22 Best Watch Releases Of 2021 (So Far)

Here, our highly-curated pick of the year’s best timepieces to date.

By Richard Brown 05/08/2021

2021 has been a heady horological year that’s seen the debut of a wealth of alluring new releases. From the dominance of green-dialled design, to the birth of ever-more complicated references and the constant drive for innovation within watchmaking, a plethora of timepieces have caught the eye of the Robb Report team.  Here, our highly-curated pick of the best to land so far.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Quadriptyque

Get this: this watch will not only tell you the time, but the day, date, month, if it’s day or night, and whether or not it’s a leap year. It’s also equipped with a celestial and astronomical function, meaning you can track exactly how far we are into the synodic, draconic and anomalistic cycles. Oh, and on the fourth of the watch’s four faces, a moonphase indicator will display the stage of the Moon in the Southern Hemisphere. It does all of this via a series of cogs and gears inside a case that’s just 51mm x 31mm x 15.15mm. Astonishing.

jaeger-lecoultre.com

IWC Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Edition Mojave Desert

For its latest ‘Mojave Desert’ models, IWC sticks to the original, larger-than-life 46mm format. Undoubtedly one of the most eye-catching launches of the year so far, the watch is now available as a perpetual calendar and a simple three-hander. We say simple … even the time-only model houses a twin spring-barrel movement that provides a seven-day power reserve.

iwc.com

Piaget Polo Skeleton

Every watch brand has its shtick. Piaget has two specialisms; skeletonisation and ultra-thin movements, fortes writ large in the new Polo Skeleton. The model is 30 per cent thinner than existing Polo watches, with a 42mm case that’s been slimmed down to just 6.5mm thick. An in-house, wafer-thin movement measures just 2.4mm deep. Despite its leanness, the watch has a 44-hour power reserve and is water-resistant to 30 metres. If you’re not digging the blue, choose slate grey instead.

piaget.com

MB&F Horological Machine N°9 Sapphire Vision

In 2019, MB&F presented the Horological Machine N°9, the case of which was designed to mimic the flowing, aerodynamic lines of cars from the 1940s and ‘50s: MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser described the engine inside the watch as “the most beautiful movement we’ve created to date”. So it stands to reason that Büsser would want to show off that engine. Why did it take two years to create a transparent shell? Because sapphire crystal is one of the most difficult materials with which to work. Most sapphire cases are composed of two flat slabs screwed together. The HM9 is all bubbles and curves. It took two years for MB&F to crack the case—not literally, obviously.

mbandf.com

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Double Flying Tourbillon

Fresh from its cameo in one of the most-watched documentaries of all time—see the wrists of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in last year’s The Last Dance—Roger Dubuis presents the latest interpretation of its Excalibur Double Flying Tourbillon. A quick-release system allows owners to switch between straps, although the Tourbillon club remains exclusive. Only 24 examples are being made—eight in white gold, eight in pink gold and eight in pink gold with diamond-set bezels and lugs.

rogerdubuis.com

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Selfwinding Chronograph 41mm

AP sandwiches a black ceramic case between a bezel and case-back made of either pink or white gold. The Code 11.59 collection was launched to diversify the brand away from its seminal octagonal sports watch, the Royal Oak. While it doesn’t look like Gérald Genta’s design classic will be knocked off its pedestal any time soon, AP continues to demonstrate its commitment to the most provocative watch of the past few years.

audemarspiguet.com

Chanel Boy.Friend Skeleton X-Ray

When it first dropped in 2015, its dainty proportions and diamonds positioned it as women’s watch, even if the brand wouldn’t say so explicitly. Yet there was enough masculinity in the Tank-like design to widen the watch’s appeal. The brand has since described the timepiece as “gender fluid”. The Skeleton X-Ray presents Chanel’s stunning, vertically laid-out, in-house Calibre 3 in all its floating glory, thanks to an all-sapphire case. Don’t let the name put you off.

