The Bucket List Watches of 2021

From stainless steel Pateks to light-up Langes, these are the watches we'd buy if money were no object.

bucket list watches
Gear Patrol

This story is part of our end-of-year series This Year in Gear rounding up the most notable releases of 2021. For more stories like this, click here.

If 2020 felt like the end of the world, then 2021 felt like...the end of the end of the world? Basically — it felt better. No question. We traveled, we wined and dined, we wore masks for 16 hours straight on international flights...the whole nine yards.

In the watch world, things felt largely like business as usual. There were vintage-inspired rereleases; iterations of older watches in newer materials; and crazy, experimental time-telling contraptions the likes of which you expect to find only in science museums. In other words: There was lots of cool new stuff to be excited about this year.

So without further ado, here are our favorite of the higher-end pieces of 2021, from four figures to six figures. If you've got a pile of dough burning a hole in your pocket, well, first of all, mazel tov! Second of all — maybe think about picking up one of these.

WILBUR Automatic Launch Edition

wilbur watch co
Wilbur Watch Co

Presented by WILBUR

Price: $2,700

Born from the mind of designer Jason Wilbur, WILBUR is obsessed with thinking outside of the box, creating watches that defy industry convention and, frankly, are as radical as concept cars or futuristic machines. The Automatic Launch Edition watch is one such motoring-inspired option from WILBUR, using its radical "exo-skeleton" design to display all of the timepiece's structural elements. This design choice accentuates the 3D space-frame chassis structure, including the "floating" chapter ring and the automatic movement "suspended" deep within the case. Sitting at a sizable 44mm, it's clear this watch is as much a statement-making sculptural piece as it is a literal tracker of time. Rounded out by the AR-coated sapphire crystal front and back (the latter of which touts the Launch Edition's "Designed in California" roots), it's clear Jason Wilbur is using his eponymous label to help push the wider watch conversation into the future.

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Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Co-Axial Master Chronometer

omega speedmaster moonwatch professional watch
Omega

Price: $6,300

When Omega finally updated its flagship watch this year with the new 3861 movement, watch guys and gals everywhere went nuts. And it wasn't just the movement that sent shockwaves through Watchdom — a redesigned bracelet and dial are also key talking points.

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Rolex Datejust ref. 126200

rolex datejust ref 126200
Rolex

Price: $7,050

Sometimes you want a classic, but with a twist. And what could be more classic than a Rolex Datejust? One with a green palm leaf motif on it, that's what. Well sized for men or women, the ref. 126200 is perhaps the quirkiest Rollie of the year.

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Zenith Chronomaster Sport

zenith chronomaster sport
Zenith

Price: $10,000

Though it will inevitably spark debate for its resemblance to a certain Rolex product, Zenith's Chronomaster Sport gets points for its incorporation of a historic automatic movement and marriage to one of the coolest steel bracelet designs in watchmaking history.

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Bremont Limited Edition Longitude

bremont limited edition longitude
Bremont

Price: $16,995

Featuring Bremont's new ENG300 in-house movement, the Longitude celebrates British watchmaking. In fact, this limited edition version features brass from the Flamsteed Meridian Line at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.

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Blancpain Air Command Titanium

blancpain air command titanium
Blancpain

Price: $19,100

First introduced in steel as a re-edition of a rare pilot's chronograph from the 1950s, the newer Air Command features a case fashioned from Grade 23 titanium and a killer blue dial, bezel and matching leather strap.

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Breitling Super AVI B094 Chronograph GMT 46 P-51 Mustang

breitling super avi b094 chronograph
Breitling

Price: $23,650

This is the watch you buy when you want everyone in the room to notice you: It's 46mm in diameter, made of 18K red gold, and has tons of buttons, sub-dials, hands and other eye-grabbing features.

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Patek Philippe 5905/1A

patek philippe 5905
Patek Philippe

Price: $59,140

Complicated stainless steel watches from Patek Philippe are largely rare as hen's teeth. This one, 5905/1A, is particularly cool and rare: It takes an existing annual calendar and chronograph and adds a steel case, green dial and a matching steel bracelet.

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Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Honeygold Lumen

zeitwerk honeygold lumen
A. Lange & Söhne

Price: $145,000

The Zeitwerk is a distinctive watch to begin with, featuring a digital time display with the hours indicated in an aperture on the left and balanced by the minutes on the right. But the Honeygold Lumen version takes it to a whole new level, with an incredible, glowing dial that only Lange could craft.

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Urwerk UR-112 Aggregat

urwerk ur 112 aggregat
Urwerk

Price: $272,550

If you want something that will turn heads but isn't made of precious metals, you could do a lot worse than the ultra-futuristic Aggregat from the mad scientists at Urwerk. With its digital, "satellite" display, it looks like something Luke Skywalker would wear while he blows up a Death Star.

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