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Thursday 9th February
Top Gear Guide To Watches

Here's why the watch world will bounce back after the pandemic

The watch world looks set to come out strong in these post-Covid times

Alright, so the world has spent the best part of two years being turned upside down in ways none of us ever expected. But what has all this global turmoil meant, I hear you ask, for the watch market? 

When the first lockdowns came, the industry was worried, like we all were. When factories closed, of course production slowed down. But now that business has for a while been cranking back towards full speed, it looks like the pandemic may even, dare we say it, have been good for business. Here are three silver linings in the COVID cloud.  

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1. A boost in demand. Nobody really needs a watch, let alone a collection of watches. So you’d think that as tough times hit, people would cut back on luxuries and concentrate on necessities. Not a bit of it. The bleaker the times, the more people want to cheer themselves up. As soon as the watch factories opened up, they found order books full.

2. Online sales. The watch market, particularly at the luxury end, has been slow to embrace e-commerce. They figured that somebody spending car money on a watch deserves the full boutique experience and the right to touch before they buy. It is still the preferred way of doing business for most brands, but the pandemic has sharpened their focus. They have finally realised that if people are prepared to buy expensive watches on the internet, it seems like a curious business decision to refuse their bank details. 

3. A sense of adventure. The watch industry has always been keen to associate itself with anyone who runs, climbs or swims as fast, high and far as humanly possible. But this last year of soaring sales has seen more watches than ever that are designed for vigorous outdoor pursuits. So while our ability to actually go out and do stuff has taken a hit, our desire for watches that make us think about adventure has apparently grown. 

There are more than enough new adventure watches to fill every page of the internet. Here is a carefully curated selection: one for driving; one for diving; one for climbing; and one designed for a bit of light soldiering.  Thankfully no watch comes with any obligation to take part in the activity it was designed for. That’s the beauty of the watch market – they can still sell adventures, no matter what is happening with the rest of the world. 

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Chopard Mille Miglia

Chopard Mille Miglia

The Mille Miglia is not the terrifying race it once was, but what the modern event lacks in high speed action, it more than makes up for in elegance, with some of the finest historic Alfas, Bentleys and Bugattis roaring through the streets of Italy past adoring crowds. This year’s rally went ahead to rather thinner crowds. Chopard has been title sponsor and official timekeeper since 1988 and every year presents participants with watches. The Mille Miglia 2021 Race Edition has a COSC certified automatic chronograph movement with 48-hour power reserve, 44mm steel case and is water resistant to 100m. chopard.com; £6,640

 

Bremont Supermarine

Bremont Supermarine

The British company is still best known for pilots’ watches, but now has a full range, including this stylish diving watch, with unidirectional ceramic rotating bezel for timing dives. Automatic movement with 38-hour power reserve. Water resistant to 300m with 40mm stainless steel case. bremont.com; £3,695

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Seiko Alpinist

Seiko Alpinist

Seiko is a great for confusing the watch snob, making everything from budget watches right through to Grand Seiko-made masterpieces. Somewhere in between is the retro-styled Alpinist, celebrating the Fifties, when it started making watches for mountain climbers. Water resistant to 200m with 39.5mm steel case. seikowatches.com; £720

 

Elliot Brown Holton

Elliot Brown Holton

For a no-nonsense military watch look no further. Designed to be a tough companion in the field, it comes with a steel case coated in anti-reflective gunmetal PVD. With olive drab NATO strap and rotating bezel. Water resistant to 200m. elliotbrownwatches.com; £425

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