APPLE AND SAMSUNG SMARTWATCHES ARE FEARSOME FOES AT THE FASHION AND QUARTZ END OF THE MARKET, BUT THE WATCHMAKERS FEATURED HERE WILL NOT GIVE UP THE BATTLE FOR STYLE-CONSCIOUS CUSTOMERS, AND THESE WATCHES LOOK A WHOLE LOT BETTER THAN A BLACK SCREEN.
WATCHES OF THE YEAR WINNER:
Victorinox, the brand synonymous with the traditional Swiss army knife, added a stunning GMT version to its bestselling FieldForce collection this year. Much like the brand’s hugely popular INOX watch range, the FieldForce is built with indestructibility in mind.
The addition of more functionality is an evolution that should please its fans, especially those travelling between time zones again once covid stops ruling our lives.
The 42mm steel watches, which house a Ronda quartz movement, come with a 5-year warranty. Versions are available with black or blue dials and with the options of black leather or rubber straps or a stainless steel bracelet.
WATCHES OF THE YEAR: FASHION AND QUARTZ
MONDAINE CLASSIC SPRING
How do you improve on a design as timeless as Mondaine’s Classic? The answer in 2020 was to take the much-loved watch down an environmentally friendly route and add splashes of colour.
As usual, the design is based on the Official Swiss Railway (SBB) Clock, with the red lollipop second hand on a white dial. The selection of coloured textile straps, including mint, coral, chilli red, anthracite grey and classic blue, are where the watch earns its green credentials. They’re made from recycled materials, which chimes with the brand’s ongoing sustainable push (“We care” is one of Mondaine’s mission statements). Not only are the straps environmentally friendly, they’re also very practical. Thanks to Mondaine’s quick-change system, the straps can be swapped without tools.
Initially a casualty of the covid quarter and its long shadow, Tissot finally launched the T-Touch Connect Solar in November after it was first discussed back in March. In spearheading Swatch Group’s push into the smartwatch market, the T-Touch Connect Solar is one of the early adopters of the group’s in-house developed Sw-ALPS low-energy operating system. Its low power consumption and solar chargeable quartz-based movement means that the watch should not need plugging in for months.
It is not clear that the public cares whether smartwatches emerge from Silicon Valley, Asia or Switzerland, but Swatch Group lists “Swiss Made” at the top of its T-Touch promotion and the 47mm watch does have high end attributes including a titanium case, ceramic bezel and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal touch screen. T-Touch Connect Solar has all the basic functions of a T-Touch Expert Solar and despite Swatch Group developing its own operating system, the watch is also compatible with iOS and Android phones.
PAUL SMITH SPECIAL EDITION
This collaboration between two iconic brands has managed to play to both companies’ respective strengths. Braun’s German Bauhaus minimalism and Paul Smith’s renowned sartorial elegance combine to produce a watch that is distinctive and classy. The watch has the traditional clean lines and finish that Braun is famous for, but it has been spiced up with the multi-coloured stripe, which is a design signature of Paul Smith, on the second hand.
“The subtle addition of Paul Smiths unmistakable stripe and logo adds a playful detail to three timeless designs that prioritise form, function, and clarity,” the companies say. The partnership also produced a wall clock and travel clock, which are made with the same aesthetic and ergonomic harmony.
CITIZEN SUPER TITANIUM ARMOR
To help celebrate the 50th anniversary of its first titanium watch, Citizen brought out three Super Titanium Armor watches in 2020. In 1970 Citizen claimed to have made the world’s first titanium watch, which was known as the X-8 Chronometer. The X-8 Chronometer was 99.6% pure titanium, but the current collection uses a proprietary surface-hardening technology called Duratect to make them more resistant to scratches.
It also makes Super Titanium easier to polish and can be given different colour tones such as silver, black, gold, and pink gold.
Appropriately, this year’s anniversary watches are inspired by modern armour and its bold, sharp lines. A three-hander with date has a crown at 4 o’clock while two chronographs have unidirectional bezels that cover the pusher creating a seamless case design.