Impressive New Releases from a Virtual Watches and Wonders 2021
by James Malcolmson
While the watch industry’s spring unveilings had to be performed in an unsatisfying digital format, the watches themselves seemed even more impressive than what might be seen in a normal year. Perhaps the creativity that was suppressed by the pandemic finally found an outlet.
This year’s novelties offer not only high design and complication, but a remarkable sensibility for our contemporary lifestyles as well.
Here is our roundup of the Top Four new releases that are available through Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry.
Greubel Forsey GMT Sport
Athletic Prowess: Greubel Forsey continues to redefine the upper limits of the sports watch.
Buoyed by the overwhelming reception given to their GMT Sport model at the end of 2019, Greubel Forsey has subtly updated the timepiece and completed it with a finely finished metal bracelet. Housed in a dramatically curved titanium case, the GMT Sport represents the most dramatic departure from its traditional high-complication aesthetic upon which the brand has ever embarked. The design is, of course, in perfect keeping with the times. Clearly the appeal of watches that are appropriate for both an active lifestyle as well as more genteel activities extends all the way into Greubel Forsey’s lofty territory.
This year’s version includes many welcome refinements. Gone are the prominent “values” engravings around the bezel, which now features a combination of straight graining and mirror polishing. The upper movement plates are also coated in a vibrant blue hue that has proven popular in several of the brand’s recent models. Most prominent, of course is the bracelet, the first the brand has ever produced. Three distinct finishing styles are applied to the links, including a frosting that is echoed on the flanks of the case, and is now synonymous with the brand’s movement decoration. The watch is also available on a blue rubber strap.
This particular edition of the GMT Sport is limited to 33 pieces ($575,000).
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar
Lean Years: Bulgari continues its ultrathin watchmaking tear with the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar.
After eight years of torrid development, it’s no surprise that Bulgari has once again broken a world record for ultra-thin watchmaking, this time with its Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar, a watch with an overall thickness of just 5.80 mm. The previous holder of the record for thin perpetuals, Audemars Piguet, entirely revised their perpetual calendar mechanism in 2018 in the quest to be thin. Bulgari followed similar steps to produce this watch, with the added advantage that its base movement, containing the essential power and timekeeping functions, was designed to take additional complications while maintaining a minimal profile.
Bulgari’s perpetual calendar mechanism functions like most such complications. The mechanism is located just under the dial and is adjusted by recessed correctors on the case sides. Its slimness comes not only from finely designed components, but from special recesses machined into the movement base plate to accept the thicker parts of the calendar mechanism. Even with these fine dimensions, the watch offers automatic winding via a micro-rotor, as well as a retrograde date hand, which snaps back at the end of the month. The latter is a subtle tip of the hat to watch designer Gerald Genta, who designed the original Octo, and was a particular devotee of the retrograde display.
Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar is made in the brand’s signature titanium on titanium configuration ($59,000) as well as a platinum version with a blue dial ($89,000). The watches should appear at our boutique sometime in September.
X Factor: MB&F wows with its latest, highly limited LMX
Of all the new watches released this spring, we have had the most interest in LMX, the ten-year celebratory edition of the first Legacy Machine from MB&F. While nominally sharing the twin dial/twin timezone layout of LM1, just a glance will reveal the watch has been completely reworked with vertical dials, a new, hemispherical power reserve indication and gear trains that have been partially raised above the dial for effect.
That effect is sensational, and offers a sense of dimensionality that is levels above earlier pieces, even with the trademark raised balance wheel of the Legacy Machine series. The launch edition is offered in red gold with a blackened dial (18 pieces/$128,000) or titanium with a green-treated dial (33 pieces/$112,000). Like a number of the brand’s recent launches, LMX will be released slowly to the public, and our initial allocation was spoken for almost immediately. Interested parties are encouraged to call us, and we’ll connect you to pieces as they become available.
Mid-Century Ultramodern: Hermès flexes its design ingenuity with the new H08
Unlike most of the Swiss legacy brands, Hermès exercises a remarkable level of freedom in experimenting with new shapes and designs in its watches. The new H08 model is a great example of a watch that utilizes fresh elements—like its rarely seen cushion-shaped case—and mixes them with more traditional design codes into something pleasingly original. The case shape, executed in satin brushed titanium or graphene, is resolutely contemporary, utilizing a similar combination of lines and curves that Jony Ive has used to such great effect at Apple. Touches of mirror polishing create a play of light that give the watch dimensionality.
The sector dial, finished in a sophisticated grey and black, and baton hands might have been pulled from a classic mid-century wristwatch. An ultra-modern typeface for the numerals, however, perfectly pulls dial and case together, making H08 one of the most interesting design statements to come forward this year. The first watches ($5,500 - 8,900) should start appearing in our store this summer.
Stephen Silver will be fortunate to have a few in our store over the coming months, and we invite you to look, dream and make an appointment to inspect these pieces as they become available.