A mechanical watch is a fairly simple thing. It runs on a minutely-engineered movement that depends on its wearer for power. It tells the hours and minutes (and mostly the seconds too), and doesn’t have more than a date or day/date complication to clutter up the dial. Although further complications (tourbillions, perpetual calendars, moonphases, minute repeaters) always make a watch more interesting, in 2021, we’re largely seeing a return to the basics: the classic three-hander in all its glory.
Take Rolex. Earlier this year, it released what I think is the purest distillation of its sports watch, the Rolex Explorer, in a classic 36mm size. The ref. 124270 ( ₹4,61,700) is an instant classic on the oystersteel bracelet, with the black dial and the iconic 3, 6 and 9 in Arabic numerals. Men’s watches had been growing larger every year, but now, thanks to the resurgence of vintage watches and styles, the diameters are shrinking again, and so has the Explorer, down from 39mm.
Or take Grand Seiko. The Japanese powerhouse has established itself as one of the big players in the luxury segment, and its stunning watches are a refinement of a ideal that dates back to Seiko’s 1960s design philosophies. Take a look at the crisp, time-only layout of the ref. SBGW231G ( ₹3,60,000). It’s all gleaming, sharp lines in the hands and the hour markers; a captivating, if subtle dial with plenty of space; and gleaming, zaratsu-polished lugs. This reference, too is just 37mm wide, a throwback to earlier styles of understated luxury. Just like the Explorer is for Rolex, the SBGW231G may not be the most expensive Grand Seiko, but it is the most pure.
And this is true of the wider field as well. A new Breitling like the Premier Heritage B09 Chronograph boasts a timeless look. The new Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 5711/1A-014 doesn’t mess with the DNA either. And I could go on about new offerings from the likes of Cartier, Bvlgari or Omega, but the underlying sentiment remains the same. At a time of upheaval in the luxury watch segment, it’s best to stick to timeless designs. And customers aren’t complaining. With that in mind, here are six great luxury watches that you should be considering.
GRAND SEIKO REF. SBGW231G: A classic dress watch, this is a pure iteration of Grand Seiko’s 1960s design heritage. Available on Grandseikoboutique.in; ₹3.60 lakh.
ROLEX EXPLORER REF.124270: Rolex returned to tradition by paring back the classic sportswatch to a svelte 36mm. Available on Ethoswatches.com; ₹4,61,700
BREITLING HERITAGE B09 CHRONOGRAPH: Breitling channels the 1940s to bring this gorgeous manual wind chronograph in this year’s on-trend colour, green. Available on Ethoswatches.com; ₹5,86,350
CARTIER TANK MUST: There’s probably no better unisex dress watch in the world than the Cartier Tank. Available on Kapoorwatch.com; ₹2.35 lakh
OMEGA SEAMASTER AQUA TERRA 150: One of the hits of this year, and no wonder, with its 38mm case and mix of sporty and dressy vibes. Available on Ethoswatches; ₹ 4.77 lakh
BVLGARI OCTO FINISSIMO: The super slim, tough titanium Octo Finissimo has been another hit this year. It’s the perfect blend of elegance and hardiness. Available on Kapoorwatch.com; ₹11.88 lakh