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As with so many international events around the world, the luxury watch industry has had to put its usual plans on hold and adapt to the Covid-19 crisis, which comes with strict social-distancing conditions.
Its usual round of trade fairs and annual exhibitions – the most widely known of which are Baselworld and Watches and Wonders Geneva, which were due to take place last month – have had to be cancelled or postponed until next year.
But, just as other industries are eschewing physical (transmittable!) events in favour of digital ad campaigns and look-book shoots, so the latest watches have recently been revealed online, with snappy brand videos and high-resolution photography replacing the ‘touch-and-feel’ sessions that normally accompany the launch of glamorous new timepieces. So, we’ve explored them all to bring you our edit of of what to look out for in the coming months.
From reworked classics and colourful detailing to the most luxurious watch-meets-jewellery hybrids, here are the seven biggest watch trends worth knowing about right now.
Masculine edges and heavy-duty hardware are at the heart of this new trend – with oversized, square-shaped and sporty models forecast to be just as popular with the ladies as they are with the gents.
Following the success of its skateboarding-inspired watch last year, Gucci’s latest Grip features a cool titanium effect and interlocking double-G logos which look subtle, rather than showy.
Grip watch, £1320, Gucci
Omega’s follow up to the 2018 launch of its women’s Constellation Manhattan watch is an updated, unisex version of its bestselling Constellation. With signature bezel ‘claws’ inspired by the frame of a New York shaving mirror – or so the legend goes – and a sleek steel and gold frame with white diamonds on each hour marker, this handsome model will look good on anyone.
Constellation Co-Axial Master Chronometer 39mm, £8,955, Omega
This leafy-hued, angular little number from Rado is the latest incarnation of its iconic square style. Made from ceramic rather than metal, it’s a surprisingly light, but extremely hardwearing, everyday watch that will see you through years to come.
True Square Green Dial watch, £1475, Rado
Loved by watch fans the world over, the Royal Oak is something of a design classic, and this year a new 34mm size, self-winding model joins the rest of the collection.
It comes in four different variations, but we’re particularly drawn to the 18-carat matte pink-gold version, which has white diamonds set into the bezel.
Royal Oak Self-winding 34mm, price on request, Audemars Piguet
Longines’ latest iteration of its signature 1832 watch pays homage to the year in which the company was founded. It combines a radiant mother-of-pearl dial and new brown leather strap with the vintage-inspired features of the classic version.
1832 watch, £1580, available from June, Longines
A bestselling diving watch since 1979, this year’s 32mm women’s Aquaracer nicely balances a tough appearance with a luxury finish. The chunky steel and yellow-gold bracelet and hard-wearing polished steel case are balanced with twinkling diamonds at each hour mark and a silver dial, with rolling lacquered waves.
Tag Heuer Aquaracer Lady, £2650, Tag Heuer
There are burgundy straps and dials aplenty for 2020. Aimed originally at the Chinese market, which prizes the colour red as a symbol of good fortune, these new timepieces look great on everyone and are a brilliant way to elevate your look. Consider them a new classic.
Launched almost a century ago, Jaeger-Le Coultre’s Reverso One gets a refresh this year with an elongated case and grain-set white diamonds, plus a lacquered red dial and wine-coloured straps.
Reverso One, £4750, Jaeger-Le Coultre
An 18k rose-gold case and 42 brilliant-cut diamonds, plus a delicate mother-of-pearl dial, make this watch a sparkling investment for real jewellery lovers.
Limelight Precious Gold, £48,800, Piaget
Elite Classic in rose gold and diamonds, £12, 200, Zenith
Part timepiece, part precious adornment, these horological dazzlers are sure to delight those looking to invest in their jewellery box as well as their watch collection.
With a name that means ‘link’ in French, Cartier’s brand new Maillon is inspired by the chain links that have been a signature of the Parisian house for decades. It has all the satisfying shine and heft of a chunky chain bracelet, with perhaps a little dash of 1970s glamour in the mix, too. It comes in both yellow and pink gold variations (the most wearable), as well as this incredible full pavé version in white gold.
Maillon de Cartier watch, price on request, Cartier
This incredible one-off bracelet watch took Chanel a full year to develop and contains all of the familiar house codes: Coco Chanel’s favourite pearls (there are 106 Akoya pearls in the strands); her beloved camellia flowers – studded with many of the watch’s 383 diamonds; and an octagonal watch case, shaped like one of the brand’s iconic perfume stoppers.
Chanel Premiere Camelia cuff watch, price on request, Chanel
Secret watches have a special place in the world of haute horologie and are considered more akin to luxurious jewels than they are to ordinary wrist watches – hence their extremely high price points. They have their roots in the early 20th century, when checking the time in genteel company was considered a social faux pas, so their faces are hidden under an ornate cover or tucked beneath a precious gemstone.
Van Cleef & Arpel’s latest secret watch can also be worn as a pendant or glittering brooch, and has a diamond watch dial hidden under a bouquet of yellow gold and diamond blossoms.
Frivole Secrète Watch, £37,200, Van Cleef & Arpels
Chopard’s latest Happy Sport watch showcases the finest in-house gem setting by the renowned jeweller. The 18-carat ethically sourced gold case is entirely paved with brilliant-cut white diamonds, and the watch itself contains a further seven diamonds which appear to dance across the pretty mother-of-pearl dial.
