Tracking Time: Best Watches Of 2020
Like every year, our watches of the year list features…
Like every year, our watches of the year list features timepieces that were the big winners at the Grand Prix of watches, Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, the world’s most prestigious annual watch awards show that was held in Geneva last month.
Despite its small size (the titanium case is only 38.5 mm in diameter), this watch stands out for its simple and elegant design, including its concave bezel, the two-tone silver dial, and the thin but large crown, which makes the winding experience easier. The manual-winding movement has a power reserve of 65 hours.
BVLGARI ALUMINIUM CHRONOGRAPH
In 1998, in the early days of the modern luxury watch era, Bulgari, then known predominantly as a luxe jewellery brand, created a stir by launching a watch in aluminium and rubber. It was still the era when watches were made in steel and gold. The white and black graphic combination became a big talking point. This new version, in the same material combination, comes in a 40mm aluminium case with matte black rubber bezel, black and grey counters, and black rubber strap. The selfwinding mechanical movement provides a power reserve of 42 hours.
PIAGET ALTIPLANO ULTIMATE CONCEPT
This stunning watch is, by far, the thinnest mechanical timepiece ever created, with a height of just 2 mm. Four years in the making, it is a brilliant exhibition of the art of miniaturisation in watchmaking. To achieve its almost impossible seeming thinness, the experts at Piaget first did away with multiple layers found in a conventional watch, by fusing the case with the movement. This allowed for the components to be scaled down to unthinkable dimensions. The wheels measure just 0.12 mm in thickness. And as can be seen from the open-worked dial, unlike in regular watches, the hands have been squeezed into the same plane as the movement and packed under the sapphire crystal, which, in turn, is only 0.2mm thick. The 41mm case and the movement are made from a high-tech cobalt alloy. The manual-winding mechanical movement has a power reserve of 40 hours.
GREUBEL FORSEY HAND MADE 1
As the name suggests, the highlight of this tourbillon watch is that it is almost entirely made by hand. 95 per cent of the timepiece, including the hairspring, was made using only hand-operated tools. The goal was to resurrect the ancestral art of hand-craftsmanship and reinforce it with standards of workmanship and precision rivalling modern production equipment. The work took an uncharted course, because simply replicating an existing calibre by hand was out of the question. The watch had to be entirely created from scratch. Some parts of the movement were redesigned in order to simplify them. For other mechanisms such as the tourbillon, the number of components had to be increased to allow each part to be made by hand. Each watch thus required an extraordinary 6,000 man-hours of work, something unheard of since the pre-industrial revolution days. In comparison to the pocket watches that were made in those days, the work here was complicated by the relatively smaller dimensions of the wristwatch. The watch is in a 43.5mm white gold case. The manual-winding mechanical movement has a power reserve of 60 hours.
VACHERON CONSTANTIN OVERSEAS PERPETUAL CALENDAR ULTRA-THIN SKELETON
This stunning watch combines an entirely open-worked ultra-thin movement with a perpetual calendar in a 41.5mm pink gold case, which is just 8.1 mm in height. While the anthracite grey mechanism is visible through a transparent sapphire dial in front, the transparent case back reveals the oscillating weight with its segment in 22K gold. The day, date, and month indications and the moon phase require no adjustment till the year 2100. The self-winding mechanical movement has a power reserve of 40 hours.
BREITLING SUPEROCEAN AUTOMATIC 48 BOUTIQUE EDITION
This big and bulky watch with a 48mm titanium case, with a black ceramic bezel and a green lacquered dial, was specially designed for divers. The soft iron inner case offers protection against the effects of magnetic fields, while the bidirectional rotating bezel can be safely secured with a lock on the left side of the case. It is water-resistant up to 300 meters. The self-winding mechanical movement has a power reserve of 38 hours.
MOSER & CIE STREAMLINER FLYBACK CHRONOGRAPH AUTOMATIC
This is the first automatic chronograph with a central display to feature a flyback function for minutes and seconds. The elegant 42.3mm steel cushion style case features an off-centre crown, and two chronograph push buttons at 10 and 2 o’clock. Its self-winding mechanical chronograph calibre is considered by many experts to be one of the best ever made. Power reserve of 54 hours.
BOVET 1822 RÉCITAL 26 BRAINSTORM CHAPTER 2
This truly exceptional watch comes in in a 47.8mm sapphire crystal ‘writing slope’ case. The slope of its bezel allows for a better display and readability of the mechanism. It features a double-sided flying tourbillon, a second-time zone with a twenty-four city disc, and a precision moon phase. A dome dial on the upper part of the case, in a choice of blue or green translucent quartz or blue aventurine glass, displays the hours and minutes. The seconds are read off an index fixed on the tourbillon at 6 o’clock, which makes a complete revolution in 60 seconds. The rotating dome at 3 o’clock displays a second time zone. The names of 24 cities representing the 24 time zones are printed on the rotating part of the dome, which makes a complete revolution by scanning the 24-hour graduation of the base ring. A three-dimensional V-shaped needle allows the collector to select the displayed time zone. The second rotating dome at 9 o’clock provides the moon phase indication. The manual-winding mechanical movement that drives the watch, has a power reserve of 120 hours.
BREITLING SUPEROCEAN HERITAGE ’57 LIMITED EDITION II
Like the first edition, this version of the famous watch is also about colour. Its rainbow-inspired highlights are seen by the brand as representing the frontline healthcare workers battling the Covid pandemic around the world (part of the sale proceeds go to health charities). The 42mm steel case and the bidirectional rotating bezel is hemmed by an ultrahard blue ceramic bezel ring. Among the most striking features on the blue dial are the colour highlights, marking the hours at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. The hour markers and the hour and minute hands are coated with Superluminova in a rainbow gradation of yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, red, and orange. The self-winding mechanical movement has a power reserve of 42 hours.
BOVET 1822 MISS AUDREY
This watch, with a classy green guilloché dial inspired by the lotus flower, comes in BOVET’s patented Amadéo convertible case that enables it to be transformed into a table clock or a pendant, without the use of any additional tools. The bezel and the iconic bow are set with white diamonds that enhance the dial. The self-winding movement provides a power reserve of 42 hours.