Controversy, colour and cutting-edge. LVMH Watch Week 2021 had it all...
It feels like a lifetime ago when we covered LVMH Watch Week in 2020. At the time it was a newer concept for the conglomerate which was being trialled in Dubai with much speculation that it marked the beginning of the end of LVMH’s involvement in Baselworld. Obviously, we all know how that panned out in 2020, but now the brands own watch week is back and it's all digital for 2021.
Although a turmoil one for the whole of the world, 2020 was a surprisingly good year in watches. Last year’s show kicked off the year exceptionally well with releases such as the Octo Finnisimo in steel, an integrated bracelet for the Hublot Big Bang and also the Defy 21 Land Rover Edition (a personal highlight for me). Let see if in 2021 (and in a very different world) the LVMH brands can continue to excel. Here are some of our highlights from the show...
Zenith and the El Primero Chronomaster Sport
Let’s address easily the biggest talking point of the show head-on, the new Zenith Chronomaster Sport. There is a lot to cover here so we will condense it down to two main areas: the watchmaking and the aesthetics.
Firstly the watchmaking and here Zenith (of course) shine bright. As the name suggests this uses an El Primero movement, the newest version of the original El Primero movement the 3600. This new movement not only allows for a power reserve of 60 hours, but it also vibrates at 36,000 vph capable of keeping track of 1/10th of a second which can be tracked via the ceramic bezel. Zenith’s watchmaking skill needs no introduction so it should come as no surprise to anyone that such a brand is capable of introducing this calibre of movement into a serial production watch.
Now, those aesthetics. With a white or black dial, ceramic bezel, metal bracelet with polished centre links and being a chronograph, there is no doubt that initial impressions leave you with a taste of the modern Rolex Daytona.
These are brands with a history that overlaps, but look back at previous Zenith watches and you’ll see the El Primero De Luca. This watch from the 1990s with its white and black dials, black bezel, chronograph complication, metal bracelet with polished centre links and date window at 4:30 is undoubtedly a relative of this new Chronomaster Sport. This new addition from Zenith is the development, advancement and modernisation of that design and similar from their past.
Is it a coincidence that Zenith decided to develop a design which if it was to be modernised would look extremely similar to an unobtainable, 10-year waiting list long, highly desirable creation from a rather large brand? No, probably not. I would have liked to have seen Zenith do a little more with the design excluding their pop of colour thanks to that right subdial but Zenith has every right to be guided by their past. Remember, without Zenith and the El Primero movement the Rolex Daytona would look very different today.
Something makes me think this debate is far from over...
Bulgari's Octo Finissimo continued developments
For a second year running, the highlights from Bulgari come via their incredible Octo Finissimo range.
My obsession and addiction to the Octo Finissimo from Bulgari is well documented (here, here oh and here) and it seems Bulgari are hell-bent on ensuring this watch stays in people’s mind for another year as they announced three fantastic new additions.
First is the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo S 103464. This steel version of the time only Finnisimo is now 6.4mm in thickness which is up from 5.15mm, but still ridiculously thin. The star of the show is the vertically brushed silver-coloured dial which looks to play off the fantastic case and bracelet design with all its wonderful facets and angles. Thanks to the wonderful guys at Monochrome Watches, we get to see some live pictures of the watch and boy does it look incredible. I appreciate this probably isn’t for everyone, and at EUR 12,300 it’s quite a bit lighter on the wrist than on the wallet.
Next, we see the Bulgari Octo Finissimo S Chronograph GMT Steel. Continuing on the theme of steel, Bulgari has extended this to the Chronograph GMT we first saw in 2019 (yes, I still regularly think about how amazing that watch is). Differences now include the use of steel rather than sandblasted titanium, an increased 43mm width as well as a thicker case at 8.75mm. But it's the dial that is the main talking point here.
What was once quite a tame, understated dial is now bursting with life, bold details, depth and finishes. This watch has gone from being a bit of a sleeper on the wrist to a real statement.
Finally, we have another new Chronograph GMT which is closer to the OG from 2019, just now with a black dial. The case proportions remain the same (that 6.9mm thickness though) as does the blasted titanium finish.
Any time Bulgari experiments more with Octo Finissimo I’m always interested. This range from Bulgari is one of the most exciting truly modern watches we’ve seen in recent years and I can’t wait to see more in person.
Once again, another shoutout to Monochrome Watches for the live images here. Be sure to head over to their site to hear their thoughts based on hands-on time with the watches.
Hublot brings the colour
Last but not least is Hublot. Now, Hublot doesn't receive a lot of love from the collectors out there. Answering why is likely an article in itself but looking at their latest releases, they’ve had a strong start to 2021.
Colour is the name of the game for Hublot as we see orange, blue, black and white all make appearances.
First is orange via the Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Orange Sapphire. As you can see, it’s pretty out there with a sapphire orange coloured case, matching strap and dial details all with a tourbillon sharing the stage. At 45mm wide, costing $169,000 and there only being 50, this watch is pretty unique but then it doesn’t need to appeal to everyone.
Blue and Black now in the shape of their new 40mm Classic Fusion Orlinski models. These non-limited edition watches bring some abstract, modern flair to the industry. French sculptor Richard Orlinski has had his hands on this one as these two black and blue models take the concept of ‘adding depth’ to a whole new level. I actually think these are extremely attractive watches and I can see many of my non-watch obsessed friends aspiring to this. At $13,600 a pop though, deep pockets will be required.
Lastly, the Hublot Spirit Of Big Bang Tourbillon 5-Day Power Reserve In Carbon White completes our personal highlights from each LVMH brand. This tonneau-shaped Big Bang from Hublot is an almost avant-garde approach with its off-centred dial and insanely cool looking carbon white case.
Hublot isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for much of the wider population who wear watches they certainly are. For an industry that has room to grow, Hublot has to be praised for bringing watches to the forefront of people’s minds through clever sporting sponsorships and brand ambassadors. These are the watches those megastars will be seen wearing this year and for many, just those appearances will inspire people to research and learn more about horology.
So there you have it, a few of our personal highlights from LVMH Watch Week 2021. Digital-only events are difficult for all involved, from brands to writers to the community. A lot of the time we only have press images to show nowadays which, no matter how hard brands try, isn’t as impactful and educational as in-person experiences. State of the world aside for a moment and each brand who participated in LVMH Watch Week offered something worth talking about. You may have noticed Tag Heuer didn’t participate but we’re sure we will hear from them soon.