Watches & Wonders 2021: the best timepieces from the Geneva watch show
From 98% recyclable dive watches to record-breaking four-faced designs, W&W Geneva was the most extraordinary edition of the watch show yet
Watches & Wonders, the extravagant watch showcase formerly known as SIHH, drew to a close on Tuesday after an action-packed five-day extravaganza which saw some of the most spectacular designs we have yet seen at the festival.
W&W's second online-only edition, broadcast live from the shores of Lake Geneva, featured the latest jaw-dropping novelties from the world's most prestigious watch brands, presented and debuted in sleek video packages for the watching world at home.
Here, Tempus takes a look at the best timepieces to debut at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2021, ahead of the Shanghai edition of the show which begins this week.
JAEGER-LECOULTRE REVERSO HYBRIS MECHANICA CALIBRE 185
The showstopping moment of the opening day was Jaeger-LeCoultre's launch of the Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185, a groundbreaking feat of horology six long years in the making.
This is the world’s first wristwatch with four functioning display faces - a feat which has seen it rack up a remarkable 12 patents and 11 complications - and an intricate design featuring three separate displays of lunar information and the ability to predict the next global incidence of astronomical events such as supermoons and eclipses. The design is also a celebration of 90 years of the Reverso line, originally launched in 1931.
The watch comes with a hefty price tag - around £1.17m - and is limited to just 10 pieces.
SLIM D’HERMES C’EST LA FÊTE
A bold, striking engraved edition of the Slim d’Hermès watch created by Philippe Delhotal in 2015, the C'est La Fête features dashes of blues and bronzes and integrates the famous theme of the silk scarf of the same name.
The dial was crafted by inserting gold or silver leaf paillons between layers of enamel to create a variety of light, transparency and relief effects, sit snugly next to the motif of the skeletons of a horseman and his steed in gold. Housed within is the Manufacture Hermès H1950 self-winding movement.
Only eight of these stunning watches have gone to production, with prices available on request.
PANERAI SUBMERSIBLE ELAB-IDTM
A watch which Panerai describes as its "most disruptive offering yet", the Submersible eLAB-IDTM was officially unveiled this week as the watch with the highest percentage of recycled-based material ever made. Marking the start of the brand's foray into eco-friendly solutions, a total of 98.6% of this model's weight comes from materials made from recycled elements, including its case, sandwich dial and bridges, all while retaining Panerai's penchant for snappy aesthetics.
By launching the Submersible eLAB-IDTM, Panerai also issued a stark call to arms to other watch manufacturers the world over, with Panerai CEO
Jean-Marc Pontroué stating: “We will be very happy if all our peers in Switzerland and around the world get in touch with the same suppliers to use the same materials.
“We don’t want to be the only one doing this,” he added, “Acting alone won’t save the world.”
TAG HEUER AQUARACER PROFESSIONAL 300
TAG Heuer has launched the Aquaracer Professional 300, a reintroduction of the Aquaracer line complete with a bright new look and new materials.
To hear Tag Heuer tell it, the Aquaracer legacy began with the Heuer Ref. 844, a divers’ watch released in 1978 and featuring a memorable dial design with a red 24-hour scale, prominent lume-filled hour markers and a rotating divers’ bezel with a crystal-clear minutes scale for safely timing dives. Since 1983, the collection has offered a unidirectional rotating bezel, a screw-down crown, water resistance to at least 200 metres, luminous markings, a sapphire glass and a double safety clasp, and since 2004 has been issued under the name Aquaracer.
This new model, however, is a faithful redesign of the original 1978 edition, and serves as a fitting tribute to TAG Heuer's pedigree when it comes to world-class dive watches.
ZENITH DEFY 21 SPECTRUM
Zenith's classic DEFY El Primero 21, with its 1/100th of a second chronograph calibre that beats at a rate of 50Hz (360’000 VpH), has been given a vibrant makeover with the DEFY 21 Spectrum series.
But where one might expect the watchmaker to go the usual route of introducing a striking coloured dial, Zenith has upended expectations by instead incorporating bright tones everywhere except the dial. These five new models all feature a 44mm stainless steel case embellished with 288 brilliant-cute white diamonds, and feature a bezel with 44 coloured gemstones to match the strap and movement; green tsavorites for the green edition, orange sapphires for the orange edition, blue sapphires for the blue edition, amethyst garnets for the purple edition, and black spinels for the black edition.
VACHERON CONSTANTIN MÉTIERS D'ART TRIBUTE TO GREAT EXPLORERS
A pure aesthetic treat, Vacheron Constantin's Metiers d’Art Tribute to Great Explorers is a gorgeous introduction to the watchmaker's arsenal, featuring maps retracing the famous epic journeys of the great 15th century explorers who sailed to the New World. Through this new series of three ten-piece limited editions, the Métiers d'Art Tribute pays tribute to Bartolomeu Dias, Vasco da Gama and Pedro Álvares Cabral, three of the most prominent explorers of the era.
