Watches & Wonders 2021: the lineup
From golden ‘beach to tuxedo’ watches to smoked dials and integrated steel bracelets, taking stock of trends at the industry’s biggest virtual fair
Watches & Wonders Geneva (formerly SIHH) began earlier this week on Wednesday, and includes all the big guns. That’s close to 40 brands under one virtual roof and 400 hours of presentations! As suave CEOs (mostly French and Italian) and marketing heads line up to present the timepieces they and their teams have worked on for years, those with the best audio-visual experience and ease in front of the camera stand to win. Terms like ‘new normal’ or ‘deep dives’ are generously dropped before the presentations, and Q&A sessions are carefully manned. And as the days unfold, some strong trends emerge — the importance of e-commerce, for instance (Hermès had its brand new flagship collection, H08, available for retail online immediately after their launch). Travel is another theme, whether with IWC’s Big Pilot’s watches, Rolex’s releases or Montblanc’s tribute to mountaineer Reinhold Messner’s five-week solo trek across the Gobi Desert in 2004. There are golden ‘beach to tuxedo’ watches, integrated steel bracelets, the return of the fumé trend from the 70s, coloured experiments from Cartier, Oris and Rolex, and a focus on transparency in watches (courtesy strides in sapphire tech). Over the next few days, The Hindu Weekend will present in-depth stories on watch experiments and storytelling from the fair. But for now, here’s a round-up of the head-turners. watchesandwonders.com, April 7-13
Purnell laid bare
The Escape II Absolute Sapphire is the world’s first double ‘triple-axis tourbillon’ in full sapphire case. They call it Spherion, and the six barrels powering the diamond-set double Spherion movement has nothing to hide. The machining and polishing alone takes 150 hours.
Gobi flashback at Montblanc
Montblanc’s latest 1858 Geosphere Limited Edition references legendary mountaineer Reinhold Messner’s solo trek across the Gobi desert in 2004. With a sandy-beige fume dial, and a bronze case, it has split hemispheres to indicate the time anywhere in the world. Plus, the casebook has a 3D rendering of the Gobi Desert’s Flaming Cliffs.
Cotton Candy from Oris
Oris readies for summer by bringing pastels to the bronze Divers Sixty-Five watch line. With a vintage meets playful vibe, and with the Sellita SW200-1 based Oris 733 automatic movement, the only downer here is the 100 metres of water resistance. $2,750 for the bronze bracelet.
Big update at Rolex
At Rolex, the smallest tweak creates the mightiest impact. The new Rolex Explorer 36 references the size of the original model in 1953. In yellow Rolesor (a two-tone mix of stainless steel and the brand’s proprietary gold) it is equipped with calibre 3230, is scheduled for retail in May and is priced at approximately $10,800.
Belle Donati’s show
- If you’d prefer your watch news in an easy-to-digest format, Belle Donati’s daily Morning Show at around 11.30 am is worth checking out. With a recap of the previous day’s launches, the news anchor slips in live interviews with watch CEOs and editors and presents a seamless experience.
Hublot for ultimate transparency
Transparency at its best, the Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Full Sapphire is unique for its full sapphire crystal bracelet. At the launch, CEO Ricardo Guadalupe admitted it was the most difficult to create. At 43 mm, it is compact on the wrist and comes with a more complicated automatic tourbillon movement. Limited to 30 pieces and priced at $422,000.
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new Quadriptyque
Six years in the making, it’s hands down the most complicated Reverso ever. It’s no wonder Counter-Strike commentator James Bardolph took to Twitter to say, “I feel I need a degree just to understand how this watch works.” The Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadriptyque houses 11 different complications and four display faces. Limited to 10 pieces and priced at €1.35 million.
Modern vintage for IWC
The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 from IWC has a new coloured dial, a quick change system for straps and sits easier on slimmer wrists. With automatic calibre 69385 and 46-hour power reserve, the modern day watch comes with the 85-year legacy of an iconic cockpit instrument.