Though 2021 wasn’t quite the “back to normal” we were hoping for this time last year, it doesn’t seem like the watch industry let that get it down too much. In fact, when I was scrolling through all the releases this year, I was surprised at just how much new or improved product was rolled out, and not just by the major brands. 2021 was a banner year for independent brands like Czapek, Parmigiani, and Konstantin Chaykin, whose releases at the in-person Geneva Watch Days and Dubai Watch Week became watch nerd fodder as potent as anything from Rolex or Patek. And while Watches & Wonders was still purely digital, pieces like the smaller IWC Pilot’s Watch in 43mm and the Hermès H08 garnered a lot of buzz and attention.

While it’s impossible to be comprehensive, here are our favorite new watch releases of 2021, as selected by the aBlogtoWatch team. And, of course, we want to hear what your favorites are from this year, so leave it in the comments — and here’s to 2022.

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I eschew choosing favorites because doing so feels arbitrarily limiting to me, but I do want to mention a product that I first got my hands on in 2021 that stands out in multiple ways. Ironically, this is a product that came out in 2019 but wasn’t “a big deal” until 2021 because the movie it was tied to didn’t come out until this year. I’m talking, of course, about Omega’s “No Time To Die” version of the Seamaster 300M.
The things Omega did on purpose, as well as by accident, make this product so effective. From a storytelling standpoint, the watch is fantastic on account of the movie being delayed multiple times (due to the state of the world), as well as the fact that Omega, in essence, designed it specifically to suit the tastes of James Bond 007 actor Daniel Craig. For his last role as James Bond, Mr. Craig himself told Omega what he wanted from a product worn by the character in the movie. Omega then proceeded to do what it does best, and “design a watch for a particular purpose.” The timepiece went on to be worn by Daniel Craig in the movie, and it is also available for purchase. Not only that, but the watch is not a limited edition.
Putting a limitation on the production of watches helps drive immediate sales, but it also causes other market problems such as watches being purchased by people who don’t actually want them. Omega was more or less forced to do the right thing by not having the No Time To Die Seamaster 300M watch be limited, and thus opened it up for purchase by the right demographic of buyers who learn the story of the product on their own time. Visually, the titanium-cased Seamaster 300M is beautiful and very handsome on the wrist. As you can see, there is so much to appreciate in both the design and commercial context of this Omega watch, enough so that I feel it tells a success story about not only Omega but as a marketing concept that could work well for other brands if applied intelligently.


I’ll second Ariel’s sentiment with regard to choosing favorites, so I’ll give you a list instead – strictly speaking for myself here. The most beautiful watch in 2021? The Grand Seiko SBGJ249 Shosho. The most spectacular and awesome watch in 2021? The Hublot Sang Bleu II Chronograph in ceramic. The best retro-inspired watch? The Zenith El Primero A386 for finally getting a Striking 10th movement! And the best affordable watch? It’s got to be the Timex Giorgio Galli S1 in 38mm. Proof that 2021 has yielded some fantastic watches and done so in a remarkable range of styles, eras, price segments, and technical complexity. The watch world is on fire – let’s not take that for granted.


What a year it’s been for chronographs! I’ve been fortunate enough to sample some truly extraordinary chronograph watches over the past 12 months, but there are two that stand head and shoulders above the rest. The first of these is the Hamilton Intra-Matic Chronograph H. By simplifying its existing vintage chronograph design, removing the automatic rotor, and injecting the watch with an undeniable all-American muscle car charm, Hamilton has developed the single best purist hand-wound chronograph option on the market without venturing into the Omega Speedmaster’s loftier price range. The Intra-Matic Chronograph H democratizes vintage sports chronograph style in the best way possible, without compromising on either historical accuracy or quality.

On the more premium side of the market, the clear winner to me this year was the limited edition TAG Heuer Monaco Titan. Despite being a vintage chronograph fanatic, particularly for the Heuer Calibre 11, the Monaco line had always struck me as a design that never gracefully transitioned out of the ‘60s and into the modern world – until now. The Monaco Titan feels like a genuinely modern and heavy-hitting chronograph design, and it recontextualizes this familiar look with only a few minor changes. The finishing on both the matte titanium case and the heavily grained sunburst dial is exquisitely done, and the use of black “panda” subdials and blazing red accents gives this monochrome look a sense of aggression without going too far. Besides, if it’s good enough to be the timepiece of choice for newly-crowned Formula 1 World Driver’s Champion Max Verstappen, it’s good enough to make my personal shortlist.

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moser swiss alp watch final upgrade vantablack


I have to list two here since I just couldn’t choose between them. First, in what was both a new release and a farewell to a fairly divisive tongue-in-cheek collection is the H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Final Upgrade. The smartwatch-spoofing Swiss Alp’s sense of humor is balanced by impeccable finishings and a movement that will make the snobbiest jaw hit the floor. In an inspired move, this “Final Upgrade” has the spinning loading icon play the role of seconds sub-dial which you can see in action if you scroll down to the gif in the hands-on article I link to. A fitting farewell to a truly witty work of horology.