The three Métiers d'Art Tribute to great explorers models are powered by in-house Calibre 1120 AT. This movement is distinguished first and foremost by its 5.45 mm thinness enabling the 41 mm-diameter 4N pink gold case to maintain a trim 11.68 mm overall thickness guaranteeing an elegant appearance on the wrist.
A LANGE & SÖHNE TRIPLE SPLIT
The Triple Split, debuted in 2018, was lauded as the only split-seconds chronograph to measure additive and comparative times for up to 12 hours. A Lange & Söhne’s newest expression of this ground-breaking watch is presented in a stylish pink-gold case, blue dial and rhodié-coloured subsidiary dials, and is limited to just 100 timepieces.
An ingenious contrast of material and colour makes it easy to clearly interpret the wealth of information displayed on the dial and assign each of the 10 hands to specific functions. The extension of the rattrapante function to the hour counter allows the wearer to compare the times of two opponents in a Formula 1 race, a Tour de France stage, or a marathon – and all in inimitable style.
ARNOLD & SON PERPETUAL MOON OBSIDIAN AND GLOBETROTTER
Of Arnold & Son’s collection of intricately designed 2021 novelties, the Perpetual Moon Obsidian is remarkable for its rare materials and distinctive visual look. Limited to just 28 pieces, this complication features a statement dial made from rare Mexican obsidian, from behind which a rhodium-plated moon occupies almost the entire aperture. One of the largest moons to be found in the watchmaking sphere, the piece – housed in a red gold case – a is a perfect representation of the British Swiss brand’s stand out style.
Likewise, its Globetrotter novelty reinterprets the marine chronometer the brand was so well known for in the 18th century. A large central arched bridge spans the entire 45mm diameter of the dial, and a three-dimensional terrestrial dome takes centre stage to create one of the world’s largest rotating world time displays on a wristwatch.
LOUIS MOINET MOON RACE
Louis Moinet’s journey through space combines the adventure of the Space Race’s lunar conquest with materials that have travelled through space themselves, and all feature hand-engraved bezels. The first of the set of four, First on the Moon celebrates the Soviet Luna 9 with a hand-engraved spacecraft on the dial. The sky is made of sky is made of black astralite and the dial includes an original piece of woven fibre from Luna 24,
Man on the Moon marks the 1969 Apollo 11 moonlanding with a hand-engraved and painted astronaut – the visor is an authentic fragment of the polyimide film from the Apollo 11 itself. Around The Moon depicts the spectacular rescue of the ill-fated Apollo 13, hand-engraved and enhanced with a fragment of the ship’s polyimide film, while precious stones like onyx and Pietersite complete the dial. Finally, Last on the Moon’s image of the Luna 24’s successful proof of water on the moon features a real piece of the ship in its dial, with the earth made of azurite-malachite and a yellow Pietersite sun. The collection is beautifully presented in an elm trunk.
PATEK PHILIPPE NAUTILUS
Patek Philippe presents four new expressions of its classic Nautilus timepiece for 2021. While this will be the last production year of the stainless steel model, the brand has launched a stylish olive green sunburst dial for this icon of casual elegance, which is also available with a bezel set with baguette diamonds. The stylish racing-green colour is emphasised by a subtle sunburst finish that contemporises the cult classic. The Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph is now available in a rose gold with a blue sunburst dial, while a new Nautilus Haute Joaillerie debuts featuring a full diamond pavé setting. The collection keeps to the Nautilus’ classic porthole-inspired octagonal bezel
PIAGET POLO SKELETON HIGH JEWELLERY
Following the launch of the Piaget Polo Skeleton earlier this year, Watches & Wonders saw the brand unveil four new skeleton models, each with 18 karat gold cases. One of only a handful of watchmakers equipped with its own gold foundry, Piaget is well-known for its expertise in crafting with gold and other precious metals, as well as its penchant for ultra-thin models.
These exquisite new Polo Skeleton Gold models will be available in rose gold, white gold with a diamond-set bezel, and two fully paved high jewellery expressions featuring cases and movements decorated with up to 573 brilliant and baguette-cut stones. The Piaget Polo Skeleton High Jewellery measures just 7.99mm thick, but case and flange are set with 148 brilliant-cut diamonds and 132 baguette-cuts, while the white gold skeletonised 1200D1 movement carries 292 brilliant-cut diamonds and 11 brilliant-cut sapphires. If that’s not enough, for a finishing touch, the piece is available with an equally bejewelled bracelet.
HUBLOT BIG BANG SANG BLEU II
Hublot and London-based tattoo studio Sang Bleu are unveiling a trio of timepieces in ceramic – three limited edition Big Bang watches which explore new territories of colour. Three new creations for their collaboration: Hublot and Sang Bleu are relighting their creative flame to produce a colourful new trio.
The new Big Bang Sang Bleu II Ceramic watch will now be available in blue, grey and white. Adding to their technical achievement of having successfully created perfectly and evenly coloured ceramic, Hublot unveils a watch architecture that continues to defy tradition.