The 62 Best Watches for Men 2021

The Esquire editors pick their favourite new and upcoming watches from big Swiss brands and under-the-radar newbies

The 62 Best Watches for Men 2021
The 62 Best Watches for Men 2021

2021! The beginning of a brand new era which… feels a lot like the last. Your enervation is warranted. But empty fuel tanks aren’t universal. In Switzerland, those big-ticket watch brands don’t let a little pandemic get them down. On the contrary, our 2021 is already shaping up to be a banner year for great new watches.

Granted, said watch brands plan and schedule their big releases years in advance. And the Swiss are nothing if not punctual (it’s not an unusual sight to see every single lab-coated watchmaker at their workspace at 9am on the dot), so it comes as little surprise that they’ve got good stuff lined up – really, actually, genuinely good stuff from Rolex, Tag Heuer, Breitling and so on.

Below, then, are our favourite new watches that you can buy right now, as well as a few that will be landing in the next 12 months. See, things are looking better already. In fact, 2021 might be the year you have the best time ever – and here are the best watches of the year to prove it.

Seiko

Proper divers don’t really wear diving watches these days. Or rather, the diving watches they do wear tend to be wrist-mounted computers, with digital displays and sensors for everything from oxygen levels to pressure readings. But divers do wear watches from Seiko’s Prospex line, which is why it’s the only marque allowed to bear the logo of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). The latest addition to their ongoing collaboration is a take on Seiko’s ‘Sumo’, (so named for its bulbous profile and the oversized 12 o’clock marker) with super-legible Lumibrite hands and markers, plus that signature 4 o’clock screwdown crown and Pepsi bezel.

Baume

Borne of the classic ‘et Mercier’ marque, Baume is an offshoot that is more sustainably and economically focused. With the 10600, you’ve a watch manufactured by one of the most respected brands in the field, for under £500, and made of upcycled and recycled materials where possible. Helps that it’s nice to look at, too.

If you want to start 2021 as you mean to go on, Baume is an excellent brand to kick off proceedings.

Girard-Perregaux

Girard-Perregaux doesn’t have the household cachet of, say, Rolex or Cartier. But that’s kind’ve the point. The Swiss manufacture, first established way, way back in 1791, is the sort of name to which seasoned collectors graduate after buying a few more well-known, well-recognised pieces.

But that’s not to say it’s just a watch fan’s watch brand. The 1966 Automatic is the sort of all-rounder that makes for a great first (or 52nd) watch: it’s clean, classic and powered by a respected movement made in-house – an essential hallmark for any watchmaker of good pedigree.

Ressence

Oh, so you fancy something a little bit different for 2021? Ressence, a next-gen marque first established in 2010, rethinks performance. Instead of standard nuts and cogs, a patented system places all windows on a single surface that sits just under the sapphire glass, and operates using a magnetic transmission connector.

If that wasn’t special enough though, Ressence launched the Black Type 3X limited edition to celebrate the brand’s 10th anniversary with a tiny production run of just 40 pieces worldwide.

Vacheron Constantin

The 265-year-old luxury watchmaker now comes with 21st Century hashtags – their latest is the grammatically questionable #OneOfNotMany. At least it’s apt. With prices starting in the tens of thousands Vacheron is not in the business of mass production: its newest model is a numbered limited edition of 30. The stainless steel case/ petrol blue dial/ brown calfskin strap combination is lovely; the sapphire caseback shows off Swiss watchmaking at its unimprovable best. Exclusive to online fashion retailer Mr Porter, another gentle concession to the times.

Rado

So named after the British explorer who discovered New Zealand, Rado’s Captain Cook was first brought to life in the Sixties, and not aboard the ships of ponytailed colonists. And now, the archival piece is available in the enduring case material du jour – bronze – with a punchy forest green dial.

It’s another set of features that sets the dive watch apart, and one that’ll keep the Captain Cook in the good books: upon its release, Rado’s dive watch was largely seen as one of the best in class. That hasn’t changed much. And now, you can even get it on a Nato strap.

