Find out what's ticking in Crown & Bezel, the annual watch supplement of The Straits Times

On her: Asymmetric column dress with chiffon train by Salvatore Ferragamo; On him: Double-breasted suit with pearl and logo charms by Dolce & Gabbana; Watches: Franck Muller Grand Central Tourbillon and A. Lange & Sohne Little Lange 1 Moon Phase; Tudor Pelagos (right). PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE, TUDOR

What are this year's most technically impressive timepieces? Which dial colour made watch lovers go green with envy? How did sports watches become so popular? Can you have too much bling in a timepiece? And why does everyone want a Rolex?

Read all these stories and more in Crown & Bezel, the annual watch supplement of The Straits Times.

Things are looking up for the luxury watch market despite the pandemic


On the first day of Chinese New Year, I met a friend for drinks and noticed she was wearing a Nautilus 5711-1A.

I told her that her watch - one of the world's most coveted sports timepieces - was worth a lot of money, especially when Patek Philippe had said it was discontinuing the model a month earlier.

A few months later, she said that she would buy me a big meal.

She had sold her watch to a young Indonesian for $140,000, nearly five times of what she paid five or six years ago.

The luxury watch market might have taken a bit of a beating because of Covid-19 in 2020, but episodes like the one above - and I've heard several similar stories - indicate that things appear a lot more upbeat this year.


Marking a milestone in life with a Rolex timepiece


Despite being hardly worn for the purposes they were created for, many iconic tool watches today are more sought-after than ever.

The most coveted of these have surpassed their utilitarian purposes to become recognised stores of value.

One of the most famous tool watches of all is the Rolex Submariner.

Worn by many worthy legends from the likes of American film star Steve McQueen to reel spy Sean Connery's James Bond, the Submariner is just one of many Rolex models that have come to be associated with reliability, durability and success over the decades.


Bedazzle with these bejewelled timepieces


Sometimes we need more than just a functional timekeeper. Sometimes we want a timepiece to make us feel special and create a little razzmatazz.

Watches with a little - or a lot of - bling could do all of those, and more. They fuse fun and functionality, glamour and practicality.

Lest you think it's all glitter and no substance, many jewelled watches are fitted with incredibly complex movements.


This year's most technically elevated complications are made for watch connoisseurs


As the name suggests, complications are a category of watches that are fascinatingly complex. A special breed of technically sophisticated watches, complications defy the limits of imagination and micro-engineering, transforming mere time-telling instruments into works of mechanical art.

Besides telling the time, complications come with extra features and functions such as calendars that are automatically programmed to be accurate for centuries, or regulating mechanisms that rotate theatrically to help improve timekeeping accuracy.

Of course, these complications are also exceedingly difficult to construct, highly coveted and often quite rare - which is why it is always a treat to appreciate them up-close.


From fighter jets to outerspace, luxury sports watches draw from a vast range of inspirations


The definition of what makes a luxury sports watch has come a long way.

Back in 1972, customers baulked at paying 3,500 Swiss francs for a then-newly launched steel sports watch, believing the price tag to be ludicrous for a simple watch encased in a humble material.

The timepiece in question? Audemars Piguet's Royal Oak - a watch whose modern equivalent would cost several times more and has expanded to a hotly coveted collection offered in a variety of options spanning gem-studded models to sophisticated technical complications.

In today's world, the luxury sports watch is not so much a thing, but an idea.


Green is horology's hottest colour this year


A green wave swept through the watch industry this year.

The frenzy started when Patek Philippe dropped the stainless-steel Nautilus 5711/1A-014 Green on the first day of the Watches & Wonders trade fair in April.

It is the last iteration of one of the world's most coveted sports watches as the Swiss watchmaker is discontinuing the model.

Other brands, from Audemars Piguet to Rolex to Piaget, soon released timepieces in hues ranging from mint to mantis.

Here are some of this year's viridescent offerings.


SPH Brightcove Video
For those looking for a very special timepiece to adorn their wrist – or the wrist of a loved one – there is ST's Crown & Bezel supplement.
Take a look behind the scenes at some of the shoots featuring some spectacular watches.

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