Watches & Wonders: all the best watches from the world’s first all-digital horology show
These are the coolest timepieces launched at the weekend’s inaugural Watches & Wonders trade show
For any watch connoisseur, the twin trade shows of Baselworld and SIHH have long been hallmarks of the horological world, offering a glimpse into the world of the most prestigious watch brands – who compete for the most exciting or lavish display stores – as well as their latest novelties. But with both of the April shows cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and prestige brands pulled out of future Baselworld shows in their droves, there seemed to be the hint of an ending to the watch world’s biggest fairs.
Enter the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, organisers of Geneva’s SIHH show, which was due to celebrate its 30th year with a rebrand, becoming Watches & Wonders as it expanded its reach and appeal. Faced with the prospect of cancelling outright, the Fondation chose instead to enter the virtual world to present the first ever all-digital horology fair. 30 prestige brands, including Panerai, Cartier, IWC Schaffhausen and Vacheron Constantin, chose to showcase new novelties and developments via video presentations and fine image galleries on the digital platform – perhaps ironically offering regular visitors a chance to view presentations by brand executives and designers that would usually only be available to retailers.
“As the industry’s recognized authority and advocate for fine watchmaking, it is the mission of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie to respond to the current challenges and offer to the entire watch community the digital platform it deserves and the ability to gather together virtually,” said a spokesperson.
Here, we take a look at some of the most intriguing – and coolest – timepieces on show this year, and explore why we can’t wait to get up close and personal with these 2020 novelties. >>
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication
This truly celestial timepiece is a new interpretation of the master watchmakers’ standout complication, incorporating two of the most romantic yet technically challenging complications in horology – a minute repeater and a celestial vault – elevated even further by an orbital flying tourbillon. This tourbillon is an astronomer’s dream – not only does it turn on its own axis in 60 seconds to keep ‘civil’ time, it also measures each ‘sidereal’ day, which is used by astronomer to follow the movement of stars. Limited to eight pieces each in rose gold and in white gold.
A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus
Super-fine watchmakers A. Lange & Söhne are better known for their precious metals and ultra-luxe pieces than sporty fair. But the Odysseus line brings effortless elegance to a more casual style. With a new mechanism developed especially for the line, the sporty timepiece features large-format date and day display on a textured grey dial, encased in a 40.5mm white gold case and finished with a leather or rubber strap. The brand also developed the new L155.1 DATOMATIC manufacture calibre exclusively for the new line, which marks the sixth distinct collection in A Lange & Söhne’s history.
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Diabolus in Machina
This extraordinary minute repeater from Roger Dubuis subverts the very best of horological creativity synonymous with the brand. Visually, the dial’s famous skeletonised star is imploded, with the deconstructed star placed across multiple levels in fascinating 3D fashion. The minute repeater itself is tuned to a tritone interval; known as ‘diabolus in musica’, this dissonant chord was outlawed in medieval religious music and its distinctive sound can be found in Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre. Powered by an RD0107 Calibre and featuring a single flying tourbillon and fine Côtes de Genève finishing on bridges and plate, the devil is very much in the details here!
Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept
What started as a micro-engineering experiment has now become reality, as fine watchmakers Piaget introduce the thinnest mechanical watch in the world. At a world record-breaking gossamer 2mm, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept has seen Piaget introduce innovations including a case that forms part of the movement, a unique, integrated winding crown, an ultra-thin crystal and all new constructions for the barrel and energy regulation, with a respectable power reserve of 40 hours, and filing no fewer than five patents. Not content with revolutionising watchmaking, the Antiplano Ultimate Concept also looks phenomenal thanks to the skill of Piaget’s artisans, who added fine sunburst and satin-brushed finishes, chamfered and polished bridges and a sophisticated PVD treatment to the combined case and baseplate. The concept was first unveiled at SIHH in 2018 and is now finally available to purchase.
Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Tourbillon Chronograph
Vacheron Constantin’s Grandes Complications workshop introduced this super stylish novelty, combining the precision of a monopusher chronograph with the sophistication of a tourbillon. Powered by the brand’s 3200 calibre, this unique timepiece reflects the distinctive hallmarks of the Traditionelle, including “Etagé” case and lugs, a fluted case-back, a railway-type minute track, and dauphine-type hours and minutes hands. The watch’s elegance is completed by its 18K 5N pink gold case and hour markers, hand-finished silvered opaline dial, and dark brown Mississippiensis alligator leather strap.
Panerai Luminor Marina DMLS
This high-tech and high-spec watch is a remarkable feat of engineering by the Panerai team. Dark, dramatic and sporty, what makes this watch truly special is its materials and construction. The case is made of titanium with Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) technology, a 3D-printing process by which titanium powder, sintered by a high power fibre optic laser, takes a solid shape that grows 30 microns (0.03 mm) at a time. Carbotech, an equally advanced carbon composite developed by the Panerai Laboratorio di Idee, is then used for the bezel, crown and lever of the Safety Lock crown protection bridge. An unpolished anthracite dial with tone-on-tone SuperLumiNovaTM indexes and numbers, completes the statement. Powered by the brand’s P.9010 calibre and with a water resistance depth of 30 bar (300m), this is fiercely masculine and rugged expression from the brand.
IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Yacht Club Moon & Tide Chronograph
Introducing several new models to the Portugieser line, IWC’s 2020 novelties incorporate the best of its classic components with new innovations. Our favourite is the Yacht Club Moon & Tide Chronograph, which is the first watch to feature IWC’s newly developed tide indication, indicating the arrival of the next high and low tide, as well as information about the strength of tides via the spring and neap enhancements to the double moon phase display. While sailing enthusiasts and coastal connoisseurs will find practical use, for the rest of us this stunning feature is the perfect addition to the nautical sports style, presented in 18-carat 5N gold case, blue dial, gold-plated hands, and 18-carat gold appliques.
H. Moser & CIE Streamliner Flyback Chronograph Automatic
The ‘very rare’ watchmakers have returned this year with something new – all-new. Introducing its new collection, the Streamliner Flyback Chronograph Automatic presents a new integrated bracelet, a new movement, new dial and new hands from the brand. The first integrated automatic chronograph with a central display to offer a flyback function, the watch retains the dynamic geometric curves and textures that design Moser’s classic style but, according to CEO Edouard Meylan, the Streamliner is designed to be a “chronograph which displays the time rather than a watch which features a chronograph”. With a newly developed Calibre HMC 902 developed with AGENHOR and blackor fumé and griffé dial, the Streamliner is limited to 100 pieces.
Cartier Privé Tank Asymétrique
Quite literally designed to turn heads, the Asymetrique is Cartier Privé’s most striking addition to its Tank range. Tilted on its axis to 30-degrees, this unusual watch is fantastically modern, while still recognisably Cartier. The new Tank model follows the release of new versions of the Crash, Tonneau, and Cintrée watches since Cartier relaunched its Privé range in 2015. Radical, functional and tres chic.