Happy Sport Joaillerie watch, price on request, Chopard
From prancing horses to great cats and tiny tweeting birds, the wildest (and often, one-off) timepieces this season all take their inspiration from the natural world.
Touching on its roots as a equine saddler, Hermès’ Arceau watch features a delicate white mother-of-pearl dial, supporting a carved gold horse and ‘waves’ of movement.
Arceau Cheval Cosmique, £41,520, Hèrmes
Since it first started appearing on the house’s creations around 1914, Cartier’s iconic panther motif has brought a dose of seductive glamour to many of its watch and jewellery collections.
This year, the big cat has been rendered in precious gemstones in two limited-edition jewellery watches, including this one, which features a diamond-studded panther emerging from an enamel and yellow gold bamboo forest.
Ronde Louis Cartier Enamel Filigree watch, price on request, Cartier
This watch is one of only four created by Vacheron Constantin this year in celebration of our feathered friends. It bears a beautifully detailed hummingbird in a rose gold frame, painstakingly hand-painted by a master enameller – a task so delicate, it requires binoculars.
Les Cabinotiers Singing Hummingbird watch, price on request, Vacheron Constantin
Following last year’s jewellery trend for mixing ornamental stones – like malachite, lapis lazuli and tiger’s eye – alongside diamonds and other gems in ornate designs, this year’s most colourful timepieces all incorporate a slice of precious mineral into their dials.
Inspired by its most famous client, the Empress Joséphine, and her love of botanical gardens, Chaumet’s new Hortensia Eden watch features a lush green malachite dial and tiny diamond-encrusted hydrangea flowers blooming on its bezel.
Chaumet Hortensia Eden watch, £23,100, Chaumet
La D de Dior Satine simply glows all over. It has a woven steel bracelet that feels as silky as a ribbon; a luminous dial created from tiger’s eye stone; and white diamonds peeking out from its bezel, crown and even its buckle.
La D de Dior Satine in gold, steel, diamonds and tiger’s eye, £6,750, Dior
Bulgari has a long tradition of using colourful ornamental stones alongside traditional gemstones in its couture jewellery designs – shown to great effect in its latest Diva’s Dream timepiece. The colour of the leather straps perfectly matches that of the striking lapis dial, while the lugs (the part of the watch frame that attaches to the straps) recall the fan-shaped motif of its bestselling Diva jewellery line.
Diva’s Dream Lapis Lazuli, price on request, Bulgari
Toubillons take their name for the French for ‘whirlwind’ and are an added watch feature – or ‘complication’ in industry parlance – which mitigates the effect of gravity on a watch’s mechanical parts and increases its accuracy. They’ve long been a part of traditional watchmaking (they were first used in 1795, in fact) but tourbillons have only recently moved from being housed inside the mechanism of a watch to being flaunted right on its face. Many of this year’s latest high-spec women’s watches all make use of this sophisticated spinning technology, combining it with diamond embellishment to take the skills of watchmaking to desirable new heights.
The Traditionelle Tourbillon Automatic is Vacheron Constantin’s first self-winding tourbillon for women and comes in two versions, including this spectacular 18-carat white-gold style with 599 (yes, really) brilliant and baguette-cut diamonds.
Traditionelle Tourbillon Automatic, price on application, Vacheron Constantin
Unveiled in Dubai before the lockdown, Bulgari’s record-breaking innovation is the smallest women’s tourbillon on the market – perfect for those who don’t want to compromise style for the sake of technology.
Held inside a slim, snake head-shaped case (the serpent being Bulgari’s iconic jewellery motif ) the tourbillon sits nestled amongs snow-set diamonds on the dial. The watch comes in either 18-carat white or rose gold with leather straps, or as a fully jewel-encrusted white-gold version, with a shimmering bracelet of white-gold ‘scales’.
Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon, price on application, Bulgari
Embellished with 731 diamonds, a mother-of-pearl dial and 18k white-gold case, Louis Vuitton’s most technical new women’s watch is also one of its most opulent.
Tambour Slim Tourbillon, price on request, Louis Vuitton
Dior’s new Grand Ruban – ‘ribbon’ in French – features elegant detailing inspired by the work of its storied couture house, including a spinning ribbon-shaped weight which powers the watch (a feature normally hidden behind the face in other models), a plush velvet strap, minute gold threads and a bezel covered in a flurry of snow-set diamonds.
Grand Ruban watch in steel, pink gold, white gold and diamonds, price on request, Dior
Reine de Naples in Grand Feu enamel, £31,000, Breguet
Cartier’s graphic Pasha watch has been considered a design classic since it first appeared in the mid 1980s. For 2020 it’s had a sleek makeover and now features a beautiful blue spinel or sapphire on its crown, interchangeable coloured straps and bright blue hands.
Pasha de Cartier watch, £14,900, available from September, Cartier
The diamond-studded hour-marker of Vuitton’s latest Spin Time Air seem to float above a midnight blue aventurine dial, which twinkles like the night sky and is ringed with blue sapphires.
Spin Time Air Aventurine, £66,000, Louis Vuitton