With the global situation being what it is right now, many watchmakers have chosen to tread softly this year. Most are either unveiling a fraction of what they usually put out in a typical year or playing it safe with extensions of tried-and-tested models. Even so, there are still surprises and bold ﬂourishes that stand out in 2020’s crop of novelties. Artfully executed bursts of bright colour provide spiritlifting boosts in trying times, material innovations help to keep things fresh, and interesting new partnerships prove the power of creative cross-pollination.
Distinguished by a bezel of diﬀerentcoloured precious stones, rainbow watches are a contentious but wellloved niche. This year, watchmakers refresh the cheerful style by mixing multiple hues in new ways.
01 > BREGUET: MARINE HAUTE JOAILLERIE 9509 POSEIDONIA
Its colourful palette might look rainbow-inspired, but Breguet’s Marine Haute Joaillerie 9509 Poseidonia jewellery watch for 2020 pays tribute to ocean ﬂora. Here, the swaying blades of the posidonia oceanica aquatic plant, a seagrass found in the Mediterranean Sea, are replicated with emeralds, tsavorites, coloured sapphires and diamonds set against a matching bezel and a mother-of-pearl marquetry dial. Two other gemstone variations of this timepiece are available, one mostly set with rubies and the other, sapphires.
02 > HYT: SOONOW INSTANT RAINBOW
With their ﬂuidic way of indicating time – via liquids in a glass capillary tube running around the centre – HYT watches will never be described as ordinary. But the latest iteration of its Soonow Skull model in a 48.8mm steel case is truly crazy, and we like it. Surrounded by 668 sapphires, amethysts and tsavorites in 14 hues, the skull – a violet anodised titanium dial – is covered with 313 yellow gold pins. A mouthful of gold teeth glint from beneath the eyes, whose discs indicate the seconds (left) and power reserve (right).
03 > BREITLING: SUPEROCEAN HERITAGE ’57 LIMITED EDITION II
Who says rainbow watches must have bling? Not Breitling, which launched the first edition of the Superocean Heritage ’57 in April. Inspired by midcentury Southern California surf culture, the steel star features hour markers and hour and minute hands coated with lume in seven colours. That 250-piece limited edition with a black dial and a black ceramic bezel sold out in no time. This second edition features a blue dial and a blue ceramic bezel with the same colourful markers – and a production run of 1,000.
04 > PARMIGIANI: TONDA 1950 MOONBOW
Rainbows? So last year. This year, at Parmigiani at least, it’s all about the moonbow, which refers to a rainbow produced by moonlight rather than sunlight. The ultra-thin tourbillon watch (40.2mm across and 9.4mm thick) channels that rare natural phenomenon with a bezel studded with 40 gemstones – blue, pink, orange and yellow sapphires as well as tsavorites and amethysts – coupled with a sparkling and gorgeous midnight-blue aventurine dial.
05 > MIDO: OCEAN STAR DECOMPRESSION TIMER 1961
Here’s another dive watch with a summery outlook, courtesy of a rainbow-esque accent. It is a re-edition of Mido’s Ocean Star model from, yes, 1961. The colourful rings form a decompression table that recreational scuba divers used back in the day to fnd out when they needed to make decompression stops during a dive. These breaks were based on the depth and length of the dive. We presume this feature will be more decorative than functional – but hey, isn’t that the case for many great dive watches, anyway?
New movements are in relatively short supply this year, as the global economic slowdown has led many watchmakers to play it safe with extensions of tried-and-tested models. Nonetheless, some brands are keeping things exciting with materials never used before in watchmaking.
01 > ROGER DUBUIS: EXCALIBUR TWOFOLD
When is a white watch not just another white watch? When it’s made of a proprietary new material that is lighter than ceramic or carbon and – rare for any object in white – will never yellow. Roger Dubuis recently debuted Mineral Composite Fiber (MCF), a material that is 99.5 per cent silica, in its new 45mm Excalibur Twofold double ﬂying tourbillon watch. In an interview with Forbes, product director Gregory Bruttin shared that the material was developed with help from its marketing partner, Lamborghini.
02 > RICHARD MILLE: RM 11-05 AUTOMATIC FLYBACK CHRONOGRAPH GMT
Richard Mille’s signature RM 11 models don’t ﬂy off the shelves – they are so sought after, they do not even make it to shelves. This will certainly continue with the new RM 11-05, which has a front bezel of grey cermet, a composite of ceramic and metal. Richard Mille and microtechnologies specialist IMI Group took years to develop their version of the material, which meets the highest European production safety standards, is as light as titanium and nearly as tough as diamond.
