Throwback Sundays: Six Unusual Watches to Kickstart 2021

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2020 had certainly brought a paradigm shift in our way of life.

The new year certainly brought some respite, and a new glimmer of hope as well. This, also being the start of a new year, would definitely mean that some people would want to do something different for a change.

In the world of watch collecting, we reckon the same applies to some collectors as well. While many are still more inclined to the usual suspects (think Rolex, Omega, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet), there are others who want to try out something different for a change. Hence, for the first Throwback Sundays column this year, we thought that we will like to introduce some unusual timepieces for collectors who want to add something different to their collection.

Grand Seiko SBGP015 60th Anniversary Quartz

When it comes to watchmaking, Grand Seiko is certainly one of the forerunners in terms of technological prowess. They are early adopters of new technologies, and they have contributed greatly to the scene in many ways.

The quartz technology, although frowned upon amongst mechanical watch collectors, has made a strong impact in the field of horology. One great example is the Grand Seiko SBGP015 60th Anniversary Quartz, where it is fitted with the new Caliber 9F85. For this particular piece, the watch allows the hours hand to be adjusted without stopping the seconds hand to maintain accuracy. This is highly suitable for users who have to adjust between different time zones on a regular basis.

The 40mm stainless steel timepiece is priced at US$3,800 (approximately S$5,022), and it is paired with a matching blue ceramic bezel. It might be a little difficult for some to justify forking out this amount of money for a quartz watch, but we reckon the finishing and details definitely make up for it.

Reservoir GT Tour Blue Edition

We have a thing for brands who try to attempt something different, and introducing different complications to the masses at a relatively affordable price point. The Reservoir GT Tour Blue Edition is one such timepiece.

Reservoir, who is a relative newcomer into the watchmaking scene, has caught our attention with their repertoire of interesting timepieces. The 43mm GT Tour Blue Edition combines both automotive and watchmaking together, with a timepiece that leverages on the retrograde complication that mimics a car’s tachometer. This is further seen in the power reserve indicator, which reminds us of a car’s fuel gauge. It is a refreshing take for sure, and we like how the brand had incorporated interesting complications into the watch.

The GT Tour Blue Edition is priced modestly at US$3,980 (approximately S$5,260). We like the inspiration behind the brand’s creation, and the use of such complications at a price point that is more accessible to many collectors. While it might seemingly not be everyone’s cup of tea with a more polarising take on designs, but we certainly applaud Reservoir for being different from the rest of the crowd. This is a great attempt, and we do hope to see more manufacturers taking a leaf out of this.

Sinn R500 Chronograph

The new Sinn R500 Chronograph, launched last November, is an intriuguing watch indeed. Based on the original model in the 1970s, the latest iteration is a modern version of the original with a rather cool design scheme.

Cased at 42mm, the R500 Chronograph is a massive watch with a large wrist presence. This is due to its large and thick case, with the latter measuring at 16mm at its thickest. However, one very interesting thing to note is that the thickness decreases as the watch goes from the 12 o’clock position to the 6 o’clock position, which in turn tilts the dial towards the wearer of the timepiece with the “sloping effect”.

Powering the watch is a Valjoux 7750 movement. It features the usual chronograph function, and the R500 Chronograph also includes the additional date and power reserve indicator.

The watch retails at S$7,250, and it is limited to a production of 300 pieces. It is highly uncommon to see a bullhead chronograph these days, and we think that Sinn had actually executed this timepiece rather well. It is a cool watch altogether, and we think it is a great piece to include in any watch collection.

Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull

Bell & Ross is a brand that often turn towards for interesting-looking timepieces. The new BR 01 Cyber Skull is a great example.

The BR 01 Cyber Skull, as its name suggest, is an addition to the BR 01 collection. However, this is where the similarity stops. The Cyber Skull features a sleeker and smaller case, with a hexagon-like shape to provide a more angular and geometrical touch. If the watch aims to look futuristic and cool, then the new case design had certainly does its job well.