Tag Heuer

It is a crying shame that Tag Heuer’s Monaco – a watch that paid homage to the race track of Le Mans – was decommissioned for around 20 years. But following a re-release in 1998, it’s slowly become one of the marque’s marquee pieces. In 2020, they’ve managed to improve it still.

As part of a trio that made slight amendments to the current Monaco model, a black dial on black leather is as close to dress watch territory as a racing watch can park and better yet, the in-house Heuer 02 movement has enough juice for over 80 hours of action.

Hamilton

Once upon a time, the industry wasn’t centred in Switzerland. American manufacturing had a stake in the watch business too, rigging small town Main Street aesthetics with big impressive movements. Hamilton was at the forefront.

Now, it’s re-released a 1968 archival piece for 2020. It’s got impressive Swiss innards these days, yes, but in terms of what’s on the outside, very little has changed. And that’s a good thing. For all the opulence and extravagance of a diamond-laden automatic from the Jura, there’s as much charm in an ‘aw shucks’ midwestern sensibility.

Rolex

A Rolex on the wrist is a serious investment. And thus, a serious watch. Though for all the commanding Wall Street presence of a big Day-Date, the industry’s biggest marque is releasing watches that are a bit fun, a little bit more playful – watches just like the new Oyster Perpetual 36.

Quietly released just a few months ago, a tangerine dial on stainless steel is the off-duty Rolex collectors have long dreamt about, and better yet, it’s no solo act: the Oyster Perpetual 36 sits within a larger collection of five watches in shades of candyfloss pink, forest green, sky blue and blood red.

A Lange & Söhne

A Lange & Söhne is a connoisseur’s watch brand. That’s why it uses terms like ‘rattrapante’, confident that its clientele will know that it refers to a double chronograph that can record multiple time intervals at the same time. Taken from the French for ‘catch up’, it’s a proper horologist’s complication, the driving watch equivalent of a 600bhp V8 under the bonnet. And in the skilful hands of A Lange & Söhne, a piece of practical watchmaking becomes pure artistry, courtesy of a gold alloy that’s said to be “considerably harder than platinum”. We’ll take their word for that.

Oris

Without the deep blue sea, Oris wouldn’t be able to make its big bold dive watches. And as such, the Swiss marque has a good habit of giving back to subaqueous charities. For its latest gesture: the Oris Hangang Limited Edition.

Released in tandem with the Korea Foundation for Environmental Movement, the Hangang Limited Edition siphons a section of its profits to a clean-up operation on the river of the same name – South Korea’s second longest in fact. The piece is also as good as its intentions, with an automatic movement powering an emerald dial (inspired by the creeks of the Hangang’s source) with an engraved caseback depicting the river’s path across Korea.

Audemars Piguet

Described by Audemars Piguet as “the most important launch since the Royal Oak in 1972”, the tongue-tying Code 11.59 (as in, “one minute to midnight”) had a lot to live up to on its 2019 launch. Using genuinely new case architecture and a crystal that curved on two separate axis, you could see why AP hailed it as radical a design as the Royal Oak’s iconic octagonal case and integrated metal bracelet. Code 11.59 didn’t convince everyone, and a new-for-2020 palate of colours is a welcome update. The focus is on sunburst lacquered dials in rich colours including blue, burgundy, purple and light and dark grey. All come on hand-stitched alligator straps matching each dials colour and, like the original run of 11.59s, are intended for both men and women.

Patek Philippe

The completion of a corporate building project is typically marked with a glass of champagne and a few words from the company boss. Patek Philippe, though, has a history of accompanying key events in its history with a new watch. So it has proved on the completion of Patek’s architecturally stunning new production building in Geneva, five years in the making. The Patek Philippe Limited Edition Commemorative Calatrava Ref. 6007A is limited to 1,000 pieces and features an unusual polished steel bezel surrounding a dial in a carbon-style texture, a nod to the world of high-tech. The caseback is marked with the brand’s Calatrava cross alongside the inscription “New Manufacture 2019″, denoting the year the company’s first departments moved into the building. Celebrations all round.