03 > PIAGET: ALTIPLANO ULTIMATE CONCEPT
When you have a timepiece that’s just 2mm thick – the height of two credit cards – cases made of regular materials like steel can bend when the watch is strapped on. That’s why Piaget uses an exceptionally rigid, cobalt-based alloy to make the Ultimate Concept’s case, which also doubles as the movement mainplate. Just 0.12mm of cobalt lies between the movement and the wearer’s skin. The watch’s alligator strap, also exceptionally thin to match the watch, is strengthened with a Kevlar lining.
04 > PANERAI: LUMINOR MARINA FIBRATECH PAM 1119
Material innovation has been a major theme at Panerai’s creative nerve centre, Laboratorio di Idee, which recently unveiled Fibratech, a composite made of mineral fibres from volcanic rock. To create this material, the fibres are bound by polymers to form thin layers, which are then fused in a pressure and temperature-controlled process. The result is a lightweight, tough, matte grey material with a grained appearance reminiscent of other composite materials such as Panerai’s carbon fibre-based Carbotech.
05 > LOUIS VUITTON: TAMBOUR CURVE FLYING TOURBILLON POINCON DE GENEVE
Just as some companies have their own take on, say, pink gold – upping the alloy’s copper content to make it redder – more brands are also coming up with their own carbon composites. Recently, Louis Vuitton unveiled its marbleised version, CarboStratum, in the open-worked Tambour Curve Flying Tourbillon. More than 100 sheets of carbon fibre are layered, then heated and compressed at a controlled temperature. The resulting ultra-rigid material is used to form an overlay that wraps over a titanium inner case.
While it’s not new for brands to partner others, this year sees several interesting tie-ups between them and players from the worlds of fashion, electronic music and, oh, an English father of two.
01 > IWC: PORTUGIESER YACHT CLUB CHRONOGRAPH EDITION “ORLEBAR BROWN”
It’s not every day that a fine-watch brand teams up with one from the world of fashion. As part of the activities for its sporty nautical Portugieser Yacht Club range this year, IWC partners Orlebar Brown, a London-based resort wear brand best known for its elegant swim shorts. The collaborative 44.6mm timepiece features a blue dial and a co-branded side-fastener buckle – a nod to the side fasteners found on Orlebar Brown swim shorts. To complete your on-deck look, the two brands have also co-created a nine-piece capsule clothing collection.
02 > ZENITH: DEFY 21 CARL COX
Even though we have doubts about the watches that brands create in tandem with their trendy ambassadors, we were won over by the “vinyl record” running seconds of Zenith’s watch for electronic music producer Carl Cox. Powered by an El Primero movement, the carbon-cased watch has a chronograph that’s precise to 1/100 of a second. Its carbon-fibre bezel and red rubber strap features are lumed and light up in the dark, perfect for a rave.
03 > RESSENCE: TYPE 1 SLIM “AYRTON & FINLAY”
In horology, it’s not uncommon for young brands to seek crowdsourced funding. But crowd-sourced design, for a luxury watch that is to be auctioned at Sotheby’s for charity? Now, that’s rare. In June, Englishman Raymond Ramsden won a competition organised by Ressence and Sotheby’s – the names of the watch references those of his children. Beating 465 other entries, Ramsden’s colourful version of the Belgian brand’s Type 1 Slim model sold for HK$375,000 (S$67,225), which went to Covid-19 research.
04 > HUBLOT: BIG BANG GMT ALL BLACK YOHJI
Yamamoto Hublot customers cannot get enough of the brand’s all-black timepieces. Japanese fashion legend Yohji Yamamoto dresses exclusively and designs mostly in black. This match made in horological and fashion heaven led to the creation of this ultra inky 45mm watch with black everything – ceramic case, hands, dial, rubber strap, and smoked sapphire crystal. Made to mark the opening of Hublot’s new Ginza boutique, only 50 pieces were made.
05 > H. MOSER AND MB&F: ENDEAVOUR CYLINDRICAL TOURBILLON H. MOSER X MB&F
What happens when two of today’s most out-there independent watch brands join forces? You get a pair of timepieces – each brand did their own take – with intense high-horology features. The one you see here is H. Moser’s version, which combines its signature gradated dial with extreme 3D features. A ﬂying tourbillon, equipped with a cylindrical hairspring, rises above the main dial at 12 o’clock while a tilted dial, first seen on MB&F’s Flying T model, shows the time.
More casual than leather straps – hence, appropriate at a time when formal events are at an ebb – and easier to clean when you get home after a grocery run, bracelet watches continue to thrive. And, this time, we’re not just talking about steel.
01 > PARMIGIANI: TONDAGRAPH GT
Usually associated with finely executed, dressy timepieces, Parmigiani is not impervious to the ongoing craze for sporty steel bracelet watches. Hence, its latest sports models – the steel Tondagraph GT watch with a chronograph and an annual calendar and the simpler, time-and-date Tonda GT in steel or rose gold. A newly designed bracelet – designed from scratch, along with the watches – is complemented by high horology accents, including a ﬂuted bezel and traditional guilloche on the dial.