chanel.com

Chopard L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25

If you appreciate sophisticated watchmaking, the elegant Quattro Spirit 25—Chopard’s first jumping-hour timepiece—features an 18-carat rose-gold case and a beautiful Grand Feu white enamel dial, with an hour aperture at six o’clock. Almost the entire watch, from the enamelling process to the production of its four-barrel movement, was completed within Chopard’s manufacturing facility in Fleurier, Switzerland.

chopard.com

Hublot Big Bang Integral Ceramic (Grey)

There’s a lot to like about this new Hublot—the integrated bracelet, for starters. Then there’s the single-material architecture, and the fact that it’s twice as scratch-resistant as steel. Mostly, though, it’s about this particular colour; a polished-then-satin-finished, titanium-esque, gunmetal grey. The 42mm watch is also available in white and midnight-blue, but it’s this stealthy, steely number that’s the real head-turner.

hublot.com

Baume Et Mercier Riviera

A sense of refinement drapes the return of B&M’s Riviera, a robust piece famed for its 12-sided bezel, and which debuted in 1973. That ’70s spark remains and the reissue feels right in regards to its timing, given the ascendancy of integrated steel bracelets. The contemporary outing means three sizes—36mm, 42mm or 43mm case—with the top-spec Baumatic edition boasting the in-house Baumatic movement launched in 2018.

baume-et-mercier.com

OMEGA Seamaster 300m Black Black

While Omega waits for its two major publicity exercises to get underway (James Bond movie, Olympic Games), they’ve delivered the Seamaster Diver 300M Black Black. That’s not a typo; so blacked-out is the latest version of Bond’s watch that one “Black” wouldn’t do. The watch’s dial is made from black ceramic, as is the minute track around its edge. The use of two different colour lumes on the Black Black’s indices and hands means it’s not impossible to tell the time.

omegawatches.com

Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385

Much more than just a sepia-tinted throwback, Zenith’s latest Chronomaster is a genuine reissue of one of the original three stainless-steel El Primero models from 1969. The original tonneau-shaped A385 featured a brown gradient dial—possibly the first “smoked” dial ever made. This year’s A385 uses the production plans from the initial model, to wit: a 37mm case, pump-style pushers and, if you opt for metal over calf leather, a stainless-steel ladder-style bracelet.

zenith-watches.com

Rolex Explorer + Explorer II

Updates to Rolex models can seem to offer a new definition of the word “incremental”. Not so in 2021. The brand resisted giving its Explorer the precious metal treatment for 68 years. Finally, it caved. Not only has the watch been reduced to its original 36mm size, the Explorer is available in two-tone—a streak of yellow-gold contrasts against cool, utilitarian stainless steel. Less obvious are the revisions to the updated Explorer II. The watch features the same case size but is now equipped with Rolex’s latest-gen movement.

rolex.com

Ulysse Nardin UFO Table Clock 

The dive watch specialist is celebrating its 175th anniversary, a milestone it marks with the Unidentified Floating Object, geddit? The table clock is said to contain all of Ulysse Nardin’s horological history in one object, from marine chronometers of the 19th and 20th centuries to the brand’s silicon-escapement-equipped wristwatches of the 21st century. CEO Patrick Pruniaux asked his watchmakers what a marine chronometer would look like in 175 years’ time. The UFO was their answer.

ulysse-nardin.com

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph Ref. 5968G

Although the green Nautilus is certainly noteworthy. The hype machine that powers it has seen it skyrocket beyond the logic of most watch collectors. Instead, Robb Report is partial to the Aquanaut ref. 5968-G. Here the first-ever white gold Aquanaut chronograph in the khaki dial colour is a stylish addition to the wrist with the automatic calibre CH 28-520 C movement powering the watch. The 42.2mm case is water-resistant to 120-metres and showcases Patek’s otherworldy attention to detail.

