Although the second LVMH Watch Week happened without Dubai’s stunning cityscape as a backdrop, the exciting launches from Bvlgari, Hublot and Zenith that premiered at the digital version of the fair certainly made up for it. Packed with digital press conferences, virtual factory visits and interviews with top executives from each presenting maison, LVMH Watch Week 2021 has raised the bar for virtual watch events to come. (Tag Heuer, who participated in LVMH Watch Week 2020, opted out this year.)
01 | Bvlgari
The Italians have again stolen the thunder with several audacious creations. Most striking is the Octo Roma Carillon Tourbillon, which combines a tourbillon with a repeater striking the Chimes of Westminster on three gongs.
Presented in a 44mm perforated black DLC coated titanium case designed to maximise sound propagation, it features handmade gongs — specially made to ensure the metal emits crystalline resonance — that have been directly fixed onto the case for optimum sound transmission. The watch is powered by the new manually wound calibre BVL428 that is equipped with one classical barrel for a power reserve of at least 75 hours, while the sound mechanism is driven by a spring contained in a barrel-shaped container drilled directly onto the bridge. It is available exclusively in 15 pieces only.
Three new models have been added to the ultra-slim Octo Finissimo line, beginning with a different variant of the Octo Finissimo S from 2020. This year’s comes in a full monochromatic steel armour complete with a silver vertical-brushed dial.
For gents who prefer some complications in their watches, the Octo Finissimo S Chronograph GMT features an automatic in-house chronograph and GMT. It is powered by the ultra-thin calibre BVL 318 with peripheral rotor and is offered in satin-polished steel with a new blue sunray dial. Lastly, the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Titanium, also powered by the BVL 318, is now available in titanium for the first time. Other new features include the black opaline dial and textured rubber strap.
For ladies, Bvlgari asserts its jewellery authority in the most mesmerising way with several stunning tickers. The trio of new Divas’ Dream watches is the latest evolution in the brand’s Colour Treasures theme and a continuation of its Divas’ Dream Peacock collection.
In Divas’ Dream Peacock Dischi, a dial decorated exquisitely in feather marquetry and enhanced with diamonds and sapphires shows off the in-house BVL 308 “dischi” automatic movement, where the hours and minutes are represented by diamonds on two rotating discs. Divas’ Dream Peacock Diamonds is a glamorous three-hand model driven by the self-winding BVL 191 movement that shows off a dial decorated with a peacock motif in champlevé set against a mother-of-pearl backdrop.
As for Divas’ Dream Peacock Tourbillon Lumière, Bvlgari artfully combines the worlds of haute joaillerie and haute horlogerie in a 10-piece limited-edition model boasting a skeletonised dial featuring peacock feather marquetry, snow-set diamonds and a tourbillon at 6 o’clock.
For ladies who love their bling, the ultra-feminine Serpenti Spiga watches is the latest evolution in Bvlgari’s iconic and glamorous Serpenti line. All three new designs feature a flexible wrapped bracelet bearing a contemporary matelassé pattern and links that interlock seamlessly without any soldering. Diamond divas will be especially pleased with the high jewellery variant that’s festooned with 800 diamonds all over.
Rounding up the brand’s stellar line-up are the additions to the Lvcea collection, comprising the new Lvcea Intarsia Marquetry watches, as well as variants of existing models. Inspired by the ancient art of intarsia, the precursor to marquetry, Lvcea Intarsio Marquetry timepieces feature 3D dials constructed from mother-of-pearl pieces that have been individually cut, faceted and assembled piece by piece. There are two sizes available: 28mm with a quartz movement and 33mm with an automatic movement.
02 | Hublot
With a world premiere and an exciting collaboration with famed Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami, Hublot certainly started its year with a big bang. The Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami All Black offers an unusual spin on Murakami’s artistic emblem, the smiling flower, by showcasing it as a 3D mobile figurine.
Adorned in black diamonds, the smiling face sits atop the sapphire glass while its spinning petals are encased within — rotating at every flick of the wrist, thanks to an ingenious ball bearing system developed by Hublot’s engineers. Limited to 200 pieces only, it is powered by the Unico calibre that offers a 72-hour power reserve.
