This year has been like no other, with time passing more slowly for some and being disrupted for others – and the watch industry is no exception, thanks to closures and lockdowns that have led to demand falling by 80 percent and more.

Now, brands are going all out to entice clients back, with a raft of releases coming in a rush in recent weeks. Planned in brighter times – the gestation period for a new watch is measured in years, not months – they’ll be hoping their efforts are creative enough to get things ticking again.

With this in mind, we cast our eye over a handful that stand out for a simple reason: they don’t look like the watches you already have. Better still, there’s one for every occasion, and almost every budget. 

Longines Heritage ‘Tuxedo’

You might think you’ve seen this watch before, but unless you were around in the 1940s or favour watches of that era, that’s unlikely. But what a handsome looker. The stand-out feature of this Jazz Age three-hander is its black and white tuxedo-themed dial, a throw-back to bygone elegance. Sized at an understated 38.5mm, it’s equipped with a silicon-enhanced movement with 70 hours’ power reserve. The price is happily in the $3,000 range. 

IWC Big Pilot’s ‘Mission Accomplished

Not for the shrinking violet, this mighty machine spans 46.2mm and would make a statement on any wrist. It’s inspired by last year’s first circumnavigation of the world in a vintage Spitfire aircraft by two British pilots, hence the ‘Mission Accomplished’ moniker. It boasts a bronze case with green dial and an enlarged date display thanks to two discs carrying the numerals. The hand-wound movement offers eight days’ power reserve, and production is limited to 500 pieces. $25,000 range.

Breitling Superocean Heritage 1957

With rainbow hour-markers bringing the colours of a coral reef to your wrist and part of the proceeds going to front-line health-care workers, everyone wins with this retro diver, rated to 100 metres. Its 42mm steel case is topped with an unusually shaped concave bezel in ceramic and mounted on a mesh bracelet or calfskin strap. A chronometer certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) powers things. The Superocean Heritage 1957 is limited to just 1,000 pieces, and is priced in the $7,000 range.

Oris Holstein Edition 2020 

Now for a golden-hued watch that looks a million dollars but refreshingly costs a mere fraction of that, thanks to its being rendered in copper. Even the integrated bracelet is solid bronze, a first for a Swiss watch, as are the chrono pushers. The 43mm case houses a self-winding movement and is water resistant to 100 metres. Limited to 250 pieces, the bronzed Oris Holstein – named after the Swiss village where the Oris company was founded in 1904 – is priced in the $8,000 range.

MB&F Bulldog

Here’s a watch that ticks the ‘exotic’ box and breaks new ground in terms of wrist presence thanks to its hard-to-miss persona. Influenced by all things canine, designer Max Busser has come up with a rounded body in titanium or red gold with two prominent aluminium time-display ‘eyes’, and stout ‘legs’ that wrap around your wrist. Inside beats ‘a big heart’, and the watch’s hinged jaws open and shut according to “the amount of wind left in its mainspring”, the makers say. Fully closed, your Bulldog is telling you it’s wound down and ready for a nap, while if you can see rows of shining teeth, it’s letting you know it’s ‘full of fight’. $160,000 range.

Zenith Elite Moonphase

Why should men have all the wrist action? Zenith show just how attractive you can make a timepiece with this pastel-hued moonphase model. Cased in gold with an uncluttered sunray-patterned dial, it’s presented on a sky-blue band, and sparkles thanks to a bezel set with 75 brilliant-cut stones totalling 0.60 carats. The movement is self-winding, and the price is in the $26,000 range.

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