Features

Watches and Wonders: Timed to perfection

19 Sep 2023 by Varun Godinho
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Chronograph

A round-up of ten outstanding timepieces from the Watches and Wonders exhibition held in Geneva this year.

Rolex

Oyster Perpetual

There were so many major announcements from Rolex at Watches and Wonders this year that it was genuinely difficult to decide which one warranted the most attention. Was it the all-new Perpetual Collection with the very classy Perpetual 1908 model, or the 40mm GMT-Master II statement pieces in yellow gold and Rolesor (both offered with a jubilee bracelet)? Surely, there’s no overlooking the Daytona, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year and has introduced a new calibre – the 4131 – after a gap of nearly 23 years, or even the ultra-light titanium Yacht-Master. But we’re going to perhaps go against the grain here and select the new Oyster Perpetual (available in 31mm, 36mm and 41mm) with colourful dials that showcase a playful side to Rolex as our favourite. It has a selection of bubbles in five colours – candy pink, turquoise blue, yellow, coral red, and green. The 31mm features the calibre 2232 and the other two versions have the calibre 3230 – both of which are Superlative Chronometer-certified calibres. This is fun and serious watchmaking all rolled into one package – we’re happy with our choice.

Vacheron Constantin

Overseas Moon Phase Retrograde Date

The Overseas, which first entered the collection back in 1996, has this year incorporated a retrograde display for the first time. This Hallmark of Geneva-certified watch spent nearly three years in development and is powered by the self-winding calibre 2460 R31L/2. The 41mm case has a handsome six-sided bezel and a fluted crown. For those wondering why there is a ½ near the number 29 on the moon phase display on the dial, remember that the moon makes a full rotation around the earth every 29 days, 12 hours and 45 minutes. Furthermore, that moon phase display requires a one-day correction once every 122 years. Let the grandchildren concern themselves with that.

Patek Philippe

Calatrava Travel Time Ref 5224R-001

One of the most hallowed Swiss watch brands, and an independent one at that, unveiled its new Calatrava Travel Time Ref 5224R-001, which features a 24-hour display. While the hand-applied rose gold numerals and indices look stunning, it’s what you can’t see – the new calibre 31-260 PS FUS 24H – that has elevated this watch and enabled a novel operating mechanism. Now, the two time zones can be adjusted with the new patented crown itself rather than by using pushers. In a touch of class, the rose gold case and blue dial are complemented by the elegant design of the three hands, which are centrally mounted and display the two time zones. For a sportier travel time watch, Patek also debuted a new Calatrava Pilot Time Chronograph Ref 5924G that has a flyback chronograph, date and dual time zone function.

A. Lange & Söhne

Odysseus Chronograph

When the Odysseus first broke cover in 2019, it was the first stainless steel series produced watch from the German watchmaker and the first steel Lange with an integrated bracelet. This year’s Odysseus gives us something more from Glashütte – the watchmaker’s first automatic chronograph movement, the L156.1 Datomatic. While integrating the new chronograph function, Lange has preserved the visual identity of the original Odysseus dial and so the minutes of the chronograph are indicated by the lozenge-shaped lume-tipped hand, while the red hand is the chronograph seconds hand. For a swift restart of the chrono,
a return-to-zero reset function is activated via a pusher in the case located at 4 o’clock. The integration of the chronograph movement means that the case too is now slightly larger at 42.5mm. The movement has a power reserve of 50 hours and, in addition to the chronograph, also supports the day and date function. Only 100 of these watches will be made.

Cartier

Santos-Dumont Skeleton Micro-Rotor

The Cartier Santos, born in 1904, is regarded as the world’s first pilot’s watch. Its iteration today isn’t that of a tool watch, but instead one that prides itself as a dress watch. It would explain the fact that the new Santos-Dumont is available in three variants: rose gold, steel and a combination of yellow gold with blue lacquer. The latter is limited to only 150 pieces, while the other two are not limited-edition pieces. Powering this timepiece is the new automatic winding calibre 9629 MC, which Cartier says was two years in the making. The skeletonised movement has the rotor shaped in the form of Demoiselle – the lightweight aircraft made by aviator Alberto Santos- Dumont, for whom Louis Cartier made the very first Santos wristwatch. The skeletonised dial enables you to look on with reverence at the mechanics of the wristwatch including the barrel at 1 o’clock and the balance wheel at 1 o’clock.