Richard Mille

Built from a new material that combines “the lightness of titanium” with “the hardness of diamond” and looking like something from the distant future, this could only be a Richard Mille watch. The latest in a series of ludicrously high-end chronographs that began with the RM 011 in 2007, the RM 11-05 is topped off with a flyback function, a GMT indicator and an annual calendar. Richard Mille likes to describe his watches as “a racing machine on the wrist” and while watch/car comparisons are ten-a-penny, it’s hard to disagree: with their sporty looks and bleeding-edge design and materials, Richard Mille’s inventions are truly the supercars of the watch world. Fittingly, this costs the same as a Ferrari Portofino.

Tag Heuer

Only a few months after Tag Heuer released its latest Wear OS smartwatch, the brand doubles down with a new version of its connected golf watch. As its name suggests, the Tag Heuer Connected Golf Edition is a golf-focused smartphone companion. It comes with an OLED screen, a 45mm matte black titanium case and a full suite of smartwatch functions including heart rate monitor, accelerometer and gyroscope. In addition, there’s detailed golf data for some 40,000 courses around the world, with game-focused features like distance to green and hazards, shot distance and score keeping.

Jaeger Le-Coultre

There’s something magical about a chiming wristwatch, doubly so if its made by Jaeger-LeCoultre, whose family of dress watches may be unparalleled. The first Memovox came out in the Fifties, one of the first generation of wristwatches to come with a chiming, vibrating alarm complication. The 2020 version has been slimmed down and tidied up, and (naturally) features a completely new movement. It’s beautifully proportioned, extremely stylish and surprisingly loud. A modern classic, we’re saying.

Vacheron Constantin

As one of the oldest watch marques in the whole wide world (if not the oldest, but that’s up for debate), Vacheron Constantin is on the top shelf of Swiss watches. That’s because they’re known for wholly classic, hi-spec pieces. But that doesn’t mean they’re averse to New Things, though.

Case in point: the Overseas Self-Winding in pink gold. While previously gilding other models in rose gold, pink gold is defined by a smaller copper content, giving it a lighter blush and a subtle newness to the Overseas model. Factor in an impressive movement too (the splendid in-house caliber 5100) and here’s a watch that plays to the well-worn strengths of Vacheron Constantin.

Hublot

Following its 2018 FIFA World Cup smartwatch, Hublot has produced a second watch running Wear OS. The Big Bang e comes in two versions: titanium, with a retail price around £4,200, and black ceramic, priced around £4,500. Both feature a 42mm OLED high-definition touchscreen covered with sapphire crystal, and 8GB of storage. In addition to the ‘time only’ analogue function, the Big Bang e features interpretations of traditional watch complications, including one that tracks the lunar calendar and another that changes colour over the course of the day, as part of the #HublotLovesArt initiative.

Breitling

Breitling continues to roll out new watches for 2020 with the new Premier Bentley Mulliner Limited Edition. Bentley and Breitling have been partners for 17 years, ever since the watchmaker produced onboard clocks for the Continental GT during its initial production of its ‘everyday supercar’ in 2002. It is the longest-running association between a watchmaker and a car brand. Limited to 100 pieces, the watch features a solid 42mm polished steel case with a push/pull crown and rectangular chronograph pushers. The enlarged Arabic numbers and red and blue detailing lend this piece a vintage, dressy feel.

Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet rarely looks to its back catalogue. It has made an exception here, with a watch based on a 1943 chronograph. The two-tone steel and pink gold case with champagne dial is borrowed directly from the now-collectable original model, as is the old-school ‘Audemars, Piguet & Co/ Genève’ logo. Concessions to modernity include a revised dial for increased legibility and a glare-proof sapphire crystal case back. It is limited to 500 pieces.

Timex

When it was launched last year in a limited run, Timex’s first military-inspired automatic watch sold out quicker than you could say, “An automatic watch for how much?” Those who missed out now have a second chance to grab a watch that channels Timex’s military heritage but adds clever guts (a 21-jewel Japanese automatic movement) and will still leave you change from £230. With only 100m water resistance it’s more a desk diving watch than a diver diving watch. But at that price, we’re not ones to quibble.

