After the disease that shall not be named put a halt to the watch releases slated for 2020, infection rates have now apparently cleared enough for the biggest watchmakers around to show off what they’ve been working on over lockdown, which they did so in the pretty ad-hoc, decentralised Geneva Watch Days.
Unlike the now-defunct Baselworld and the postponed Watches and Wonders, every brand kind of did their own thing, partly for ease, partly because most of the world still couldn’t get there. I only just avoided having to quarantine myself.
Still, it was worth the risk to see what some of the finest horologists in the world have coming up over the next few months. Here then are the highlights that every watch lover should sit up and take notice of.
Rolex Submariner Date ‘Kermit’ 2020
They may not have been at Geneva Watch Days, but there’s no way I’m missing out the biggest release of the year; besides, your Instagram’s probably already full of the new, tweaked Submariner. As well as slimmer, more elegant lugs and an upped, 41mm case size, the entire new collection of subs is equipped with the most advanced Rolex movement, the 3230, and its date variant, the 3235. Paraflex, Parachrom, new materials and mainsprings, the enhanced calibres are serious watchmaking.
While there’s only one non-date version in the new collection, the famous cyclops date magnifier has made its home among seven new colour variations in gold, steel and a mix of the both. The highlight though is the newest version of the ‘Kermit’ with its black dial and green ceramic bezel; expect a waiting list for the waiting list.
Breitling Endurance Pro
Quartz isn’t something we’ve come to expect from Breitling; sure they’ve dabbled in techy watches before with their digi-analogue Aerospace Evo and the transponder housing Emergency, but quartz? That’s a little unfair, however, given that the Superquartz Breitling 82 movement inside the new Endurance Pro is a cut above your average Swatch watch.
The black case is made from Breitlight, which hasn’t been seen for at least a couple years; it’s ultra-lightweight and resistant, but not exactly luxurious. Put it with a palette of bright colours and a technical chronograph dial though and you have a cool, accessible entry-level into Breitling. If you regularly say “athleisure” then this may well be the watch for you.
The funky, fashionista-courting Bvlgari Aluminium watch is making a comeback, this time with an automatic makeover. Having been stripped from the Italian maison’s collection for most of a decade, it’s combination of lightweight case metal and excessive branding make for one eye-catching design.
The rubber bracelet is far more comfortable than you’d expect and the white-dialled, non-chrono version is a lot more handsome than it has any reason to be. Sure, it’s not Bvlgari’s record-breaking Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Skeleton Chronograph (which is absolutely spectacular, if not exactly unexpected any more) but it’s a damn sight more affordable. Though having the brand name on the dial, bezel and strap is more than a little over-the-top.
Moser & Cie Streamliner Centre Seconds
The luxury, 1970s-slanted sports watch is all but ubiquitous with fine watchmaking now – think big, chunky steel timepieces with impressive price tags to fit in line with the Royal Oak. Not one to be left behind, Moser & Cie has built probably the loveliest of them all in the Streamliner Centre Seconds.
The lugless, 40mm cushion-shaped case is stunning, with just enough industrial style to scratch the itch, complete with an incredibly comfortable, fluidly curvaceous integrated bracelet. Finished with a fumé dial in what Moser is calling ‘Matrix Green’, and a ring of charmingly haphazard hour markers, few can touch Moser when it comes to simplicity done to perfection.
CHF 19,900; h-moser.com
Ulysse Nardin BLAST
At opposite end of the spectrum we have Ulysse Nardin’s dose of maximalist insanity that is the BLAST. For once, it’s a watch worthy of all caps. Essentially an overhaul of the watchmaker’s Executive series, this skeletonised beast of a watch is defined by the double X dominating the dial. Through it you can see the entirety of the UN-172 automatic tourbillon movement.
The case is almost as extraordinary with its faceted lugs, alternately polished and brushed and inspired by stealth bombers. Is the BLAST subtle? Hell no. But if you’re a fan of Roger Dubuis, Richard Mille and all the skeletonised insanity therein, you might well have a new dream timepiece – especially the blacked-out, red-highlighted version. Though at this price it’ll probably stay a dream.
Girard-Perregaux Laureato Infinity Edition
Overachievers that they are, Girard-Perregaux launched a total of eight new references this year, most of which have one thing in common: Onyx. The Infinity Collection is a diverse set of timepieces, but all of them use Onyx dials and touches of rose gold to bring the mineral to life. My personal favourite is the Free Bridge, the only brand new watch in the collection. However, it’s new Laureato Infinity Edition is where I’d spend my money.
The deep, glossy black dial makes for a stark backdrop for rose gold indexes and makes for a lovely new take to the octagonal-bezelled, 42mm sports-luxe timepiece. Fit with a manufacture automatic movement (the GP1800-1404), it’s a great, limited-edition starting point into a painfully underrated Swiss watchmaker.
CHF 13,200; girard-perregaux.com
Maurice Lacroix Pontos Chronograph Monopusher
Sporty and accessible, the Pontos has been a mainstay of France’s biggest watch brand for a solid 20 years now and, to celebrate its anniversary, is the focus for Maurice Lacroix this year. Case in point, the celebratory 500-piece limited-edition Pontos Chronograph Monopusher.
Rather than the outer chapter ring, the prerequisite tachymeter is outlined around the centre of the black fumé dial in blue and red. It’s a distinctly retro-modern racing watch, complete with the novelty of a single button chronograph backed by an automatic ML166 movement. Sure, monopushers are less useful than your standard, two-pusher chronos, but that’s all part of the charm.