Robb Report Shares Collectors’ Favourite Watch Designs Of The Century

Robb Report as throughout the years become the encyclopedia of modern luxury lifestyles, where aficionados flock to discover the latest news regarding topics such as exclusive hotels, modern restaurants, luxury jewellery, exquisite watch designs, among other curated topics.

Recently, they sought out to discover collectors’ favourite watch designs from the 21st Century. Without any other limitation other than the production period having to be during the past 20 years, it was sure to be an interesting journey. It didn’t have to be a watch they’d purchased or owned. It didn’t even have to be attainable.

Here are their picks and why they fell in love with these exquisite watch designs:

Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT SBJ201

Tom Angel, a London-based collector, chose the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT SBJ201. For him, this watch design is easily remembered by the quality and beauty of its components. The flawless zaratsu polished case is based on the sharp 44GS case shape from 1967, a nod to Grand Seiko’s long-spanning heritage. The colours of the lacquered dial and anodically oxidized titanium rotor are inspired by the view of Mt. Iwate at sunrise that the Grand Seiko watchmakers have from their studio. The Hi-Beat GMT was a key player in the transformation of Grand Seiko, which a few years ago had only a cult following outside of Japan but is now adored globally by many watch collectors. Influenced by the beauty of Japan, the SBGJ021 is an embodiment of the qualities Grand Seiko is now known for and set a standard of excellence I’d previously only seen from independent and very high-end pieces.

Mat Craddock’s Frodsham Double Impulse Chronometer

For Mat Craddock, also a London based collector, if there is one watch design that epitomises the first 20 years of this century, it’s the Frodsham Double Impulse Chronometer. The Frodsham team worked for almost 15 years on its development and finally released production models in early 2018, displaying not only a beautiful movement developed from Daniels’ Independent Double Wheel Escapement with the help of the late Derek Pratt but also new technologies and materials that have elevated English watchmaking and shown the art of the possible: a truly superlative chronometer.

Adam Craniotes’ IWC Top Gun Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar

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For Adam Craniotes, U.S. editor-in-chief of Revolution Magazine and cofounder of RedBar Group, the IWC Top Gun Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar will always have a place in his heart. It debuted during SIHH (the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, now called Watches and Wonders) in 2012. Not only is it based on the iconic B-Uhr Flieger, which is an IWC stalwart, but it houses the c. 51614 perpetual calendar movement, which has legendary IWC watchmaker Kurt Klaus’s DNA all over it. Add to this its ceramic and titanium construction, both materials that IWC pioneered the use of in watches, and you have a one-stop shopping destination for the best of IWC all wrapped up in a single timepiece.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked Ceramic

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Daniel Eira, founder of RedBar Brazil, favourite watch design is hands-down the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked Ceramic, presented in 2019. It is, essentially, a piece of art! Firstly, the bracelet is well known to every discerning collector: Each link has a different size, every one of them subject to exquisite finishing. On this note, it’s worth mentioning that in order to achieve the same level of finishing found in the stainless steel pieces, the work done on the ceramic case takes five times as much time, and it’s worth every minute. Onwards to the dial: The openwork structure is mesmerizing; you can see the superb attention to detail in each internal angle displaying a perfect finish. Another highlight lies in the moon phase display, with the moon set against an aventurine sky.

Kari Voutilainen Observatoire

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Gary Getz, Northern California-based collector and member of NorCal Gang collectors group, was so passionate about its pick that he even made a list of reasons, of why the Kari Voutilainen Observatoire is for him the absolute watch design of the century, that he even made a list! Here are some of the reasons he stated:

“(…) The finishing quality: Voutilainen’s recent work is perhaps even better, but it was the first time I had seen the unmistakable ‘glow’ that results from top-level finishing work; (…) In my view, it is the reference that really ‘made’ Kari as a commercial success and collector favourite—a critically important watch in a very important career for horology.
I love the way that Kari incorporated, and improved, a rare pre-existing competition chronometer movement—the Peseux 260—in this reference and even drove my watch back and forth personally to Besançon for its chronometer qualification test. It’s not just a pretty face—it keeps great time!”

Mike Haymond’s Rolex “Pepsi” GMT Master II

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On the other hand, Michael Haymond, a founding member of the Chrono Group, kept it short, by saying that the current ‘Pepsi bezel’ GMT-Master II combines the Rolex sports model vibe of old with the modern-day luxury movement (expressed by the inclusion of the Jubilee bracelet and that incredible ceramic bezel).


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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15202 Jumbo Extra-thin salmon dial

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The reasoning behind Serena Hmwe, San Diego-based member of the Chrono Group for her watch design pick, was a game she recently played with her Chronogroup peers: if you had to pick ‘the one watch’ to wear every day, for every occasion, with every outfit, and you have to be buried with it, so there is no resale value, what would you pick? Her answer was the AP Royal Oak 15202 Jumbo Extra-thin salmon dial because the design is so timeless and true to its original 1972 design.

Morgan King’s Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope

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Simple, minimalistic and timeless are what comes to mind when Morgan King, Los Angeles-based collector thinks of the Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope. Produced in collaboration with world-class Swiss artist Max Bill, whose mid-century modern wall clocks, table clocks and wristwatches quickly became timeless classics. Their popularity was so great that Junghans re-released them in their current Max Bill by Junghans series.

Grönefeld 1941 Remontoire

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Kathleen McGivney, CEO of RedBar Group, had a hard picking one watch design, but eventually settled on the Grönefeld 1941 Remontoire. The thing she finds most captivating about it is the regulator bridge on the dial side, which spins every eight seconds. The minute hand then correspondingly moves 8/60 of a minute. This is inspired by the movement of the clock in St. Plechem’s cathedral in the Grönefelds’ hometown, which their father and grandfather before him maintained, and the story of that inspiration adds another layer to the appeal of the piece—it’s not merely a technical accomplishment, but a tribute.

Billy Ruvelson’s Patek Philippe 5089G-027 Titanic

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Billy Ruvelson, a Los Angeles-based collector, vividly remembers seeing this watch design for the first time in Basel at the 2015 show and being completely blown away. That year, much of the talk about Patek was centred on the ‘controversial’ 5524 Pilot, but all he could think about was this beauty. The Patek Philippe 5089G-027 Titanic is an enamel cloisonné masterpiece. No picture in the world can do it justice. The black hull has subtle gold flecks while the blue water appears to have natural movement. The case is white gold and features a hidden hinged dust cover that opens to show off the Calibre 240 movements.

Brad Schwartz’s F.P. Journe Sonnerie Souveraine

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Brad Schwartz, a New York-based collector, favourite timepiece of the 21st century is the FP Journe Sonnerie Souveraine. Launched in 2006, the FP Journe Sonnerie Souveraine is one of the most impressive watches produced and includes both a grand and petite sonnerie with a minute repeater. This is a high complication watch design that very few watchmakers or brands are even capable of making.

Konstantin Chaykin Joker

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The watch design David Sharp, a Glasgow-based collector, selected is the Konstantin Chaykin Joker. It was introduced in 2017 by Russian watchmaker Konstantin Chaykin. The first moment the collector set eyes upon it, he was giddy with excitement. It evoked that rare quality that is oft sought but rarely achieved with material goods: passion.

Source: Robb Report

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