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Watches and Wonders 2024: A fair for all

Audrey Simon
Audrey Simon • 13 min read
Watches and Wonders 2024: A fair for all
This year's Watches and Wonders welcomed over 49,000 unique visitors
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The April 2024 edition of Watches and Wonders in Geneva unveiled a stunning array of watch creations, earning praise from consumers, retailers and media. The event continued to captivate and astonish with a mix of new designs, revived classics, anniversary pieces, vibrant colours, precious stones and exquisite craftsmanship.

Aside from aesthetics, the event set new records, setting a positive tone for the industry overall. Beyond steady increases in exhibitors, visitors and ticket sales, the event showcased an industry unified by a common drive to share excellence and savoir-faire. The evolution to include the general public and the In The City extension has become a key factor in its success.

In terms of numbers, the event welcomed over 49,000 unique visitors throughout the entire week, marking a 14% increase compared to 2023. Among them were 5,700 retailers and 1,500 journalists, all eager to discover the latest introductions from the 54 watchmaking brands exhibiting across two levels this year. Exploring the entire Salon required approximately 3,500 steps.

Watches and Wonders Geneva expanded its reach this year, embracing a broader audience across all generations while maintaining a delicate balance of inclusivity and exclusivity within an industry that has never been more inspiring.

The festivities celebrating watchmaking reached new heights with an unforgettable evening party in the city centre, captivating everyone. Boutiques remained bustling late into the night, with the Lost Frequencies concert turning Geneva’s quayside into a vibrant open-air festival for all to revel in.

Let us look closely at some of these captivating timepieces that captured our attention.

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A Lange & Söhne

Unlike last year, A. Lange & Söhne featured only one watch, The Odysseus Chronograph, at Watches and Wonders. This year, it presented two 25th-anniversary pieces: The Datograph Up/Down and the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honey Gold Lumen.

The Datograph Up/Down showcases its flyback mechanism, precisely jumping minute counter, outsize date and power-reserve indicator. The term “Up/Down” denotes the power-reserve indicator at 6 o’clock, offering information about the remaining power reserve of the 60-hour duration. As the hand enters the red zone on the third day, it indicates the need to wind the watch.

See also: Fashion and time converge at the Met Gala

With the push of a button, the flyback mechanism executes three switching steps, enabling two quick consecutive time measurements with minimal delay between them. This feature allows the chronograph to be stopped, reset to zero and started again almost immediately, reminiscent of functions used in the early days of aviation.

The precise jumping minute counter transitions to the next increment precisely as the chrono-second hand completes its 60-second rotation. Its harmonious dial layout makes the Datograph Up/Down instantly recognisable. The twin date aperture positioned below 12 o’clock forms the apex of an equilateral triangle.

The subsidiary dials for the small seconds at 9 o’clock and the precisely jumping minute counter at 3 o’clock sit below the horizontal centre axis of the dial, forming the base of the triangle. This characteristic axially symmetric design ensures optimal legibility.

For the first time, A. Lange & Söhne introduces colour into its collection and a blue option is introduced in the rhodié-coloured subsidiary dials, luminous hands and baton hour markers that contrast sharply against the elegant blue backdrop.

The manually wound calibre L951.6, comprising 451 meticulously crafted parts, assembled twice and finished in typical Lange fashion, boasts sophisticated, intricate architecture and unparalleled craftsmanship.

Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen is an extraordinary timepiece that combines a flyback chronograph with a precise jumping minute counter, a perpetual calendar and a tourbillon featuring a stop-seconds mechanism. These are all presented in Lange-exclusive honey gold (Honeygold) and as a “Lumen” version.

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Timepiece has three timeless complications; the Datograph embodies a flyback chronograph featuring the typical Lange outsize date. Its flyback mechanism enables quick consecutive time measurements, executing the three switching steps of stop, reset to zero and start with a single push of a button.

Perpetual refers to the perpetual calendar, boasting instantaneously switching displays based on the Gregorian calendar and accommodating the varying durations of months, considering leap years. With its mechanical precision, the forward-looking moon-phase display deviates from the true lunation only a day after 122.6 years.

Tourbillon features a one-minute tourbillon with a stop-second mechanism, counteracting the effects of gravity on the going train. Rotating once a minute, it pivots the rate-governing components — balance, lever and escape wheel — within a delicate cage around its axis, offsetting any potential deviations. Completing the timepiece is the manufacture calibre L952.4, composed of 684 intricately crafted parts and assembled twice. 

Bell & Ross

When an exhibition space showcases a motorbike, you can expect the launched watches to be edgy. The Ceramic Black Skeleton edition presents the BR 05 wrapped in ceramic, a scratch-proof material that is lighter than steel.

