THERE IS AN INHERENT CONTRADICTION IN THE PHRASE CONTEMPORARY CLASSIC; COMPRISING BOTH CURRENT AND TIMELESS IN ONE DESCRIPTION. BUT THAT IS PRECISELY WHAT WE HAVE FOUND IN THESE FIVE FABULOUS WATCHES THAT WILL NEVER GO OUT OF STYLE.
WATCHES OF THE YEAR WINNER
SLGH003 Hi Beat 60th Anniversary LE
Grand Seiko ended its 60th anniversary year with the introduction of a steel on steel limited edition SLGH003 using the 9SA5 movement that launched earlier in 2020 and is slated to be the foundation of a whole new generation of mechanical watches. The Japanese watchmaker describes its highly accurate Hi Beat 9SA5, with 80 hours of power reserve, as “without a doubt the finest mechanical caliber Grand Seiko has ever created” and the same could be said of this 1,000 piece limited edition.
The 40mm watch is a three-hander with date that uses a deep blue sunray dial with the precision-edged hour markers and hands for which Grand Seiko is revered.
A sapphire crystal case back gives a perfect view of the 9SA5, which is equally-well finished with rippling waves reminiscent of the Shizukuishi River near the studio where the watch is made.
WATCHES OF THE YEAR: CONTEMPORARY CLASSICS
Bulgari’s 2020 Aluminium collection is a reinterpretation of a watch first seen in 1998, but might have been from much earlier with its monochrome palette that would not have looked out of place on Audrey Hepburn’s wrist riding an Italian Vespa moped along the winding roads of the Riviera.
Bulgari picks up this theme, saying the watch speaks a universal language that goes far beyond gender, age, trends, eras, social profile and personal style. Aluminium and rubber were used together in the first iteration in 1998, but feels like a thoroughly fresh combination today.
There is a chronograph in the 40mm Aluminium collection, but it is the cleaner three-handers with date in a choice of black or white dial ooze with the effortless luxury that only Italians can really pull off.
Black Bay Fifty-Eight
Cast your minds back to July, a month when most of us had only just emerged blinking into the light after months of lock down. We’d been told not to expect any new watches from Tudor or its parent organisation Rolex, but were delighted when this massively commercial steel on steel Black Bay Fifty-Eight with a blue dial was unveiled and went on sale on the same day.
It arrived in a 39mm stainless case housing a COSC-certified in house Calibre MT5402 with silicon balance spring and 70-hour power reserve. Its navy blue matte domed dial is a classic Black Bay with snowflake hands lit up in the dark with what Tudor describes as grade A Super-LumiNova. It can be worn on two types of fabric strap (£2,530) or a steel bracelet and comes with a five year guarantee.
Lambda Limited Edition in Steel
NOMOS celebrated the 175th anniversary of watchmaking in its home village of Glashütte with three limited edition automatics that use a brand new case and dial for the brand. The Lambda collection will have production runs of just 175 pieces each for white, black and blue gloss enamel dialled models with around a quarter the dial devoted to a power reserve indicator that goes up to 84 hours; that is three and a half days! Seconds are displayed on a sub dial at 6 o’clock, and the time is shown with super-slim hours and minutes hands.
84 hours of power is generated and used by the hand-wound DUW 1001 movement, which is engraved with the statement of origin — Deutsche Uhrenwerke NOMOS Glashütte — seal and is decorated with a fine sunburst polishing on its classic Glashütte watchmaker’s three-quarter plate. There are steel and white gold versions with blue, black or white dials.
Hublot Big Bang Integral
Hublot, the master of swimming against the tide, made a crowd-pleasing move into integrated metal bracelets for its Big Bang this year. The conformity was almost a radical move for the LVMH upstart, and the designers and watchmakers did not disappoint on the execution.
Three Big Bang Integral models were unveiled way back in January: titanium ($20,900), black ceramic (limited to 500 pieces ($23,100) and King Gold ($52,500), a Hublot-invented alloy of gold, copper and platinum.
There is a tweak to the case design, but the skeletonised dial and bezel are identical to the existing Big Bang 42 mm model but indices replace Arabic numerals and its pushers return to the design of the original model from 2005.