Top 10s

The Best New Classic Watches of 2021 So Far

When you just want a beautiful but simple timepiece, nothing compares to a clean two-hands, three-hands or three-hand with a date.

With so many great complicated watches on the market, and with timepieces chocked with functions, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the hoopla. However, sometimes, you just want a clean yet striking watch that just tells the hours and the minutes and maybe the seconds and the date.  Luckily, this year, as a host of watch brands recall their roots, it’s easy to find a watch that suits that style and taste. Here, we take a look at 10 watches that are classically beautiful in price ranges across the board for wrists of all sizes. One key thing to keep in mind, sometimes making a beautiful simple watch is more difficult than creating functions.

Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921 – Price CHF 30’700

Sometimes, a classic three-hand watch is not just about having three hands. Sometimes the smaller seconds hand can be located discreetly in a subsidiary dial, as with the new Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921 watch.  As its name implies, the watch is a reinterpretation of a timepiece from the Art Deco era, reinspired with proportions perfect for today. The cushion-shaped case with a round off-center dial is at once both vintage, modern and mesmerizing. The 40x40mm white gold watch houses a manual-wind movement with 65 hours of power reserve.

Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921
Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921

BVlgari Octo Finissimo Tadao Ando Limited Edition – Price CHF 17’500

Partnering with Tadao Ando, Bvlgari creates a limited edition – just 160 pieces – of its Octo Finissimo Tadao Ando watch. This time with a striking blue dial with a circular pattern that shows a little more than just the hours, minutes, and seconds. It also features a sliver of the moon showing through. Powered by the ultra-thin BVL 138 automatic calendar that was developed and made in-house, the 40 mm watch is crafted of black ceramic. The artistic blue dial is lacquered and the watch is finished with a ceramic bracelet. Just 160 pieces will be made.

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Tadao Ando Limited Edition
Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Tadao Ando Limited Edition Side View

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Small Seconds Price CHF 8’150

This Jaeger-LeCoultre watch will have others green with envy. This year marks the 90th  anniversary of the famed Reverso that was first created in 1931 for polo players looking for a way to protect their watch dials. The case holds a swivel cradle so that the player can slide the case out, turn it over in the cradle and slide it back into place with just the metal case back showing. This line has come a long way over the decades. This new Reverso Tribute Small Seconds version is crafted in stainless steel and houses an in-house-made manual wind movement with 42 hours of power reserve. The green dial is reminiscent of the ones made in the 1930s.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Small seconds
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Small Seconds

Nomos Glashütte Club Campus 38 Future Orange – Price CHf 1’320

German brand Nomos is all about clean design and bold colors. The newest Campus Future Orange watch and the Campus Absolute Gray watches measure 38mm in diameter and are crafted in stainless steel. Water-resistant to 30 meters, the watch features a subsidiary seconds dial at 6:00 and boasts markers, as well as Roman and Arabic numerals. The case back can be engraved – for free—with up to 88 characters. Both watches are also available in a smaller 36 mm case size.

Nomos Glashütte Club Campus 38 Absolute Gray
Nomos Glashütte Club Campus 38 Future Orange & 38 Absolute Gray

Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A-014- Price CHf 29’500

Good luck getting your hands on this show stopper. The new Reference 5711/1A-014 Nautilus from Patek Philippe is destined to have a long waitlist thanks to the army green horizontal sunray dial and the fact that it is crafted in stainless steel with a stainless steel bracelet. The hands and markers glow luminesce in the dark. Powered by a Patek Philippe in-house-made automatic movement, Caliber 26-330 S C, it offers 35 hours of power reserve. Water-resistant to 120 meters, it features hours, minutes, central seconds, and a date indication.

Patek Philippe Nautilus
Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A-014

Ressence Type 2N Night Blue – Price CHf 47’925

Ok, so this Ressence watch offers a lot more than the hours, minutes, and seconds, but that’s because it is a connected watch. The mechanical portion offers hours, minutes, small seconds and via the E-crown, it offers second-time zone indication, a power saver, and many other connected functions. Crafted in titanium, the 45mm Type 2N Night Blue watch houses an automatic, connected movement: the ROCS2, or Ressence Orbital Convex System that was developed in-house. It offers 36 hours of power reserve.

Ressence Type 2N "Night Blue"
Ressence Type 2N “Night Blue”

H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Central Seconds Mega CoolPrice CHF 13’900

If you’re sensing a pattern here, you are on target. Green is a hot color this year, but for H. Moser & Cie, its green is more of a blue translucent fume sunray dial. What makes this watch so special is that the H. Moser logo is in the same color as the dial – making it barely perceptible. A nice secret for the wearer. The Pioneer Centre Seconds Mega Cool is powered by the HMC 200 automatic caliber with 72 hours of power reserve, the 42.8mm watch is crafted in stainless steel.

H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds Mega Cool
H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds Mega Cool
H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds Mega Cool
H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Centre Seconds Mega Cool

Chopard L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25Price CHF 44’700

Just 100 pieces of this daring Chopard L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25 watch will ever be made, and that is significant because this is Chopard’s first-ever jumping hour watch. It is created in honor of the brand’s 25th anniversary of the Chopard Manufacture in the Fleurier region. The 40mm 18-karat rose gold watch features a transparent case back for a viewing of the complex manual wind movement that offers jump hours and minutes via a hand on an outer track. The in-house movement boasts 192 days of power reserve.

Czapek Antarctique Emerald Iceberg – Price CHF 20’460

Boasting a dial designed to emulate the northern lights skies, this Czapek watch features a hand-varnished dial. Crafted in stainless steel, the 40.5 mm watch features a steel bracelet with an exclusive Easy Release interchangeable strap system to opt for a leather or rubber strap if desired. The watch is powered by an in-house automatic movement with 56 hours of power reserve. Just 10 pieces will be made and by the time this article was published they were already sold out! Czapek & Cie continue to launch new versions, so if the Antarctique Emerald Iceberg caught your eye, sign up on Czapek to stay informed.

Czapek Antarctique Emerald Iceberg
Antarctique Emerald Iceberg
Czapek Antarctique Emerald Iceberg
Antarctique Emerald Iceberg

Armin Strom Pure Resonance Sky Blue – Price CHF 79’700

You need to act quickly if you want this majestic watch by Armin Strom with stunning sky blue hand-worked guilloche dial and seconds subsidiary dial because only three are being made. The hand-guilloche dial is created by the master at this art, Kari Voutilainen. The 42mm Pure Resonance Sky Blue watch is crafted in white gold and is powered by the in-house-made ARF16 manual-wind caliber that boasts precision thanks to the brand’s mastery of resonance.

Armin Strom Pure Resonance Sky Blue
Armin Strom Pure Resonance Sky Blue

About the Author

Roberta Naas - Watch Journalist
Roberta Naas

Roberta Naas is a veteran watch and jewelry journalist who began her career in the early 1980’s, and was the first female watch journalist in the United States. She is the editor and founder of the authoritative watch blog, ATimelyPerspective, has written six books on watches, writes for numerous consumer publications (including Forbes and Elite Traveler) – and always brings forth in her work the essence of what makes watches tick. She tirelessly travels the world in search of watch news and stories that she turns into compelling and enlightening articles.

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