Luxury watch sector: hand in hand

The luxury watch sector continues to drive sales via social media campaigns and virtual interaction as they rely on e-commerce and goodwill to survive the financial constraints of the pandemic. We take a look at these high-end releases. By DEBBIE HATHWAY

In 2020, the pandemic changed the way watches were traded worldwide. The importance of utilising e-commerce channels increased, with even Patek Philippe reportedly announcing it would allow authorised retailers to sell their stock online for a “temporary period”.

Sales at online watch platform Hodinkee experienced a “very quiet few weeks” this time last year but then sold a US$20,000 Blancpain at full price and also a vintage Daytona. “If you pay us, that allows us to pay our distributors, who can pay their folks,” Hodinkee founder and chief executive Benjamin Clymer told the New York Times. “There are a lot of things to criticize in luxury, but we need each other.”

Goodwill is also key. Of the many watchmakers who offered support for healthcare workers and communities in need, Bulgari – owned by LVMH – produced sanitising gel at its Italian fragrance factory for hospitals in Italy and Switzerland. The New York Times also noted Kering’s donation of US$1 million to the Centres for Disease Control Foundation in America and Rolex’s support of the Red Cross and the WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, among others.

While we hold our collective breath as we wonder what 2021 has in store, we could adopt the hibernating pattern of bears in winter as recommended in a Bernstein report. “Reduce your activity and cut variable costs, but maintain your vital functions,” writes analyst Luca Solca.

Luxury watch sector
We love the aubergine dial among the new white Rolesor additions to the Oyster Perpetual Datejust 31 collection by Rolex. The sunray finish offsets the enlarged diamond-set VI and draws the eye outwards to the sparkling bezel fitted into the 31mm Oyster case. The watch is powered by calibre 2236, a new-generation self-winding mechanical movement by Rolex.  
Luxury watch sector
Patek Philippe’s Twenty-4 is a modern classic, featuring a graded sunburst dial, gold-applied Arabic numerals and trapeze-shaped hour markers. The art deco-inspired case displays 36 internally flawless Top Wesselton diamonds (~0.42 ct.) skilfully set by hand. The bracelet is also hand-assembled and mirror-polished by adept craftsmen to best catch the light.
Luxury watch sector
Gender neutral: Limited to 200 pieces, the 42mm case of the Hublot Big Bang Millennial Pink is in modern, lightweight aluminium, anodised, satin-finished and through-tinted millennial pink.

What colour do you see in the new Hublot Big Bang Millennial Pink? Powder pink or pastel? Or a blend of beige and salmon, apricot and grapefruit? Designed for men and women by Hublot and Garage Italia, this pink expresses a gentle, inclusive and confident approach to life; a symbol of a new generation. The shade is realised through Hublot’s expertise in materials technology. “At Garage Italia, we want to be part of a world where the character of every person is defined by their love of life and their inclusivity, rather than by their power or their superiority. More than simply a product, we want to create something which represents a positive change,” says Lapo Elkann, founder and creative chairman of Garage Italia.

Luxury watch sector

Breitling’s new Chronomat 36 and 32 collection (above) is for women who embody style, confidence and an active lifestyle. Charlize Theron, member of the Breitling Spotlight Squad, explains why she loves the watch. “I don’t like having the watch dictate to me what I should be doing. I can go to the gym with this watch, I can wear it tonight for dinner, I can wear this whenever I want to. (Women) want things that have a juxtaposition, like the texture of the band and the smoothness of the face, the strength of the metal and the femininity of the diamonds. We’re not easy, but when you get it right we’re really happy.” breitling.com 

Luxury watch sector

We have 70-year-old Michel Parmigiani to thank for this beauty (above). The Toric is the first wristwatch case he designed, and this Toric Héritage was made by Parmigiani Fleurier in his honour. Limited to 70 pieces, the watch features a steel, numbered case and blue Grain d’Orge guilloche dial. The COSC-certified in-house Caliber PF441 meets stringent standards for accuracy and reliability, partly due to its use of variable inertia balance, which ensures long-term stability, greater shock resistance and less sensitivity to the watch-wearing position. The piece has a 55-hour power reserve and features Côtes de Genève stripes, polished angles, circular graining and hand-bevelled bridges. Who will wear it? Parmigiani Fleurier CEO Davide Traxler says their clientele has “a certain horological maturity. It’s really not a question of age. Some people start collecting watches at 16. And maybe at 30 they’re looking for a certain finishing, a certain fit. Others buy their first mechanical watch at 60… Parmigiani clients know what they want, are self-aware, and want a watch that expresses who they are in that moment of their lives.”  

Luxury watch sector
The COSC-certified TUDOR Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue” has a 39mm case containing the Manufacture Calibre MT5402 and a silicon balance spring for a 70-hour power reserve. 

TUDOR’s Black Bay Fifty-Eight “Navy Blue” won the Challenge Prize at the prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2020. The name is inspired by the colour and the year 1958, when the first TUDOR divers’ watch – waterproof to 200 metres – was revealed. Proportions suit wearers with slim wrists who like compact models with vintage appeal.

Luxury watch sector
The Chronomat Bentley (pictured above), which celebrates Breitling’s partnership with the luxury car brand, has a 42mm stainless-steel case with a green dial and black contrasting chronograph counters, while Omega’s Speedmaster Moonwatch Master Chronometer (pictured below) is the latest edition of a watch favourite, featuring unique design elements and the Master Chronometer Calibre 3861.

Like the Breitling Chronomat for women, the men’s version is a sporty watch designed for any occasion. Its initial launch in 1984, when the industry focus was on quartz watches, reminded the world that Breitling had essentially invented the modern mechanical chronograph. Says CEO Georges Kern: “The Chronomat Collection is a fitting tribute to the amazing watch that put us back in touch with our heritage.”

Meanwhile, Omega has made a significant update to its Speedmaster Moonwatch. The original edition was famously worn by Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon in 1969. The enhancement is in the Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 3861, a new movement that prevents the Moonwatch being affected by even the most extreme magnetic fields reaching 15,000 gauss.