2021 Watches & Wonders Round-Up

Following a year of unknowns, Watches & Wonders 2021 felt like a step toward normal. Sure, there were no plane trips, schnitzel dinners, or fancy cocktail receptions, but we did get a solid week of new releases with varying levels of order along the way. Best of all, we saw some really cool watches from some of our favorite brands, and not just the big ones. Releases from brands like Farer, Ming (hope you had better luck than we did this morning), Baltic, and Oris sprinkled in along the way ended up being some of our surprise favorites around here. 

But, after a show like this it can be fun to let our hair down a bit and admit our guilty pleasures (sorry, Kazan), our money-no-object favorites, and our “wow, didn’t expect to like that, but I do” watches. So, here’s a round up of what is lingering on our minds after the show, don’t be shy about sharing yours in the comments below.


Mark McArthur-Christie – Tudor Black Bay Chronograph

Every now and then, a watch firm gets something bang-on right.  It manages that tricky job of balancing looks, movement, functionality and price. That’s exactly what Tudor have done with their M79360N-0002, or the white-faced Black Bay Chrono to its pals. When it comes to new watches, it’s not often I’m tempted to reach for my wallet (I’m that tightwad who prefers his secondhands secondhand), but this is an exception.  

The BB Chrono just looks right. All the proportions are there – 41mm case, dial, sundials, hands, those lovely screw-down pushers even. The movement is the result of Tudor’s collaboration with Breitling, the MT5813. It’s a chrono, so it’s actually useful? And that red (RED!) writing on the dial says it’s 200m water-resistant, so the usual fears about getting a chrono damp are banished. And it’s (over here in Blighty, anyway, a gnat’s whisker under £4,000). I’m seriously, seriously tempted.

Zach Kazan – Cartier SolarBeat Tank Must

Like other luxury houses, Cartier is in the habit of using watch fair season to launch their wildest and most expensive novelties. This year was no exception, as the brand’s exclusive and ultra-luxe Privé Collection saw the re-introduction of the Cloche de Cartier, one of their most design forward models, in a range of precious metals, diamonds optional. But Cartier hasn’t forgotten about the rest of us, and they introduced a range of options at Watches & Wonders for customers looking for an entry point into the brand with a smaller budget. The clear winner, in my opinion, was the totally unexpected and completely charming SolarBeat Tank Must, the first solar powered watch made by Cartier. 

In addition to being the answer to a watch trivia question for the rest of time, the SolarBeat Tank Must (part of a larger relaunch of value oriented “Must” lineup that also includes traditional quartz Tanks in a variety of bright colors, sans Roman numerals) is one of the most genuinely interesting Tanks to hit the market in years. The Tank, as a design object, transcends watches, and imitators can be found at all price points from countless brands, but if you want the real thing, you’ve got to spring for Cartier, and now that you can get one powered by a solar cell, it’s a whole lot more compelling for a consumer who wants the craft, the legendary name on the dial, and iconic design without any real compromise.

Cartier says that their solar powered Tank can go sixteen years between service stops, which is fantastic news if you’re only an occasional dress watch wearer. And there’s something poetic about the Roman numerals, a feature that to me is as important to the Tank aesthetic as its rectangular shape and ultrathin profile, being the vector through which light hits the photovoltaic charging system beneath the dial. It’s an invisible but functional design feature that would seem to signal the possibility of a tech oriented path ahead for this most traditional brand. Priced at $2,480 for the smaller version and $2,610 for the large, these Tanks have the potential to draw a whole new crop of watch lovers to the Cartier camp.

Christoph McNeill – Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso Hybris Mechanica Quadriptyque

I have to admit, I didn’t find too many inspiring releases announced at the Watches and Wonders 2021 event. Maybe it’s because I’m not all that into modern watches, or maybe there was a lot of ‘meh’ to be seen. That said, there were a few I liked (including the Tudor BB Chrono!), but one that stood out to me if for nothing other than its sheer audacity. This would be the Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso Hybris Mechanica Quadriptyque. Built to celebrate the 90 th Anniversary of the Reverso, the Hybris is the epitome of horological excess. It has four faces instead of the usual two, and features no less than 11 complications because, you know, 10 just isn’t enough. And with a price of €1.35M, it is not a watch for the masses. However, we mere mortals can still marvel at this watchmaking wonder.

The Hybris features a tourbillon escapement, a perpetual calendar, a minute repeater with chimes that are crystal gongs attached to the sapphire crystal to enhance the acoustics, a well as a celestial and astronomical system that encompasses three lunar cycles (I didn’t even know there were three such cycles…); the Synodic cycle, the Draconic cycle and the anomalistic cycle. These can predict supermoons and even eclipses! Now, with all these cycles and phases and calendars, setting this baby must be a nightmare, especially if you don’t wear it all the time and keep it powered up. Well, JLC considered this and designed a presentation box that has a syncing and winding system that can keep your watch set correctly. For a million plus, that seems like the right thing to do. I could go on and on, but we’ll save all the details for a full review, suffice it to say that this piece is truly out of this world!

Bradley Homes – Hermes H08

This year I’ve been quite pleased with the latest offering from Hermès. The H08 builds on the stylish cases and sometimes quirky numerals of previous releases that have caught my eye, such as the Slim D’Hermès and Carré H, but this time in a much more robust and sporty watch.