Experts in synthetic sapphire, Hublot also premiered the world’s first orange sapphire ticker in the form of the new Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Orange Sapphire, whose unique colour was derived by incorporating titanium and chromium into the manufacturing process.
It features a new tourbillon movement equipped with a self-winding micro-rotor in 22k gold that is visible on the dial side. To play up the transparency, Hublot also fitted the watch with three sapphire bridges — a first for the watchmaker. Limited to 50 pieces, it comes with Hublot’s patented express One Click interchangeability system.
This versatile feature is one of the major draws of the new Big Bang One Click 33mm line, an eye-catching bejewelled ticker offered in stainless steel or King Gold. Driven by the HUB1120 self-winding movement, its easy and quick strap change system offers endless styling possibilities for the fashion conscious.
The latest in the Richard Orlinkski partnership is the Classic Fusion Orlinski 40mm, comprising a glossy black or flashy blue ceramic-clad ticker decorated with the aesthetic signature of the artist. The watch retains its 40mm dimensions and runs on the automatic HUB1100 movement with a 42-hour power reserve.
More of the watchmaker’s ceramic capabilities is revealed in the Spirit of Big Bang Ceramic Beige as well as the new Big Bang Integral Ceramic. The former is an elegant model that shows off a delicately hued beige ceramic case paired with a diamond-set King Gold or polished titanium bezel, matching alligator on white rubber strap and sand-coloured sunray dial. The latter comes in three new colours — white, navy blue and grey — that bear the same fully integrated bracelet that launched in 2020.
Rounding up Hublot’s novelties are new interpretations of existing watches. The Big Bang MP-11, which showcases the famous 14-day power reserve movement driven by seven in-line barrels that can be admired through the open dial, is now available in Magic Gold or Blue Sapphire. Both highlight the watchmaker’s mastery over materials as well as its technical prowess. In the Spirit of Big Bang Tourbillon 5-day Power Reserve Carbon White, Hublot offers a monochromatic style by combining carbon fibre with white composite inclusions made of glass microfibres that improve the breaking strength of composites.
03 | Zenith
At Zenith, the spotlight is on the Chronomaster this year, with the Chronomaster Sport as the star piece. It combines some of Zenith’s most iconic design codes — notably the tri-colour dial of the A386 from 1969, bezel and tachymetric scale from the El Primero Rainbow, polished and satin brushed bracelet from the El Primero De Luca model, as well as the black bezel and dotted markers on the A277 — into one beautiful timepiece that pays tribute to Zenith’s glorious chronograph heritage.
But there’s more: the highlight of this watch lies in its resolutely modern engine, the El Primero 3600. The latest evolution of the legendary El Primero movement oscillates at a high frequency of 5Hz and can measure up to 1/10th of a second legibly directly on the bezel as well as the dial. It also has an increased power reserve of 60 hours.
With the Chronomaster Revival A385, Zenith remasters the last of the three original El Primero chronographs from 1969.
It is a faithful reproduction of the original model and bears the same 37mm tonneau-shaped steel case, pump-style pushers and smoked gradient dial. The only differences: a domed sapphire crystal is used in place of the original acrylic glass, and an exhibition caseback that affords a great view of the prized El Primero 400 chronograph movement. It is offered in a steel “ladder” bracelet modelled after those made by Gay Frères that became emblematic of early El Primero watches, as well as a brown calf leather strap that ages beautifully with time.
In honour of its aviation heritage, Zenith unveils the Pilot Type 20 Chronograph in sterling silver, which is available in an exclusive series of 250 pieces.
Presented in its robust signature 45mm case, it features a satin brushed silver dial with riveted details reminiscent of metal panels on an aircraft’s fuselage, while its brown calfskin strap adorned with a rivet and polished steel pin buckle with tab recalls the look of vintage pilot helmets.
Zenith also jumps on the trending green watch bandwagon with the Defy 21 Urban Jungle, a khaki green ticker made in matte ceramic.
Visible through the open dial with matte silver and black counters is the high-frequency El Primero 9004 self-winding chronograph movement with two regulating organs (one for timekeeping and one for the chronograph that can measure up to 1/100th of a second). The vision of green is also fitted with a green mainplate, green star-shaped oscillating weight as well as a rubber strap with a green cordura-effect rubber insert.
This story first appeared in the March 2021 issue of A Magazine.