Watch Trends – Not the Top 3 of 2021


Breitling Endurance Pro - bright color watch trends? sent me an email with the headline Top 3 Watch Trends of 2021. My favorite online marketplace (no commission on link) reckons the top three watch trends will be the Rolex Explorer II, bold colors and in-house movement. As the South Africans say, ja nee (yes no). While I think they’re onto something, they’re wrong . . .

Rolex Explorer II?'s take on 2021 watch trends

How is the Rolex Explorer II a “trend”? Rolex are sold out across the board. The graphic says it all: “Buyers Can’t Get Enough of These Watches.” Only substitute the word “any” for “enough.”

O.K., sure, the drought makes all Rolex something of a trend for 2021. The Explorer II is a Rolex. So it’s a trend. That can’t be realized. Is something trendy just because people talk about it? I guess. I guess a trendy watch can be made of unobtanium. But where’s the fun in that?

Watch Trends – Bold Colors?

New Oyster Perpetual - harbinger of 2021 watch trends?

It’s a shame doesn’t read The Truth About Watches as assiduously as we read them. They would have clocked our man Klosoff’s article Hot Watch Color for 2021 Revealed, in which we learn that Pantone’s prepared the world for “a combination of Ultimate Gray (light/medium gray) and Illuminating Yellow (bright yellow).”

“New releases like the latest Rolex Oyster Perpetual (above) and other models from Hublot and Breitling are just the tip of the iceberg,” Chrono24 counter-opines. “We’re predicting a rainbow of colors to follow in the year ahead.”

Really? Are you ready to taste the horological rainbow at the office (should such a destination exist)? C’mon man! Brightly colored watches are “fun.” An expensive and otherwise dignified watch with a brightly colored dial is like a yellow BMW 7-Series. There’s a reason it’s an incredibly rare beast. A downmarket move to dayglow? Maybe . . .

Meanwhile, I reckon the new boldly colored Rolex Oyster Perpetuals highlighted by Chrono24 are the exception that proves the rule – a fun Rolex! And even if high end manufacturers release brightly colored watches doesn’t mean they’ll sell – especially compared to their more demure cousins. Rolex Sub vs. a bright red OP41. ‘Nuff said?

Watch Trends – In-House Movements?

Yema Navygraf

No question: wearing a watch with an in-house movement – such as the most excellent Yema Navygradf Heritageconfers bragging rights on its owner. That’s provided he or she knows someone to brag to. Normal watch buyers couldn’t give a flying f*ck about the provenance of the bits moving the hands, date wheel and stuff.

As you and I know, an in-house automatic movement can be a real bummer when it comes to reliability, service cost and service wait time. Give me a Sinn running a rock solid, easily serviced ETA 2824 over an in-house H. Moser and Cie any day. Just kidding. But down at the mid to lower end of the watch market, in-housery is mostly marketing mishegoss.

Yema new in-house caliber revealed

There’s considerable debate about what constitutes an “in-house movement” – a topic our man Rivoira explored in In-House Movement – What’s Up With That? As CAD-CAM technology improves, I suppose more watchmakers will lay claim to in-house props in 2021. But the trad watch market’s shrinking and that’s a big investment (unless it isn’t). I don’t see IHM’s as any more of a trend than they were last year.

So what ARE the “hot” watch trends for 2021? Best guesstimate tomorrow . . .


  1. I have an Explorer II. It’s awesome, honestly and on a leather strap it flies pretty low. It’s the one sport “I don’t need people to know I have a Rolex” Rolex. In fact, I think I’ll wear it today, for the first time since the pandemic started.

    • Nice. My Yachtmaster (steel / platinum) also flies under the radar. I don’t believe I’ve had anyone ever notice or mention it in the 15 years I wore it almost daily.

      • Watches that have gotten compliments:

        1) A beaten up Swiss Army field watch, 34mm, quartz movemnt, leather strap. $25, purchased from a street vendor, wore it for ten years.

        2) Pretty much every Tokyo Flash watch I ever bought. “How the heck do you tell the time on that thing?” LED watches, $200 each.

        3) My Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild “Sysiphus” and “Eyeball” watches. Quartz movements, $35 per watch. 36mm and 38 mm respectively.

        4) My Deadpool watch. Quartz movement, 50mm, $40.

        5) My Adventure Time watch which I had place on a navy Nato strap. Ryan Reynolds wore one in Deadpool. 36 mm, $40, quartz movement.

        6) My “destro” Invicta chronograph. I’m a southpaw. Quartz movement, 50mm, $150.

        Watches that have not gotten compliments:

        1) Zodiac, gold dress watch, mechanical movement, 34mm, made in the sixties. Sells for $200 online.

        2) Hamilton field watch for L.L. Bean, mechanical movement, 34mm, 70s or very early 80s. Sells for $300 online.

          • I used to wear Tokyo Flash watches quite a bit. QC occasionally left a little to be desired, and the batteries don’t last long. Fantastic if you have a double income, no kids. Much less practical when you are dropping off a six month old baby at daycare and filling out a intake sheet every morning.

        • I completely forgot about TokyoFlash. They were big in Silicon Valley maybe a decade ago. We should do a review.

  2. It’s the 50th anniversary for the Explorer II and it has not been updated to the 70 hour power reserve movement from the GMT-Master II yet, so Rolex will likely be dropping a new one.

    People get mad about Rolex under producing the GMT-Master II, Daytona, and Submariner, but that is so that people will say “well what about the x Rolex?”

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