Staged online as a virtual show in late April, Switzerland’s inaugural Watches and Wonders show saw the unveiling of a bounty of new models from some of the country’s leading horological names. Among them, these caught our eye.
When the former Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie — or, as everyone referred to it, SIHH — decided last autumn not only to move its slot on the calendar from January to late April but also to rename itself Watches and Wonders, you could almost hear the collective gasp from the world’s watch professionals, journalists and aficionados. Its rival Baselworld was already in the throes of its own existence-threatening upheavals — now, it seemed, similar issues might be about to engulf the Geneva show too.
In the event, and no thanks to the global Covid-19 pandemic, neither event was held this year. But after announcing in late February that W&W was cancelling its first-ever Swiss edition, the organisers later revealed that instead it would be taking to cyberspace, with a virtual show involving all 30 brands that had been scheduled to participate in the real-world event at Geneva’s Palexpo. As well as Richemont group stalwarts such as A. Lange & Söhne, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin, their ranks would also be joined by the like of luxury maison Hermès, as well as leading independent watch houses. Along with countless other watch enthusiasts around the world, we logged on to the W&W website on April 25, we watched and we wondered.
And from the trove of new models that showed up on our laptops over the next few hours, we eventually chose the following selection for your information, delectation and enjoyment.
Hermès Arceau L’heure de la Lune: We’re no less blown away in mid-2020 by the French maison’s take on the Moonphase watch than when we first saw it early last year. But now that three limited-edition versions of the Arceau L’heure de la Lune are available with dials made from meteorite — including this very rare “Martian”, only two of which are being produced — we’re even more entranced by its beauty and ingenuity. It’s powered by a mechanical movement that rotates a pair of dials around twin mother-of-pearl moons, which rather playfully depict the northern and southern hemispheres in inverse order. Also available are new additions to the main collection with dials in blue pearl or lapis lazuli. Although we’d be delighted to strap any one of them on to our wrist, we have to admit that a fragment of the red planet does take some beating — as do Hermès’s increasingly impressive horological credentials. (Image: Hermès/Prestige Indonesia)
Cartier Santos-Dumont XL Hand-Wind: It’s hard not to nurture a soft spot for what’s possibly the world’s first wristwatch, especially as the Santos still features prominently in the Cartier line-up more than 110 years after the original one appeared. In fact, we reckon that now it’s available in a 46.6 x 39.9mm size and beats with the thin, manually wound 430 MC Calibre, the classic timepiece dedicated to a pioneering French-Brazilian aviator is as desirable as it’s ever been, whether in steel, pink gold and steel or, as we’re showing it here, pink gold. (Image: Cartier/Prestige Indonesia)
Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept: Piaget’s ultra-thin expertise may be beyond doubt, but every year it further drives the message home by revealing a new concept watch that’s even thinner and/or more complicated than the last one. Now, however, the maison has turned concept into reality with this extraordinary 2mm-thick, 41mm-diameter novelty in cobalt alloy that’s available to order in very small numbers — and with a choice of movement plates, dial colours, straps and hand finishes in so many permutations that it’s unlikely any two watches will be exactly the same. (Image: Piaget/Prestige Indonesia)
A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus in White Gold: If the original Odysseus broke a lengthy taboo by the Glashütte-based company on the use of steel, it could be said that this new 40.5mm model, with an anthracite dial and white-gold case, redresses the balance. Rendered in precious metal, the Odysseus is certainly as beautiful — and contemporary — as it is in steel, and as it costs less than a third more it arguably represents better value anyway. Moreover, as it verges on the — dare one say it? — casual, with its choice of integrated straps in brown leather or black leather, this Lange could well turn out to be the posh daily beater you’ve always been looking for. (Image: A. Lange & Söhne/Prestige Indonesia)
IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Boutique Edition: This elegant variation on a perennial IWC theme is rendered even more appealing by the irresistible combination of a 44mm armor-gold case and a lustrous blue dial. Powering the perpetual-calendar complication is the dual-barrel 52610 calibre, which features a bi- directional Pellaton winding system, offers a whole week of juice and won’t require correction until the end of this century, so aside from ensuring it’s wound, you’ll almost never need to adjust it (Image: IWC/Prestige Indonesia)
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One: The classic Art Deco timepiece has been reinterpreted for the 2020s with an elongated steel case set with a row of 27 diamonds, all of which is set off with a stunning red-wine guilloché-lacquer sunray dial. Unlike other watches from a maison that’s known for its mechanical movements, the Reverso One is quartz driven; ladies, however, are likely to care less about that than the f,ct that the watch marks a return to the alluring aesthetic of the 1930s original. (Image: Jaeger-LeCoultre/Prestige Indonesia)
Vacheron Constantin Fiftysix Complete Calendar: Sitting right at the midpoint of the dressy/casual continuum, the 40mm Fiftysix Complete Calendar in 5n pink gold with a new dial in rich sepia skilfully interprets a handful of ’50s design tropes to create a luxurious yet youthfully modern timepiece. It’s powered by an in-house, hallmark-of Geneva-inscribed automatic calibre 2460, which offers an unremarkable 40-hour reserve — but as it’s finished so beautifully you’re unlikely to complain. Indeed, if browns and neutrals predominate in your wardrobe, and you don’t intend to go diving (water resistance is 3 bars), you’ll never need to take it off at all — and why would you want to, when it looks as gorgeous as this? (Image: Vacheron Constantin/Prestige Indonesia)
Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Bronze Limited Edition: In answer to the dwindling band of naysayers who aver that pen manufacturers have no business making watches, the brand’s head horological honcho, David Cerrato, continues to oversee collections that are as handsome as they uphold a consistently pleasing brand identity. A case in point is this new 42mm 1858 Monopusher Chrono, which draws on Montblanc’s historic Minerva associations while also being utterly current. Although powered by a Sellita-Baseed calibre rather than one from the Minerva archives, it rings all the right bells, looks great on the wrist (and will look even cooler once Patina has developed on the bronze case), and has the added appeal of button-in-crown operation. Cooler still: only 1,858 will be made. (Image: Montblanc/Prestige Indonesia)
This story was first published in Prestige Indonesia.
(Main and featured photo: Hermes