Finally, after two years of digital unveilings of the world’s most luxurious watches, Roberta Naas got to go live and hands on at the Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022 show. And it seems that time is not standing still any longer.
At the recent Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022 exhibition, nearly 40 brands came together under one roof to showcase their newest timepieces: watches that will be setting wrist trends for the entire year. On one side of the exhibition space at the Pal Expo convention center, Richemont brands such as Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Cartier, IWC and others set up lavish boutiques, as did other luxury brands like Parmigiani Fleurier and Hermes.
On the opposite side of the space, down a long hallway where the independent brands resided, a host of newcomers to this show brought their booths from the now-defunct Baselworld show. Among them: Rolex, Patek Philippe, Tudor, Chanel, Grand Seiko, Oris and the LVMH brands, Hublot, Zenith and Tag Heuer.
Excitement was in the air as brands met to discuss important topics such as transparency and sustainability, and as many released world-first watches and spectacular evolutions of collector favorites. Here we take a look at some of the highlights. Stay tuned for more highlights in our upcoming Top Watches feature.
Hublot Purple Sapphire
Accomplishing color in sapphire watches is one of the most difficult feats – often requiring years of research and development when it comes to creating the actual raw material. Luckily, Hublot has its own materials and metallurgy lab in its R&D department in Nyon, Switzerland, where it conducts its research and creates the materials.
The brand has already mastered red, yellow, blue, green and even orange. Now, a regal hue of purple makes its debut in the Big Bang Automatic Tourbillon Purple Sapphire (pictured above). Without a dial, the watch’s many movement parts and tourbillon escapement are visible to the wearer. Just 50 pieces will be made.
Always taking design inspiration from the past and making it thoroughly modern, Cartier strikes a chord with women this year with the unveiling of its Cartier Libra watch, inspired by the rock crystal and diamond Cartier bracelet silver screen actress Gloria Swanson wore in the 1930s.
The magnificent new watch comes in three versions and is entirely gem set in pyramid format with springs that enable the watch to turn over and not show a watch dial or turn around and show its watch dial.
This reversible version in 18-karat rose gold is set with 759 brilliant-cut diamonds (13.28 carats), 58 sapphires, 87 black spinels, 54 chrysoprase and other stones. It is powered by a quartz movement.
Price on request, cartier.com
Long known for its pilot watches and their evolutions, IWC Schaffhausen is all about creating rugged, durable materials that can go the distance with its active wearers. Ceramic, which is lightweight and scratch-resistant, is one of the materials this brand favors for its variety of pilot watches.
Now, the brand unveils two new Top Gun Pilot watches in either Lake Tahoe white or in Woodland Green ceramic. This is no easy feat. Creating a new color of ceramic takes a great deal of time – often more than a year – to accomplish the right hue.
In this instance, IWC works with Pantone colors. Via a zirconium oxide ceramic powder that is mixed with metallic oxides, the perfect hue is achieved. In this case, a woodsy green that is great for camouflage. Just 1,000 pieces of the 45.5mm ceramic watch will be made annually.
Taking its beloved Polaris collection to new heights, Jaeger-LeCoultre releases the Polaris Perpetual Calendar watch. it houses the new Caliber 868AA, an updated version of its 2013 perpetual calendar movement that now offers a retrograde display of the Southern Hemisphere moon phases and the moon phases in the Northern Hemisphere.
The 42mmm watch boasts date, month and day indications on subsidiary dials. While this is a coveted complication that displays a lot of information, the 42mm watch looks clean and uncluttered. It exudes a somewhat sporty appeal in the dark thanks to luminescent-coated hands and markers.
A new twist in watchmaking, Parmigiani Fleurier uses the impressive Rattrapante function (basically a “catch up” hand) usually found in chronographs in its newest Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante watch. Essentially, one hand is tucked beneath another hand and shows itself when the wearer wants to track time in a local and home destination at once time. When the wearer returns home and no longer needs the additional time zone, with the push of a button, the hand immediately catches up with the local time hand and tucks itself away again.
Even more impressive, the hand returns to “home base” either clockwise or counter-clockwise – whichever direction is closest to the other hour hand. The 40mm watch is powered by the automatic PF051 mechanical movement chocked with 207 parts. The watch is crafted in stainless steel with an integrated steel bracelet and a platinum knurled bezel and a rich blue dial.
Never one to shy away from the métiers d’Arts, Patek Philippe turns to gem setting in a big way for its Diamond Minute Repeater, Perpetual Calendar watch. Ref. 5374/300P is a platinum cased watch that is bedecked with baguette-cut diamonds on the case, minute repeater slide and the lugs.
The deep blue dial showcases the perpetual calendar functions (including day, date, month, leap year and moonphase) in three subsidiary dials. An outer chapter ring is set with diamonds and blue sapphires for the five-minute marks. The 42mm watch boasts cathedral gongs when indicating the time audibly on demand.
Price on request, patek.com
Swiss giant Rolex this year expanded its Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 40mm watches – showcasing new dials and different materials. This version with fluted bezel is crafted in platinum with an icy blue dial. The entire bracelet is also made of platinum for a weighty but alluring appeal. Heretofore this watch was made predominantly in 18-karat gold. The 40 mm watch houses a mechanical Caliber 3255 and offers date and day indication and 70 hours of power reserve.
Approximately $63,350, rolex.com
Recognized as the oldest continually operating Swiss watch brand, Vacheron Constantin delighted the watch collecting world with its new Historiques 222 watch — better known as the Jumbo. Originally designed by Jorg Hysek, the new version celebrates 45 years of that distinctive sporty-chic watch.
Presented in 18-karat yellow gold (a definite fan favorite), the watch features an integrated bracelet, fluted bezel and thin case. Like the original, it also boasts the brand’s Maltese Cross emblem on the right lower corner of the case.
It is powered by the in-house-made self-winding Caliber 2455/2 with an oscillating weight engraved with the original 222 logo. The case back is transparent sapphire crystal to allow for viewing of the movement.