Bamford

A handsome automatic steel watch inspired ‘by travel’, from independent London watchmaker George Bamford. His eye for detail has led to work with big name watch brands including Tag Heuer and Zenith, but Bamford’s own line is always worth your time. Designed with a bold blue and orange dial, the GMT hand function lets you simultaneously view the time in two different zones.

Hublot

Designed in tribute to the UK’s capital, this limited edition is a showcase for Hublot’s core USP: statement-led design and technical prowess. For the former, see the sunray-finished racing grey dial engraved with a Union Jack motif, the caseback decorated with ‘Hublot Loves London’ and the black rubber strap with its City of London tartan theme. For the latter, see the 45mm black ceramic case, the hefty 42-hour power reserve and the watch’s 10 signature ‘H’ screws set into the bezel and case in contrasting polished titanium.

Junghans

Once this German company was the biggest watch manufacturer in the world. Today it maintains a pole position in the league of best-designed brands, noted for its clean dials and minimalist indices. Its relationship with the Swiss architect and typeface designer Max Bill dates back to the Fifties and lives on in 2020 with this smart and sophisticated, elegantly proportioned day watch.

Nomos

Nomos Glashütte, the German brand known for its minimalist, design-forward watches, marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig Van Beethoven (that’s 1770, for those who can’t do the maths in their heads) with a new collection in tribute to his greatest works. The four new models in the brand’s square-cased Tetra series – Tetra Devine Spark, Tetra Ode To Joy, Tetra Immortal Beloved and Tetra Fidelio – sport in-house mechanical calibers and vibrant dial colours: copper, olive green, turquoise and dark blue, respectively. Nomos is officially calling this a ladies’ collection, but the 29.5 x 29.5mm cases would suit most wrists. Plus we’re living in gender-fluid 2020, people.

Longines

In addition to blue, black and grey editions, a green execution joins the line up of Longines’ primary modern dive watch collection. Green is a fashionable colour in the watch world for 2020, and this model hits the sweet spot between being military-inspired and stylish. Available in two case sizes, 41mm and 43mm, it is water resistant to 300m.

Tag Heuer

Tag Heuer’s third generation smartwatch, featuring a more refined design and added sensors for sport and fitness. A new dedicated Sports app uses GPS plus heart rate, compass, accelerometer and gyroscopic sensors for tracking activities including golf, running and cycling. Tag Heuer has also been able to make this itineration physically smaller by hiding the antennas underneath a new ceramic bezel, in addition to putting the screen closer to the sapphire glass. It also looks more like a traditional watch.

IWC Schaffhausen

One of the nicest-looking chronographs and arguably the classic IWC dress watch now comes with a self-winding in-house movement that significantly lowers its entry price (at least in the steel version). Available with a silver, black or blue dial in steel, or silver and black dial in 18k red gold. The absence of a date keeps it classy.

Bell & Ross

Grey and neon green is a winning combination, as any Air Max 95 fan knows. Bell & Ross, leaders in pilot watches, technical engineering and glow in the dark dials, has adopted that same colour way for its upcoming BR 03-92 Grey Lum. A fine addition to its ‘LUM’ (luminière, or light) line, introduced in 2017, it’s a showy timepiece – in all the right ways.

Tissot

Competitively priced, no nonsense steel watch that won’t let you down. Tissot’s T-Classic watch line is all about pairing Swiss-made tradition with go-anywhere appeal. Also available with a blue dial.

Rado

A popular twist on an already popular model, the Captain Cook dive watch gets a 2020 update in a green dial/ bronze case combo. It’s a style that’s proved a winner for other brands, and Rado delivers it at a better price. Would look equally smart on a NATO strap.

Tag Heuer

Tag Heuer marks 160 years at the pole position of watchmaking with this new Carrera Silver Limited Edition. A close reproduction of the original, much sought-after racing chronograph, the stainless steel revival keeps its forebear’s monochrome silver-coloured dial, polished case and trio of pushers, alongside the brand’s old ‘Heuer’ badge. But it’s been upsized from 36mm to 39mm and carries a sparkling new 21st century movement, comprising 168 components and an 80-hour power reserve. Limited to 1,860 pieces (as in the founding year, 1860).

