Highlights: Watches and Wonders 2021
Watches and Wonders is a prestigious platform for all the respectable names and brands in watchmaking. With an intense online exhibition/show in Geneva that lasted over ten days starting from April 7th, Watches and Wonders found a place in the calendars of all watch enthusiasts and industrialists. 38 brands participated, representing the best of the best in watchmaking. The Geneva show included over 400 presentations, 500+ press conferences, 40+ keynotes, six expert-led panel discussions, daily live shows, one-to-one appointments, virtual tours and more. The show also featured some exceptional creations from the said brands, some of which I shall be talking about.
The show also includes an anticipated in-person salon in Shanghai.
Now let’s look at some exquisite pieces from Watches and Wonders 2021.
Octo Finissimo Tadao Ando
Arguably one of the most successful recent releases in the sports watch category, the Finissimo Tadao Ando takes a sleek, minimalist design approach. This is very reminiscent of Tadao Ando’s work as an architect. A master of light, geometry and cement, he reinvents the Finissimo in this angular 40mm sandblasted black ceramic case design. It’s meant to evoke the look of the night sky and the traditional Japanese concept of Mikazuki, or the crescent moon on its way to becoming full.
It sports a sapphire display case-back, showcasing the micro-rotor movement and sporting a signature from Tadao Ando himself (given this is a 200-units-only limited edition piece). The water resistance stands at 30 m and it’s got a Caliber BVL 138 micro-rotor. It boasts a 60-hour power reserve with a 21,600 BPH beat rate. It’s definitely the most design-oriented piece of the brand to date.
Cloche de Cartier
‘Cloche’ in French means ‘bell’. And the design reflects the classic ‘bell’ shape. The timeless Sapphire crystal design is ‘oriented’, meaning that the watch can be kept on a desk, upright. This genius design of Louis Cartier is one of the reasons this watch is so revered. With a height of 6.7 mm and a dimension of 37.15 mm by 28.75 mm, Cloche comes in both platinum and 18k gold (yellow and pink) materials. The water resistance is clocked at 30 m and it is powered by the in-house 1917 MC. Boasting a power reserve of 38 hours at 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz), it is only available in 300 units of a limited edition release. This means 100 units each of 18k yellow gold, pink gold, and platinum along with an alligator strap.
This is probably one of the most popular unisex ‘athletic’ watches released in a while. A limited-edition piece of 255 units, the J12 Electro sports an all-black highly resistant ceramic and steel case. Boasting a 60-hour power reserve and water resistance of 200 m, the J12 has a steel unidirectional rotating bezel with neon rainbow-colored indicators. With a shiny black body donning a steel triple-folding buckle and a diameter of 33 mm, it is a high precision quartz crystal watch. It also features a steel screw-down crown with a black resistant ceramic cabochon.
L.U.C. GMT One Black
Often referred to as the ‘thinking man’s luxury GMT’, the L.U.C is a rare find. The 42mm case features a thin bezel and a wide dial. The design has a tasteful variation of whites, grays, silvers, and blacks. The world’s first ceramised grade 5 titanium GMT watch, it is powered by the in-house L.U.C 01.10-L and has a 60-hour power reserve. The top-notch chronomatic performance reflects in the chronometer-certified by the COSC for accuracy and performance (as is the case with all L.U.C watches carrying a seconds indication). The luxury travel timepiece shines through in its ‘travel’ checkboxes with its high-quality rubber strap that has been processed like a fabric.
Hermès is really pushing its everyday-watch line with this one. Unlike Hermès’ earlier watch designs, the H08 sports a more versatile design with traditional lugs and rounded edges. It dons a light 39 × 39 mm satin-brushed titanium case, lumed hands, AR coating, and an impressive 100m of water resistance. All of these show how it is an all-terrain everyday watch. It features a sunburst satin-brushed titanium bezel with mirror-polished chamfers along with an Antiglare sapphire crystal. Powered by the in-house H1837 movement, it gives hours, minutes and dates at half-past four. The straps are available in black or orange rubber with black and anthracite or blue webbing. The clasp is lightweight titanium measuring 20mm and very sturdy.
Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Full Sapphire
The Big Bang Integral Tourbillon is an exceptionally stunning piece, crafted with a cutting edge precision. Hublot has come really far with its use of Sapphire, making this both a technical and a design masterpiece. With 37 components in the dial alone (five of which are made solely from sapphire), it has been completely reconstructed to house the Caliber Hublot HUB6035 Manufacture Automatic Tourbillon Movement. Limited to only 30 pieces, it has a polished Sapphire Crystal bezel and a diameter of 43 mm. It is 15.25 mm thick and has a water resistance of 30 m. Its bridges are transparent sapphire with an Anthracite Ruthenium plate. It has a Micro-Rotor with a 22K white gold skeleton. The frequency clocks at 3 Hz as it boasts a power reserve of 72 hours. Containing 26 jewels, it is no surprise that this breathtaking piece lies in the 400 grand retail range.
Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN Edition “Mojave Desert”
The desert theme shines through in these sand-colored ceramic cases, dark brown dials, sand-colored hands, sand-colored rubber straps with textile inlay. Both these watches have earned the ‘Big’ in their names for sure. The three-hand reference IW506003 measures 46mm in diameter and 14.6mm in thickness, while the perpetual calendar reference IW503004 measures 46.5mm in diameter and 15.6mm in thickness. The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Edition “Mojave Desert” is powered by the IWC 52615 movement. And the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Edition “Mojave Desert” is powered by the IWC 52110 movement. Both also boast of an impressive 7-day power reserve and 4 Hz frequency. The two watches feature a reserve indication at the 3 o clock position. The former dons 54 jewels, while the latter has 31 jewels.
The Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185
It is hard for a brand to claim the insane longevity and robustness of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. It is the world’s first four-faced wrist-watch with a very comprehensible lunar cycle indicator. It allows 11 complications to be displayed in a compact and sleek watch design. The lower flap also features an incredible astronomic suite that claims to not need any adjustments for 1,111 years.
The incredible technical specifications do not hold a candle to the traditional luxury watch design at all. This is one of the few watches that truly classify themselves in the ultra-high-end Haute Horlogerie. It houses a powerful manually wound Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 185 movement that gives 50 hours of power. The water resistance on this is 30 m with a tiny case dimension of 51.2 x 31 mm. Crafted in white gold with blue alligator straps, it has only 10 pieces around the world, making this retail for a whopping $1.35 million.
Tambour Carpe Diem
A daringly dark watch design featuring a skull motif, this is arguably one of the most graphic luxury dials out there. It is powered by an LV 525 Calibre hand-wound mechanical movement, giving 21,600 oscillations per hour. With a good 100 hours of power reserve, 4 animations, jumping hour, retrograde minute hand, power reserve indicator and 426 components, this is easily a technically competent timepiece. It features an 18K pink gold case and horns with an 18K pink gold hand-carved crown with a push-piece set and 2 rubies. Measuring 46.8 mm in diameter and 14.42 mm thickness, it has a domed anti-reflection sapphire crystal. Along with 48 jewels and a black alligator strap, it also classifies as a half-million valued timepiece.
1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 18
Being marketed as a sporty watch, it comes in a distinct 18k Lime Gold case. Powered by Movement: MB M16.31 gives 50 hours of power reserve and a 2.5 Hz frequency. It’s got a water resistance of 30m and a split-seconds chronograph. The limited-edition has 18 pieces with a green alligator strap.
Luminor Chrono Monopulsante GMT Blu Notte
Presented in 2007, the P.2004 is the brand’s first in-house chronograph movement that stays powered for eight days. It is 13” ¾ in diameter with 8.2mm thickness and it features a column-wheel with a vertical clutch. It stars a dial with satiné Soleil finishing, sandwich structure, with Arabic numerals and indexes in white Super-LumiNovaTM (green luminescence). The impressive 100 m water resistance, 321 components, matte black ceramic and 29 jewels make it a great buy.
Nautilius 5711 Olive Green
Patek Philippe calls it is their “sunburst olive-green” face and it combines an iconic horizontally-embossed dial with applied gold markers and matching hands. For every watch, the manual work involved requires 55 individual finishing steps. The water resistance is 120 meters and it is powered by the self-winding Calibre 26-330 S C movement. The shape of the bezel and case is emphasized with a row of 32 Top Wesselton baguette diamonds crafted to a trapezoidal shape. The hour markers and the slightly rounded baton hands in white gold are coated with a luminous compound and assure excellent legibility at any time of day or night. It comes in both white gold and rose gold straps.
It is now released in four new versions: 18k rose gold, white gold, and 2 high jewelry watches. The specifications are pretty similar, apart from the jewelry and craftsmanship of each. It measures 42mm in diameter with 6.5mm of thickness. With a stainless steel case, brushed and polished sapphire crystals and a 30m water-resistant body, it houses an in-house Calibre Piaget 1200S (automatic micro-rotor). This powers it for 44 hours. Along with 25 jewels and 189 components, it also has a versatile steel/alligator strap.
Aquaracer Professional 300
With a good 43 mm diameter and a steel or titanium case, it features a 12-sided bezel with serrated edge. The crown guards are made of brushed and polished steel or sandblasted titanium and enclosed in a case back decorated with a diving helmet. Featuring sapphire crystal with cyclops, it claims to be 300m water-resistant. Powered by a Calibre 5 (Sellita SW200-1 base), it gives 4Hz frequency (28,800vph) and an average 38h power reserve.
Diver x Skeleton
Ulysse Nardin combined the boldness of the Diver and the mechanics of Skeleton in this merger launch of 175 limited edition pieces. It features large semi-floating hour markers with blue PVD center bridges (with orange details) and blue PVD luminously coated hands. Having a 44mm diameter and a stainless steel dial, it features a concave PVD blue unidirectional bezel with Carbonium inlay. It has a water resistance of 200m. It houses an in-house Calibre UN-317 and orange/blue rubber straps.
Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Sky Chart Leo Constellation
It’s an iconic blue timepiece crafted with a lot of finesse. It has a hand-wound mechanical calibre 2755, and a dial measuring 33.9mm x 9.4mm which gives 18,000 vibrations per hour and a 58h power reserve. It’s made of 413 parts and 38 jewels, and features an alligator strap on a gold folding buckle and retails for somewhere close to a million dollars.
Defy 21 Spectrum
The Defy Spectrum comes in a myriad of colors but has the same specifications throughout. Powered by a Calibre El Primero 9004, and a chronometer-certified by TIME LAB, it measures 32.80mm. It gives a 50h power reserve and features a dual regulating organ, for timekeeping (36,000vph or 5Hz), one for the chronograph (360,000vph or 50Hz). The time units one include hours, minutes, small seconds, linear power reserve, chronograph with 1-second central hand (measuring the 1/100th of a second), 60-second and 30-minute counters. The rim alone is encrusted with 53 jewels.