patek.com

Bremont Argonaut Azure

It’s already been a busy year for British brand Bremont. Not only did the watchmaker become the official timing partner to Formula 1 team Williams Racing, it also opened a sprawling new Manufacturing and Technology Centre as part of its 19-year quest to produce proprietary movements in the UK. There have also been watches, like the Argonaut Azure. A striking blue dial meets a 42mm hardened steel case and a bright-orange strap.

bremont.com

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms ‘No Radiations’ 

The new Fifty Fathoms ‘No Rad’ offers a 40.3mm stainless-steel case (a size now reserved for limited-edition novelties) fitted with a matte black dial and contrasting markings on the hour, chapter ring, hands, time scale and bezel in ‘old radium’- coloured SuperLuminova. The timepiece comes powered by Blancpain’s Calibre 1151 –  a self-winding movement that boats silicon balance spring and four-day power reserve. The watch arrives with a strap in ‘Tropic’-type rubber, a material popular with divers in the ‘60s due to its durability and general comfort.

blancpain.com

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar

The cult status of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo continues to gather pace. New for 2021 is the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar, the slimmest example of the grand complication ever created—another world record for the company. The watch is just 5.8mm thick—not a lot of space to fit in a complication that will take into account the lengths of different months, as well as leap years, automatically.

bulgari.com

Grand Seiko White Birch Forest Hi-Beat

Forged in the brand’s manufacture in Shizukuishi, Japan, the dial of Grand Seiko’s White Birch Forest Hi-Beat has been made to resemble the birch tre-es that grow in the surrounding forests. The watch houses a high-beat movement with an 80-hour power reserve, which is accurate to an impressive +5 to -3 seconds per day. You can watch the calibre do its thing through an exhibition case-back.

grand-seiko.com

Hermès H08

There was a time when Hermès was a brand more closely associated with horses than horology. Yet the Parisian leather goods specialist has been noiselessly delivering whimsical wristwatches for several years now. There’s a lot going on with the brand’s new H08. Circles in squares, matt on gloss, orange on black, vulcanised rubber on DLC-coated titanium, a fun, characterful numeral font, and a tiny date window at half past four. It’s a winner. Tactile. Graphic. Multifaceted. Mathematic, even.

hermes.com

Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921

“Classic with a twist”. That’s Vacheron Constantin’s theme for 2021. So it stands to reason that the storied horologist would choose this year to revive one the most avant-garde timepieces. It helps that the diagonal-dial Reference 11677 is celebrating its centenary. Three faithfully reinterpreted versions have been revealed, including a dazzling 40mm white gold edition. True to the original, the timepiece features a manually-wound movement housed in a case that’s just 8mm thick.

vacheron-constantin.com

Cartier Tank Must

Based on the Tank Louis Cartier of 1922, the original Tank Must debuted in 1977 with a rectangular case and a mechanical hand-wound movement. Well, now the Must is back, replacing the discontinued Tank Solo. There are 17 references in total, split across three case sizes, which are available in steel or precious metals, and housing both mechanical and quartz movements. Most noteworthy of all, perhaps, was the announcement that Cartier is working on a movement that will be powered, in part, by light.

cartier.com

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Escape from the Ordinary

Ponant, the luxury cruise line known for its meticulously planned itineraries and high-end service, ups the ante on their upcoming European Journeys that promise an unrivalled exploration of the Mediterranean.

By Robb Report Team 19/02/2024

Not all cruises are created equally. Ponant, the luxury cruise line known for its meticulously planned itineraries and high-end service, ups the ante on their upcoming European Journeys that promise an unrivalled exploration of the Mediterranean. From the stunning Amalfi Coast to the pristine Greek Islands, the narrow Corinth Canal to the picturesque Dalmatian coast, historic Istanbul and beguiling Malaga, each destination is a unique adventure waiting to be unravelled. With Ponant, these aren’t just locations on a map; they’re experiences that come alive with the intimate knowledge and insight that their expert guides provide.