IWC

Ingenieur Automatic 40

The Ingenieur is the only collection in IWC’s portfolio that has been continuously in production since its debut in 1955. For a specific collection to remain relevant for nearly seven decades, it requires a little design magic – and that was sprinkled on it abundantly by Gérald Genta who worked on the collection in the 1970s. This year, IWC uses its new Ingenieur collection to pay homage to those iconic design codes from Genta. The five functional screws on the bezel should be all the convincing you need that this is a piece that has Genta written all over it. The integrated stainless steel bracelet with polished centre links subtly trains your attention towards the dial. This year, they’re available in four colours: black, silver-plated, aqua and grey.

(Credit www.charles-elie.com) Vacheron Constantin Overseas Moon Phase Retrograde Date

Parmigiani Fleurier 

Tonda PF Hijri Perpetual Calendar

In 2011, Parmigiani restored a pocketwatch that dated back to around the 18th or 19th century and which featured a Hijri calendar. A few years ago, it miniaturised that mechanism to fit into a wristwatch. That watch, the Hijri Perpetual Calendar, went on to win the Innovation prize at the 2020 edition of the Grand Prix D’Horlogerie de Genève. This watch goes far beyond just displaying Arabic numerals and calligraphy on the dial. Instead, its innovation lies in the fact that the Hijri calendar has either 29 or 30 days – depending on the phase of the moon – across 12 months, meaning the mechanism in this perpetual calendar has to be specifically adapted to that.

This year’s Hijri edition has the same remarkable calibre as the 2020 winner, but is now offered in a platinum case and knurled bezel, which is also the metal used in the integrated bracelet on it. Also, this year, Parmigiani is offering the Hijri Perpetual Calendar as a set with two other platinum timepieces – the Tonda PF Gregorian Calendar and the Tonda PF Xiali Calendar, which tracks the immensely complex Chinese Traditional Calendar. Only three collectors in the world will be able to purchase a box set comprising the trio of watches, each of which keeps track of three very different calendar cycles.

Montblanc

1858 Geosphere Chronograph 0 Oxygen The 8000 Limited Edition 290

If you haven’t already seen the riveting Netflix documentary, 14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible, make the time to do so. It chronicles the amazing feat of Nepali mountaineer Nimsdai Purja summiting 14 of the world’s highest peaks – all above 8,000 metres – in seven months. That superhuman effort was successfully undertaken in 2019.

Last year, Purja pushed himself to the limit once again and climbed three of those 8,000-plus-metre peaks in less than nine days – and without any supplementary oxygen. Fittingly, Montblanc responded to its brand ambassador’s triumph with this timepiece wherein the movement – the automatic chronograph worldtime calibre MB 29.27 – has been encased without any oxygen inside it and instead replaced with nitrogen. The caseback is engraved with a drawing of the 14 peaks, the names and height of each, and a colourful assortment of flags flapping in the wind. All eyes are on what Purja does next as he’s likely far from done breaking mountaineering records.

Panerai

Radiomir Annual Calendar Platinumtech Experience PAM01432

The new movement – the P.9010/AC – that features in this timepiece marks the first annual calendar complication for Panerai. While the Radiomir Annual Calendar PAM01363 has a blue sun-brushed dial paired with a blue alligator strap, the 45mm case is made from Goldtech, a material developed by Panerai that combines gold with platinum and copper. However, the PAM01432 Radiomir Annual Calendar swaps the Goldtech case for a platinum one, and the blue alligator strap for a black one, with a burgundy sun-brushed dial to match. Panerai calls the PAM01432 the Experience edition, because included in the price of the watch is a Panerai-organised tour of Rome that the watchmaker says includes “events that combine artisanal know-how, culture and tours of historical sites.”

Jaeger-LeCoultre

Reverso Tribute Chronograph

There were a couple of new Reverso models showcased at Watches and Wonders ranging from the uncomplicated Tribute Small Seconds to the mechanically complex juggernaut of the Reverso Hybris Artistica Calibre 179 and even the Tribute Duoface Tourbillon. But it’s the Reverso Tribute Chronograph that we’ve picked here as it offers two stark personalities in one timepiece. On one face you have a refined and subtle time-only display, while the moment you flip it over, you’ll find a sporty open-worked dial with a chronograph function. The latter face even has a 30-minute retrograde chronograph minute indication. The all-new JLC 860 manual-winding movement features a column-wheel chronograph, the added bonus being that this is a chronometer-certified timepiece.

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