Best of the Best: The Top 20 Releases from Watches and Wonders Geneva 2021
No Watches of the Week this week. Instead, we'll be highlighting our favourite watches from Watches and Wonders Geneva 2021, which was a resounding success, with a multitude of brands releasing an enormous range of watches. This was not a show headlined by a single watchmaker, rather a handful of maisons putting their best foot forward and showing to the world that, despite the major hiccup that 2020 was, watchmaking is still a thriving industry.
We've put together our top 20 favourite watches from the show in alphabetical order. This was an especially difficult endeavour considering the sheer volume of incredible watches, so we could only manage to cut the list down to 20 pieces.
Watches and Wonders Geneva 2021: Part 1
Watches and Wonders Geneva 2021: Part 2
Watches and Wonders Geneva 2021: Part 3
Watches and Wonders Geneva 2021: Part 4
Breitling Heritage Premier B15 Duograph 42
Ever since Georges Kern took the helm, Breitling has done nothing but impress. This is the Breitling that should have been all these years, and I hope that the brand continues in this direction. The Heritage Premier B15 Duograph 42 highlights this new era of watchmaking for Breitling, focusing on classical, tried-and-true designs that resonate well. The Heritage Premier B15 Duograph 42 is a split-seconds chronograph that has been slimmed down, so to speak. It features a simplified mechanism that ensures accuracy as well as accessibility, ergo its super wallet-friendly price-tag (relatively speaking, of course -- this is a rattrapante!). Pure, classy and elegant. Easily my favourite Breitling release of 2021.
Breitling Heritage Premier B25 Datora 42
Breitling also released the Heritage Premier B25 Datora 42. A nod to the stylistic traits of the brand in the 1940s, the Heritage Premier B25 Datora 42 consists of a chronograph, a full calendar and a moon phase indicator. Like the Heritage Premier B15 Duograph 42, the Heritage Premier B25 Datora 42 is an expression of tradition, culture and vision. It lends itself to the idea that Breitling finally knows what it's doing and where it wants to go. A standing ovation all round, if you will. Clap Clap.
Cartier Cloche de Cartier Privé Collection
A highly polarising release from Cartier, the Cloche de Cartier Privé Collection exemplifies the maison's ability to combine art with haute horlogerie at all levels. The Tank and the Santos represent the most simplistic yet beautiful of all watchmaking from Cartier, but where the brand excels is in these envelope-pushing timepieces. The Cloche de Cartier Privé Collection is available with either a closed or openworked dial, both sitting within a cloche-shaped case. It comes in a variety of case materials with matching dial colours (for the closed dial option), but my favourite would be the openworked model in platinum sans the diamonds.
Chanel Boy.Friend Skeleton X-Ray
Like Cartier, Chanel seems to excel in the complex and avant-garde, such is the case with the Boy.Friend Skeleton X-Ray. An obscure name is the premier to an overall obscure timepiece, but it's one that I am extremely fond of. Encased in sapphire and with a crown set with 5 baguette-cut diamonds, the Boy.Friend Skeleton X-Ray is expressive and bold, less than a statement piece but much more than your everyday run-of-the-mill fashion-haus-produced watch. It's scintillating and captivating, exactly what you would want in a watch of this calibre. The jury's out on this one, and it's nothing but love.
Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Chrono Titanium
Chopard's L.U.C Perpetual Chrono sits in the shadow of Patek Philippe, A. Lange & Söhne and Vacheron Constantin's equivalents. But let's not forget the plausible idea that Chopard's Perpetual Chrono can compete with the best of them. Encased in titanium, the L.U.C Perpetual Chrono Titanium is a contemporary approach to one of the most classical and complicated timepieces around. It's the perfect combination of distinct aesthetics with mechanical complexities that I'm sure will tick the boxes of many an aficionado. My only reservation is that the in-house calibre L.U.C 03.10-L is too small for the case, accentuated by the caseback rehaut. Other than that, this is a definitive winner in my books.
H. Moser & Cie. Pioneer Tourbillon MEGA Cool
H. Moser & Cie just loves to ride its own wave, doesn't it? But let's be real, why wouldn't they. The contradictory iconicity that the brand has created around its minimalist dials and super complex movements is built upon by its latest piece, the Pioneer Tourbillon MEGA Cool. The Blue Lagoon fume dial (which actually looks green) is virtually uninterrupted, bar the hour markers, the hands, and that gaping hole at 6 o'clock. But filling that hole is H. Moser & Cie's incredible double hairspring flying tourbillon. This is a tourbillon that is highly technical, insanely complex and mind blowingly difficult to assemble. Another win from Moser. Not too sure about the name, though.
IWC Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar TOP GUN Edition "Mojave Desert"
IWC did some serious flexing at Watches and Wonders Geneva 2021, but the piece that caught my eye was the Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar TOP GUN Edition "Mojave Desert". This is a spectacular piece that combines contemporary materials with traditional design cues. The result is a watch that continues on with IWC's perpetual calendar benchmark.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadriptyque
Touted as the most complicated Reverso ever made, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadriptyque indeed had some big shoes to fill. But fill them it did, and now in 2021 the Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadriptyque can reign supreme as one of the most complicated wristwatches in the world. It features a whopping 11 complications split over its four faces, including a tourbillon, a perpetual calendar and a minute repeater. They don't call Jaeger-LeCoultre the watchmakers' watchmaker for no reason.
