Opened on April 7, the Geneva leg of Watches and Wonders, the world’s most prestigious watch fair, formerly known as the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), is being held digitally second year in a row. Its second leg in Shanghai, from April 14 to 18, invites very select watch dealers and VIPs.
There are 38 participating brands including A. Lange & Söhne, Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe, Rolex, Montblanc, TAG Heuer, Chopard, Panerai and IWC among others.
The luxury watch industry has seen constant speculation about whether luxury watches would survive versus smart watches as well as the second year of a global pandemic, which could change luxury consumers’ behaviour. “But the industry seems resilient. Not only have some brands shown some very innovative novelties, most have gone ahead and shot up their pricing too,” says Sarosh Mody, founding director of Luxury Watch Works, an after-sales service centre for luxury watch brands.
Some of the pieces that impressed him at Watches and Wonders are Vacheron Constantin’s Split-Second Chronograph in platinum, A. Lange & Söhne’s Triple Split, Bulgari’s Octo Perpetual Calendar and the pièce de resistance of high watchmaking this year—Jaeger- LeCoultre’s Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadriptyque.
Other noteworthy innovations are Cartier’s Cloche, Piaget’s Limelight collection, Louis Moinet’s 8 Marvels of the World, IWC’s Big Pilot in 43mm and Ulysse Nardin’s UFO. “Green has dominated in the aesthetic for dials this year while Panerai has led innovation by creating a 98.6 percent recycled elements watch,” adds Mody.
Here are some of the most anticipated and best pieces from Watches and Wonders 2021.
1. A. Lange & Söhne Triple Split
Triple Split is the only split-seconds chronograph in the world that can measure additive and comparative times for as long as twelve hours. Initially launched in 2018, it has now been followed up by a model with a pink-gold case and a blue dial. The watch can tell the time of two opponents in a race for up to 12 hours and can stop any number of lap times to an accuracy of one-sixth of a second.
Case size: 43.2 mm by 15.6 mm
Case material: 18-karat pink gold
Power reserve: 55 hours
Straps: Dark blue leather with grey stitching
2. Bulgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual
This has become an annual exercise for Bulgari. Every year, they break the record for the slimmest perpetual calendar watch. And this year, their Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar becomes the slimmest ever with a thickness of just 2.75 mm. This new record is available in two variations: A titanium and a platinum version.
The watch has no less than 408 components interacting within the extremely limited space provided by the slender 5.8 mm case. The development of the 2.75 mm calibre required the movement design engineers to devise new solutions, such as the use of a micro-rotor and the optimal use of the space between the components without reducing their dimensions.
Testifying to true genius in the realm of miniaturisation, this development powers the hours and minutes hands along with all the perpetual calendar functions: Retrograde-display date, day, month and retrograde-display leap years. They are adjusted by means of three correctors: One for the date at 2 pm, another for the month at 4 pm and a third for the day between 8 and 9 o’clock.
Case size: 40 mm by 5.80 mm
Case material: Titanium or platinum
Power reserve: 60 hours
Straps: Blue alligator leather or sandblasted titanium and platinum bracelets
Price: $89,000 in platinum; $59,000 in titanium
3. Cloche De Cartier
The shape of the watch is what makes it stand apart. It is similar to the bell jars used in the 1920s, to cover candles, when the watch was first introduced. What is also unusual is that on the dial, 12 o’clock is where 3 o’clock normally is. This means you can read the time without turning your wrist at an angle.
This year, Cartier is offering 100 pieces each of a classic version in yellow gold, pink gold and platinum.
Case Size: 37.15 by 28.75 mm
Case material: 18-karat yellow gold, 18-karat pink gold, platinum or platinum set with diamonds
Power reserve: 38 hours
Straps: Brown, gray, black or blue alligator straps
4. IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot’s Watch 43
Big Pilot’s Watch 43 is the quintessential modern utility sports watch for adventures in the air, on land and by water. The new model features an ergonomic 43-mm stainless steel case. With this version, the IWC team has aimed to return to the extreme purity of the original iconic 1940s design of the watch and create a simple three-hand watch with no other elements on the dial. Available in either a black or blue dial, it is powered by the IWC-manufactured 82100 calibre with Pellaton winding, which is visible through a sapphire glass back.
Case size: 43 mm by 13.6 mm
Case material: Stainless steel
Power reserve: 60 hours
Straps: Brown or blue calf leather and stainless steel case
Price: $8,400 on a leather strap; $9,350 on a bracelet
5. Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadriptyque
This 10-piece limited-edition of the Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185, celebrating the model’s 90th
anniversary, is the grandest ever. The watch is the result of over six years of development, combining key areas of savoir-faire at Jaeger-LeCoultre with innovative new astronomical indications.
It is the world’s first wristwatch with four functioning display faces. By incorporating three displays of lunar information on the interior face of the iconic Reverso cradle (the synodic cycle, the draconic cycle and the anomalistic cycle), the Hybris Mechanica Quadriptyque can predict the next global incidence of astronomical events such as supermoons and eclipses.
Case size: 51.2 by 31 mm
Case material: 18-karat white gold
Power reserve: 50 hours
Straps: Blue alligator leather strap
Price: 1.5 million euros (or approximately $1,759,060)
6. Louis Moinet 8 Marvels of the World
At a time when very few people are travelling, this collection, sold as a set, pays homage to some of the best architectural monuments of the world--the Colosseum in Rome, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Petra in Jordan, the Pyramid of Khufu in Egypt, the Taj Mahal in India, the Great Wall of China, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro and Machu Picchu in Peru.