Seiko

Inspired by the world of night diving, which may be a first, Seiko’s new series of dive watches are distinguished by their none-more-black DLC-coated stainless steel cases. There are three models available: the SLA035J1 Professional, with water resistance to 1,000 feet (limited to 600 models), the SPB125J1 “Sumo”, a 45mm version (7,000 models) and the solar-powered SSC761J1, shown here (limited to 3,500 pieces).

Omega

Omega had a big 2019, celebrating the 50th anniversary of ‘the first watch on the moon’, its iconic Speedmaster ‘Moonwatch’, with a raft of special releases. With 2020 set to be another banner year (Omega sponsors the summer Olympics and is James Bond’s timepiece of choice) it hasn’t forgone its space connections just yet. Its first release of the decade is a new version of the Speedmaster ‘Ed White’, named for the astronaut who wore it on America’s first spacewalk, in 1965. A justly celebrated piece of design, it is now available in non-limited stainless steel, putting it into orbit of those without the means to hit up the auction houses for an vintage model.

Richard Mille

A companion watch to the tourbillon RM 59-01, which Richard Mille created for Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake, the RM 61-o1 has been part of the Richard Mille line-up since 2012. The new ‘Ultimate Edition’ is limited to 150 pieces and will be the final version released in the series. As per all Richard Mille releases, the specs have more in common with a high-performance sports car than something you’d typically find on someone’s wrist. The case is crafted in carbon and quartz, it’s impact-tested to more than 5,000 Gs and features a skeletonised calibre made of PVD-treated grade 5 titanium. Ultimate indeed.

Bulgari

Bulgari’s first release of 2020 is a new version of its Octo Finissimo Automatic, which debuted in 2017. Back then, it created quite a stir – at a scarcely-possible 2.23mm thick, it contained the world’s thinnest self-winding movement. The paper-thin sports watch has previously been available in titanium, stainless steel and rose gold, all with a sandblasted finish. Now that family is joined by two new models – in steel with a bracelet, or 18ct rose gold with a strap – that feature a fancy satin-polished finish, and also play up the contrast between the black lacquered dial and the polished hands and indexes.

Bell & Ross

One of three military-inspired styles that Bell & Ross is launching in the first quarter of 2020, all dedicated to ‘modern urban explorers’, this chronograph sports ‘tool watch’ functionality while adding a bit of extra panache. The bronze case will age over time, taking on a palette of unique shades, in a run limited to 999 pieces. The two other models are the aviation-inspired BRV2-93 GMT Blue and the khaki camouflage V2-92 Military Green, completing a trio of well-proportioned, robust models that will look good anywhere.

Hublot

There are men’s watches, then there are Hublot watches. Available in three versions, titanium, black ceramic and ‘king gold’ alloy, the Spirit of Big Bang Meca-10 is named after its groundbreaking movement, which packs a 10-day power reserve, and represents one of a handful of strong 2020 releases for the brand. Hublot’s peerless technical design chops are visible in the trademark open working, topped off with a trademark chunky rubber strap, making this as impressive as it is unapologetically masculine.

Oris

Oris has an enduring and authentic commitment to ocean conservation. That materialises in this extension to its Aquis family of dive watches, which is made in partnership with the Lake Baikal Foundation, an organisation that protects the world’s largest source of fresh water, in Siberia. Limited to 1,999 pieces – marking the year Russia passed the Baikal Law – it will help fund research and raise awareness of both pollution and the need for clean water. The gradient blue dial is novel (without being novelty) and comes housed in a stainless steel case, with a uni-directional rotating bezel featuring a ceramic insert. It looks good, and does good.