The Hermès H08 features a titanium case with a rounded-square form which gives plenty of room for the interplay between brushed surfaces and flowing polished lines. Dimensions are listed at 39mm x 39mm and a thickness of under 11mm and the profile looks just as good as the dial. As we’ve come to expect from Hermès, the choice of indices and dial layout are paramount and this is no exception. I love the bold but very rounded indices which match the watch exceptionally well.

 With 100m water resistance, screw down crown, H1837 in-house automatic movement (well, Hermès owns 25% of Vaucher in this case) and a choice of titanium bracelet, fitted rubber strap or fabric strap complete with deployant buckle, this is the first watch from Hermès that looks like a real all-rounder to me.


Ed Jelley – Tudor Black Bay 36 Silver

A new color of a well-established watch can be hit or miss. Luckily for me, Tudor’s new Black Bay 36 Silver is a hit. Currently, popping “Tudor Black Bay Silver” into a search engine will bring up a ton of results for their latest 925 sterling silver Black Bay 58 that’s getting all the attention. While that’s a beautiful watch, it’s not the silver Tudor that grabbed my eye during this round of Watches and Wonders. It’s the smaller, less talked about Black Bay 36 with a stunning silver dial featuring radial brushing. There’s a lot to love about this charming little watch. 

I have owned a Black Bay 36 Blue for the past four or so years, and it’s one of the cornerstones of my collection. It’s small, but not too small, comes on a rock-solid bracelet, and is generally just a joy to wear. I haven’t thought twice about going for one of the other colors, until now. The other Black Bay Heritage models featured glossy dials, in either black or blue. This radial brushed silver is a big departure and it looks absolutely incredible on the 36mm model in particular. It’s not just the silver dial, it’s the black accents that surround it. The chapter ring is rendered in black, giving the watch a slightly more aggressive look than its dressier counterparts. For me, this watch is a total win that will most likely continue to be the sleeper hit of Tudor’s lineup.

Blake Buettner – Breitling B09 Chronograph (with Pistachio Dial)

Well, this is a first. I don’t often find myself coming back to a Breitling after shows like this, but here we are. I like the direction Georges Kerns is going with Breitling these days, and the B09 is exactly the kind of watch I was hoping to see from them. This is a ‘Heritage’ watch, meaning it pulls from the brand’s considerable history without being an outright re-issue. While it does borrow some styling cues from a different era (the ‘40s), it doesn’t read as an outright throwback. There’s enough modern design here to hold its own as a new watch in 2021. 

This is a hand-wound chronograph done right. There’s no date, and it gets a relatively slim 13mm case, which tells me they’ve paid attention to the little things. The chronometer spec B09 movement inside is in-house, and while not necessarily beautiful, it’s got a certain raw charm to it that I appreciate. Then there’s that dial, I know green is having a moment right now, but this is different, it’s “pistachio”. This is a green that’s not shying away from anything, and if you want the steel case, it’s your only option. 

This is a handsome watch that falls somewhere between dressy and sporty, and I’d have loads of fun trying all manner of straps on it. At over $8k the Breitling ain’t cheap, but there’s clear value here for the money and it still falls within reach of mere mortals, unlike a Patek Perpetual Calendar, or some such thing…


Zach Weiss – Patek Philippe Ref. 5236P-001 In-Line Perpetual Calendar

This year’s Watches and Wonders was a good one for perpetual calendars. A. Lange & Sohne dropped a beauty, Bulgari broke a record with theirs, and IWC somehow managed to make one look quite rugged with their Big Pilot Top Gun Mojave, but it was Patek Phillipe that really made me go wow. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever written about Patek, not just on Worn & Wound, but in general. While a brand I revere, as does anyone who would consider themselves a watch enthusiast, I think of them as a stern elder or boss. I smile, nod, but ultimately keep my distance. But over the last year my random horological research has turned towards perpetual calendars, perhaps just to tease myself with that which I’ll never own, which inevitably brought me to the steps of the fortress that is Patek.

One of the interesting things about perpetual calendars is that despite sharing the same information (time, calendar, leap year, moonphase, etc), and, you know, knowing the amount of days in each month, every brand does it a little differently. Some opt for more visual complexity than others, which typically requires bouncing your eyes between several tiny sub-dials. Perhaps that’s what you want with your six-figure watch, but with the ref. 5236P-001 Patek has simplified the task to a glance.

As you can plainly see from the picture, the day, date, and month appear in a wide aperture below the logo in a straight line. You read it as you’d say it. At six is the seconds hand with a moonphase with small apertures to right and left, one for the leap year (4 indicating it is indeed a leap year) and the other for AM/PM as white and blue fills. Otherwise, two fence post hands point to the hour and minutes. Simple, graphic, legible. 

Additionally, it’s a plainly handsome watch. Classic, but not fussy, it mixes generally conservative hands, dial furniture, and printed indexes with a vertical brushed blue surface that adds some needed texture and personality. The case is 41mm of 950 platinum with a diamond stuck between its lugs at six, which is something Patek does on platinum watches because you wouldn’t want someone to think this was some run-of-the-mill white gold Patek, would you? And that’s that. Truly understated for what it is. At a trifling $130,000, and likely unavailable to you even if you won the lotto tomorrow, this one gets placed firmly in the horological musings pile, but hey, it’s really pretty isn’t it?

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