Panerai Submersible Bronzo Blu Abisso
Panerai had a stellar showing at Watches and Wonders Geneva 2021, with the Submersible Bronzo Blu Abisso being the maison's stand out piece. Sitting at a very wearable 42mm in diameter and encased in bronze, the Submersible Bronzo Blu Abisso is a dramatic yet subtle timepiece, an odd combination perhaps built upon by the flat look of the matte blue dial. In lieu of the automatic P.900 calibre, perhaps a manually wound movement would have been a better option just for argument's sake. But aside from that, there is not much else to nit-pick at.
Patek Philippe 5236P In-Line Perpetual Calendar
Patek Philippe really outdid itself at this year's show. While we all thought the maison was done and dusted with the revamped releases of the Nautilus, Patek came out of the woodwork with the5236P In-Line Perpetual Calendar. Drawing inspiration from the in-line perpetual calendar pocket watch (No. P-1450), the5236P In-Line Perpetual Calendar is a beautiful rendition of the acclaimed perpetual calendar. Displayed in "in-line" apertures just above the centre hand stack is the day-date-month indicator, along with a moonphase indicator within the small-seconds sub-dial at 6 o'clock. I love that we have the micro-rotor powered Calibre 31-260 PS QL with a platinum micro-rotor displaying all of the intricacies of the movement. One of the show's highlights for sure.
Patek Philippe 5711/1A-014 Nautilus
Green is the new black, such is the case with the new olive-green dial 5711/1A-014 Nautilus. We still get the same case structure, the same design culture and the same lust-like qualities as every other 5711 model, but now we have a brand new dial colour to drool over. The ultimate hype watch of 2021 so far, but for the first time in a long time that hype is justified.
Patek Philippe 5990/1R Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph
Patek Philippe decided to encase its once-upon-a-time steel only 5990 in rose gold, making the 5990/1R Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph one of the most incredible spectacles in the collection. Topping off the model is a luscious blue dial, accentuating the warmth of that rose gold case. While I still prefer the original's white-metal qualities, it's hard to not enjoy the 5990/1R Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph.
Piaget Polo Skeleton High-Jewellery
I'm not normally a fan of blinged-out watches, but the new Piaget Polo Skeleton High-Jewellery really hit the mark for me. Featuring 573 brilliant- and baguette-cut diamonds on the white gold case, crown, lugs and bezel (totalling about 7.56 carats), 11 brilliant-cut sapphires on the movement and a whopping 1,442 brilliant- and baguette-cut diamonds on the white gold bracelet (totalling 15.67 carats), the Piaget Polo Skeleton High-Jewellery is, without exception, the ultimate high-jewellery, high-end piece of haute horlogerie.
TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 Tribute to Ref 844
TAG Heuer had a quiet showing, but in volumes did the Aquaracer Professional 300 speak. Featuring a 43mm wide titanium case and inspired by the look and feel of TAG Heuer's Ref. 844 diver which was launched in 1978, the Aquaracer Professional 300 Tribute to Ref 844 is a wonderful bit of kit that pays tribute to a rich history for the brand.
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925
For the first time we have a watch from Tudor crafted in silver in the shape of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925. Sitting at 39mm in diameter and featuring a 925 silver case with matching silver bezel, theBlack Bay Fifty-Eight 925 also features a beautiful yet subtle taupe-colour dial, accentuating the gleam of the silver case. All of this is capped off with the in-house MT5400 COSC certified movement, visible through the open sapphire caseback. Easily one of the best value propositions of Watches and Wonders Geneva 2021.
Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Split-Second Chronograph Ultra-Thin Platine
Vacheron Constantin made a lot of noise at Watches and Wonders Geneva 2021, perhaps none more else than the Traditionnelle Split-Second Chronograph Ultra-Thin Platine. Clad in platinum and featuring a matching platinum dial, the Traditionnelle Split-Second Chronograph Ultra-Thin Platine is an ingeniously gorgeous piece that scintillates and intrigues. The most notable feature of the Traditionnelle Split-Second Chronograph Ultra-Thin Platine is the 473-component calibre 3500, which is actually an automatic movement thanks to the discreet peripheral-rotating rotor, meaning the mechanism is not at all obscured. One of my favourite watches of 2021, by far.
Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Regulator Perpetual Calendar
With a bezel set with 44 baguette-cut diamonds, a case made of white gold, and a guilloché dial set with 36 baguette-cut diamonds and 10 sapphires, the new Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Regulator Perpetual Calendar is a beautiful spectacle of haute horlogerie. The separation of indicators make the Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Regulator Perpetual Calendar that much more interesting, as does the white and blue colour scheme. This is a flawless watch from one of horology's Holy Trinity.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin in White Gold
When it was released in its openworked pink gold guise, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Openworked really took the world by storm. But it left us begging for a white-metal version. Well, here it is. Available with either a closed blue dial or a fully openworked dial, the new white gold Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin is as entrancing as it is enticing. With delectable proportions, unfathomable beauty and an air of elegance, the white-gold Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin is supreme in any of its dial options. I'd definitely be up for the openworked option.
Ulysse Nardin Blast Hourstriker
Ulysse Nardin met Watches and Wonders Geneva 2021 head on with the Blast Hourstriker, a spectacular rendition of the classical tourbillon-cross-chiming piece. Made in collaboration with French audio technology company Diavelet (a company that they collaborated with in 2019 with the Classico Hourstriker Phantom), the Blast Hourstriker is an extreme and highly contemporary take on a chiming watch.
Zenith DEFY Extreme
Zenith caught my attention with the new DEFY Extreme. Available with either a black or blue dial and in a two-tone configuration, the new DEFY Extreme features a 1/100th of a second chronograph that beats at a fast-paced 50 Hz. This is indeed one of my favourite pieces of the show and a real reflection of just how adept Zenith is at remaining relevant.