Rolex gold Day-Date

THEY MAY be the holy grail of investment pieces, but not even watches are immune to the push and pull of trends. But unlike fashion, the watch world’s trend cycle is much, much slower — after all, just like diamonds, timepieces are forever. We buy them with the intention of wearing them for life and perhaps even handing them down. 

This being said, every few years we do see the emergence (or re-emergence, in this year’s case) of a few new styles, sizes, metals and dials. Keep a close enough eye on the famous men who never fail to strap their wrists into something fun and you’ll see the arrival of these trends in real time. Another great forecasting method is, of course, the annual Watches & Wonders fair. Like Disneyland for watch brands, collectors and casual observers, if there is something resonating in the horology corner, you’re bound to see it here first. 

Having made the trip to Geneva for the fair, where we spoke to the most informed experts in the game, here, we break down the watch trends that are set to dominate the year ahead. 

Coloured watch dials are still in

Carrera Date 36mm in a hot pink

The colourful watch dial returned with a vengeance in 2020, and if this year’s new releases are anything to go by, it’s not about to disappear. It was Rolex that introduced this bright accent in the seventies, but when the eighties arrived, it was shelved for more monochrome designs. But as we saw at Watches & wonders, people are looking for a jolt of colour once more. And brands are only too happy to oblige. 

Rolex paid homage to its 2020 release of the coloured Oyster Perpetual dials with a new 31mm, 36mm and 41mm Oyster Perpetual design, this time dotted with bubbles of ranging sizes in the same hues of the 2020 release — think coral red, candy pink, turquoise “Tiffany” blue, yellow and green. The effervescent design is the result of Rolex’s dedication to artistry and masterful technique. 

In a year that celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Carrera Chronograph — 1963 saw the release of the first Heuer Chronograph, and subsequently one of the most important chronographs of the 20th century — TAG Heuer unveiled a host of new Carrera references, including a faithful tribute to the original Carrera with the new 39mm glass box design. But it was the new Carrera Date 36mm in a hot pink that turned heads (for all the right reasons). An unlikely colour for the storied brand but sometimes, unlikely things work. 

A crowd favourite came from another unlikely source: Hermes. The French luxury brand has beefed up its watch offerings in recent years, in particular with the arrival of the H08 in 2021. This year, this very collection receives a colourful update with the arrival of four bright new tones, including yellow, green, blue and orange. Designed by Philippe Delhotal, the Creative Director of Hermès Horloger, this sporty-chic watch features a smooth cushion-shaped case and contemporary design elements that make it the perfect option for everyday wear. 

The return of the dress watch 

Jaeger LeCoultre Tribute Chronograph 

In recent years, the conventional dress watch has been shunned for the ruggedness of the steel sports watch. But that’s not to say that dress watches are out of the question completely. 

The neo-vintage movement, for one, remains prominent, with some standout releases this year paying homage to this trend that moulds together the romance of watches from the 1930s with contemporary design elements. Spearheaded by the new release of the Rolex Perpetual 1908 — a replacement to the widely overlooked Cellini line — Rolex started the week by going back to its roots with a release that its founder Hans Wilsdorph would unequivocally be fond of. 

The rise of neo-vintage watches will be a significant trend in the years to come, and presents as an exciting era of style, history, and value for the modern watch enthusiast and/or collector. This year, we saw Jaeger-LeCoultre unveil an array of new Reverso references, including a new Duoface Tourbillon and a Tribute Chronograph. While Jaeger-LeCoultre has remained steadfast in its production of some of the world’s best dress watches to date, the Reverso represents the quintessential timepiece of elegance, and a collection which receives a great deal of development year upon year as dictated by its popularity among consumers past and present.

Haute Horlogerie at its best  

Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton Micro-Rotor

Cartier welcomed the new Santos-Dumont Skeleton Micro-Rotor to the fold, a skeletonised version of the iconic reference with an aviation-inspired micro-rotor and newly-designed open-worked movement. This release highlights Cartier’s commitment to fine watchmaking, but also its commitment to challenge, where technique is at the service of design. 

TAG Heuer has long been a brand renowned for its exceptional marketing campaigns with exceptional brand ambassadors (do you remember those weird Leonardo Dicaprio ads?). But in recent years, it has produced collections worthy of its extensive self-promotion. At last year’s Watches & Wonders, it rocked the industry with the release of the Carrera Plasma Tourbillon — a watch hailed for its innovation. The Plasma was crafted from Lab Grown Diamonds — one of the first brands to do so — and perhaps represents the craziest watch the brand had ever made. This year, TAG Heuer backs up its commitment to fine watchmaking development with the new Carrera Plasma Diamant d’Avant-Garde Chronograph Tourbillon — or, simply the Plasma 2.0 — a technical gem that is as disruptive as it is visually arresting. 

Away from the Palexpo, Gucci stole some of the thunder from Watches & Wonders with the release of its third high watchmaking collection housed within one of Geneva’s most opulent lakefront locations. Inspired by space and time, Gucci unveiled five new signature collections, each displaying an intricate complication that will truly leave you speechless. From Moonphase movements, tourbillons and a new perpetual calendar, Gucci’s latest novelties were some of the most exciting releases of the week, and perhaps a sign of cosmic things to come from the high fashion house who has proven its here to play with the biggest stakeholders of the high watchmaking world.

Motifs and… emojis?

Rolex Day-Date

While we’re uncertain whether we’ll see more of this “trend”, it’s worth mentioning that during a week that’s otherwise quite tame, some comedic relief was provided for goers of Watches & Wonders in the form of the humble emoji.

Rolex, to everyone’s surprise, produced one of the highlights of the fair with the new Day-Date 36 Puzzle Motif. Available in yellow gold, white gold or Everose — and fitted on a President bracelet, no less — the new design whimsically replaces the days of the week with “Happy,” “Eternity,” “Gratitude,” “Peace,” “Faith,” “Love” and “Hope,” while the “date” window at 3 o’clock reveals 31 emojis in sequence rather than numerals. Expect to find emojis like the kissing face, a four-leaf clover, a heart, and a peace sign, among others. Completely left of field for an otherwise closed-book brand, but that in itself earns Rolex extra brownie points for indicating that yes, perhaps Rolex is down with the kids. 

Oris, too, played on this trend with the release of its titanium Propilot X Kermit Edition, inspired by, you guessed it, Kermit the Frog. This super light, super comfortable timepiece is adorned by a muted Kermit-green dial with the inclusion of a date window at 6 o’clock where Kermit the Frog will actually show up on the first day of every month. Very, very cool.