Rainbow hues that add an instant pop of cheer. Fully iced-out versions that bring major bling. Watchmakers have listened to their clientele’s desires for the ultimate timepiece, resulting in creations that are pure conversation starters. From wrist-sized works of art where three-dimensional dials sit alongside precious materials, to watches in nature-loving green, with their calming vibes and positive energy, these beauties are vying for top spot on the delicate wrists of the celebrated few.
Blue dials will always remain a perennial favourite among the wristwatch-wearing crowd for their versatility and this year has lots to offer in this popular hue. Vying for the crown, though, is a new colour contender that runs the gamut from lime to olive. Perhaps a sociological reaction to the global pandemic that has forced people to stay cooped up indoors, there’s a collective heightened appreciation for nature and the great outdoors, reflected in this year’s evergreen offerings that span a myriad of styles. Fall in love with Patek Philippe’s steel and diamond khaki green Aquanaut Luce or savour Chopard’s IMPERIALE in ethical rose gold with a green mother-of-pearl dial. Sporty occasions, meanwhile, call for the LonginesLegend Diver watch in bronze or the TAG Heuer Carrera Green Special Edition. Keeping things classic but with a twist, Audemars Piguet gave its beloved Royal Oak numbers (including the Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon) a dial makeover in vivid green and an utterly captivating smoky shade. Montblanc, too, went the timeless route with the release of the 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 18 in a new and proprietary gold alloy called Lime Gold.
If it’s still a blue dial that speaks most to you, then find one with a difference. With tiny gilded specks embedded in the deepest blue, aventurine glass dials promise subtle plays of light with every turn of the wrist while resonating with the romance of a star-studded night sky. A. Lange & Söhne’s Little Lange 1 Moon Phase, for example, is a lesson in chic minimalism. Rhodiumed gold Roman numerals, hands and hour markers stand out against a shimmery dial that’s kept clean despite a power-reserve indicator, and the Lange outsize date and moon-phase displays clearly shown on its 36.8mm face. Also presenting complications under a spangled guise are Chopard’s IMPERIALE Moonphase, Montblanc’s Bohème Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition 88 and Gucci’s pimped-out G-Timeless Dancing Bees Tourbillon, complete with playful mobile bees in white gold and 14.74 carats of diamonds.
A Precious Face
Popular in the ’60s and ’70s, ornamental hardstone dial watches tapped into the vibrant, free-spirited bohemian zeitgeist of the decades with a joyous vibe that worked as well with a cropped knit top and bell-bottomed jeans as with a mod mini frock. Back then, the cognoscenti turned to Piaget for a statement piece—the brand’s innovation in ultra-thin movements allowed it to cut the hardstone dials thicker (the material is notoriously fragile) without compromising on the overall thickness of the watch—and it’s a brand signature that continues to live on today in its Altiplano and high jewellery watch collections. Today, modern watch lovers are spoilt for choice, with myriad brands putting their expertise behind ornamental stones. Bvlgari’s Octo Roma Naturalia bears malachite, while H. Moser & Cie’s Endeavour Tourbillon Concept Tiger’s Eye showcases the red and blue varieties of its namesake stone. At Gucci, it’s black falcon’s eye replacing the ubiquitous onyx for a more nuanced take on the cushion-shaped case of its GRIP watch.
Diamonds Are Forever
If you’re on the hunt for a dial dressed in the hardest stone of them all, then watchmakers have plenty to offer. Think iced-out pieces that fit in perfectly with the bling crowd. From Bvlgari comes the triple-twirl Serpenti Spiga High Jewellery bangle watch in white gold, with over 20 carats of diamonds to its name. Then there’s Patek Philippe’s aristocratic rose gold Nautilus Ladies (12.7 carats) and Richard Mille’s bracelet chain RM 07-01 timepieces that have been beautifully snow-set all over. Showing technical pedigree as much as looks is Piaget’s Polo Skeleton High Jewellery watch with its 23-carat mix of brilliant- and baguette-cut diamonds, while Chanel blows things out of the water with its 12-piece limited-edition J12 Electro Star with 32.5 carats of baguette- cut diamonds and 13 carats of rainbow-hued sapphires on its side.
(Related: These are Rolex’s new releases for 2021)
Embrace The Spectrum
With its 2021 line-up inspired by the energy and lights of EDM, the J12 Electro Star is not the only timepiece from Chanel that bears the colours of inclusivity, joy and hope. From the multi-hued leather on its black ADLC-treated Première Electro watch to the colour prism of sapphires on its J12 Electro Dream watches, Chanel has its sights on covering all your rainbow needs. So, too, does Piaget, with its demure 32mm Limelight Gala Precious Rainbow dressed in the brand’s signature Palace décor hand-engraved throughout its rose-gold surfaces. And if gems are not the way to go for you, then look to Zenith and its DEFY 21 Felipe Pantone watch for an intriguing oil-slick finish on the brand’s beloved El Primero 21 chronograph movement and dial for a subtle yet no less striking effect.
Forever in Bloom
Also on the table this year is a strong showing of floral-themed timepieces—a trend that’s for anyone looking for a corsage that tells time. Chopard’s eight-piece limited-edition L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony showcases Grand Feu enamelling complemented by Fleurisanne engraving on the movement that can be seen through the caseback, making for a watch that’s equally beautiful on the back. Piaget’s Rose Bouquet Métiers d’Art timepieces throw the spotlight on the art of glyptic (or the craving of ornamental stones) and gold engraving for a lush, captivating three-dimensional dial. From Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Métiers Rares workshop comes four exceptional Reverso One Precious Flowers timepieces (limited to 10 pieces each) that bring to life a bouquet of lilies and arums through enamelling, engraving and gem-setting for blooms that will never fade.
This article was originally published in Harpers Bazaar.