A new concept watch fair, Watches & Wonders Geneva, was to make its debut this past weekend. But the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans, and the prestigious event, formally known as SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie), was sensibly cancelled for 2020. The traditional Swiss watch industry set its calibres in motion to create a new opportunity, and the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), organizers of Watches & Wonders, decided to go digital.
Thirty brands, the likes of A. Lange & Söhne, Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and more, unveiled their novelties on the Watch & Wonders digital platform, each hosting its own dedicated page and offering insight into their latest collections.
Here are five of our favourites from the virtual fair.
Pasha de Cartier
In 2020, the Cartier Pasha is making a comeback. Thirty-five years after its debut, the Pasha de Cartier has been reborn as a unisex timepiece, available in steel, gold, or set with diamonds. Its distinctive square-inside-a-circle dial design is now available in two sizes, a 41mm model with date, and a 35mm with no date. The crown, attached to the case by a small link, is still one of the key elements, and in these new models a small area just below the crown makes for the ideal spot for personalized engraving. The straps can be interchanged thanks to an adaptation of the Cartier-developed QuickSwitch system located under the case and activated by a single push.
A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater
The Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is the world’s only watch that combines a mechanical jumping numeral display with a decimal minute repeater. This new edition for 2020 is handsomely suited in white gold with a deep blue dial. The distinctive and complicated timepiece was previously only available in platinum, and now, five years after its debut, it is a 30-piece limited edition in white gold.
Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept
When Piaget unveiled the Altiplano Ultimate Concept at the 2018 edition of SIHH (now known as Watches & Wonders), it broke the record for the thinnest mechanical watch, setting the world record at 2mm (the previous record holder was Jaeger-LeCoultre with its Master Ultra-Thin Squelette at 3.6mm). A concept watch at the time, a “micro-engineering experiment” as Piaget explained, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept is no longer an ambitious vision, but a watch available for custom orders.
Six years in research and development, the slimness is achieved through a number of design innovations. To achieve the wafer-like thinness of 2mm (approximately two stacked credit cards), Piaget uses a fusion concept for the mainplate, the case, and the bezel into one single component (a technique the watchmaker has already done with the calibre 900P). Too thin to use gold, the case is fashioned from a cobalt-based alloy. The crown is flat, telescopic and integrated into the caseband.
IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Moon and Tide
IWC Schaffhausen has built its reputation on the Portugieser, a model produced in the late 1930s for two Portuguese merchants who wanted a wristwatch with the precision of a marine chronometer. Now, eight decades after IWC fulfilled that request, the Portugieser model range is getting a makeover that includes a new perpetual calendar, a nautical sports chronograph, and is the first watch fitted with a tide indication.
The Portugieser Yacht Club Moon & Tide (ref. 344001), is the high point of the collection and features a double moon phase display as well as a tide tracker that indicates the shifting times for high tide. The timepiece comes in an 18-karat rose gold case fronted by a blue dial with gold-plated hands, 18-karat gold appliqués, and a blue rubber strap with textile inlay.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Ultra-Thin Skeleton
Vacheron Constantin perpetuates a proud heritage of watchmaking as the world’s oldest manufacture in continuous production. For this 2020 edition of Watches & Wonders, the brand presents its Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton. Vacheron Constantin has been steadily evolving the Overseas Ultra-Thin, and while the case, its proportions, and the movement powered by Vacheron’s calibre 1120 QP is unchanged—the novelty is in the bold skeletonization, an open-worked version of VC’s take on this slim, complicated sports watch. While watches with simple calendars (indicating the day-date, month) require constant adjustments for the months with 28, 29, and 30 days, there are no adjustments needed on this timepiece until the year 2100—so set it and done.
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