William Wood Watches

In 2018 Esquire held its first Self-Made event, where business start-ups had the opportunity to make an ‘elevator pitch’ to a panel of experts. The winner was Jonny Garrett, founder of William Wood Watches, a company with a singular story. Dedicated to Garrett’s firefighter grandfather, and the Fire Service internationally, each watch contains part of a Twenties British brass firefighter’s helmet, putting a piece of heroic heritage on your wrist. Launched on Kickstarter, the brand raised over £25,000 in less than a week and has gone from strength to strength. Its new Valiant line is now in production, a collection of five stainless steel automatic dive watches, featuring straps made from Angus Duraline British fire hose rubber, blue tinted double domed sapphire crystal (a tribute to the blue watch service) and a turning bezel inspired by firefighter’s oxygen tanks.

Blancpain

The Blancpain Air Command was originally produced in the Fifties, intended for use by the US Air Force. For this 500-piece limited edition, Switzerland’s oldest watch manufacturer wanted to remain as faithful as possible to that original model – with a few concessions to modernity. To wit, the combination of an ultra-vintage look with modern materials and a modern movement.

Breguet

Available for the first time in a ‘Grand Feu’ enamel, this peerless dress watch has been rigorously thought-out. To ensure ease of readability, the moon-tipped hands are made of rhodium-plated steel, while the Arabic numerals, stars, diamond shapes and fleur-de-lis on the chapter ring are silvered and larger than normal. A fantastic piece.

Oris

Based on the design of the very first diver’s watch that Oris created in 1965, this chronograph version has been updated to 2020 specs, and now features a robust stainless steel case, a sapphire crystal and a hugely reliable automatic Swiss-made mechanical movement. The bronze bezel edge and rose gold-plated dial details add to the watch’s stylish retro look. Regular readers of Esquire and our annual The Big Watch Book will know we’re of the opinion Oris has seldom put a foot wrong of late.

Breitling

The brand’s latest model honours the de Havilland Mosquito, the British aircraft whose lightweight ‘wooden wonder’ construction made it one of World War II’s fastest planes. The red and orange accents are particularly nice.

Longines

Paying tribute to the year it was created, this model is a fair summation of the codes close to Longines’s heart: mixing tradition with elegance and performance. The movement can be admired through the transparent caseback. For our money, Longines make some of the coolest, most affordable watches in the business.

Tissot

The Swiss brand first engaged with motor racing during the Fifties, finding its greatest success in the Seventies sponsoring entrants at the Le Mans 24-hour endurance races and claiming a podium first place with French car builder Alpine at the Monte Carlo Rally World Championship in 1973. This year’s Heritage release revisits Tissot’s original mechanical racing watch, the Navigator, fairly faithfully while adding new tweaks. Inside the polished steel 43mm case, the three-dial panda layout is highlighted with green Super-LumiNova indices and sporty little neon-orange counters, the date window is repositioned between 4 and 5 o’clock, and it’s all mounted on a period-perfect black perforated leather racing strap. Limited to an appropriate 1,973 pieces, the race is on to catch up with one.

Chopard

Over the last few years, several companies have released watches with ‘integrated bracelets’ – that’s to say, where the watch case and bezel flow continuously into a multi-linked bracelet, a trend that last took hold in the 1970s. Chopard’s take is a reinterpretation of the St Moritz watch is launched 40 years ago, and is a particularly handsome piece. Simultaneously the rebirth of a watch icon, and the introduction of a new one, the Alpine Eagle Automatic also comes with 100 meter water resistance.

Audemars Piguet

Code 11.59 is a new family of watches from the storied Swiss brand, best known for its Royal Oak, an icon of modern watchmaking with its distinctive angular case, exposed screws and integrated bracelet. AP is calling Code 11.59 “the biggest launch since 1972”, the year the Royal Oak arrived: the plan was to make a splash with something contemporary and all-new that nods to its innovative past. Five years in the making and available in 13 references across six models with three new calibres, all Code 11.59 watches were launched simultaneously, a feat in itself. The self-winding chronograph version features a black lacquered dial, an 18k pink gold case and a double-curved sapphire crystal, something that plays with depth perception, a new design element for Code 11.59 that may yet become as iconic as the Royal Oak’s octagonal bezel.

