This may well go down as the worst year of all time for the Swiss watch industry. In addition, exports have dropped by 25%, the worst decline in 80 years. However, given the fact that factories were closed and production halted for three months, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Despite the pandemic, most – though not all – brands in Switzerland have continued to innovate, introducing hundreds of new designs. This has kept the market interesting and buyers interested, meaning that sales have picked up again. But what have we been buying? Read on to discover six trends that have defined luxury watches this year.
Throwbacks are in
Nothing makes us feel more nostalgic than seeing life as we know it change suddenly, maybe even forever. Vintage-inspired products, such as TAG Heuer’s blue, red, and yellow limited-edition Carrera and Zenith’s A384 models, may trace their roots back to the 1960s, but they are a timely and welcome reminder of everything we loved about what we’ve lost.
Wear WFH chic
Casual luxury was a trend long before it was accelerated by the pandemic. Our working-from-home lifestyle called for a more comfortable wardrobe – and the watch industry was ready for it. From Montblanc’s 1858 Monopusher Chronograph to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso Tribute Duoface Fagliano with its canvas strap – this year, luxury brands are giving us more casual ways to wear our watches.
All the colors of the rainbow
There was a time when a blue dial would stick out in a sea of black and white. But as we’ve seen this year, dials now come in full Technicolor. Rolex is getting in on the action with its Oyster Perpetual models in red, yellow and turquoise. And Vacheron Constantin’s exquisite Fiftysix Self-Winding model in rose gold, with its chocolate-colored dial and strap, proves that even the grande dames of watchmaking have got the hang of it.
Integrated bracelets are everywhere
The real cash cows of the industry are stainless steel sports watches with integrated bracelets. We keep hearing stories about waiting lists for Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak and Patek Philippe’s Nautilus. Hublot delivered a “Big Bang” this year with its Integral model, while Bulgari continued to make waves with its ultra-thin Octo Finissimo Automatic models, introducing a version in satin-polished steel that everybody’s been talking about.
A new entry-level model
Whatever the reason, it’s true that luxury watches have become more expensive in recent years. No luxury brand likes to boast that they’ve become cheaper, but some brands have responded by offering new designs at more affordable prices. At the same time, the new entry-level brand for mechanical watches is continuing to gain ground. The robust new Endurance Pro by Breitling may use a quartz mechanism, but it offers the best value for money you’ll find at Breitling. The brands Baltic, March LA.B, and the newly christened Oscar Fenston all offer well-made mechanical watches for under EUR 500.
The big year of sustainability
Yes, it may be partly due to Covid, but this was the year that sustainability finally became a mainstream issue in the luxury watch industry. As a result, brands are now lining up to showcase how environmentally friendly they are. Breitling has replaced its standard packaging with flat-pack boxes made from recycled plastic bottles; and in 2021, Ulysse Nardin will be presenting a watch made from 100% recycled materials. What else will the new year bring – besides the usual resolutions?