Ponant’s luxury cruises are renowned for their individuality, with no two journeys the same. This is not by chance. Itineraries are scrupulously designed to ensure that each passenger is left with a feeling of having embarked on a journey unlike any other.

Athens-Venise. Photograph by N.Matheus. ©PONANT

In 2025, their fleet will set sail for a combined 56 departures from March to October, exploring the dreamy locales of Greece and the Greek Islands, Malta, Italy (including Venice and Sicily), Croatia, France, Turkey, Spain and Portugal. These European Journeys offer an intimate encounter with the Mediterranean, its people and culture. As you cruise in luxury, you’ll dive deep into the heart of each destination, exploring historic sites, engaging with locals, sampling scrumptious cuisine and soaking in the vibrant atmospheres.

The company’s small, sustainable ships, which can accommodate from as few as 32 to 264 guests, have the exclusive ability to sail into ports inaccessible to larger cruise liners, affording privileged entry into some of the world’s most treasured alcoves. Picture sailing under London’s iconic Tower Bridge, crossing the Corinth Canal, or disembarking directly onto the sidewalk during ports of call in culturally rich cities like Lisbon, Barcelona, Nice and Venice, among others.

Photo by Tamar Sarkissian. ©PONANT

This singular closeness is further enriched by destination experts who unravel the tapestry of each locale’s history and traditions.

Onboard their luxurious ships, every guest is a VIP and treated to refined service and amenities akin to sailing on a private yacht. Whether at sea or ashore, their destination experts guarantee a fascinating experience, immersing you in the rich cultural and historical diversity of each region.

Indulge in the finest gastronomy at sea, inspired by none other than gastronomic virtuoso and Ponant partner, Alain Ducasse. Each voyage offers an expertly crafted dining experience, from a-la-carte meals with perfectly matched wines by the onboard Sommelier at dinner and lunch, to a French-inspired buffet breakfast, featuring all the favourite pastries, fresh bread and quality produce.

Chef Mickael Legrand. Photograph by NickRains. ©PONANT

For a more intimate discovery, consider Le Ponant, with its 16 high-class staterooms and suites—perfect for private charter—sailing eight exclusive routes between Greece and Croatia, offering guests unparalleled experiences both onboard and ashore. Ponant’s commitment to crafting unforgettable experiences extends beyond itineraries. Aboard their ships, the luxury is in every detail. Unwind in opulent cabins and suites, each offering private balconies and breathtaking views of the azure water and destinations beyond.

Ponant’s upcoming European Journeys are more than just cruises—they’re your passport to a world of cultural immersion, historical exploration, and unrivalled luxury. Don’t miss this opportunity to embark on the voyage of a lifetime: the Mediterranean is calling.

To book European 2025 sailings visit au.ponant.com; call 1300 737 178 (AU) or 0800 767 018 (NZ) or contact your preferred travel agent.

 

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Saint Laurent Just Opened a New Bookstore in Paris. Here’s a Look Inside.

The chic new outpost is located on the city’s arty Left Bank.

By Rachel Cormack 14/02/2024

Saint Laurent is taking over even more of Paris.

The French fashion house, which only just opened an epic new flagship on Champs-Élysées, has launched a chic new bookstore on the Left Bank. Located in the 7th arrondissement, Saint Laurent Babylone is a mecca of art, music, literature, and, of course, fashion.

The new outpost is a tribute to the connection that Yves Saint Laurent and partner Pierre Bergé had to the Rue Babylone, according to Women’s Wear Daily. (In 1970, the pair moved to a 6,500-square-foot duplex on the street.) It is also inspired by the house’s original ready-to-wear boutique, Saint Laurent Rive Guache, which opened in the 6th arrondissement in 1966.

