The interim between Christmas and New Year is an unusual time. A liminal space we’re gifted each year – whether we want it or not – a time of anticipation for the future while we reflect over what has been. A time inviting self-reflection, or for those, such as I, an existential crisis working out what’s been achieved and what else needs to be done. While meme lords have kept us going through another year tainted by the pandemic – 2021 the hangover to 2020 if you will – as beings of invention, in the face of hardship, our energy to grown and transform has continued alongside.
In the watch world, inspired change manifested in a sequence of new models and attitudes in an industry ironically now against the clock to increase its own ecological footprint. Like Spotify Wrapped, giving you a rundown of which artists and songs you blasted through your speakers this year, we’re offering you a shortlist of the most inventive watches this year that made their mark on the watch world.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual
It was the year of bigger and better. Upscaling the 39mm Rolex Oyster Perpetual for a larger offering of 41mm, it seems that the Rolex clientele are thinking big. The OP, often regarded as the beginner’s guide to Rolex, offering an amicable entry point is growing in scalability, available in sizes 28mm, 31mm, 34mm, 36mm, and now in place of 39mm – added only 6 years ago the new 41mm model. But change didn’t just happen in size. The dial had a moment too. There’s a muchness to the color palette in the watch industry, with rare bursts of vivacity that intercede from time to time. This being one of them. With five new colorful models, in yellow, candy pink, green, coral red and turquoise, each with Chromalight displays meaning you don’t need to eat carrots to see this watch in the dark.
When Rolex launches a new model, it improves (sometimes imperceptibly) the model in question, which is already a reference in terms of quality. With the Oyster Perpetual of 2021, new size of 41 mm, and new dial colors, it brought immediate success. Rolex has the power to create trends.
A Hermès watch has long presented elegant, and more delicate seeming watches than the RM’s of the world, enunciating the grandeur of its fashion house. But then suddenly, and unforeseen, the H08 graced the market, a watch offering darker tones and bolder shapes, featuring a circle in a rounded square. Recognising not only the functionality but the aesthetic that was missing, the brand has opened up a pathway for male consumers that avoids positioning itself in a category like sports watches, rather, it’s a tool for daily life.
A new Hermes collection is a rare thing. But each time it doesn’t look like anything that already exists. That’s the true quality of the bold, those who follow their own path rather than looking at what’s being done next door. The H08 didn’t create a huge buzz when it was launched, but in 20 years, 2021 will certainly be remembered as the year the H08 was launched.
Tissot PRX Powermatic 80
The Swiss watchmaking industry recognises that it must also offer models that are a little more affordable. One of the countless steel models with integrated bracelets, but the only one at this price. While some watch brands looked forward to this year, coining futuristic mechanisms for tomorrow, TIssot decided to dive deep into nostalgia. Should you be searching for a step into the ‘70s, this modern day Tissot pays tribute to the 1978 shape the brand used. Not forgetting an excellent automatic movement with 80 hours of power reserve.
Richard Mille RM 07-01 Colors
Since the advent of Richard Mille, people haven’t stopped talking about it. Why? Because Mr Mille keeps giving us something to talk about. Case and point: the graphic and colorful capsule collection of 2021 is a new way of shaking up haute horlogerie. Richard Mille’s strength is that in less than 20 years it has established itself as a reference brand. With its own identity, philosophy and products. Despite the success, the audacity has not evaporated. Housed in cases of ceramic, the segmented central dial plates are assembled from inserts of ceramic, geometrically patterned rubber and — a first for Richard Mille – hand-crafted guillochage
It’s not only about noise, but purpose too, treating the watch as a canvas to construct his own articulate timepieces that speak of the watch world today, and not solely of its history. It’s giving some much needed energy that the watch world has been waiting for.
This is the story of a brand that came from nowhere and immediately won over fans. With a relatively ordinary product. But perfectly in the air of time, showing that design is sometimes as important (or even more important) than movement. When we talk of the heritage in the watch world, it predates centuries of work and invention, so it might sound striking to hear of new brands getting started with kickstarter campaigns, particularly for a watch brand. That’s not to say there’s no history involved, as Andrea Furlan has lived and breathed watchmaking since the age of 15 when he interned at Hublot under the legendary Jean-Claude Biver. Furlan Marri’s first watch, or “story” as the brand labels each of its models, revolves around two points in horological history. The first is the hybrid meca-quartz, a Swiss invention of the 1980s that brought together the feeling of a traditional watch movement with quartz technology, and the second is the decagonal watch case created by François Borgel – a case design favoured by some of the biggest names in Swiss watchmaking. While it might have been born on the internet, Furlan Marri has set its own stage and is stealing the spotlight.