Needless to say, it has been a very weird year for the industry. As some of you may know, watch marketing goes a lot through tradeshows, and most were cancelled this year. Partly due to this, many watch releases were pushed to 2021.
Some days felt like weeks while some months felt like days. Never has time escaped us so much. For many, this called for a way to keep track of time with a physical and mechanical piece, a demand to which watchmakers answered fiercely.
This means that, despite a very bumpy road, it still has been a solid year in terms of releases. Watch companies had to find a new way to communicate with their customers, bring value through different channels and find ways to thrive in a crashing economy. This fueled innovative ideas, and amazingly designed watches to convince customers that a virus would not be enough to kill the centuries long tradition of watchmaking.
To honor one of the great pillars of the Swiss economy, we wanted to talk to you about our 10 favorite watch releases of the year. These are in no particular order, they are just great watches worth knowing.
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Calibre 321 watch
This is without a doubt one of the most iconic piece of the Omega collection. The timepiece was firmly clipped on the wrist of the astronauts who carried on the six lunar missions. The new model was reconstructed from a 3D scan of Gene Gernan's own Omega – which he wore in 1972 on the moon –, bringing us as close as it gets to the real deal. Aside from its metal coating, it is the almost-exact recreation of the famous timepiece, with each of its parts carefully built by hand. Sure, it is three times as expensive as the classic model of the speedmaster, but you're not only buying a watch, you're buying a piece of history.
Price: CHF 14,000.–
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight "Navy Blue" watch
This model is a refresher of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight model, a leaner version of their Black Bay dive watch. For three grands, it is almost as close as you can get to the Rolex submariner design, though for a far more affordable price. The timepiece features a beautiful oceanic blue bezel and dial – which you could find on the "Blue Snowflake" model –, and also links to history and heritage, as this is a wink to the Tudors worn by the French Navy in the 1970s.
Price: CHF 3,500.–
Rolex Submariner 2020 watch
This is simply one of the most iconic timepieces of the watch world. Period. Besides, Rolex barely releases any real novelty: its last original launch was with the Yachtmaster back in 1992. Their main strategy is to upgrade their portfolio of classics. The new model constitutes the first upgrade to their flagship since 2012. The new subs features a slightly larger case, but this very visible watch should not stop you from noticing the more hidden changes, such as the wider bracelet and the most up to date movement of the company.
Price: CHF 7,700.–
Source: Grand Seiko
Grand Seiko Elegance SBGM241 watch
We often talk of the Swiss when speaking about watch, but Grand Seiko, a Japanese company, also makes some of the most beautiful watches in the world. This new piece mixes the English influence: the British Racing Green dial with the fine texture of the Grand Seiko's signature Mount Iwate dial. The yellow numbers contrast perfectly with the deep green dial, while staying discreet. Overall, a solid timepiece to add to your collection, especially if you are looking to invest in an watch made outside of Europe. Diversification is good in your watch collection too !
Price: US$ 5,200.–
Breitling Endurance Pro watch
Everything connected to sport and athleisure was already booming, but the pandemic made many people return to a daily physical exercise routine. Breitling quickly identified this trend and jumped into the market with its Endurance Pro model. Many chronometers on the market are heavy, made of steal and mechanical, but Breitling went against that with a lightweight and colorful watch, which was much more fit to the purpose. Solidly built, you won't have an issue having it on your wrist, however intense your sport session is. Swiss watch combined with fitness devices at its best.
Price: CHF 2,950.–
Source: Tag Heuer
Tag Heuer Carrera 160 Years Montreal limited edition watch
The years are in the name, this is yet another piece of history. This watch is an ode to the 70s-era Heuer Montreal. Note that Tag decided to keep the primary colors which made the watch famous among collectors for years – also, the yellow parts glow in the dark, for a very cool rendering in the night. The watch features a sapphire crystal back which lets the owner observe the beauty of the Heuer 02 movement, a sophisticated in-house innovation, entirely designed and built in TAG Heuer's manufacture.
Price: CHF 6,600.–
Source: Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe Ref. 7234G-001 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time watch
Patek Phillipe has launched its Calatrava Pilot Travel Time in the smaller format of 37.5mm. The timepiece remains one of the brand's sportiest creation and is made both for men and women. The watch combines a casual attitude with the classical aeronautical stylings. A deep blue dial with a blue bracelet makes for a discrete and sportsy watch, good for both everyday carry as well as special occasions. Outsized pushers are not made for the taste of everyone, but if you do like them, they add a definite style to the object. The watch offers a dual time-zone feature, coupled with a nice date display and a local time. A casual-looking piece among high end luxury watches.
Price: US$ 48,500.–
Longines Spirit Collection
For the pilot-watches lovers with a smaller budget, the Longines Spirit collection is the way to go. With a 40mm case, the watch features a very classical dial with little information asides from the time and day. Another history-binded watch which accompanied many men and women as they explored the air and the sea. A modern take, both technically and aesthetically, on the classical features that sat on the wrist of exceptional people who left their mark on history, encouraging humankind to always push further and surpass itself. A great watch in all regards.
Price: CHF 2,000.–
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Grand Complication
This one is probably the watch that impressed me the most out of the many I have seen. Coming in two variants: pink gold case with black dial, and white gold case with deep plus dial; this is a new interpretation of Jaeger-Le-Coultre's Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication. It includes two of the most technically challenging complication of the craft: minute repeater and celestial vault. The watch also features an orbital flying tourbillion which turns on its axis once every 60 seconds. They are limited to 8 pieces each. Price fluctuates, but from what I could find, you are already over half a million apiece – that is, if you can get your hands on one.
Price: EUR 450,000.–
Noah x Timex Ghost Nets Suck watch
Among these very fancy and pricy watches, I also wanted to include one very affordable, yet funny and elegant piece. This is Noah's very first watch, designed in collaboration with Timex. Coming at the more than affordable price of $125, it is meant to bring attention to the scourge of ghost which endangers a wide spectrum of water creatures, such as turtles, as one might guess seeing the turtle armed with a knife on the dial. The watch is rather small, with a 38mm case made of stainless steel. It has a water resistance of 50m, shows hours and minutes and the movement is a Timex quartz. On the back, one can read a very simple message in case the message was not clear: "Ghost nets sucks!". Uncomplicated and elegant, this watch simply rules.
Price: US$ 125.–
The Best Watches of 2020, in GQ
The 12 Best Watches of 2020, in Esquire