Here’s part one of three of your comprehensive guide to all the highlights worth knowing in the world of luxury watchmaking in 2021

Whether you're a novice or a veteran collector, keeping up with the ever-changing world of luxury watchmaking can be tough—that's why we've created a three-part roundup of this year's standouts. Read on to find out more about the latest state-of-the-art innovations as well as new twists on timeless classics. 

1. A. Lange & Söhne

A. Lange & Söhne’s Handwerkskunst line is the brand’s platform with which to showcase the decorative arts—as its very name, which translates to handcraftsmanship, implies. New for 2021 is the Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst. The theme this time is the lozenge, and the pattern appears on the watch’s hand-engraved dial, as well as its movement’s tourbillon and intermediate wheel cocks. Elsewhere, a variety of other decorative crafts come to the fore. Note, for instance, how tremblage is used to visually separate the various parts of the dial from one another.

2. Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet’s most nondescript release this year may just be its most important. The new Royal Oak Selfwinding has all the recognisable elements of the icon, from the octagonal bezel to the “Grande Tapisserie” pattern on its dial. Even the blacked out treatment is a familiar refrain— accomplished using ceramic for both case and bracelet, no less. This watch, however, measures just 34 millimetres across. Although the brand hasn’t explicitly positioned the watch as a feminine one, it’s easy to infer its target audience. And so begins a new chapter in technical watchmaking for women.

Read more: How Female Watch Collectors' Tastes and Purchasing Habits Have Evolved

3. Bell & Ross

Amid the host of line extensions released this year, Bell & Ross has unveiled the stunning BR 03-92 Red Radar Ceramic. The timepiece is the spiritual successor to—and marks the 10th anniversary of—the first Red Radar from 2011. Its execution is similar, in that time is displayed using a system of rotating discs reminiscent of a radar’s display, with the dial absent of any traditional watch hands or other such displays. Only 999 pieces will be produced.

4. Breguet

Breguet’s Tradition has long stood out for having inverted movements that display their components on the dial side of their respective watches. It’s a design that lends itself well to experimentation, and the latest to be unveiled is the Tradition 7035. Here, gem-setting has been used to accentuate the timepiece’s open, symmetrical movement architecture. To do so, the offset dial and various plates and bridges have been rendered in white gold and set with brilliant-cut diamonds of various sizes. Complementing this is the gradient of rubies and pink sapphires at nine o’clock, which serve as the power reserve indicator.

5. Breitling

Under CEO Georges Kern, Breitling has systematically revisited old models from its archives and re-released them as retro-modern hybrids to great success. The latest is the Top Time, a trio of chronographs inspired by the original Top Time line from the 1960s. There’s a twist though: the new watches have a heavy motoring slant this time, and reference the Chevrolet Corvette, the Ford Mustang, and the Shelby Cobra. It’s no coincidence that the three cars are icons in American automotive culture, and it’s no surprise that their striking liveries have been chosen for these three watches’ colourways.

6. Bulgari

This is far from Bulgari’s most complex watch of 2021, but arguably the most iconic and long-awaited. The new Gerald Genta Arena Retrograde with Smiling Disney Mickey Mouse timepiece harks back to Gerald Genta’s signature line of watches featuring Disney characters such as Donald Duck and Goofy. Aficionados will welcome familiar elements such as the jumping hour indication and retrograde minute hand—and the return of Mickey Mouse, of course. The watch is presented in a limited run of just 150 pieces, and comes in a steel case with a red textured rubber strap.

In case you missed it: Bulgari Wins Top Prize at the Oscars for Luxury Watches

7. Cartier

Cartier’s Tank Must makes its return in 2021—and as a fully-fledged collection to boot. This new line maintains the original’s spirited design language, which is best seen in the trio of time- only models featuring plain, monochromatic lacquered dials with matching straps. Other options abound, of course, from the classic Tank with its iconic combination of Roman numeral indices and a railway track chapter ring, to gem-set variants with smooth calf leather straps. With the Tank Must, Cartier has also introduced its new Solarbeat photovoltaic calibre, which claims a lifespan of more than 16 years.

8. Chanel

The iconic J12 has taken on several new guises in various timepieces that play with colours and materials to great effect. For the J12 X-Ray Electro Caliber 3.1, sapphire is the name of the game —most of its case and bracelet are constructed in the material to create a nearly transparent watch. To top things off, a ring of 58 coloured sapphires have been set into the white gold bezel to create a graduated rainbow. Bold in its design and technical in its execution, this watch reveals Chanel’s top-notch watchmaking sensibilities.

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