02 > BREGUET: MARINE 5517
What’s the next step after a luxury watchmaker presents its recent sports timepieces on titanium bracelets? It moves on to precious metals. Last year, Breguet presented the Marine 5517, along with two other new Marine models, in full titanium with an integrated bracelet. This year, it updates the same models with cases and matching bracelets in white or rose gold. Paired with details such as the wave guilloche on the dial and brightly polished moon-tipped hands, these timepieces redefine sporty elegance – with an emphasis on elegance.
03 > MONTBLANC: 1858 GEOSPHERE
When creating the new mixed-metal bracelet for its signature 1858 Geosphere watch, the brand used a mix of titanium and steel links to give it a certain heft, says Montblanc head of watches Davide Cerrato. The combination of polished steel “beads of rice” centre links and brushed titanium end links also reﬂects the mix of metals used in the 42mm dual-time watch; its titanium case is topped with a steel bezel with a blue ceramic insert.
04 > BLANCPAIN: FIFTY FATHOMS AUTOMATIQUE
In the 1960s, Blancpain was one of the first to use titanium when it created nickel silver cases and titanium case backs for a series of watches for the US Navy. This year, it equips the new Fifty Fathoms Automatique and Fifty Fathom Grande Date – 45mm dive watches that were previously only available on sailcloth Nato straps – with titanium bracelets. Using a patented system, the satin-brushed links are connected with transverse pins, while screws are placed on the back instead of the side of the links, so the bracelet edges look and feel smooth.
05 > BREITLING: CHRONOMAT B01 42
One of our favourite recent takes on the bracelet trend isn’t actually new. When it revamped its Chronomat watch this year, Breitling brought back the Rouleaux (French for rollers) bracelet found on the chronograph timepiece of the 1980s and 1990s. Distinctive in form, the cylindrical polished steel links of the 42mm steel watch are accented with rings in polished steel. Another option that we like: a two-tone variation using red gold – as seen on the timepiece below.
With everything going on in the world now, it’s probably a good thing that watchmakers are lifting our spirits by splashing bold colours on dials, cases and straps.
01 > HUBLOT: BIG BANG MILLENNIAL PINK
Salmon dials have a special place in watchmaking, but Hublot has taken that colour to the next level. Working with creative agency Garage Italia, Hublot has created a new Big Bang in “Millennial Pink” – a shade of blush found on the case, strap and skeletonised dial. The 42mm case is made from lightweight, satin-finished aluminium and gets its colour by anodisation. Match it with easily interchangeable rubber or fabric straps.
02 > URWERK: EMC TIME HUNTER DESERT SAGE
True to their reputation as watch nerds, the founders of Urwerk outdid themselves with their 2016 launch of the EMC Time Hunter – a watch with a hybrid electronic and mechanical system. The electronic module measures the rate of the mechanical timekeeping part while a timing-adjustment screw allows the wearer to directly correct rate variations. This latest version of the EMC Time Hunter is almost as exciting on the outside, thanks to a “ceramic-type lacquer treatment” that enhances the micro-blasted steel case and gives it its military-beige hue.
03 > IWC: PORTUGIESER CHRONOGRAPH
Christmas comes early at IWC – and we’re not just talking about the fact that its new Portugieser collection is entirely powered by its own movements. While the 22-year-old Portugieser Chronograph gets an engine change (with IWC’s Calibre 98355 instead of a modified Valjoux movement), what is immediately obvious above the hood is that two of the new 41mm models feature dials in a vibrant green and a rich burgundy – a fun (and festive) departure from the classic Portugieser hues.
04 > GLASHUTTE ORIGINAL: SIXTIES CHRONOGRAPH
At one point in the movie A Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestly, the caustic fashion magazine editor played by Meryl Streep, scoffs sarcastically, “Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.” We feel like we could be at the receiving end of a similar wrath when pronouncing blue dials a trend for 2020 – but it’s a fact. The year has seen exceptionally striking new blue designs, including A. Lange & Sohne’s Zeitwerk Minute Repeater and this cool, glacier-blue Sixties Chronograph by Lange’s fellow Saxon brand Glashutte Original.
05 > H. MOSER: ENDEAVOUR CENTRE SECONDS DIAMOND CONCEPT
Considering that a watch is a pretty small object, watchmakers sure try to cram a lot of words onto a dial sometimes. Five years ago, H. Moser decided to do away with that when it introduced its Concept series, whose dials were devoid of text or indexes. Who needs a logo, after all, when the brand’s gradated, richly coloured dials easily speak for themselves? To mark the Concept’s fifth anniversary, H. Moser has released several new Endeavour models, including one with a burgundy dial for the first time.
TEXT LYNETTE KOH ART DIRECTION & DIGITAL IMAGING ASHRUDDIN SANI