Once again, LVMH is ahead of the pack. Last year, the luxury conglomerate released its new watches for 2020 with a splashy January event in Dubai, just weeks before Covid-19 became a global pandemic. The timing was certainly fortuitous for Hublot, Zenith, Bulgari and Tag Heuer. It gave the brands a chance to be seen in-person by both retailers, press and VIP clients before the business would nearly come to a standstill. This year, the watch division made sure to be first out of the gate again. On Monday, Hublot, Zenith and Bulgari released their new novelties for 2021 during a virtual LVMH watch week. Tag Heuer did not participate, but in a recorded video during a press conference for LVMH Watch Week this morning, Frédéric Arnault, Tag Heuer’s newly minted CEO as of June 2020, said, “The reason for which we are not participating is that on the 4th of February, we will host a digital event announcing the biggest partnership ever for the brand.”
From the rest of the pack, the new offering mostly updates existing models in new colorways and materials. Brands are playing it safe as they regain their footing after manufactures were forced to close for months last spring. But that’s not to say there weren’t a few highlights, such as Bulgari’s Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon, Hublot’s Spirit of Big Bang Tourbillon 5-Day Power Reserve Carbon White, or a vivid new forest-green Defy 21 from Zenith.
Here is a look at every new release. Stay tuned for more in-depth coverage.
Hublot Big Bang Integral Ceramic
For a certain type of Hublot lover, nothing beats a ceramic—which makes the new Big Integral Ceramic a particularly exciting proposition. What differentiates this version from others is its monobloc architecture, meaning that the first link of its bracelet is fused to its 42 mm by 13.45 mm case. Because of this, the entire outer structure, with the exception of the bezel lugs and the rubber elements on the crown and pushers, is made from ceramic. Inside its svelte case you’ll find the V2 incarnation of Unico HUB1280 movement, which has a 72-hour power reserve. Previously only available in black, the single-color, single-material Big Bang Integral Ceramic now comes in white, blue and grey hues and costs $23,100.
Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Orange Sapphire
Hublot has proven itself adept at creating and machining different-colored sapphire cases. Still, the amber-hue on the Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Orange Sapphire is a world first. But as striking as that through-tinted 45 mm by 15.30 mm sapphire case may be, it’s not the only noteworthy thing about this piece. That’s because it’s powered by an entirely new tourbillon movement that features self-winding, a new architecture and three sapphire bridges. It’s limited to 50 examples and costs $169,000.
Hublot Classic Fusion Orlinski
Bold angles and sharp edges have been a trademark of Richard Orlinski’s Hublot timepieces since he started at the watchmaker back in 2017. These new, monochromatic versions of the Classic Fusion Orlinski are clad entirely in ceramic with the exception of the crown and strap. But there’s so much more to this show piece than its elegant, geometric shape. Inside its thin, 40 mm by 11.10 mm case is a HUB1100 Self-Winding movement that consists of 63 components and 25 jewels. The latest iteration of the $13,600 watch comes in flashy blue and gloss black, both of which call to mind the color codes used in Orlinksi’s XXL bestiary.
Hublot Big Bang MP-11 in Magic Gold and Blue Sapphire
The Big Bang MP-11 has the sort of high-tech movement that serves as the visual centerpiece. The calibre HUB9011 manual-winding skeletonized movement features an entirely original architecture that integrates seven series-coupled barrels that give it a 14-day power reserve. Yes, 14 days. Just as stunning are the two new colorways for its 45 mm by 15.30 mm case. One is made from the brand’s proprietary scratch-resistant 18-karat Magic gold and costs $89,500, while the other is constructed from transparent blue sapphire and goes for $132,000. Both are limited to 50 examples.
Hublot Big Bang One Click
The latest Big Bang One Click, is a shapeshifting timepiece that offers versatility in spades. Available in satin-finished stainless steel or 18-karat “King Gold,” the chronograph features a 33 mm by 10.55 mm case that’s been refined for slender wrists and a bezel set with 36 diamonds. The dial is available in black or white and houses the HUB1120 self-winding movement. The standout feature, however, is the interchangeable strap which can be switched in mere seconds thanks to the patented and easy to use “One Click” fastening system. Crafted from natural rubber, the strap is available in an array of colors—electric blue, raspberry pink or terracotta orange, to name just a few, meaning you can coordinate your watch with your outfit, should you so desire. The steel white diamond design is priced at $12,500, while the King Gold white diamond costs $23,000.
Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Beige
On the heels of pastel pink and blue, Hublot has unveiled a new Big Bang in beige and proved that neutrals are in no way boring. The new timepiece features a satin-finished beige ceramic case that measures 39 mm by 12.6 mm and a matching sand-colored sunray dial. The alligator strap is finished in a similar subtle hue and is fitted with a deployant buckle. The bezel, available in polished titanium or 18-karat “King Gold” (Hublot’s new gold color, containing mainly platinum, that is a shade warmer than 5N 18-karat gold), is set with no less than 50 diamonds and adds a touch of sparkle to the decidedly monochrome design. The King Gold model is priced at $24,100 while the titanium edition will set you back $19,900.
Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Tourbillon 5-Day Power Reserve Carbon White
While all Hublot watches are built to make a statement, the Spirit of Big Bang Tourbillon 5-Day Power Reserve Carbon White is one of the most striking designs of the new lineup. That is due in part to its skeletonized design that offers a full view, front and back, of its manufacture HUB6020 movement including a tourbillon, visible at 6 o’clock that completes one rotation per minute. The caliber’s architecture had to be specifically designed to fit into its tonneau-style, 42 mm by 13.25 mm carbon fibre case. The material was specially crafted to reveal its white composite inclusions, which are formed from glass microfibers created as non-woven pieces which are then blended with the carbon fibres using tinted epoxy resin to create the marbled look of its sandwich construction, held together by 6 h-shaped screws. Going the extra mile, the company equipped the handwound caliber with 115 hours of power reserve, displayed in a 5-day segment indicator at 8 o’clock. It comes with a black ceramic and black-plated titanium deployant “One-Click” buckle clasp and retails for $94,700.
Zenith Defy 21 Urban Jungle
Green watches have become increasingly popular. Whether military-inspired or not, they make a nice style statement for increasingly casual wardrobes. Zenith hopped on the bandwagon with its latest Defy 21, aptly called the “Urban Jungle,” both for its striking leafy hue and its modern construction. It marks the first time the Swiss watchmaker has dressed the model in green ceramic and it comes with a matching rubber insert, with grey edges, that uses a cordura-effect to create the look of a Nato strap without using fabric.
The color carries through to its El Primero 9004 automatic chronograph movement, which can measure 1/100th of a second for exceptionally close timing, with the main plate and star-shaped oscillating rotor also created in the rich hue. Incredibly precise, it has an escapement operating at 36,000 VpH or 5Hz, while the chronograph functions at an incredible 360,000 VpH or 50 Hz. It comes with approximately 50 hours of power reserve and retails for $14,500.
Zenith Pilot Type 20 Silver Chronograph
Two years ago, Zenith released its first Pilot Type 20 in a sterling silver case on a time-only special edition that was limited to just 200 pieces at $7,700 each. This year, it updated the model in a chronograph version, more true to its aviation roots. Like its predecessor, it also comes in a sterling silver case with a nuanced dial meant to reflect the striations and rivets of the metal panels found on the fuselage of an aircraft. The time around, the case also features two pushers to activate the chronograph, both situated on either side of its unmistakable oversized onion-shaped crown (historically pilots needed larger crowns to help adjust the time while wearing flight gloves).
Other than its chronograph function, the piece has not strayed in design from the 2019 version. It remains 45 mm and has the same extra-large Arabic numerals and cathedral hands topped off in SuperLuminova for legibility. Like its predecessor, this silver chrono is limited to just 250 models, but the extra complication will add a couple of K to the price of the 2019 model, with a retail figure of $9,700.
It is powered by the El Primero 4069 Automatic movement with 50 hours of power reserve and a frequency of 36,000 VpH.
Fun fact: Zenith’s Type 20 Pilot is inspired by early 20th century aviator Louis Bleriot, who undertook the first flight across the English Channel in 1909, with a Zenith on his wrist. The historic moment took place just five years after Zenith founder, George Favre-Jacot, completed the second trademark on the Pilot timepiece in 1904.
After all the fanfare and focus on the technical expertise and groundbreaking design of the Octo Finissimo collection, Bulgari turned its attention to the Octo Roma line this year. The showpiece of its 2021 releases is this new Carillon Tourbillon. The 44 mm piece employs three hammers fixed directly to the titanium body of the case. They are folded and formed by an expert craftsman before they are hardened at a temperature of 900 degrees. After, they are cleaned and then ironed in an oven at 500 degrees to give the metal a crystalline resonance. They are then lengthened with a file to refine the chords of the ringing. Yes, all of that for the thin and tiny wire-like gongs you see encircling the interior of the case.