The exposed concrete in contrasted by sleek marble accents. SAINT LAURENT

With a minimalist, art gallery-like aesthetic, the space is anchored by a hefty marble bench and large black shelves. The raw, textured concrete on the walls is juxtaposed by a soft blue and white rug, a wooden Pierre Jeanneret desk, and sleek Donald Judd stools.

The wares within Saint Laurent Babylone are the most important part, of course. Curated by Saint Laurent’s creative director Anthony Vaccarello, the collection includes everything from photos by British artist Rose Finn-Kelcey to books published by Saint Laurent itself. Some tomes on offer are so rare that white gloves are required for handling.

The store also offers an enviable selection of records that are no longer being pressed. Highlights include Sade’s Promise, Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love, and the debut studio album of electronic band Kraftwerk.

Other notable items on the shelves include Leica cameras, chocolates made in collaboration with pastry chef François Daubinet, prints by Juergen Teller, and brass skull sculptures. You’ll also find an assortment of YSL merch, including pens, lighters, and cups.

To top it off, Saint Laurent Babylone will double as an event space, hosting live music sessions, DJ sets, book readings, and author signings over the coming months.

Saint Laurent’s latest endeavor isn’t exactly surprising. With Vaccarello at the helm, the Kering-owned fashion house has entered new cultural realms. Only last year, the label established a film production company and debuted its first movie at Cannes.

The space is fitted with a Pierre Jeanneret desk and Donald Judd stools.
SAINT LAURENT

Perhaps Saint Laurent film reels and movie posters will soon be available at Babylone, too.

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The Best Watches at the Grammys, From Maluma’s Jacob & Co. to Jon Batiste’s Vacheron Constantin

Music’s biggest names sported some outstanding watches on Sunday evening.

By Rachel Mccormack 08/02/2024

Weird yet wonderful watches punctuated this year’s Grammys.

The woman of the moment, Taylor Swift, who made history by winning Album of the Year for an unprecedented fourth time, wore an unconventional Lorraine Schwartz choker watch to the annual awards ceremony on Sunday night. That was just the tip of the horological iceberg, though.

Colombian singer-songwriter Maluma elevated a classic Dolce & Gabbana suit with a dazzling Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon and a pair of custom, diamond-encrusted Bose earbuds, while American musician Jon Batiste topped off a stylish Versace ensemble with a sleek Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon. Not to be outdone, rapper Busta Rhymes busted out a rare Audemars Piguet Royal Oak for the occasion.

There was more understated wrist candy on display, too, such as Jack Antonoff’s Cartier Tank LC and Noah Kahan’s Panerai Luminor Quaranta BiTempo.

For the rest of the best watches we saw on the Grammys 2024 red carpet, read on.

Maluma: Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon

Maluma busted out some truly spectacular bling for this year’s Grammys. The Colombian singer-songwriter paired a classic Dolce & Gabbana suit with a dazzling Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon and a pair of custom, diamond-encrusted Bose earbuds. The sculptural wrist candy sees a four-arm movement floating in front of a breathtaking dial adorned with no less than 257 rubies. For added pizzaz, the lugs of the 18-karat rose-gold case are invisibly set with 80 baguette-cut white diamonds. Limited to just nine examples, the rarity is priced at $1.5 million.

Asake: Hublot Big Bang Essential Grey

Nigerian singer-songwriter Asake may not have won the Grammy for Best African Music Performance for “Amapiano,” but did wear a winning Hublot Big Bang at Sunday’s proceedings. Released in 2023, the Essential Grey model is made purely of titanium for a sleek, uniform feel. The 42 mm timepiece was limited to just 100 pieces and cost $37,000 a pop.

John Legend: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding

Multihyphenate John Legend wore a legendary Audemars Piguet with silky Saint Laurent on Sunday evening. The self-winding Royal Oak in question features a 34 mm black ceramic case, a black grande tapisserie dial, and striking pink gold accents. The watchmaker’s signature is also displayed in gold under the sapphire crystal. The piece will set you back $81,000.

