From Piaget to Panerai, here’s how to buy the best watches of 2021

MR PORTER has curated a collection of timepieces online, and made some of 2021’s more coveted new timepieces easily available to buy...

The watch world can be a confusing place. All those ticking, tocking options to choose from; complicated complications, countless functions and more movements than you can shake a seconds hand at? We could do with some guidance.

Thankfully, award-winning retail destination MR PORTER is on hand to help. Earlier this year, the brand’s watch-savvy experts examined the new novelties from the Watches & Wonders trade show and identified the most impressive models. 

Now, mere months later, the MR PORTER team has curated this collection online, and made some of 2021’s most covetable new timepieces easily available to buy. From an investment of a Vacheron Constantin to an affordable classic from Cartier, here’s what made the cut…

IWC ‘Laureus Sport for Good’ Pilot’s Limited Edition

First up, a cheerful, bold — and very, very blue offering from IWC Schaffhausen. The brand has, for fifteen years, supported the ‘Laureus Sport for Good’ foundation; an organisation that helps fund community sports-based programs across the world. And this beacon of a watch is the latest limited to celebrate the partnership.

But, other than a logo on the caseback — designed by a Colombian 12-year-old in a global drawing competition — this is the utilitarian tool watch we all know and depend upon. The luminescent hands are easily legible against the navy dial, it has a 72-hour power reserve and that ceramic case is three times tougher than stainless steel. 

IWC ‘Laureus Sport for Good’ Pilot’s Limited Edition

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Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin

And they really do mean ultra-thin. This exquisite Vacheron Constantin will have you digging particularly deep into your pockets — but no other timepiece on this list is as pioneering. With a case measuring in at just over eight millimetres thick, this perpetual calendar packs an incredible number of functions into its barely-there case.

Among the complications of the calibre; hours, minutes, moon phases and a complete perpetual calendar, including 48-month counters and leap year indication. Cleverly, the Swiss brand has left the design fairly simple, with a blue opaline dial and silver-tone hands, indices and case in 18-karat white gold. This watch doesn’t shout about its majestic credentials; and is instead one for the in-the-know ultra-enthusiasts. 

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin

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Cartier Tank Must SolarBeat

At Watches & Wonders earlier this year, Cartier brought the colour — and launched a rainbow of multi-hued ‘Tanks’. The iconic watch is an institution, so kudos to the French brand for keeping things fresh. This ‘Tank Must SolarBeat’ is less eye-catching of colour, but considerably more interesting — as it is the first ever solarpowered Cartier Tank.

To look at it, you wouldn’t know. It has the model’s instantly recognisable squared-off shape, the roman numerals, the sword hands and the cabochon-cut sapphire sticking out of the crown. But inside, it beats with a new solar-powered Cartier quartz movement that the brand guarantees will work for at least 16 years. The neatest part of the trick? It’s those bold black numerals that absorb the light. 

Cartier Tank Must SolarBeat

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Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Moon Automatic

Like the Vacheron Constantin above, this Jaeger-LeCoultre doesn’t wear its watchmaking credentials on its sleeve. Instead, it’s another understated timepiece, with a petroleum-blue dial and simple black alligator strap. However, unlike the Vacheron Constantin, its price doesn’t nudge six figures — and actually comes in below £9,000.

Thanks to the slight, dagger-like slivers of those rhodium-plated indices, your eyes are immediately drawn to that central moon-phase window; peppered with small stars and sitting bewitchingly amidst all that blue. And, below the dial, the automatic movement ticks away with a 70-hour power reserve. Dependable, beautiful and sunray-brushed, this is as luxurious as everyday watches come. 

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Moon Automatic

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Panerai Submersible Automatic

From an ‘everyday’ watch to a tool watch engineered for a specific, deep-diving purpose. Panerai’s ‘Submersible’ models are as instantly recognisable as the Cartier Tank above, but they have bulky, brushed stainless steel cases — and this particular white-dialled version boasts a power reserve of up to three days.

It can, of course, dive — to the exciting, explorable depths of 300 metres — and has the range’s idiosyncratic crown guard jutting from the side of its handsome cushion case. But, despite the luminous, legible face and hands drenched in Super-LumiNova, it’s the strap that does it for us; crafted from black ‘Caoutchouc’ rubber to last a lifetime. 

Panerai Submersible Automatic

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Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Limited Edition

Before Montblanc, there was ‘Minerva’. Established in the Swiss region of Villeret in 1858, the watch brand’s staff become renowned throughout the Alps as craftsmen of the highest calibre. So, when Montblanc acquired the company in 2006, they began creating tributes to Minerva — and established a whole collection named for the year of the brand’s formation.

This is the latest watch to join those rarefied ranks. A limited edition, this ‘1858 Geosphere’ has been hand-finished to give its stainless steel case a slightly aged patina. And, on the jet black dial, you can see the dual time zones with northern and southern hemisphere globes — making this the perfect travelling companion for an explorer. 

Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Limited Edition

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Piaget Polo Skeleton in 18-Karat White Gold

Another big ticket item; another eye-catching, head-turning timepiece. This time from Piaget, the skeletonised version of the Swiss brand’s iconic ‘Polo’ design is even thinner than the Vacheron Constantin above — measuring in at a wafer-thin 6.5 millimetres. But even that isn’t the most impressive feature of this watch.

No, that honour goes to the diamonds. Embedded in sparkling fashion into that 18-karat white gold case, the graduated prong-set gems encircle the bezel and highlight the technical intricacy of that enthralling blue-and-silver dial. It’s as much a piece of art as it is a timepiece — and is just as beguiling when viewed through its exhibition case-back. 

Piaget Polo Skeleton in 18-Karat White Gold

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Hermes ‘Slim d’Hermès Squelette Lune’

The latest addition to the ‘Slim d’Hermès’ collection is a graphite-hued treat. With a similar skeletonisation as Piaget’s ‘Polo’ above, this open-worked dial features a stripped-down, pared-back spin on the classic double moon-phase display. It’s vintage-tinged, with a very classic silhouette and silvered titanium case — but also features choice modern touches.

There’s that vivid blue thread running through the black leather strap; a colour called back to across the PVD-coated hands. There are the jewels, glinting pink out of the open-worked face. And there’s the inner-workings, satin-brushed and soft-toned — and all combining to create a thoroughly modern reinvention of a timeless design.

Hermes ‘Slim d’Hermès Squelette Lune’

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Want more from MR PORTER? Here are more of the brand’s favourite timepieces from Watches & Wonders 2021…

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