Another cool touch of the BR 01 Cyber Skull is definitely the “Skull” in the dial of the watch. The skull is crafted with many facets, similar to the motifs on the case. We like how the geometric shapes give the skull a three dimensional effect, and how it looks pretty much like a cyborg – hence the nomenclature “Cyber Skull”.

Priced at S$16,700, the BR 01 Cyber Skull is limited to a production run of 500 pieces. It is undoubtedly a cool watch, albeit it might be controversial for some. We reckon this will pretty much suit the younger collectors, especially those who are highly into street wear.

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Automatique

Gerald Genta is known for designing some of the world’s most famous pieces, which includes the legendary Royal Oak and Nautilus from Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe respectively.

However, there is more than just the usual suspects. Throughout his career, Gerald Genta had contributions to other brands as well. The Bvlgari Octo, for instance, is one of his lesser known works. But do not let that fool you. In recent years, Bvlgari had invested quite a fair bit in the collection. The Octo Finissimo is one of outcomes from the initiative, which sees Bvlgari creating some of the world’s thinnest timepieces with different complications.

The Octo Finissimo Automatique is one of our favourites from the collection. The simple three-hand watch might not be complicated, but that allows the design elements of the watch to shine. We particularly like how the design is based on different geometric shapes, as well as the play on angles and facets on the case itself. Coupled with its finishing, the end result of the 40mm watch is simply amazing.

The Octo Finissimo Automatique is priced at S$18,350. It is truly a brilliant timepiece, and we think that it is certainly an option for a collector who is looking for an iconic sports watch that is a tad uncommon from the usual crowd.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire 42 mm

Hublot is a maverick that tries to be bold and different. This is more apparent in the recent years, with the manufacturer experimenting with different designs and materials.

The 42mm Big Bang Unico Sapphire is a timepiece from the Geneva-based manufacturer that emphasised on the brand’s prowess in developing materials. While the use of sapphire crystal case is not new, but they are usually priced on the higher-end of the scale. The new Big Bang Unico Sapphire 42mm aims to be a little different, by making it ever-slightly more accessible as compared to its predecessors and competitors (albeit still at an obscene price level).

The watch is powered by the new 354-part HUB1280 UNICO movement. This self-winding movement boasts a fly-back chronograph function, as well as a power reserve of around 72 hours. It is also thinner and smaller than the older UNICO movements, with a view to equip smaller chronographs.

Pricing of the Big Bang Unico Sapphire 42mm is at a princely S$94,200. While it is much more modestly priced as compared to the other sapphire crystal watches from Hublot (think of the MP-05 La Ferrari) or Girard Perregaux Laureato Absolute Light, it is no less still an expensive watch as the material is tedious to manufacture. Nonetheless, it is still an intriguing watch, although there is a huge price to pay for being different in this scenario.

Concluding Thoughts

There are certainly many interesting watches that are available in the market currently. The differences can be stark – some are only a little unusual, but others do take on a much bolder approach.

We also do try to include watches from different price points. While it is admittedly more difficult for watches on the more affordable price points to be unusual (as they are meant for the mass market consumers), but there are some brands who are trying to make a difference in this aspect. Think of Reservoir, for instance, who introduced the interesting design concepts and complications to their watches at a relatively compelling retail price. We certainly like how this is going.

We also do hope that collectors will be more open-minded and go for these different watches, as opposed to the usual suspects. Brands are often driven by demand, and we are afraid that the lack of reciprocation from consumers will see the demise of such interesting timepieces in the future.

Finally, we do hope that you have enjoyed the first Throwback Sundays article of 2021. Do let us know your thoughts, and share with us some of the more interesting watches that you have in your collection in the comments section below.


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1 Comment

  1. Happy New Year, Robin!

    Thank you for your article. I tried on the GS, and liked it very much. That ceramic blue bezel and red second hand stayed in my mind long afterwards.

    I regret that I do not have anything terribly off-piste in my collection. At the very most I have a Hamilton Ventura which used to be glued to my wrist for years. It’s one of the things I struggle with – the safety of classic vs the desire to do something more fun.

    May I suggest two additions to your list: SevenFriday and GoS.