The inaugural edition of The Watch Annual came out just before Christmas 2020, and now I hold the second edition – The Watch Annual 2021 – in my hands.
A project initiated and brought to fruition by Justin Hast and James Allen, it was inspired by the books Kristian Haagen has produced with his own photography as well as the great work Only Watch has done to raise funds for a worthy cause. “We liked the idea of using the year as our framework, but it had to be beautiful, it had to be from the community, and it had to give back in some way,” Hast explained the concept.
The Watch Annual 2021: from the community
For the first edition, Hast and Allen had the idea to reach out to media friends in the industry and gauge the response – meaning they did not want to make the choices as to the specific watches, nor did they want to use the (often) lifeless stock photography provided by brands.
Before they knew it, they had 40 contributors from 19 different countries for the first edition. This second edition is even bigger with 99 watches from 83 contributors (including two from yours truly) and five CEO letters.
Therefore it should come as no surprise that while the first book had 172 pages, the new edition has grown to 232.
The Watch Annual 2021: the year as a framework
Bonus content includes five entries by CEOs under the heading “My Year.” The five CEOs for 2021 include Maximilian Büsser (MB&F), Laurent Dordet (La Montre Hermès), Benoît Mintiens (Ressence), Nick English (Bremont), and Etienne Malec (Baltic).
“We wanted a spread [of brands] from big to small, independents, and group owned,” Hast explained. “This is a key part of the book – we want this to be an honest take on the year past from a variety of makers. None paid for this, and they never will.”
To me, a title like The Watch Annual would generally signify something like a year’s market overview –I was the editor of Wristwatch Annual for many years so the association is inevitable.
Perhaps that’s why I found the title unusual here – because the book is not a market overview but rather specific pickings. So I asked Hast for some explanation.
“Both James and I love simplicity,” he answered. “We really wanted a cover and a name that stood out for its simplicity and bold color, just a beautiful paper and font. We wanted some mystery behind the name, but also wanted it to say everything you needed to know without even opening the cover.
“We settled on The Watch Annual as the name, which to us best encapsulated the ‘best of the year in watches.’ We didn’t want ALL the watches of the year, just the standout launches that provided a good view on the themes of the year. But, crucially, we also wanted to celebrate the styles of images and views on the creations from a varied audience. There are so many people out there who take great shots, who have fascinating points of view, and who don’t get the chance to feel their work in front of them on paper.”
Mr. Porter hardcover edition of The Watch Annual 2021
The Watch Annual 2021: it gives back
This book is about the watch community, a reflection of social media, the watch fam, and, of course, new watch releases. But it’s also about something else: charity, appreciation, and giving back.
The 2020 edition raised funds for the Healthcare Workers’ Foundation by dedicating ten percent of the book’s profits to this organization, whose singular mission is to protect the welfare and wellbeing of NHS workers.
The 2021 edition also has a charity donation component, of course: £2 from each book sold are being donated to UNICEF’s Give the World a Shot, an organization that helps UNICEF realize its target of purchasing and delivering two billion COVID-19 vaccines this year in addition to tests and treatments in 190 countries. “It is the biggest health operation in history and its aim is to ensure that no one is left behind in the combined effort to eradicate COVID-19,” Hast and Allen wrote on their website. Vaccinaid.org has raised more than £10 million so far.
Quick Facts The Watch Annual 2021
Publisher: Birch Publishing
Pages: 232 pages