Credit: Watches & Wonders 2021

A lot of watches have been unveiled at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2021 but not all watches are created equal. Some brands, like Hublot, stood above the rest while others fell from grace with lacklustre reveals.

WIN: Hublot

Ref. 455.JX.0120.JX | Credit: Hublot

Why make a watch completely from sapphire? ‘Because we can,’ says Hublot. That is exactly what makes Hublot so interesting. Their attitude for making watches is daring and bold. Hublot have merged innovation with their iconic gaudiness that make their timepieces so fun and compelling. The Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Full Sapphire didn’t need to exist but now that it does, I can’t say it’s a bad thing. I just feel bad for Purnell, whose own sapphire watch was unveiled but completely overshadowed by Hublot.

LOSS: Rolex

The unimpressive 'redesign' of the Explorer II | Ref. 226570 | Credit: Rolex

Rolex unveiled a lot this year, but nothing they unveiled did much to impress. That’s not to say any of the watches are bad by any means, they are just lacklustre. Compared to what we have seen from other brands this year, Rolex feels like it is playing it far too safe. They squandered the opportunity for the Explorer II’s 50th anniversary by making barely noticeable adjustments. I understand that if isn’t broken don’t fix it, but something, anything would have been better than what they went with.

The two-tone Explorer is fine, but again, underwhelming. Same with the Sea-Dweller. The new meteorite Daytona looks brilliant… in one of the three available colours. So, it was left to the Datejust 36’s to pick up the pieces and at least they had something fresh and interesting with the dials but that was really it. New dials. From a brand like Rolex a lot of people expected more. That’s why they are one of our loser’s this year, for squandered opportunity.  

WIN: Jaeger-LeCoultre

Ref. Q7103420 | Credit: Oracle of Time

Wow. Just, wow. This is what events like this are for. Style, innovation, and artistry coming together in perfect harmony. The ‘Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185’ is an amazing watch. The most complicated watch Jaeger-LeCoultre has ever created is the world’s first four-sided watch with 11 complications and 12 patents. On top of that, they’ve managed to fit all of that into a watch that is only 15.15mm thick! It’s beautiful and daring. They really hit it out of the park with this one.   

LOSS: Audemars Piguet

Ref. 26620IO.OO.D077CA.01 | Credit: ResetEra

While not technically announced at Watches & Wonders, Audemars Piguet did unveil a new watch this weekend, the ‘Royal Oak Concept “Black Panther” Flying Tourbillon.’ When Audemars Piguet announced that they were working with Marvel to produce a new line of watches, I was excited. Given their pedigree, I assumed Audemars Piguet could make what was tacky for other watchmakers into something fresh and new. While it is better than most Marvel watches, the watch still looks like a children’s watch but now with a white gold Black Panther on the dial instead of plastic. It is detailed and it is well-made but feels lacking. It certainly looks like a superhero watch in all the worst ways.

WIN: Louis Moinet

Credit: Louis Moinet

The Louis Moinet ‘8 Marvels of the World’ collection are brilliant historically inspired watches that are perfect for an event like this. Much like Jaeger-LeCoultre, the watches are art, style, and innovation all in one. The selection is great, and each watch is uniquely designed to fit the theme of each marvel. Highlights are the Colosseum, the Blue Mosque, and the Petra. Each watch has something different to offer and as an added bonus they come in a collector’s box that looks just like a treasure chest. Not all of the watches are hits, like the Pyramid of Khufu which has elements of the dial that feel disconnected. Most of the watches are hits though so a win feels appropriate.

WIN: Arnold & Son

Ref. 1LMAR.A02A.C153A | Credit: Arnold & Son

The Luna Magna is a stunning watch that puts the night sky on your wrist. The highlight is the brilliant marble and aventurine moon phase complication that really sets it apart from the others. The Trilobe ‘Nuit Fantastique’ is also a great watch revealed this year with a similar moon phase complication, but Arnold & Son simply did a better job with the concept. For more information read our Arnold & Son’s ‘Luna Magna’: To The Moon And Back.

LOSS: Tudor

Ref. m79018v-0001 | Credit: Tudor

It seems Tudor can only be as good as Rolex allows it to be. Again, while they are producing great watches, they really didn’t wow anyone with their new colour options. The Black Bay is still a great selection of watches, but in terms of unveilings, Tudor suffered in the same way that Rolex did. However, Tudor provided a greater selection of new variants than Rolex did so they didn’t disappoint as much as Rolex.

WIN: Breitling

Credit: Breitling
Premier Heritage Collection | Credit: Breitling

Breitling did their own event on the same weekend as Watches & Wonders and had one of the best unveilings this year. The Premier Heritage Collection sees Breitling looking to their past to create something new. And they have certainly succeeded. The beautiful selection of the Premier’s doesn’t have a single dud in it. Even the growing green trend is here done to perfection. For more information check out our article on Breitling.

WIN: Patek Philippe

Ref. 5711/1A-014 | Credit: Patek Philippe

Patek Philippe did what Rolex couldn’t and make their redesigns interesting. The Nautilus is back in a big way and everyone is rejoicing. For more check out our article on the Nautilus.

LOSS: Hermès

Ref. W049433WW00 | Credit: Hermès

Hermès didn’t make a bad watch, but it pales in comparison to what others have shown this year. The H08 isn’t bad, just boring. Expectations weren’t anywhere near as high for Hermès as they were for, say, Rolex, but this is just an okay unveiling rather than something special. Maybe we shouldn’t expect so much from every watchmaker but when the rest of the competition has so successfully knocked it out of the park it is hard to say that Hermès made much of an impression.

WIN: Vacheron Constantin

Ref. 6000V/110R-B733 | Credit: Vacheron Constantin

Vacheron Constantin had the absolute best reveal this year with a wide range of beautiful watches made with the artistic care that Vacheron Constantin are known for. From the brilliant Overseas Tourbillon to the stunning Historiques American 1921, Vacheron Constantin truly were the best of the best this year. For more check out our article.

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