This month, the world's top watch brands-Cartier, Audemars Piguet, Panerai, Omega, and Jaeger-LeCoultre among them-were supposed to unveil their latest creations in Switzerland at both the Basel Watch and Jewelry Fair and the Watches and Wonders Fair.
COVID-19 has forced the cancellations of both events (Basel has taken place annually for more than a century) but watchmakers responded by pivoting to digital, revealing their new masterpieces to the world virtually. From record-breaking technological feats to the most elegant designs, here are the best men's luxury watches of the year.
Vacheron Constantin spent endless hours refining its supremely complicated perpetual calendar (with 276 components) to make it as thin as possible. Despite its slim profile, the exposed mechanism features age-old hand-finishes that create layers of texture and light. The bonus: It comes fitted with a gold bracelet plus additional alligator and blue rubber straps, which are easily interchangeable for any occasion.
When Cartier first launched the Tank Asymétrique in 1936, it sent shockwaves through the industry. By simply shifting the dial 30 degrees to the right, the rectangular shape became a diamond, with the 12 placed in the upper right-hand corner of the case and the 6 opposite. A favorite classic model of collectors and impossibly hard to find, the house has brought back the striking Tank Asymétrique in the Cartier Privé series, which showcases limited series of its historical models. The watch is being made in rose gold, yellow gold, and platinum, only 100 models of each. No doubt they will sell out fast.
The Tambour Curve Flying Tourbillon is futuristic in both design and engineering. Its case is made of a carbon-fiber composite which takes on an artistic pattern during the heating process, and decorated with 354 diamonds. It takes more than 120 hours to create the complicated flying tourbillon movement, and its achievements have been recognized with the prestigious Geneva Seal.
A. Lange & Söhne’s Zeitwerk Minute Repeater holds the record for the world’s only timepiece that combines a mechanical jumping numeral display with a decimal minute repeater. The new version comes in white gold with a handsome deep blue dial.
Panerai has pioneered a new superpower material in watches: Fibertech™, which was unveiled in the Luminor Marina 44 MM. The composite, made from mineral fibers produced by the fusion of basalt rock and bound with polymers, is 60 percent lighter than steel, extremely resilient, and resistant to corrosion. Tested in the aerospace industry, it’s proven itself able to withstand the toughest conditions.
Some classics get better over time, and that's certainly the case with Omega’s Seamaster Aqua Terra. It comes with a choice of either blue or green dials, which are sun-brushed and have a horizontal “teak” pattern resembling the wooden decks of luxury sailboats.
Leave it to Jacob Arabo to recreate the visceral sensation of the iconic Bugatti 16-Cylinder engine in a timepiece. The Bugatti Chiron Tourbillon was inspired by the sleek lines of the car and its powerful engine, and when the watch’s right-hand crown is pushed, it comes to life like the car’s motor: the crankshaft turns and the pistons pump up and down and two “turbochargers” spin while the movement runs, adding visual impact. It’s a miniaturized machine under a transparent sapphire case.
Inspired by the classic round watches of 1950s, Jaeger-LeCoultre updated its signature style with robust movements enhanced with a power reserve of up to 70 hours, and a clean silvery white dial with refined details.
The house’s Villeret Quantième Complete, named for the village where Blancpain was founded in 1735, is defined by elegant lines and technical prowess. Beyond its horological achievements, the new model stands out with a midnight-blue dial and a red gold case.
This new and improved version of the [Re]master01 Selfwinding Chronograph, which was originally unveiled in 1943, is powered by the house’s newest generation of self-winding chronograph mechanisms: an integrated chronograph with a column wheel and flyback function.
Taking its cue from Montblanc’s military chronographs that were produced in the 1920s and 1930s, the sporty and bold 1858 Geosphere features a deep blue dial and contrasting icy white luminescent elements. It’s a stylish wardrobe upgrade, and sturdy enough for any sport.
The latest evolution in the house’s signature Laureato collection features a crystalline sapphire and titanium case. The transparent case lets in the light and allows for a 360-degree view of the complicated movement, and the titanium keeps it as light as a feather.
Master watchmaker Michel Parmigiani creates artistically beautiful timepieces both inside and out. The new rose gold Tondagraphe Tourbillon features a slate-color dial decorated with traditional grain de riz (French for grain of rice) guilloché artistry. It is powered by an extraordinary mechanical movement comprised of 295 components with a power reserve of 65 hours. The beauty of the decorated, hand-finished movement is visible through the sapphire crystal back.
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