of meteorite with nearly-tessellating Widmanstätten patterns. The appeal, however, is not merely the aesthetics, it's the poetry. Glance at your wrist, and you'll be looking at a rock that has been propelled through space for tens of millions of years.
Cartier "Cloche de Cartier"
A cloche, for the non-Francophones among us, is a bell, so Cartier’s “Cloche de Cartier” is, naturally, bell-shaped.
A reimagining of vintage Cartier timepieces from the 1920s with the same silhouette, the new Cloche is the latest in a series of historic montres de forme, or “shape watches”, reintroduced by the brand as part of the Cartier Privé collection.
What’s particularly intriguing about the Cloche is how in different contexts it takes on different purposes. It’s shaped perfectly to act as a miniature clock to stand upright on a bedside table, as the flat edge aligns with the bottom of the dial. Equally, it works as a driving watch, thanks to the unorthodox positioning of the numerals – if your hand is holding the wheel, the orientation is just right.
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Shock Absorber XPL
A surprise Watches And Wonders reveal, IWC’s Big Pilot’s Watch Shock Absorber XPL features a revolutionary advanced anti-shock system. The Schaffhausen brand spent eight years developing the newly patented SPRIN-G system and describes it as “a nearly impossible feat of engineering made real” that can protect the watch’s in-house calibre 32111 movement from acceleration forces of more than 30,000 G.
For context, a loop on a rollercoaster applies a force of about three to four G on a human body, and the average person generally can’t survive more than ten G for more than a minute or two. So, if you’re planning on spending time in an F-16 in the near future, you’d be hard-pressed to find a watch better suited to accompany you.
As well as being technically ground-breaking, the Shock Absorber XPL is a beautiful watch, with a matte Ceratonium case (IWC’s own hard-wearing proprietary material combining the lightweight properties of a titanium alloy with anti-scratch ceramic) and an elaborate dial which resembles a black rose. Production is limited to no more than ten per year.
Panerai Piccolo Due Madreperla
Panerai writes its next chapter by offering a brand new Luminor Due in a manifestly feminine execution – Panerai Piccolo Due Madreperla.
The design carries over the signature aesthetics of robustness and strength in a much softer and more stylish palette alongside a 38-millimetre case – the smallest ever adopted by Panerai. PAM01280 also breaks with tradition by inheriting an iridescent mother-of-pearl dial paired to pink-gold colour 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-metre water resistance rating.
Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Armillary tourbillon perpetual calendar ‘Planetaria’
There’s an old saying that horology is the daughter of astronomy – and Vacheron Constantin’s new Les Cabinotiers “Planetaria” speaks to the mechanics of the cosmos.
This tour de force of watchmaking is a 745-component, single-edition timepiece that took four years to develop. It boasts a precision moonphase for both the northern and southern hemispheres, a triple retrograding perpetual calendar complication and 3-D northern and southern hemispheres showing day/night and 24-hour indications.
As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a twin-axis tourbillon with spherical hairspring built into a new Grand Complication movement, the Calibre 1991, which runs the whole show. A watch that’s out of this world.
Zenith Defy 21 Spectrum
Colourful watches are all the rage. Zenith's variation on the theme? Splashing colour everywhere but the dial.
Although the new Defy 21 Spectrum watches are eye-catchingly vibrant, look closer and you'll spot that it's the components within the movement, combined with the gem-set bezel and the strap, that create the effect. Across five models, the watch’s stainless-steel case features either orange sapphires (pictured), green tsavorites, blue sapphires, amethyst garnets or black spinels, paired with a rubber strap of the same hue. While the cases are also set with 288 brilliant-cut white diamonds for good measure, what's inside is no less special: Zenith’s trusted, and vaunted, El Primero chronograph calibre. Limited to ten pieces per colour worldwide.
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