Jon Batiste: Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon

American musician Jon Batiste received four nominations but no wins at this year’s Grammys. The “Butterfly” singer can take solace in the fact that he looked ultra-sharp in Versace and Vacheron Constantin. A tribute to the spirit of travel, the Overseas Tourbillon features a 42.5 mm white-gold case, a bezel set with 60 baguette-cut diamonds, and a blue dial featuring a dazzling tourbillon cage inspired by the Maltese cross. Price upon request, naturally.

Fireboy DML: Cartier Santos

Fireboy DML’s outfit was straight fire on Sunday night. The Nigerian singer paired an MCM wool jacket with a Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet, several iced-out rings, and a sleek Cartier Santos. The timepiece features a steel case, a graduated blue dial with steel sword-shaped hands, and a seven-sided crown with synthetic faceted blue spinel.

Noah Kahan: Panerai Luminor Quaranta BiTempo

Best New Artist nominee Noah Kahan wore one of Panerai’s best new watches to Sunday’s festivities. The Luminor Quaranta BiTempo features a 40 mm polished steel case and a black dial with luminous numerals and hour markers, a date display at 3 o’clock, and a small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock. The timepiece can be yours for $14,000.

Busta Rhymes: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore

Legendary rapper Busta Rhymes busted out a chic Audemars Piguet for this year’s Grammys. The Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph in question is distinguished by a 42 mm rose-gold case and a matching pink méga tapisserie dial with an outer flange for the tachymeter scale. The face is fitted with three black subdials, large black numerals, and a black date display at 3 o’clock. You can expect to pay around $61,200 for the chronograph on the secondary market.

Jack Antonoff: Cartier Tank Louis Cartier

Producer of the year Jack Antonoff took to the red carpet with a stylish Cartier on his wrist. The Tank Louis Cartier in question appears to be a large 33.7 mm example that features an 18-carat rose-gold case, a silvered dial with black Roman numerals and blued steel hands, a beaded crown set with a sapphire cabochon, and a brown alligator strap. It’ll set you back $19,900.

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This 44-Foot Carbon-Fiber Speedboat Can Rocket to 177 KMPH

The new Mayla GT is available with a range of different powertrains, too.

By Rachel Cormack 03/02/2024

We knew the Mayla GT would be one of the most exciting boats at Boot Düsseldorf, but a deep dive into the specs shows it could be downright revolutionary.

The brainchild of German start-up Mayla, the 44-footer brings you the blistering performance of a speedboat and the luxe amenities of a motor yacht in one neat carbon-fiber package.

Inspired by the go-fast boats of the 1970s and ‘80s, the GT sports an angular, retro-futuristic body and the sleek lines of a rocket ship. Tipping the scales at just 4500 kilograms, the lightweight design features a deep-V hull with twin transversal steps and patented Petestep deflectors that help it slice through the waves with ease. In fact, Mayla says the deflectors decrease energy usage by up to 35 percent while ensuring a more efficient planing.

The range-topping GT can reach 185 kph. MAYLA

The GT is also capable of soaring at breakneck speeds, with the option of a gas, diesel, electric, or hybrid powertrain. The range-topping GTR-R model packs dual gas-powered engines that can churn out 3,100 hp for a top speed of more than 100 knots (185 kph). At the other, more sustainable end of the spectrum, the E-GT is fitted with an electric powertrain that can produce 2,200 horses for a max speed of 50 knots. The hybrid E-GTR pairs that same electric powertrain with a 294 kilowatt diesel engine for a top speed of 60 knots (111 km/h/69 mph). (The GT in the water at Boot sported two entry-level V8s good for 650 hp and a top speed of over 70 knots.)

The GT is suitable for more than just high-speed jaunts, of course. The multipurpose cockpit, which can accommodate up to eight passengers, features a sundeck with sliding loungers, a wet bar and BBQ, and a foldaway dining table for alfresco entertaining. Further toward the stern, a beach club sits atop a garage with an electric transom door.

