In a taxonomy of Swiss watches, the most basic distinction is between timepieces designed for dress and those designed for sport. Anyone with a casual interest in the category knows that the latter, particularly in steel, is currently dominating the market. It’s also true, however, that aesthetic preferences evolve over time—just look at what’s happened to case sizes over the years. There’s no reason to think the pendulum won’t swing back in the direction of dress watches one day, quite possibly soon.
In preparation for that day, we’ve cherrypicked six of the best dress watches introduced in 2021, including a trio of anniversary models that are in and of themselves cause for celebration.
A. Lange & Söhne Langematik Perpetual
Twenty years after it was introduced, the Langematik Perpetual, the first perpetual calendar to feature the brand’s trademark outsize date window, from the venerable German watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne, has gotten both an aesthetic and mechanical refresh. Now available in a 38.5 mm case made of either 18-karat pink gold or 18-karat white gold — with a deep blue dial and available in a limited edition of 50 pieces each — the watch also is equipped with a new patented zero reset mechanism that allows for faster and more precise time-setting via the crown. With a dial crafted from solid silver and accented with solid-gold appliques and hour markers, and hands made of rhodiumed gold, the piece has all the hallmarks of a Lange classic. The watch goes for US$91,800 (about RM383,000). More information on their website.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadriptyque
Six years in the making, the Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadriptyque is Jaeger-LeCoultre’s most complicated Reverso ever, the first wristwatch with four functioning display faces and a masterpiece of astronomical timekeeping. Incorporating 11 complications, the piece is distinguished by a handful of functions that provide a deep reading of the cosmos. For example, the interior face of the iconic Reverso cradle features three lunar displays (the synodic cycle, the draconic cycle and the anomalistic cycle). As if that weren’t enough, a flying tourbillon appears at the 7 o’clock position on the recto face, which also displays a perpetual calendar, and a minute repeater is housed on the verso face, along with a secondary time display, indicating the same time as the recto dial, but in a jumping-hours and peripheral-minutes format. Between its awesome complexity and its harmonious beauty, it’s tough to know which aspect of this singular timepiece is most impressive — and should you need to know the next global incidence of an eclipse, the Hybris Mechanica can tell you that, too. More information here.
Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921
For the 100th anniversary of its American 1921 model, a cushion-shaped wristwatch with two peculiar design elements, a diagonal display and a crown at 1 o’clock, Vacheron Constantin pulled out all the stops. Reimagined in three new editions — two white gold models, one in a 36.5 mm case, the other in 40 mm (pictured here), as well as a limited edition in platinum — the classic driver’s watches boast sophisticated, finely grained silver-toned dials with black Arabic numerals, black-painted minutes tracks, 18-karat gold Breguet-style hands and baton-type hands on the seconds counter. The white gold pieces come on brown calf leather straps crafted in the Milan-based workshops of Serapian, an Italian leather goods company founded in 1928. And all three are equipped with manual-winding Calibre 4400 AS, an in-house movement that powers the display of hours, minutes and small seconds and comes with a 65-hour power reserve. The watch goes for RM156,000. More information here.
IWC Portofino Chronograph 39
For three decades, IWC’s elegant Portofino collection has served up a steady stream of timepieces beloved by both men and women for their classic, uncluttered appearance. The collection’s new 39 mm chronographs are no different. Designed to complement the existing 42 mm Portofino Chronograph, the new Portofino Chronograph 39 models are encased in stainless steel, with a choice of black, green or silver-plated dial. Paired with matching alligator leather straps, these gentleman’s wristwatches nevertheless boast a sporty vibe that makes them well-suited to all occasions. The watch goes for RM23,200. More information here.
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Tokyo 2020
Dress watches can come in many forms. One of the many pieces Omega designed for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the new Seamaster Aqua Terra is not only a polished gold timepiece appropriate for an evening out, it’s also a bona fide collectible honouring an Olympics like no other. The combination of the polished blue ceramic dial with its laser-engraved Tokyo 2020 pattern, the 41 mm 18-karat gold case and integrated blue alligator leather strap lend the piece a distinguished quality that perfectly complements its powerful Co-Axial Chronometer movement. Plus, the model has already been road-tested by an Olympic great: Omega brand ambassador Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, was among the first people to wear the timepiece. The watch goes for RM76,100. More information here.
Moritz Grossmann Hamatic Vintage
Moritz Grossmann is a stickler for tradition. From its base in the German watchmaking city of Glashütte, the small manufacturer combines state-of-the-art technology with artistic techniques derived from Saxon watchmaking traditions that have flourished since the second half of the 19th century. The new Hamatic Vintage embodies the firm’s commitment to hand craftsmanship: the dial features a fine-grained, velvet-like surface that reflects light without causing glare. Available in either 18-karat white or rose gold (each version is limited to eight pieces), the model is powered by a precision-finished Grossmann 106.0 manufactory calibre with stop-seconds function decorated with six Glashütte stripes and equipped with an efficient hammer winding mechanism. €39,000 (about RM192,000). More information here.
Previously published on Robb Report.