3 Under-Appreciated Releases from Watches & Wonders 2021

by Patrick Gilbertson April 26, 2021

It's been two whole weeks since the rapid-fire of releases from Watches & Wonders 2021 hit our feeds. It's safe to say that while 38 brands (plus sneaky Breitling) launched watches the week before last, the vast majority of media and enthusiast attention has been set on 6 brands: Rolex, Patek, Tudor, Cartier, Bulgari and IWC.

Today, we're taking a step away from the hype to look into three new releases that deserve a closer look.

1. The NOMOS Club Campus 729

NOMOS is commonly misunderstood as a bit of a one-trick pony. 'They make simple, heavily Bauhaus-inspired watches that all look good, but are all basically the same, right?'. Not so with this latest Club Campus refresh. 

A number of small deviations from the traditional NOMOS formula and an attractive price tag of £1,100 really steps this Club Campus up into a watch that's sure to help expand NOMOS's presence at this entry-level side of the luxury watch market. 

For starters, the polished bezel is slightly thicker than those on the Orion or the Ahoi resulting in a beefier look that places the Club Campus more into the daily-wear category of watches - this classification is further backed up by a handy 100m of water resistance.

Initially launched at Basel World in 2017, the Club Campus is powered by the in-house NOMOS Calibre Alpha, a German-made, manually-wound 17 jewel movement with a 43-hour power reserve. While those specs are nothing to get too excited about, it's the superb quality of finishing that sets the Alpha above comparable ETA movements. Having handled a Club Campus with an exhibition case back, it's easy to say that the Alpha Calibre has the highest quality of finishing that I've seen on a watch for less than £2,500 - its truly marvellous and the press pictures don’t do it justice. If you're going to get yourself a Club Campus, be sure sure to option-on the sapphire case back over the steel one.

While the case, movement and pricepoint are all impressive factors for the Club Campus, none of them are what initially drew us towards the piece, it was that dial! A reverse California numeral layout would ordinarily be the main talking point on a 36mm sports watch, however, what really demands attention is the exotic hue of orange that NOMOS has opted for on this graduate-oriented 710 model. The precision of the crisp, white numerals, minute track and pencil handset is nicely juxtaposed by the wild papaya dial, the fiery small-seconds hand and the icy blue minute markers - it doesn’t sound like it should work, but it really does.

 

For many, the marketing bumf, aimed mainly at parents looking for a graduation gift for their offspring, feels overly specific. This is just a great watch at a broadly accessible price point. Despite its name and the marketing connotations that NOMOS have presented, the Club Campus will be enjoyed and appreciated by college/uni students, middle-aged professionals and OAPs alike - I can’t wait to get it on-wrist. If you’re interested in either this 36mm, or the 38mm model, hop over to NOMOS’s website to find your nearest dealer. 

Specs:

Dimensions - 36mm/38mm Diameter, 8.5mm Thickness

WR - 100m

Movement - In-house α (Alpha) Calibre

Price - £1,100

2. The Hermès H08

Luxury retailer and double stamper-turned manufacturer, Hermès, have been producing luxury watches since 2016. Unlike what we see from many other fashion brands attempting to make a fine watch (gaudy, 45mm, Sellita-powered submariner-esque posing pieces), the brand new line up of H08 watches offer a truly unique aesthetic and exciting use of exotic materials. What we have with this H08 line-up is three 39mm sports watches with a cushion case, 100m of water resistance, completely original designs and some funky quirks that cut them far above the likes of the aforementioned lazily-designed ‘luxury’ fashion watch.  

The line-up features a graphene-filled composite case on a black rubber strap, a two-tone DLC-coated titanium option with either a blue or trademark Hermes orange rubber strap, and lastly, a satin-brushed titanium option with either a black rubber strap or an impressive full titanium bracelet with H-style links.

Our pick of the bunch is this two-tone DLC titanium. The futuristic octagonal case is perfectly matched with a sci-fi-inspired set of black nickel-coated Arabic numerals which surround an untextured, deep black sector ring. The arrow-tipped second hand offers a pop of colour to an otherwise monochromatic dial - a very clean and sporty look. 

 (Credit - Hodinkee)

The Calibre H1837 inside the H08 is manufactured by Vaucher - a company in which Hermès own a 25% stake. Fun additional fact - Vaucher also make movements for Richard Mille. The H1837 features a 50-hour power reserve, a 4hz sweep and slightly more slender dimensions in comparison to similarly-specced ETA Calibres. The movement is nicely finished for the price and is visible through a screw-down exhibition case back. 

 (Credit - Hodinkee)

The transition from luxury retailer to respected manufacturer is not a fast one, but Hermes looks to be throwing some pretty sizeable punches to get to that status and the H08 is evidence of this. Check out the Hermès website for a full price list on all the variations of the H08.

Specs: 

Dimensions - 39mm Diameter, 10.6mm thickness

WR - 100m

Movement - H1837 (Made by Vaucher)

Price - £4,620

3. Chopard's L.U.C. QF Jubilee 

The final pick in this trilogy of new, underappreciated W&W 2021 releases is the Chopard L.U.C QF Jubilee. The watch has been created to celebrate 25 years of in-house movements from Chopard. While production is limited to just 25 pieces, Chopard will be hoping that the launch of the L.U.C. QF Jubilee will increase both awareness and appreciation of the brand’s vertically integrated movement design and manufacture, a fashionable quality in the modern watch industry.

The Jubilee features a handsome tuxedo dial that’s made up of a royal blue band with a sunburst silver inner section and outer minute track. The stainless steel case measures 39mm in width and features spider lugs that add to the art-deco, daily-dress look nicely. 

 (Credit - Monochrome)

Flipping the watch over, an exhibition case back reveals the finely-executed automatic calibre L.U.C 96.09-L. Featuring stunning perlage work, angled polishing and Geneva striping, this in-house movement is truly spectacular to look at. 

The beauty is more than skin deep, too. Featuring twin barrels, this COSC-certified chronometer features a noble power reserve of 65 hours. Furthermore, due to the inclusion of a 22ct white gold micro-rotor, the Jubilee sits on-wrist at just 8.9mm thick. For reference, that’s only a hair thicker than the teenie-tinnie Casio F91-W.

The final topic of note on this Chopard is its Fleurier Quality certification. Similar to the Geneve Seal, Fleurier Quality watches must pass a number of tests monitoring accuracy, durability and quality of finish. The foundation was established by Chopard, Bovet and Parmigiani in the early 2000s to localise the quality of their watches. The Foundation also ensures that all manufacturing takes place exclusively in Switzerland. You can check out what else classifies a watch as Fleurier Quality here 



 (Credit - Monochrome)

With a versatile dial and case size, a superb movement and a rising reputation, there’s no reason why the Chopard L.U.C. QF Jubilee shouldn’t have the likes of JLC and Patek Phillipe worried for future competition in the high-end steel dress watch market.

Specs:

Dimensions - 39mm Diameter, 8.9mm Thickness

WR - 30m

Movement - L.U.C 96.09-L

Price - £12,600

These are just three of a few dozen watches launched at W&W 2021 that haven’t, in our opinion, had the media/enthusiast attention that they deserve. What was your favourite under-the-radar release of this year’s W&W? Let us know in the comments section below.


Patrick Gilbertson
Patrick Gilbertson

Author


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