Ready for some new wrist candy? Over the first half of 2021 we’ve seen nearly every major maker release an epic luxury timepiece. From haute horological masterpieces to cool everyday tool watches, here are our 12 favorite launches of 2021.
1. Rolex Explorer II
While much of the watch world was expecting a substantial aesthetic update for the model’s 50th anniversary, Rolex had other ideas. The crown does as it pleases, and they decided it would be best to upgrade the movement to the in-house caliber 3285—the same that beats inside the GMT Master II. They also added a new brighter, longer-lasting lume to the indexes and hands, making it a more reliable, heartier classic. Sure, some might be disappointed by its staid appearance, but we’d bet no one who actually lands one will feel that way.
[$8,550; rolex.com]Get it
2. Omega Speedmaster Professional
It’s the moon watch we all know and love—but now with Omega’s co-axial escapement and a silicon hairspring, making this Speedy METAS certified, accurate to +5 seconds a day, and anti-magnetic to 15,000 gauss. Omega also upgraded the bracelet so it’s both better looking and more comfortable. Plus the brand re-ran the original NASA testing on the new version and it passed with flying colors, so it’s ready to go back to the moon… or Mars when the time comes.
[$6,350; omegawatches.com]Get it
3. Zenith Defy Extreme
The 45mm Defy feels like something Bruce Wayne might wear all day, then leave on his wrist when he suits up as Batman. The micro-blasted titanium case and bracelet protect an El Primero 21 high-frequency chronograph movement that spins the seconds hand around the dial in a single breath. The new model also features a quick swap system that allows the wearer to swap from bracelet to strap and back again with the push of a button—perfect if you have to transition from the boardroom to battle the Joker in a moment’s notice.
[$18,000; zenith-watches.com]Get it
4. Audemars Royal Oak Self-Winding Chronograph Limited Edition
A gold watch was once a signifier of retirement. This Royal Oak ain’t that. It’s more of a statement piece for those seriously in their prime. The automatic chronograph is gold on gold with a stunning green dial, which they tell is very en vogue at the moment, but when is green ever actually out of style? It’s only available at the New York boutique and is limited to 125 pieces.
[$74,800; audemarspiguet.com]Get it
5. Breitling B25 Datora
It’s hard not to find yourself transfixed by the copper dial on this Breitling Datora. It’s an elegant and luxurious shade that draws you in to admire the texture of the chronograph subdials, as well as the complete calendar and moon-phase complications.
[$12,950; breitling.com]Get it
6. Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadriptyque
The odds of you ever owning one are astronomical, as is the price, but this Jaeger LeCoultre is an absolute masterpiece of high horology utilizing 11 different complications, so attention must be paid. The Reverso watch has four faces. The first features the time, a perpetual calendar and a flying tourbillon. The second face also displays the time with a jumping hour and the mechanism of the minute repeater. The third face depicts the moon phase and orbit. And the fourth face, displays the lunar phase from the southern hemisphere on the back of the case. It’s an insane degree of complication in a wearable piece that only further burnishes JLC’s reputation as a “watchmaker’s watchmaker.”
[~$1.64 million; hybrismechanicacalibre185.jaeger-lecoultre.com]Get it
7. Hublot Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Full Sapphire
Uber technical and aesthetically dynamic, this Big Bang is evidence that Hublot is on the cutting edge of fine watchmaking. The crystal, case, bracelet, and some parts of the HUB6035 manufacture automatic tourbillon movement are made out of sapphire. It’s just a bonkers watch limited to 30 pieces worldwide.
[$422,000; hublot.com]Get it
8. Tudor Black Bay Chrono
This new chronograph from Tudor certainly evokes a Paul Newman Daytona aesthetic, but who doesn’t love a panda dial? This iteration features a 70-hour power reserve; a screw-down crown; and pushers that give the sports watch 200mm of water resistance, so it’s a versatile, go-anywhere piece.
[$5,225; tudorwatch.com]Get it
9. H. Moser & Cie Endeavour Centre Seconds Concept x seconde/seconde/
Indie brand H. Moser is our kind of cool, managing to kick out pieces that are unpretentious yet still swanky. This collaboration with artist seconde/seconde/ replaces the hour hand with a pixelated eraser for a fun, minimalist piece of wrist art that’ll make you smile every time you check the dial. The edition is limited to 20, but each watch also comes with a signed, numbered seconde/seconde/ piece for the wall as well.
[~$20,000; h-moser.com]Get it
10. Rado Captain Cook Ceramic
Rado’s Captain Cook is a pretty rad dive watch, but the brand dropped this version with both a ceramic case and a ceramic bracelet for under $4K, which feels like a steal at twice the price. The case has been beefed up from 42mm to 43mm and the clear sapphire dial exposes an automatic, skeletonized Rado caliber R734movement with an 80-hour power reserve.
[$3,600; rado.com]Get it
11. Bulgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar
The new Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar is staggeringly thin. The watch clocks in at a scant 5.8mm, making it a technical watchmaking masterpiece and also the thinnest perpetual calendar on the market. The case and bracelet are both constructed from sandblasted titanium, so it’s light to boot.
[$59,000; bulgari.com]Get it
12. Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Aquamarine Dream
Zodiac’s one of our favorite brands because they aren’t afraid of bold colors—and the Aquamarine Dream edition definitely makes a pop. This Super Sea Wolf is a collaboration between Zodiac and Ariel Adams, the founder of aBlogtoWatch. The striking shade was inspired by the Caribbean waters off the island of Nassau in the Bahamas. You can almost feel the warm sea currents with every glance at the dial.
[$1,495; zodiacwatches.com]Get it
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