As the Tokyo Olympics draws to a close this weekend and countries around the world tally up their medals, we reviewed the 2021 watch roster looking for champions worthy of a place on the podium.
Gold: Patek Philippe Calatrava “Clous de Paris” Ref. 6119
When it comes to gold, there was some hefty competition between Rolex’s yellow and rose gold Daytonas with reintroduced meteorite dials to a pair of 18K yellow gold Seamasters from Omega, official timekeeper for the Games. In the complications division, A. Lange & Söhne deserves a nod for the technically groundbreaking pink gold Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar with a peripheral month display encircling the dial.
But, keeping it pure with a classic gold three-hand dress watch, Patek Philippe’s Calatrava “Clous de Paris” is a sure winner boasting not only a refreshed contemporary design but also a new movement. The new Ref. 6119 is available in rose gold with a silvery grained dial with rose gold hands and applied hour markers (US$29,570) or white gold with a charcoal gray dial combining a vertical satin finish with a snailed finish on the subsidiary seconds dial (US$29,570).
The ultra-elegant Calatrava traces its heritage back to 1932’s Ref. 96, the quintessential round wristwatch influenced by Bauhaus design principles. Two years later, the 96D (“D” for décor) embellished the bezel with a guilloché-engraved hobnail pattern, referred to as Clous de Paris, a Calatrava signature that endures to this day.
The new Ref. 6119 measures a slightly upsized 39mm diameter, reflecting today’s tastes. On the dial, black lacquered Roman numerals on white in previous iterations have been replaced by applied faceted “obus” markers in 18K gold (with double markers at 12 o’clock), in a nod to the 1930s originals, along with the gold dauphine-style hour and minute hands with three facets.
The new design called for a new manually winding movement, the caliber 30-255 PS, a base movement created with a larger diameter than the existing caliber 215 PS, while maintaining a thickness of only 2.55-mm, allowing for slender, elegant cases. Its two parallel mainspring barrels deliver an impressive power reserve of 65 hours, or nearly three days. The movement is also endowed with a stop seconds feature that blocks the balance when the crown is pulled, allowing you to set the time with one-second precision.
Silver: Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925
Tudor achieved two firsts in its dive watch range with the new Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925 (US$4,300) featuring a 39mm case made of a proprietary 925-silver alloy, plus an open case back allowing you to admire its Manufacture MT5400 Calibre.
The brand keeps the composition of its 925-silver alloy a tightly held secret. The case’s matte satin finish enhances the metal’s inherent incandescence, which resists tarnishing to stay that way. The metal is complemented by a domed, matte-finished taupe-colored dial and a matching bezel insert in anodized aluminum with silver gilded markings and numerals. Other silver touches are the brand’s trademark “Snowflake” hands, distinguished by diamond shaped tips on the hour and seconds hands, a brand signature since 1969.
The monochromatic color palette is matched by the woven fabric strap with a thin light gray line down the center. For a decade, Tudor has partnered with Julien Faure, a company in the Saint Etienne region of France, where it weaves the straps on 19th-century jacquard looms. The watch also comes on a brown grain leather strap with contrast stitching as an option. Both are fitted with 925 silver pin buckles.
The Manufacture Calibre MT5400 is certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) and boasts a variation rate of -2/+4 seconds per day, which exceeds the Institute’s requirements, and a 70-hour power reserve. Built for robust reliability, it features a variable inertia balance and non-magnetic silicon hairspring. Best of all, the sapphire crystal case back shows off the movement’s architecture with its skeletonized tungsten monobloc oscillating rotor as well as its bridges and mainplate that combine and contrast sand-blasted, polished surfaces and laser decorations.
The Fifty-Eight collection’s name refers to 1958, the year when Tudor, Rolex’s more affordable sister brand, introduced its first diver’s watch—the reference 7924 or “Big Crown”—water resistant to 200 meters (660 feet). The contemporary range stays true to the vintage model’s 39mm size, which fits well on slimmer wrists and appeals to vintage watch enthusiasts.
Bronze: Omega Seamaster 300 Bronze Gold
With its historic nautical applications, bronze is a natural fit for dive watches—and we’ve seen some great ones from brands like Panerai, Tudor, Oris, and Bell & Ross. Meanwhile, Montblanc has used bronze for its land-based explorer line, the 1858 Geosphere, which introduced a new bronze limited edition paying tribute to world-class explorer Reinhold Messner and particularly his solo trek across Mongolia’s Gobi Desert in 2004.
But this year, Olympic timekeeper Omega deserves special recognition for its first-ever bronze watch, the Seamaster 300 Bronze Gold (US$11,400). The brand’s exclusive patent-pending bronze alloy is a rich blend of copper and 37.5% gold with some silver, gallium and palladium in the mix. The unique composition can safely be worn directly on the skin without discoloring and it is extremely resistant to corrosion and green verdigris oxidation, so it will retain its original shade as it slowly develops a soft patina over time. Omega spent two years developing the formula, which is a unique rosy hue without the greenish undertones of typical bronze alloys.
First introduced in 1957, Seamaster is a brand icon that has undergone many iterations over the decades. The bronze gold version channels the original’s retro spirit with its open Arabic numerals on a sandwich-construction dial in a contrasting shade of more typical bronze. The beige “vintage” Super-LumiNova on the hands, numerals, markers and brown ceramic bezel underscores the vintage vibe.
Under the dial, it’s strictly state of the art with the Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 8912. This certified Master Chronometer is equipped with a free-sprung balance and a silicon balance spring, making it resistant to magnetic fields reaching 15,000 gauss.