These landmarks are rendered on the dial of each watch using gold and gemstones.
47 mm for the Colosseum, Petra and Machu Picchu models, 45.4 mm for the rest
18-karat rose or white gold
Calibre LM 35 with 60-second tourbillon movement
7. Louis Vuitton Tambour Carpe Diem
This watch is like a performance on your wrist. When you press the pusher on the gold case, the snake encircling the skull moves to reveal the hour. Then, the tail slides to indicate the minutes and the mouth moves to reveal the words ‘Carpe Diem’.
It took two years of development for the Tambour Carpe Diem to join the House’s watch collections. “Our aim was to get off the beaten track,” said Michel Navas, Master Watchmaker at La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, in a press release. “We wanted to bring to the jacquemart our vision of the 21st century with all the energy and creativity characteristic of our brand since it began producing watches in 2002.”
Case size: 46.8 mm by 14.42 mm
Case material: 18-karat pink gold
Power reserve: 100 hours
Straps: Black alligator
Price: On request
8. Panerai Submersible eLab ID
This watch has the highest percentage of recycled-based materials ever in a watch. A total of 98.6 percent of its weight comes from materials integrating a high rate of recycled elements. Its case, sandwich dial and bridges are composed of EcoTitanium, a recycled titanium alloy that is a lightweight aerospace-grade metal made of more than 80 percent recycled content. This is the first watch to use 100 percent recycled SuperLuminova on its dial and hands, and 100 percent recycled silicon for its movement escapement. Both are obtained through dedicated, small-scale recycling processes that reuse raw material waste.
Case size: 44 mm
Case material: EcoTitanium
Power reserve: Three days
Straps: Recycled Grigio Roccia fabric with light blue stitching and trapezoidal EcoTitanium buckle
9. Rolex Lady-DateJust
Rolex presents a new gem-set version of its Oyster Perpetual Lady-DateJust, crafted from 18-karat yellow gold. The case is set with 158 brilliant-cut diamonds on the case sides and lugs as well as 44 brilliant-cut diamonds on the bezel. The President bracelet sparkles with 596 brilliant-cut diamonds. The dial, paved with 291 diamonds, features 18-karat yellow gold Roman numerals with a black finish.
Case size: 28 mm
Case and bracelet material: White gold, yellow gold with diamonds
Movement: Calibre 2236
Price: On request
10. Patek Philippe Nautilus
One of the most sought-after watches in the world, Patek Philippe’s Nautilus was launched in four different avatars at Watches and Wonders 2021. Earlier in the year it was reported that the brand would discontinue its legendary steel Nautilus model, but before doing so, it has launched four new models.
The first is a new olive green sunburst dial in stainless steel. It is accented by luminescent hands and hour markers in white gold with a satin-brushed and polished bezel, case and bracelet. Water-resistant to 120 meters, it has a self-winding calibre 26-330 S C.
Price - $34,893
The diamond bezel version has 32 Top Wesselton baguette-cut diamonds (approximately 3.6 carats) that have been cut in a slightly trapezoidal shape instead of a traditional rectangle to match the rounded curves of the Nautilus.
Price - $94,624
There is also a full pavé diamond version in 18-karat rose gold, meant for women. It comes in a snow setting of 2,553 Top Wesselton brilliant-cut diamonds in approximately 12.69 carats.
Price - $366,667
The fourth, the The Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph, is in 18-karat gold with a blue sunburst dial. Combining a flyback chronograph, indications for two time zones and an analog date at 12 o’clock synchronised with local time, it is powered by the automatic chronograph movement CH 28-5280 C FUS.
Price - $106,452
Case size: 40 mm by 8.3 mm, 40.5 mm by 8.3 mm, 35.2 mm by 8.65 mm, 40.5 mm by 12.53 mm
Case material: Steel, rose gold, rose gold, rose gold
Movement: Calibre 26-330, Calibre 26-330, Calibre 28-520, Calibre 28-250
Straps: Steel, steel, rose gold, rose gold
11. Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Split-Seconds Chronograph Ultra-Thin
This 15-piece limited-edition watch is one of the thinnest of its kind. It is a part of the company’s Collection Excellence Platine of watches made in 950 platinum, from the case, bezel and dial to the crown and folding clasp, and leather stitching. It contains 473 parts and has a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour.
42.5 mm by 10.72 mm
Dark blue Mississippiensis alligator leather hand-stitched with platinum and silk thread
12. Piaget Limelight Gala
The three timepieces are presented in blue, yellow and pink, the colours follow the course of the sun throughout the day, with blue for the morning sky, yellow representing the sun at its zenith, and pink depicting the glow of the setting sun.
Each model is adorned with a gradient of coloured sapphires and diamonds with a darker colour around the bezel, which gently lightens around the tips of the lugs. Finding the exact shade and size of sapphire is an art in itself as Piaget’s gemmologists sift through countless stones to be able to create a seamless swirl of colour with the perfect transition from gemstone to gemstone.
Each model is powered by the automatic movement, Piaget’s Calibre 501P1.
Case size: 32mm
Case material: 18-karat white, rose gold
Movement: Calibre 50IPI
Price: On request
Strap and bezel set with 32 brilliant-cut blue sapphires (approx. 4.70 carats) and 10 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.90 carats) that evoke the bright blue colour of a sunny morning sky. The dial is created with a snow setting of diamonds (289 in total, with approx. 1.76 carats).
All prices are indicative