My second pick is the new Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar, which stands as the only pure perpetual calendar in the brand’s lineup. It’s absolute perfection housed in a Lange 1 case but there are some standout aspects (which really need to be special to stand out here) like the ingenious dual-disc moon phase which doubles as a day/night indicator. 


In a year that felt as though much of what we saw were also held-back releases from 2020, there were simply too many awesome releases to keep track of in 2021. Of all the amazing stuff, though, there were several releases this year that I enjoyed enough to put my own hard-earned money into – the charming gold-dialed Laventure Marine II stood out as the first watch I’ve ever “backed” or pre-ordered with the expectation that I wouldn’t be seeing it on my wrist for many months. Then, there was the more mainstream Aquaracer Professional 300 — which maybe isn’t all that spectacular in its own right, but to me, it signifies the end of a very long wait for TAG Heuer to finally start taking its dive watches seriously again. Yes, it’s that good. And my third top watch release of 2021 that I put my hard-earned cash into, is the stuff of my “exit watch” dreams, but since I haven’t yet taken delivery of it, I’d rather not jinx the situation by blurting out what it is. Expect to read about it on my “Watch You Wore Most in 2022” blurb in 12 months.


The watch that I like most this year is the Grand Seiko SBGY007. To start, it looks awesome. The white textured dial is really becoming a Grand Seiko signature, and then there is that blued seconds hand that moves so elegantly thanks to its Spring Drive movement. This, I think, is a combination that fans really love. It’s hand-wound, too. Another reason I like it is that it has Grand Seiko’s new dress series case which is the perfect size – just 38.5mm-wide and 10.2mm-thick. And finally, I appreciate how Grand Seiko has decided to make this a regular production piece so that fans of the brand can enjoy it.


Easy — my favorite watch this year is the Grand Seiko SBGM247. It’s a 41mm automatic GMT with a stainless-steel bezel, captivating sunburst green dial, and bright orange GMT hand. There have certainly been flashier releases, even from Grand Seiko, but none have tugged at my heartstrings in quite the same way as the SBGM247. Sure, it has the most ubiquitous new dial color of 2021, and sure, you could argue that it’s not terribly original, with more than a passing resemblance to the Rolex Explorer II, but that’s not why I love it. I love it because it shows that Grand Seiko is finally listening and giving watch enthusiasts what they want. How many people have looked at the sibling 9F quartz GMT SBGN00X models and said, “I love it, but I just wish it was an automatic.”

Well, Grand Seiko delivered but did so with an unexpectedly cool color-shifting green dial that I’m more than a little enamored with. Now, will that translate to some new, modestly sized Spring Drive divers? Who knows, but coupled with Grand Seiko’s introduction of the caliber 9R01 Spring Drive movement that places the power reserve indicator on the back of the movement, I can’t help but think that the zaratsu masters are listening to the watch community. Don’t get me wrong, more than anything, I want to see Grand Seiko keep doing what it does best, quietly producing beautifully executed watches that appeal to their own unique design sensibilities. That said, it’s certainly nice to get exactly what we’ve been clamoring for from time to time.


My top pick from this year has to be the Tudor Pelagos FXD, but with a few caveats. First, the good: Tudor made another Pelagos, addressing one of my favorite watches from the brand that simply hasn’t received much attention, often left behind in favor of the more mass appealing Tudor Black Bay collection that now boasts dozens of individual references. Also, Tudor made a whole thing out of connecting the new Tudor to vintage Tudor’s connection with the French Navy (Marine Nationale). And while I don’t believe in Santa Claus and understand that much of this is smoke and mirrors simply for marketing’s sake, the fact that Tudor found that type of connection worth looking into at all is, at least for me, awesome.
However, it’s not all good news. I think much of the enthusiast market, myself included, was hoping for a smaller case with the new Pelagos. A 42mm diameter, especially on the wider-set, flatter Pelagos case, is just too big for many watch nerds in the modern era. Though, in Tudor’s defense, the new FXD is markedly thinner than its predecessors, which is another step in the right direction. As another less than positive note, I’m just not sure the fixed lugs were the move. It’s cool, right, because the MN divers needed to rock a velcro strap when they were doing underwater commando stuff, right? Ok, and the Tudor velcro is admittedly great, but most won’t associate a luxury experience with velcro, and the bracelet on the Pelagos is one of the watch family’s best attributes, and indeed one of the best dive watch bracelets on the market in my opinion. Still, I’m overall hyped on the FXD. It’s not necessarily everything I wanted it to be, but it’s definitely an interesting sign of what could still be to come from Tudor next year.

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