Victorinox

After its successful launch in 2018, Victorinox announces the second mechanical iteration of I.N.O.X, its sports watch line known for almost comical toughness — tests include being blasted by corrosive liquids and run over by a tank — while maintaining a cool, streamlined aesthetic. As its name suggests, this version is made from a carbon composite, something also used to protect space shuttles from atmospheric re-entry at temperatures that can exceed 1,260°C, where presumably checking the time would be the last thing on your mind. Scratch-resistant, hypoallergenic and with Super-Luminova detailing on the dial and the strap, it somehow weighs in at just a fraction under 100g. One of the toughest watches on this planet then, now fully space-proofed.

Tudor

Based on a 1967 prototype watch for US Navy divers codenamed the “Commando” which was not accepted into service, Tudor has now raided its archives to expand its ultra-successful Black Bay range with this unusual tool watch based upon that blueprint. Uniquely built for the world aquatic where underwater and surface exploration merge, the hefty P01 is rated waterproof to 200m while its bi-directional bezel is marked off in hours for navigating sailors to time their chart courses. The crown being set lower at 4 o’clock offers it protection from the rough stuff under or above the waves, but the watch’s most notable feature is the hinged end link system on the leather-rubber strap which locks into the bezel’s teeth to prevent accidental movement from bashes and knocks. If extreme water sports are your thing, this is your watch.

Seiko

Japan’s foremost watchmaker started as a jewellery shop in 19th-century Ginza, specialising in clocks. Now it’s famous for making outstanding watches at every price point, using entirely in-house processes, right down to concocting lubricating oils. Its new Prospex LX line is a three-part sports watch range encompassing land, air and sea, nodding to its Professional Diver’s watch from 1968; a fan favourite. Combining heritage looks with modern build methods, the Prospex LX SNR031 dive watch is a collaboration with the industrial supercar designer Ken Okuyama, noted for his work with Ferrari. Technical notes include a substantial 44.8mm case, a 5R spring drive movement, a 72-hour power reserve, water resistance to 300m and a titanium case that’s been “Zaratsu” (blade) polished, achieving that mirrored finish — just look at the light dance off it.

Montblanc

If you’re jaded with watch cases in brushed steel, white/rose/red gold, titanium, ceramic, carbon fibre et al, take a look at this adventurous offering from Montblanc in bronze. Inspired by the spirit of early 20th century mountaineering, the 1858 Geosphere Limited Edition is dedicated to the Seven Summits climbing challenge to conquer Earth’s highest peaks; and only 1,858 of this model will be manufactured. Beneath its rose gold hands, the outdoors-friendly khaki dial displays the date, a second time zone and two rotating globes representing the Northern and Southern Hemisphere’s 24-hour time zones with day and night depicted in contrasting colours. The rugged khaki woven Nato strap further enhances its explorer credentials — how far you venture with it is your call.

Swatch

The Skin Irony collection launched last year, combining elements from two of Swatch’s best lines: Skin and Irony. At 5.8 mm high, the result was the brand’s slimmest watch, and a great example of a storied brand continuing to evolve. This simple, elegant piece is the perfect wear-anywhere model and has plenty to say about the refined tastes of the wearer, without shouting it from the rooftops.

Hublot

One of the luxury partnerships that just makes sense, Hublot has been working with Ferrari on a series of special edition watches since 2011. Taking its cues from Gran Turismo cars through the years, the 45mm Classic Fusion Ferrari GT is a true collaborative effort: Hublot built the movement, Ferrari built the case. The latter is cast in carbon 3D fibre and designed at the Centro Stile Ferrari in Maranello, Italy. The former — Hublot’s Unico manufacture self-winding chronograph flyback movement — is made in Switzerland and comprises 354 parts. Besides black-on-black carbon, the Ferrari GT is also available in 18k “king gold” (£32,100) or titanium (£18,200).

Patek Philippe

Time, day, date, month — the basic temporal measurements and functionality upon which watchmaking has been based since, well, time immemorial. Patek’s new high-end 5212A, however, goes one better by adding an additional refinement to its information display by keeping track of the weeks in a year. Beyond the three standard hands for seconds, minutes and hours, two red-tipped hammer pointers register the day and the week number (the latter also cleverly indicates the relevant month on a concentric outer scale). Design afficionados should note the technical lettering on the face is based on the actual handwriting of a Patek designer; a handsome and human detail on such an exquisite and captivating complication.

