Diamonds, Sapphire, and a Meteorite: The Best Watches of 2021
Source: Bloomberg Businessweek

Diamonds, Sapphire, and a Meteorite: The Best Watches of 2021

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After a year of rocky rollouts, luxury watchmakers are back, releasing  most of their new wares by the end of April’s Watches & Wonders showcase in Geneva. Meet the next generation of overachievers. 

Most Likely to Succeed

Diamonds, Sapphire, and a Meteorite: The Best Watches of 2021

Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711/1A-014
When it canceled one of its most coveted models ever, the Ref. 5711 blue-dial Nautilus, Patek promised a new version. It delivered: The 5711/1A-014 has a green dial, a trend solidly entrenched as the color of choice in 2021. There are also Nautiluses with diamonds and a rose gold chronograph. $34,893

Destined to Save Earth

Diamonds, Sapphire, and a Meteorite: The Best Watches of 2021

Panerai Submersible ELab-ID
The only reason this watch is made of 98% recycled materials and not 100% is that it would take more energy to recycle some tiny components than to make them from scratch. The titanium case, crystal, strap, most of the movement, and even the glow-in-the-dark Super-LumiNova are reused. Limited edition of 30 pieces. €60,000 ($71,847)

Most Likely to Clog the Suez Canal

Diamonds, Sapphire, and a Meteorite: The Best Watches of 2021

Vacheron Constantin Armillary Tourbillon Planetaria
This 46mm wide x 20.20mm thick Grand Complication has everything: double-axis tourbillon with a spherical hairspring; 31-day retrograde jumping perpetual calendar with day, date and month; spherical double hemisphere moon phase orbs; 24-hour and day/night indication; leap year; hours and minutes. It is a unique piece, with a secret price

Least Likely to Clog the Suez Canal

Diamonds, Sapphire, and a Meteorite: The Best Watches of 2021

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar Platinum
Because one world record is never enough, Bulgari has added a seventh to its roster of the world’s thinnest watches. This perpetual-calendar watch is 40mm wide by 5.8mm thick, slimmer than a Chiclet. $89,000 in platinum; $59,000 in titanium

Most Glamorous

Diamonds, Sapphire, and a Meteorite: The Best Watches of 2021

Chopard Haute Joaillerie
Co-president Caroline Scheufele knows where to source the best gemstones for Chopard & Cie. and what to do with them. These watches are set with a choice of marquise-cut pink sapphires, blue sapphires, or diamonds, along with five “happy diamonds” left free to roll around the dial. Price upon request

Most Likely to Jump Out of a Plane

Diamonds, Sapphire, and a Meteorite: The Best Watches of 2021

IWC Big Pilot’s Shock Absorber XPL
The movement is suspended on a cantilevered spring to protect it from intense shocks, something we could all use after the year we’ve had. The case is black ceratanium, a titanium alloy that makes the watch look as tough as it is. Limited edition of 10 pieces. $83,600

Life of the Party

Diamonds, Sapphire, and a Meteorite: The Best Watches of 2021

Zenith Defy 21 Spectrum
You’d expect a chronograph that oscillates at the breakneck speed of 360,000 vph (the average is 28,000) to look something like a Formula One race car, but this looks more like it’s ready for the Met Gala. As the world’s highest-frequency chronograph in regular production, it will get you to the party (fashionably) on time. $35,900

Most Enlightened

Diamonds, Sapphire, and a Meteorite: The Best Watches of 2021

Bell & Ross BR V2-94 Full Lum
This chronograph features the brightest grade of phosphorescent Super-LumiNova available, not only on its hands, numerals, and markers but also on the entire dial. The C3 grade luminescent material has a brightness strength of 100%, compared with industry standard C1, with a 31% brightness rating. 250 pieces. $5,100

Most Likely to Be Abducted by Aliens

Diamonds, Sapphire, and a Meteorite: The Best Watches of 2021

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Meteorite
This 18k white gold watch is the same size and has the same movement, same ceramic bezel, and same Oysterflex bracelet as the regular white gold Rolex Daytona—with one major difference: It has a dial made from an out-of-this-world slice of meteorite. $34,050

Most Transparent

Diamonds, Sapphire, and a Meteorite: The Best Watches of 2021

Hublot Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Full Sapphire
Having mastered the all-sapphire case—a Lego-like construction of some 37 components—Hublot adds an integrated sapphire-link bracelet. The tourbillon bridge, dial plate, and other bridges that hold together the watch’s moving parts are also made of sapphire to provide a clear view. $422,000

Most Likely to Be Copied

Diamonds, Sapphire, and a Meteorite: The Best Watches of 2021

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph
This beloved watch is slightly smaller than previous iterations (43mm, not 44mm), with rearranged subdials and date window, a newly detachable bracelet, and a new timekeeping mechanism (AP’s first with a chronograph integrated directly into it). There are 100 pieces in titanium, as shown. $36,200

Most Ambitious

Diamonds, Sapphire, and a Meteorite: The Best Watches of 2021

Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture
The movement oscillates at 288,000 vibrations per hour, 10 times faster than the standard. In a normal watch that would blow the engine, but here there’s a one-piece oscillator that does the usual job of 26 components. It creates zero friction, thus conserving energy. $4,795 in steel; $15,995 in gold

Best Multitasker

Diamonds, Sapphire, and a Meteorite: The Best Watches of 2021

Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica Reverso
With four working dials and 11 complications, this takes six months to assemble because it has a perpetual calendar, minute repeater, moon phase in both hemispheres, tourbillon, leap year, Draconic lunar cycle, Anomalistic lunar cycle, and jumping hour and minutes. It does everything but open your beer. Limited to 10 pieces. €1.5 million

Most Adventurous

Diamonds, Sapphire, and a Meteorite: The Best Watches of 2021

Montblanc 1858 Split Seconds Chronograph
Unique case materials are the theme for this model line, which debuted in 2019 with a bronze case, followed by a titanium version last year. The 18k lime gold case is alloyed with silver and iron, and the matching green numerals are made entirely of Super-LumiNova. The other highlight is the colimaçon (snail-shaped) tachymeter scale, positioned on the center dial instead of the periphery. Limited to 18 pieces. $50,000

Most Athletic

Diamonds, Sapphire, and a Meteorite: The Best Watches of 2021

Omega Seamaster 300 Bronze Gold
Bronze has become the standard in modern dive watches because of its resistance to salt water. Omega takes it up a notch by adding gold to the bronze (along with a generous dash of copper and other secret ingredients), which means the metal will still develop a nice patina but won’t turn your skin green. $11,200

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