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2021 Rolex Submariner Alternatives, Watch Collecting in 2021 & Major Watch Redesigns

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Tim Mosso returns with Rolex Submariner alternatives, watch collecting trends, and model redesigns to expect in 2021! Watch collecting in 2021 will be a different matter than 2020. Collector preferences for value, independent brands, unpolished watches, and smaller live events will drive the landscape for watchmakers and watch collectors in equal measure. All of this plus watch enthusiast wrist shots are in store for the first "Watches Tonight" episode of 2021.

The Rolex Submariner was the rockstar watch of 2020. Rolex's iconic dive watch received its first full redesign since 2008, and the result was a feeding frenzy as preowned vendors charged markups for immediate delivery and Rolex dealers declared years-long waiting lists for many buyers. The 41mm Rolex Submariner isn't cheap or easy to find, but a growing list of value-priced alternative diving watches offer instant gratification at fraction's of the Submariner's price.

The Oris Aquis caliber 400 was the best new dive watch of 2020 and a contender for best watch of 2020. With a 10-year warranty, a 10-year service interval, a 5-day power reserve, and a formidable new manufacture movement, the hitherto humble Aquis fired a shot across the bows of Blancpain and Rolex. From its quick-release bracelet to its impressive accuracy to its silicon escapement and its ceramic bezel insert, the Aquis Date caliber 400 is a $3,500 bargain that challenges the pricing logic of every dive watch between $5,000 and $17,000. In short, this is a watershed watch.

Doxa's newest Doxa Sub 300 enjoyed a subtle but effective redesign in 2020. The vintage inspired 300-meter dive watch now offers six dial color options, a beads-of-rice bracelet, and COSC Swiss chronometer certification, this is a standout watch for $2,490. Doxa's distinctive decompression scale remains on the unidirectional dive bezel, and the bezel click on these Doxa divers remain as satisfying as ever.

Many watch enthusiasts revere the Sinn U1, but the 44mm submarine steel cult watch is too large for the wrists of smaller or leaner collectors. The 2020 Sinn U50 resolves that problem with. a 41mm submarine steel case, "captive" bezel construction, and optional tegiment and hard black scratch-resistant treatments. With a 500-meter diving depth and both bracelet and strap options, the maxed-out price of a loaded Sinn U50 remains an appealing $3,120.

Finally, the Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Original pushes the limits of added value in a sub-$3,500 sports watch. This Ball diver's 40mm steel case includes an embarrassment of riches including a double dive extension in the bracelet, a COSC Swiss Chronometer certification, a day-date complication, a fully-lumed sapphire capped bezel, a dial with luminescent tritium, both Spring Lock and Spring Seal anti-shock, 80,000 ampere-per-meter antimagnetic shielding, a pivoting crown lock for security against impact, and unique styling derivative of nothing.

Watch collector trends in 2021 will continue several movements that emerged last year. Collector interest in independent watch brands will broaden as more affordable independent horology from Laine, Kudoke, Hentschel, Ming, and others moves the price point of independence below the traditional five-figure+ price points of Journe, Moser, De Bethune, and Gronefeld.

Polishing watches and refinishing watches in general will continue to decline in popularity. This movement started in the vintage watch hobby, but it has arrived in force among buyers of preowned modern watches. Watch collectors are beginning to demand unpolished watches from preowned vendors, and vendors are beginning to see the logic of offering imperfect but factory-intact cases.

Watch collector meetups and watch industry trade shows won't resurface until at least the late summer, but when they do, expect smaller regional, direct-to-customer, and mono-brand shows instead of the former mega expos like Baselworld and SIHH.

Several watches clearly enter 2021 in dire need of redesigns. Tim discusses the aging Rolex Daytona, Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, Patek Philippe Aquanaut, and the Omega Planet Ocean collections; all are due for design and engineering updates. In addition, Tim explains that A. Lange & Sohne needs more basic case shapes in its model line; very little innovating in case design has left Lange's universal new-for-1994 shape stale. And Jaeger LeCoultre needs a breakthrough product to celebrate this year's 90th anniversary of the Reverso. The 2011 Reverso Ultra Thin Tribute to 1931 should be the basis for any essential / core model Reverso revival.

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