Zenith, Bulgari, and Hublot Unveil 3 New Show-Stopping Watches
Along with everything else, the pandemic has pretty effectively disrupted the way the watch world debuts its latest show-stoppers. Big, glitzy, in-person fairs are, by and large, not happening. But that doesn't mean the machinery stops moving entirely.
Case in point: Last week, luxury powerhouse LVMH unveiled the latest watches from Zenith, Hublot, and Bulgari, three of the stars in its roster of high-end brands. And they’re showing that the past year’s lockdown did nothing to quell the creativity and innovation on which these storied makers each have their own unique take. Here are Esquire’s picks of the bunch.
Zenith Chronomaster Sport
Steeped in Zenith’s long history with the El Primero, the first automatic chronograph movement it launched in 1969, the Chronomaster Sprit—which comes in steel with a choice of white or black dial—is a modern interpretation that mashes up some key moments in that 50-plus-year arc. Much was made in the digital world last week about the similarities between the Chronomaster Sport and the Rolex Daytona, and with good reason. Though the Daytona predated the El Primero by six years, the two were a product of the explosion of interest in chronographs during that decade. The Daytona even housed the El Primero movement from 1988 until 2000, when Rolex switched to its own in-house movement. But the Zenith also features elements that are distinctly its own.
The triple overlapping sub registers, for example, are functions of a relatively small original movement where the spacing between the pinions on which the hands rotate is less than on modern movements. Overlapping the sub dials allows them to be bigger to suit the larger scale of modern watches, too. That said, the new Chronomaster uses a new iteration of the El Primero, the caliber 3600, one which is simpler and upgrades performance, allowing for timing to a tenth of a second. That means the central second hand actually completes a lap of the dial in 10 seconds, which explains the unconventional markings in the black ceramic bezel and also makes for a neat party trick when showing off the watch.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo S Chronograph GMT
If there’s one notable thing about Bulgari watches, it’s that they are unlike any other watches. While timepieces have been a feature in Bulgari stores since its early days, arguably its finest moments in watchmaking have been in the last 15 years, when the company’s expertise in metallurgy has coupled with a thirst for making ever more slim and groundbreaking creations. Last week, the house unveiled new iterations of the Octo Finissimo watch range, its most innovative design that set six new records in six years for the thinness of the case. The Octo Finissimo S Chronograph GMT is powered by a movement just 3.3mm thick yet can handle precise timekeeping and a second time zone (at 3 o’clock on the dial) with ease.
Another favorite is the all Stainless steel Octo Finissimo S which looks like Darth Vader’s favorite dress-up watch. In true groundbreaking Bulgari style, though the multiple angles and intersecting planes of the Octo Finissimo may hark back to Bulgari’s art deco heyday, the finish is 100 percent the future.
Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic Orange Sapphire
Shy and retiring has never been Hublot’s style. Since its founding in 1980, the brand has always been about other ways of doing things, an iconoclastic way of thinking that has made it popular with a multitude of celebrities. One area that Hublot has largely gone it alone is in making watches with cases made of the same material as their crystals. Witness the brand new orange sapphire Big Bang unveiled last week. You might think that at $169,000, a skeleton automatic tourbillon in a case made from sapphire crystal with an orange color running right through it will have little to no trickle-down effect to those of us who actually inhabit planet Earth. But you’d be wrong. It is only the harebrained experiments possible in watchmaking at this lofty level that can figure out, test, and perfect new ways of thinking about watch making and engineering that actually shift the needle even at the other end of the market. Expect it to grace a serious baller's wrist before long. It’s not like you’d mistake it for something else.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.