The garage has an electric transom door. MAYLA

The GT is even fit for overnight stays. Below deck lies a cabin with a double bed, sofa, wardrobe, vanity, and en suite. You can also expect a high-tech entertainment system with TVs and premium audio.

As for price, the GT with the entry-level powertrain will cost between $2.7 million and $2.9, depending on the final configuration. (You can fine-tune the layout, hull color, and interiors, naturally.) Interested buyers can set up a sea trial with Mayla, with test-drives set to begin this spring in Europe.

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Red Centre

First Nations artist Shaun Daniel Allen joins forces with Chopard to create a timepiece inspired by the Australian landscape.

By Horacio Silva 29/01/2024

Shaun Daniel Allen does not look like your typical collaborator on a prestige watch. For one, Shal, as he prefers to be known (“There are many Shauns but only one Shal,” he explains), is more heavily tattooed than your average roadie. His youthful appearance, bad-boy ink and all, belies his 38 years and leads to a disconnect. 

He recounts being recognised on the street recently by a journalist, who, unable to remember his name, shouted out, “Chopard!” “I was with a friend,” Shal says, holding court in his apartment in Sydney’s inner city, “and he’s, like, ‘What the hell? Does that happen to you often?’”

Perhaps because of his body art, he reasons, “People don’t put me and Chopard together.” It’s not hard to understand the confusion, Shal adds; even he was taken aback when Chopard reached out to him about a potential collaboration a little more than a year ago. “When I first went in to see them, I was, like, I don’t know if I’m your guy. I’m not used to being in those rooms and having those conversations.”

He’ll have to adapt quickly to his new reality. Last month Chopard released Shal’s interpretation of the Swiss brand’s storied Alpine Eagle model, which in itself was a redo of the St. Moritz, the first watch creation by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele (now Co-President of Chopard) in the late 1970s. 

Previewed at Sydney’s About Time watch fair in September, to not insignificant interest, and officially known as the Alpine Eagle Sunburnt, the exclusive timepiece—issued in a limited edition of 20—arrives as a stainless steel 41 mm with a 60-hour power reserve and a burnt red dial that brings to mind the searing Outback sun. Its see-through caseback features one of Shal’s artworks painted on sapphire glass.

When the reputable Swiss luxury brand approached Shal, they already had the red dial—a nod to the rich ochre hues of the Australian soil at different times of the day and gradated so that the shades become darker around the edges—locked in as a lure for Australian customers.

Shal was charged with designing an artful caseback and collectible hand-painted sustainable wooden case. After presenting a handful of paintings, each with his signature abstract motifs that pertain to indigenous emblems, tattoos and music, both parties landed on a serpentine image that evoked the coursing of rivers. “I have been painting a lot of water in this last body of work and the image we chose refers to the rivers at home,” he says, alluding to formative years spent at his grandfather’s, just outside of Casino.

It says a lot about Chopard, Shal points out, that they wanted to donate to a charity of his choosing. “Like everything else on this project,” he explains, “they were open to listening and taking new ideas on board and it actually felt like a collaboration, like they weren’t steering me into any corner.”

In another nice touch, a portion of the proceeds from sales of the watch will go to funding programs of the Ngunya Jarjum Aboriginal Corporation—an organisation, established in 1995 by Bundjalung elders, whose work Shal saw firsthand after the 2022 eastern Australia flood disasters ravaged their area. “Seeing Ngunya Jarjum suffer from the floods,” he says, “and knowing how much they do for the community on Bundjalung Country was heartbreaking. I want to see Bundjalung families thriving and supported.”

So what’s it been like for this booster of Australian waterways to be swimming in the luxury end of the pool? “I’ve done a few things with brands,” he offers, referring to the Louis Vuitton project earlier this year at an art gallery in Brisbane, “but nothing on this scale. It’s definitely fancier than I’m used to but I’m not complaining.” Neither are watch aficionados.

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