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The FHH Journal pick of 2020
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The FHH Journal pick of 2020

Friday, 18 December 2020
By The FHH Journal editors
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The FHH Journal editors

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7 min read

The editors and contributors at FHH Journal share their pick of the watches that caught their eye in 2020.

The end of a year is when we typically look back over the highlights of the past twelve months. Despite a 2020 that delivered more lows than highs, watchmakers made sure there were plenty of new models to keep fans happy. The team at FHH Journal share some of their favourites.

Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull

We were all teenagers once. Beneath a veneer of responsibility and respectability, we were the door-slamming fifteen-year-old with a passion for anything that screamed “No Future”: the raging anger of punk, vanitas, a sci-fi movie full of cyborg villains. You’ll find all this in the fascinating Cyber Skull. Whereas the original Bell & Ross Skulls are in metal and of the Jolly Roger kind, this one, in black ceramic on a black rubber strap, gives a glimpse of an apocalyptic world. But with a pure, understated design that makes it a perfectly acceptable accessory for adults who have decided to ground their inner teenager once and for all. (Laure Gontier)

BR 01 Cyber Skull © Bell & Ross
BR 01 Cyber Skull © Bell & Ross
Breitling Navitimer Automatic 35

The Navitimer is probably Breitling’s best-known watch and previously only for men. While the brand did introduce a 38mm diameter in 2018, this year’s 35mm is the perfect fit for a slim wrist. Breitling has done women the courtesy of not overloading this latest iteration with precious stones, while dial/strap colours veer away from pastel in favour of strong shades such as burgundy and blue (there is also a mother-of-pearl option with a smattering of diamonds for ritzy cocktails). This is clearly a woman’s watch but by no means girly, the main embellishment being that fabulous beaded bezel. Silver and steel lend a slick, means-business appearance, with the welcome warmth that comes from copper-toned hands and indexes. Time-only functions reinforce the clean design as does the choice of no date. Keeping track of hours, minutes and seconds is the reliable Breitling Calibre 17, with COSC certification and a comfortable 38 hours of power reserve. (Sandra Petch)

Navitimer Automatic 35 © Breitling
Navitimer Automatic 35 © Breitling
Greubel Forsey Hand Made 1

Only one? In that case, my choice goes to a unique piece, the Hand Made 1. Firstly for the all-or-nothing approach that sees Greubel Forsey rehabilitate the values of craftsmanship in a watch that is 95% handmade. From the movement to the case, from the strap to the dial and hands, every component has been expertly crafted by artisans (the sole exceptions being the sapphire crystal, gaskets, jewels, mainspring and spring bars). Also because this Hand Made 1 is the antithesis of today’s “make more, make faster” ethos. In an age where products come and go at lightning speed, Greubel Forsey has chosen to take its time: 6,000 hours go into this watch, only two or three of which will be produced each year. Bravo! (Marie de Pimodan)

Hand Made 1 © Greubel Forsey
Hand Made 1 © Greubel Forsey
H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner

One look at the Streamliner and magic happens. Touches of red appear as light moves across the surface of the mesmerising fumé green dial. The fluid design of the case with its softened curves is worthy of a future icon. The choice of the HMC 200 calibre captures the essence of time in three hands and brings soothing simplicity. On the wrist, the Streamliner’s visual and technical qualities come into their own to create instant chemistry. H. Moser & Cie. hasn’t been afraid to step out of its comfort zone with a new collection that is attuned to the times. Steel sport watches with an integrated bracelet are, without question, the decade’s brightest stars. Will the Streamliner outshine them all? (Alex Ballmer)

Streamliner © H. Moser & Cie
Streamliner © H. Moser & Cie
Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox

Whether or not you fall for Benedict Cumberbatch’s charm is entirely up to you, just as long as you notice the watch he wears. As Sherlock Holmes in the series of the same name, and now ambassador for Jaeger-LeCoultre, his wrist warrants our attention. Particularly as the brand has chosen Mr Cumberbatch to take its latest Polaris Mariner Memovox into the ocean’s deep. Memovox Polaris: the very name conjures up images of a golden age for “La Grande Maison” with the launch of the Memovox alarm watch in 1950, followed by the Memovox Deepsea and the Memovox Polaris in 1963. Their diving legacy continues with the Mariner, rated water-resistant to 300 metres and with an alarm that would wake Neptune himself. (Christophe Roulet)

Polaris Mariner Memovox © Jaeger-LeCoultre
Polaris Mariner Memovox © Jaeger-LeCoultre
Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Off-Centered Chronograph Onyx

Black and nothing but black! This, for me, is where the beauty of this Grande Seconde Off-Centered Chronograph lies; in an onyx dial that gives this latest iteration its incredible intensity. Its absolute blackness makes a dramatic backdrop for off-centre hours and minutes at 1 o’clock, a centre seconds hand with an openworked counterweight, and a retrograde date display at 7 o’clock with, in its centre, the chronograph 30-minute counter. This alignment along the 1 o’clock-7 o’clock axis creates the off-centre aesthetic for which Jaquet Droz is known while preserving a perfect visual balance. Dial indications are in white gold with a satin finish or, for the slender hour and minute hands, mirror-polished. This is classic, understated Haute Horlogerie in all its glory. (Mehdi Fazlija)

Grande Seconde Décentrée Onyx Chronograph © Jaquet Droz
Grande Seconde Décentrée Onyx Chronograph © Jaquet Droz
Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Vianney Halter

At CHF 3,500 each, the symbolic association of two worlds, two ethos, in a unique collaboration for a regulator (Sellita movement) is exemplary. Louis Erard has other collaborations to its name, with Eric Giroud and Alain Silberstein, also for regulators. Vianney Halter does us the honour of a partnership that takes him in a very different direction. Such a project takes commitment, and this wasn’t lost on the 178 buyers who snapped up this limited edition in just hours. While this may not be a watchmaking wonder, such a (surprising) collaboration is a much-needed breath of fresh air in an industry that can be a little too hesitant in these Covid-troubled times. We approve! (Pascal Ravessoud)

Le Régulateur © Louis Erard x Vianney Halter
Le Régulateur © Louis Erard x Vianney Halter
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41

My choice of the new Oyster Perpetual 41 isn’t based on its good looks, its robustness or its movement. Other Rolex have plenty to offer in that department, too. The reason lies elsewhere. While fans of the brand are drawn to the Submariner or the Daytona, whose prices continue to escalate, this Oyster Perpetual 41 is something rarely seen today: an affordable Rolex. Forget the claim that anyone who doesn’t own a Rolex at 50 is a failure. Its €5,550 price tag means you can now be a success at 40! And there’s plenty of bang for your buck. This hours-minutes-seconds is outfitted with the new 3230 calibre which incorporates a Chronergy escapement in nickel-phosphorus and an optimised version of the blue Parachrom balance spring. It also has Superlative Chronometer certification that guarantees precision of –2/+2 seconds per day. The steel case can be paired with a silver dial swept by yellow gold hands or a black dial with white gold hands. (Fabrice Eschmann)

Oyster Perpetual 41 © Rolex
Oyster Perpetual 41 © Rolex
UR-100 GunMetal

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, two Jedi Masters, versed in the noble and ancestral art of watchmaking, set themselves the task of building a space-time machine that would bring them back to the Blue Planet. Which is how Félix Baumgartner and Martin Frei were able to introduce the UR-100 GunMetal. Not content with indicating the time by means of a satellite movement, encased in titanium and steel with a gunmetal PVD treatment, this UR-100 has us reaching for the stars by showing, in a window at 2 o’clock, the 35,740 km that our planet travels around the Sun in 20 minutes, all the while keeping our feet firmly on the ground with a display, in a window at 10 o’clock, of the 555.55 km which the rotating movement of Earth, at its circumference, “devours” in 20 minutes. (Emmanuel Schneider)

UR-100 GunMetal © Urwerk
UR-100 GunMetal © Urwerk
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