In an ideal situation without COVID-19, we should be on our way back from Switzerland, having attended the back-to-back Watches & Wonders Geneva (the rebranded SIHH) and BaselWorld watch trade shows. These fairs mark the start of the watch season with brands releasing novelties to trade partners and the media alike.
Unfortunately, the novel coronavirus pandemic ripped through humanity ruthlessly, leaving much chaos and disruption in its wake. The watch industry was not spared; annual watch trade fairs — traditionally held during spring — were cancelled as part of safety measures. Time to Move —Swat ch Group’s showing — was first of the lot to buckle, Watches & Wonders Geneva followed subsequently, before BaselWorld confirmed its cancellation.
All is not lost as brands took the decision to release novelties within their own means with safety measures in place. The Richemont Group along with other independent brands released their offerings on Watches & Wonders’ digital platform.
Today we round-up the best releases from Watches & Wonders as well as other notable releases.The luxury sports watch segment continues to pick up pace with several strong iterations released this year, material technology breakthroughs continue to take centre stage.
It is worth noting that Patek Philippe, Rolex and Tudor made the decision to not release any novelties for 2020. The big news coincided with the three brands, alongside Chanel and Chopard, announcing their decision to pull out from BaselWorld effectively next year. LVMH Group (Hublot, Zenith, TAG Heuer and Bulgari) soon announced it will follow suit, leaving next year’s BaselWorld in limbo.
Enough talk of watch politics, here are the best releases listed in alphabetical order.
A. Lange & Söhne
The Saxon manufacture builds on last year’s big release — the Odysseus — presenting it in a white gold case with either a leather or rubber strap, the latter being a first for the Germans.
Lange’s signature outsized date and day apertures are positioned along the periphery of the monochromatic grey textured dial; the calendar feature itself comprises 99 components.
Renowned aviation watchmaker Breitling released the Top Time Limited Edition inspired by its original Top Time from the 1960s. A playful, ultramodern approach, tempered by a hint of vintage nostalgia, is taken for the Top Time Limited Edition.
Its bi-coloured “Zorro” dial, is unlike its other chronograph counterparts, with references taken from the fictional character portrayed by multiple Hollywood actors.
Once again Cartier presents a strong showing, with comeback kid Pasha De Cartier making news alongside Cartier’s Santos Dumont and beautiful lady’s Maillon De Cartier.
However, it is the sleeper Cartier Privé Collection Tank Asymétrique that we are highlighting. The elegant trio of limited edition Tank Asymétriques are presented in precious metals — pink or yellow gold, or platinum — 100 pieces of each are made.
A skeletonised version of the Tank Asymétrique is released as well.
G-Shock’s flagship MR-G MRG-B2000SH follows the path of the fabled samurai for 2020, inspired by the warrior’s traditional kabuto helmets. The rugged and deep rusted look is achieved through a combination of handcrafting and surface treatments.
Each bezel features a dragon handcrafted by metalsmith Masao Kobayashi before being finished by casting artisan Masanao Kikuchi.
No two pieces are the same throughout the 400-strong limited edition collection as shades of brown, blue and navy are used to achieve the unique colouration.
The Hermès Arceau L’Heure De La Lune was one of last year’s breakthrough watches, winning the prestigious GPHG (Foundation of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève) Calendar and Astronomy Watch Prize last year.
This year, it is presented in five different executions, the stand out being a Martian meteorite (!) dial cased in platinum; only two pieces of this special timepiece are made.
Two other meteorite dials — Black Sahara and Lunar are made alongside the Blue Pearl and Lapis Lazuli variants.
Popular pilot watchmakers IWC took a step back with its pilot timepieces, focusing on its nautical roots for 2020. A handful of Portugiesers are presented but our eyes are immediately drawn to the Portugieser Automatic 40.
The seafaring vibes are made stronger with the use of the subsidiary seconds dial amidst the clean execution of the Portugieser Automatic 40. Four executions are available, three in stainless steel as well a luxurious pink gold variant.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date is not a new model per se, it is instead revamped with a brand new calibre 899, overhauled and packed with new technology.
The technical improvements, which include optimised components and longer power reserve (70 hours), strengthen the appeal of the Master Control Date making it perfect for an everyday watch.
The 1858 Geosphere forgoes its grassland roots for the icy mountain and glaciers, clearly illustrated in the blue and silvery colour combination. Titanium is the choice of material for the ingenious world time watch, while the bi-metal beads of rice bracelet is a first for the Swiss manufacture.
The outer rectangular links are titanium while the inner beads are stainless steel.
The PAM01662 Luminor Marina DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) 44mm takes material technology to a brand new level as it is part of Panerai’s Laboratorio di Idee special projects group’s undertakings.
The case is made by 3D printing with a high power laser and titanium powder while the bezel, crown, and crown lock lever are made with the brand’s proprietary Carbotech.
The Captain Cook continues to be Rado’s focus as two versions of the crowd pleaser are released in 2020. A bronze piece is available for those craving for individuality through patina development while another is presented with 300m water resistance for serious divers.
Ceramic bezel inserts and a boxy sapphire crystal gives improved durability to the dive watch.
Attention is often directed to Seiko’s Prospex family for the value the watches offer. 2020 sees the legendary 62MAS interpreted for a modern approach, resulting in a quartet of Prospex SPB pieces.
With its styling and construction, the no-frills diver is versatile for various scenarios; four colours cater to a larger audience looking for variety.
The appeal of bi-coloured GMT watches continues to perpetuate as TAG Heuer’s Aquaracer GMT is the latest to jump on the bandwagon. The blue striped dial is a reminder of the watch’s dive roots while the blue-black aluminum bezel helps differentiate day and night.
Miniaturising is often tougher than enlarging, and in the case of watchmaking it translates to shaving off microns and millimetres. The result is the stunning Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin clad in gold case, bracelet and a blue dial.
276 components are packed into the 4.05mm thick grand complication calibre.
Obscurity is the inspiration behind the Zenith Chronomaster Revival “Shadow” as it is based on a 1970 prototype that never went into production. The Revival collection goes full circle with the monochromatic timepiece.
Microblasted titanium is the choice of material which houses the legendary El Primero movement. White indexes and hands contrast against dial elements with varying shades of black and grey.