The melody sounds three tones in the note of C for the hours, a sequence of mid-range-C notes for the quarters and a mid-note for the minutes. Beyond the positioning of the hammers, sound was maximized and refined with hollowing constructions in the middle case to reduce the amount of metal inside and outside, and three openings were added to the three chimes to allow sound to exit from the chamber. The back has also been hollowed in a titanium grid that protects the resonance and allows sound to be further transmitted to the exterior.
The Caliber BVL428 also comes with cut-out bridges and a unique arrangement of the components to better reveal the mechanism to the wearer (and its spectators). The hammers, gongs and tourbillon cage come in alternating polished steels for depth of presentation, while the mainplate and bridges are treated in PVD.
Unlike other watchmakers attempting to modernize, Bulgari has found a unique design formula that is overtly contemporary while still being sophisticated, and that strategy is hitting all the right notes.
Limited to just 15 pieces worldwide (price upon request), the Octa Roma Carillon Tourbillon will be numbered via an engraving on the crown and comes on a black alligator leather strap with a three-blade folding clasp in DLC titanium.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo
It was all about small design tweaks on the three new Octo Finissimo releases. First up, the Chronograph GMT model received a new black opaline dial with a new sporty rubber strap designed to look like a fabric strap. The 42 mm piece houses the ultra-thin BVL 318 caliber with a peripheral rotor that allows for a thinness of 6.9 mm. Previous versions came in monochrome titanium. Next, the steel 43 mm by 8.75 mm S Chronograph GMT, also equipped with the BVL 318 caliber, was updated with a handsome new blue sunray dial paired with silver counters. The dial color offers a slightly more traditional take on the otherwise minimalist aesthetic of the Octo. But, in our opinion, the best looking model of the bunch stays true to Bulgari’s pared-down aesthetic. The new 40 mm by 6.40 mm Octo Finissimo S, a follow up to 2020’s introduction of a stainless steel model, now comes with a new silver vertical-brushed dial, which pairs nicely against the radial-brushed bezel. Previously, the steel version was offered with a black dial, but the new silver dial steel model, powered by the BVL 138 caliber, allows for a sleeker look akin to last year’s ceramic introduction.
Bulgari Diva’s Dream
Bulgari’s Diva’s Dream collection consistently serves up high-end complication pieces for women as a tribute to history’s grandest dames. The latest offering is no exception. The new Peacock line, which comprises three timepieces, has that signature pop of color and artfully combines diamonds and ancient techniques in an undeniably alluring way.
Each piece has a luxe 37 mm 18-karat rose gold case and breathtaking dial that pays homage to the preening spirit of the peacock in a truly unique way. The first, the Peacock Dishi, features a striking marquetry dial set with 24 natural hand-cut feather elements that were painstakingly sourced from nearly 500 feathers. Limited to 50, it features a total of 440 diamonds and 25 sapphires, along with a deep blue alligator bracelet. Next, the Peacock Diamonds, sees a hand-painted peacock motif set against a mother-of-pearl backdrop and boasts a staggering 1,452 (7.56 carats) of brilliant-cut diamonds. Finally, the Peacock Tourbillon Lumière features a dial decorated with natural peacock feather marquetry and snow-set diamonds. Limited to just 10 pieces, this watch takes some six weeks to complete.
Bulagari Serpenti Spiga
Bulgari’s snake-inspired timepieces have been slithering around wrists since the ’40s and the Serpenti range has become a distinct signifier of the brand. The latest collection, Serpenti Spiga, comprises three new serpent-themed timepieces that each feature the classic 33 mm snake-shaped dial, Bulgari’s high-precision quartz movement, and a diamond-encrusted wrapping bracelet with an intricate matelassé pattern.
The most subdued of the trio is finished in 18-karat rose gold and sports a mother-of-pearl dial and double-row bracelet with a total of 281 brilliant-cut diamonds. For a little more pizzaz, there’s a second rose-gold timepiece with a triple-row bracelet, black lacquered dial and 461 rocks. And, finally, the piece de resistance, an 18-karat white-gold watch set with a single cabochon-cut blue sapphire. This blingy beauty features a triple-row bracelet with 421 stones, plus a dial that’s decorated with 257 snow pavé-set diamonds.