Perhaps no other combination of factors excites vintage watch enthusiasts quite like early dive watches with military provenance. The blend of classic design, field-proven durability, and the romantic warmth of patina is a difficult one to beat, and few brands capture this magic formula better than Blancpain. The brand’s Fifty Fathoms line is one of the longest-running and most celebrated diver lines in all of watchmaking, and Blancpain certainly has no lack of historic points to reference with its collection. For its first major release of 2021, Blancpain singles out one of the most lauded military references in the Fifty Fathoms’ lineage. First produced in the mid-‘60s for the elite Kampfschwimmer combat divers of the West German navy, the Fifty Fathoms No Rad offered these battle-hardened, frogmen-tough functionality and underwater legibility without the use of radium lume, which was still the standard at the time but had been discovered to cause potential health issues. The new lim..
Jason Wilbur is the talented designer behind the still-fresh Wilbur Co. watch brand. He is based right here in Southern California and has a background in both graphic and industrial automotive design. Most watch collectors know Wilbur’s work in the form of the iconic Tread 1, a luxury belt-driven watch produced by the American brand Devon. Founded by Scott Devon, the Devon brand made a name for itself with the over-the-top design of the Tread 1 and Tread 2 watches, as well as the fact that they were powered by small one-step motors and used an integrated circuit board. These are electronic elements, and they proved quite controversial in the market of mostly mechanical watches. Devon is actually going to make a re-appearance in 2021, but back in 2020, Jason Wilbur launched his own brand — with an entirely mechanical watch.
Professionally, Jason Wilbur has more or less stopped designing for third parties and is now all about the Wilbur brand. His particular form of optimistic pop-mach..
While Cartier has rightly earned its place as an icon in watchmaking, its contributions to haute horlogerie are often far less discussed than designs like the Tank or Santos. While they may fly relatively under the radar, these offerings rarely lack for spectacle, and the brand’s first haute horlogerie collection of 2021 is no exception. This exclusive box set trio of designs all aim to push the aesthetic limits of skeletonization, inspired by both the brand’s own design traditions and the dramatic look of floating mystery dials. The new limited edition Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Precious Icons Set includes the Rotonde de Cartier Astromystérieux, Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon, and the Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Double Tourbillon, all three of which push the intricate and complex tourbillon escapement to new visual frontiers.
The flagship model in this new set is undoubtedly the Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Double Tourbillon. The Mysterious Skeleton D..
While the more vintage-focused El Primero series may be Zenith’s most famous offering, the brand’s ultramodern Defy 21 chronograph line has earned wide acclaim among enthusiasts in recent years for its mix of cutting-edge movement concepts and aggressive angular design. Beyond the base design, the Defy 21 form has become a canvas for a wide variety of colors and concepts ranging from urban-inspired green ceramic finishes to vibrant purple colorways. Zenith’s latest limited-edition iteration may be the most striking to date, with retro-modern visual textures and a shimmering rainbow finish. Designed in partnership with Argentinian-Spanish modern artist Felipe Pantone, the new limited edition Zenith Defy 21 Felipe Pantone is certainly not for the faint of heart but brings a spectrum of bold visual concepts to this high-tech line.
The 44mm black ceramic case of the Zenith Defy 21 Felipe Pantone follows the same general principles as earlier iterations, streamlining the hallmarks of moder..
Amid the meticulous and occasionally high-strung world of watch enthusiasm, the long-standing tradition of character watches is an important reminder that horology can be light and playful as well. Hong Kong-based Undone has based much of its catalog around this idea, creating unique character-inspired designs around everything from the Monopoly mascot to Batman. One of its greatest successes in this space to date is Undone’s El Capitan, combining elements of the classic Tudor Submariner “Snowflake” together with classic cartoon character Popeye the Sailor. For 2021, Undone is expanding on its Popeye partnership, creating an exclusive limited edition boxset collection with a newly reworked Popeye design as well as two new watches dedicated to Popeye’s longtime love interest Olive Oyl and his burly nemesis Brutus (or Bluto, depending on who you ask). This new Undone x Popeye & Friends Boxset brings together three unique and charming designs for only 50 sets, with five of those sets avai..