Cartier

The Santos, Cartier’s style icon, was first introduced in 1904 and became not only a Cartier signature but also one of the defining wristwatch designs of the 20th century. The latest iteration takes the full Santos-Dumont moniker and steers the line in a new direction — thinner, smaller and more affordable. Key to that is its slimline quartz movement, which may offend the more mechanically minded, but in the flesh it barely registers because of the absence of the tell-tale ticking seconds hand of a quartz movement. It helps too that Cartier is claiming a punchy six-year battery life. The larger of the two models announced is only 31.4mm wide, although feels larger on the wrist, and is just 7mm thick. Mounted on a navy alligator hide strap, it’s chic, dressy and a lusty addition to the Santos canon.

Carl F Bucherer

The resurgent independent watchmaker’s latest model ticks off a number of current trends. The 41mm Heritage Bicompax Annual is based on a Fifties’ archive piece with a “bicompax” two-counter dial, giving it a mid-century feel (tick); it’s available in two-tone steel and rose gold (tick); and it’s also limited (tick). There’ll be 888 of both the two-tone and steel models, determined by the company’s founding year of 1888, rather than out of deference to gamblers. It’s decent value, too. Behind that balanced dial, there’s a clever movement fuelling a chronograph and an annual calendar with date and month indications that only need adjusting on 1 March. The steel is a touch over £5k, with a premium for the solid gold detailing in the two-tone. Modest by the industry’s lengthy yardstick.

Piaget

Skinny watches are Piaget’s calling card, performing particularly well for them, as well as being award-winning marvels of engineering in their own right. Upping the ante this year, the brand has added a thin layer of meteorite to two of its Altiplano models. Since each sliver of rock is slightly different, each watch is effectively unique. In a weird galactic trend alert it’s not the only watch brand to incorporate meteorite in 2020, but we love what Piaget have done here: the combination of chic ultra-thinness and rugged stone dial really works.

Jaeger-LeCoultre

Next, a piece that shows off just a few of the remarkable in-house handcraft skills Jaeger-LeCoultre has maintained, including enamel dial-making and hand-guilloché, on a super-elegant moon phase watch with an incredibly thin movement. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel also has a power reserve of 70 hours – meaning you can wear it Monday to Friday and pick it up again at the start of the week, without correcting the date, moon phase or time. The case is white gold, the dial an eye-wateringly deep midnight blue and the hand-workmanship the best in the business.

IWC Schaffhausen

IWC makes other watch styles but it is best known for its pilot models, something it is doubling down on this year with the new additions to its Top Gun collection, including the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition ‘Mojave Desert, the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium and the Pilot’s Watch Automatic Top Gun. Also of note is the Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Special Edition ‘The Longest Flight’, dedicated to the ‘Silver Spitfire – The Longest Flight’ project, which will see pilots Steve Boultbee Brooks and Matt Jones attempt to fly around the world this summer in a Spitfire. Everything, from the colour scheme to the black dial to the green textile strap, has been inspired by the cockpit of the classic warplane.

Vacheron Constantin

Not only is this an absolutely stunning piece of watchmaking, it will run for over two months, thanks to a clever ‘standby mode’ triggered by a pusher located at on the case at 7.00. The Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar includes an ultra-long power reserve when the watch is not in use, meaning the perpetual calendar needs no adjustment even if the piece has been packed away for 65 days. That’s an ingenious innovation, but we’re equally taken with this watch’s striking looks: the hand-guilloché slate-coloured gold and transparent sapphire dial, the 18k gold markers and the beautiful symmetry for such a highly complicated piece.

Gucci

We love this watch. Unisex, inspired by skateboarding and, once you factor in the different number of cases, strap options and the fact it comes in both 35 or 38mm, available in at least 30 different combinations, The Grip is unlike anything else on the market – idiosyncratic, cool, and strikingly different without being silly – which is just way Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele likes it. The cushion case is a joy to wear, while telling the time using three disks to reveal the hour, minute and date couldn’t be simpler.

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