Last year was quite the event for watches. When most of Europe went into the first lockdown, prices for pre-owned watches across the world tumbled to an all-time low. We also saw several watch factories in Switzerland, including Rolex, Patek Philippe and Breitling down their tools and send their staff home to isolate. Although prices have recovered slowly, there's no telling what could be on the horizon for us in 2021 from even more mutations of the virus to Bill Gates wiping us all out with his chem-trail enhanced 5G network.
On the off chance that neither of those two rather extreme outcomes happens and we can return to a new everyday life, we've come up with a list of five watches we think could be great buys in 2021.
5 - The watch to survive an apocalypse with
Rolex Submariner (pre-ceramic) Ref. 16610
The Submariner is an icon in its own right, but it's also a bit controversial. You see, the very newest ones are excellent, but you will most likely get teased for sitting on a waiting list or paying a lot more than retail. And then there's the fact it's so new, would you really want to beat it up and risk shattering the ceramic bezel?
There is an alternative. The pre-ceramic Submariner, specifically the 16610, hails from an era when Rolex' are thought of as being incredibly robust and reliable. It looks like a classic but performs like a brand new watch as it has the same water-resistance rating. There is a reason people just can't give the 16610 up!
4 - The watch to wear to work (if you're an exec)
Rolex Day-Date 'President' Ref. 228235
Okay, so we know that 'going to work' generally implies going to the office or study these days, but that means you get to wear whatever you like in the comfort of your home. That means a) sitting around in comfy jogging trousers is perfectly acceptable and b) there's no awkward looks, whispers or rumours to spread around if you wear a pricey timepiece like the stunning Rolex Day-Date 40 ref. 228235 we've got for sale at the time of writing.
With a stunning chocolate brown dial with Roman numerals, an accurate 3255 movement and that sparkly case/bracelet arrangement, this isn't a watch you'd want to wear at the office (unless you own the company) as it might attract negative attention. But at home? All bets are off.
3 - The watch to wear if you get to go to Barbados after all
Panerai Luminor (on a bracelet)
We've left this one a little ambiguous for a reason. Panerai's Luminor range is vast, and the array of dials and indications that you have at your disposal means finding the right one could take time. What we will say, though, is that they often come through our doors and are quite popular with buyers, so we do get a good selection of them through.
The Panerai watch itself is extremely tough, but it's generally paired with a leather or rubber strap. When we all eventually get to go on holiday again, it'll likely be to somewhere either hot, humid or both. Neither of the strap options really perform as well as a bracelet in this regard. They give your wrist more room to breathe and allow perspiration to evaporate. Also, Luminors on bracelets are rare, so there's a level of cool on top of everything else.
2 - The watch to wear at a family reunion
Tudor Black Bay
Again, you can take your pick of the range with this one. All Tudors are made of tough stuff, so they're suitable for a bit of rough and tumble with the youngsters (or if you have a few drinks too many and have a habit of stumbling). Although the black dial with the red bezel is a classic, there are many colours to pick from.
The Black Bay is an underappreciated watch in our eyes. There's loads to like about it, but the fact that means most people overlook it for the more popular Omega Seamaster and Rolex Submariner means that you can acquire a Black Bay for a reasonable price, often under £3000.
1 - The watch to complete your collection
Breguet Tradition 7027BBG99V6
You probably didn't realise you were missing one of these until just now. We think another brand doesn't get as much attention as it deserves, Breguets are usually forgotten when the conversation turns towards Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Rolex. But, let's not forget the magnitude of Breguet's contribution to watches as we know them today. We should do an entire article on it!
In the meantime, we do have a Breguet Tradition in stock. This watch's design is based on a classical model called the Souscription, which were made by Breguet himself to be affordable and customisable. The wheel train on the Breguet Tradition's dial comes from the movement in the old Souscription watches. But, in the Tradition, you get all the good stuff on the dial, including the balance wheel. It's a unique design that fits into anyone's collection with ease.