2021 marks the 60th anniversary of German tool watch brand Sinn, and the marque has a year of unique novelties planned to celebrate the occasion. For the first entry in this planned series, Sinn returns to its tough and functional U1 diver line with a unique dial variant cased in its signature German submarine steel material. The new limited edition Sinn U1 DS combines the brand’s core design philosophies with an aggressive and weathered new look that emphasizes Sinn’s definitive toughness.
The 44mm German submarine steel case of the Sinn U1 DS follows the same rounded utilitarian pattern as regular production models, with a deep and even bead blasted gray tone throughout in initial images. The 4 o’clock screwdown crown, tall case sides, short wide set lugs, and unique shallow scalloped dive bezel are all present here, offering a more tool oriented perspective on dive watch cues than many of its competitors. The insert-free unidirectional bezel features a full engraved dive scale, kee..
Enamel dial finishing is an art unto itself in watchmaking, and among this labor intensive discipline few processes carry the prestige of the traditional Grand Feu enamel technique. While Grand Feu has been used in horology for centuries, the complexity and difficulty of the process has traditionally confined this finish to high-end luxury models. Louis Erard looks to change this preconception with its first major release of 2021, bringing the richness and tradition to a somewhat more democratic price point. With a timelessly clean dress design and an impressively affordable take on the classic Grand Feu enamel dial, the new limited edition Louis Erard Excellence Émail Grand Feu stands as an impressive dark horse contender in this traditional dress watch segment.
While on the large side for a dress design at 42mm wide, the stainless steel case of the Louis Erard Excellence Émail Grand Feu is pure classic dress watch in its design. A fully polished finish, rounded case sides, an elegan..
Within the extensive stable of Casio’s rugged G-Shock line, the luxurious MR-G series occupies the very top of the hierarchy. MR-G often combines the best of Casio’s quartz and connected technology with world-class finishing and design inspired by Japanese culture, and for the line’s first release of 2021 the brand continues this trend. For these models, the inspiration is kachi-iro, a deep navy blue pigment that has been the color of victory in Japan for centuries and was often used as decoration on traditional samurai armor. The limited edition Casio G-Shock MR-G MRGB2000B-1A and Casio G-Shock MR-G MRGB2000R-1A combine this traditional color with unique materials, a variety of finishing patterns, and a dazzling array of features for a striking, unorthodox, and durable take on luxury watchmaking.
Both the Casio G-Shock MR-G MRGB2000B-1A and the MR-G MRGB2000R1-A begin with the hefty angular integrated case of the MRGB2000 series in black DLC-coated titanium, treated with a deep layer..
Over 80 years after their introduction, the flieger design standards set down by the German Luftwaffe in the early days of World War II remain the backbone of most modern pilot watch design. German tool watch specialist Laco has one of the closest ties to this design lineage of any brand, as one of the five companies contracted by the German government to make the original flieger watches, and the brand has continued to evolve the clean and utilitarian style ever since. Laco’s first major releases of 2021 continue this tradition, reimagining two of its core pilot styles with a patinated military look. The new limited-edition Laco Augsburg Oliv 42 and Laco Aachen Oliv 42 help to prove the longevity and versatility of the core flieger design, giving the utilitarian concept a rugged new sense of worn personality.
Both the Laco Augsburg Oliv 42 and the Laco Aachen Oliv 42 begin with Laco’s elemental 42mm flieger watch case in stainless steel. The form of this case should be familiar to an..
For 2021, Swiss Tissot is re-releasing an interesting neo-Bauhaus watch it originally debuted in the late 1980s as conceived by the creator of one of the most interesting design schools of modern times: Ettore Sottsass. Today’s Tissot Heritage Memphis watches will be produced as limited edition models for both men (41mm-wide case) and women (34mm-wide case), faithfully recreating a still very interesting design while also smartly positioning the product at an affordable price point, making it appealing to a larger spectrum of collectors.
The Tissot Memphis collection was designed for Tissot by Milan-based design collective known as the Memphis Group. This was a group of industrial and artistic designs assembled and led by the Italian designer Ettore Sottsass, and it lasted from 1980-1987. The Tissot Memphis was personally designed by Ettore Sottsass himself and came out in 1988. More on the Memphis Group below — but first the watch.
In a vacuum, the Tissot Heritag..