This material is a nod to aircraft cockpits, integral to the watch brand’s DNA and aviation design ethos. Ceramic proves to be a smart choice, as it adjusts to the body’s temperature upon skin contact. Alongside its hypoallergenic properties, the soft-touch material offers a pleasant wearing experience.

Infused with the durability of ceramic, the three new BR 05 models from Bell & Ross embrace their identity as instrument watches designed for all occasions. The BR 05 Black Ceramic and BR 05 Skeleton Black Ceramic boast a satin polish finish, while the BR 05 Skeleton Black Lum Ceramic case and bracelet feature a matte surface, enhancing the material’s ephemeral effect and exuding a sportier, boldly graphic appearance.

With its myriad technical and aesthetic qualities, it’s no wonder that the watch has become a firm favourite among collectors.

BR-X5 Black Titanium

With the BR-X5 collection, Bell & Ross achieves the pinnacle of style and performance. The renowned lightweight material titanium makes this timepiece one of the most lightweight, comfortable, and resilient timepieces available. The BR-X5 Black Titanium is so lightweight that it almost feels as if you’ve forgotten to wear a watch when leaving the house this morning. Moreover, titanium boasts numerous qualities, from its hypoallergenic properties to its high resistance to corrosion. These are further enhanced by the X5’s sandwich-type case, designed to be both lightweight and durable.

The indices offer clear and precise readability, with a large date aperture positioned at 3 o’clock and a circular power reserve indicator at 9 o’clock. The indices and hands (excluding the seconds hand) are coated with SLN X1 type white luminescent material, ensuring clear readability day and night. The minute indices are displayed on the flange.

Like every watch in the BR-X5 collection, the new BR-X5 Black Titanium is powered by the BR-CAL.323 self-winding mechanical movement. Operating at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour (4Hz) and boasting a power reserve of approximately 70 hours, this highly precise movement features an oscillating weight and a variable-inertia balance wheel, both visible through the sapphire crystal caseback. 

Another advantage of the in-house movement is its rapid date correction device, which can be adjusted at any time. The calibre is backed by a five-year guarantee and is chronometer-certified by the COSC, Switzerland’s official chronometer testing institute, demonstrating its exceptional performance and reliability.

Chopard

We promised you jewellery watches, and here they are — a collection that is pure delight, especially under the artistic eye of co-president and artistic director Caroline Scheufele, along with designers, gemologists, lapidaries, model-makers, sculptors, polishers, gem-setters, and watchmakers.

Each watch dazzles with over 1,000 precious stones, chosen for their colour, clarity, and brilliance. They are assembled in Fairmined-certified ethical 18-carat white gold, structured according to a signature design emblematic of Chopard Haute Joaillerie. This graceful and symmetrical precious lace pattern embodies the skillful combination of various gem sizes and shapes — you can call it a three-way conversation between Nature, Haute Joaillerie, and Haute Couture.

One cannot discuss Chopard without mentioning the Happy Diamonds, and the collection returns with the Happy Sport, this time clad in black with Lucent Steel. The dial holds every woman’s gaze, offering a moment of respite before plunging back into the whirlwind of daily life.

The Happy Sport timepiece reveals a vibrant reflection of one’s own energy, extended through the ballet performed by the dancing diamonds: three on the 30mm-diameter model and five on the 36mm version. Happy Sport tells a tale of free spirit and joie de vivre, reinvented daily by the women who wear it.

In its pursuit of sustainable luxury, Chopard highlights the twirling of the dancing diamonds by crafting the Happy Sport’s case in Lucent Steel. This alloy, made from at least 80% recycled material, possesses properties comparable to surgical steel, offering brightness, strength, and comfort beyond standard steel. Since 2023, Chopard has expanded the use of Lucent Steel to encompass the production of all its steel timepieces.

Hublot

We felt like kids in a candy shop at Watches and Wonders, where Hublot unveiled a dazzling array of novelties. Although we equally loved them all, we had to narrow it down to just two favourites for this review. Topping our list is the Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu Sapphire, a limited edition with only 100 pieces produced.

The timepiece is named after Maxime Plescia-Buchi, the Swiss-born artist, designer and entrepreneur behind Sang Bleu, a renowned creative studio and publishing house in London. The Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu Sapphire is a 42mm watch that redefines the barrel shape, offering a distinct aesthetic appeal. 

The watch houses the HUB4700 movement, a skeletonised automatic chronograph with a date display at 4:30, a 50-hour power reserve, and an oscillating weight redesigned in Sang Bleu’s signature style. The design, inspired by Sang Bleu, features a lesson in geometry with its intricate incisions, angles and facets that unveil hexagons, rhombuses and triangles, reshaping forms and volumes with every detail. The introduction of sapphire enhances the watch’s personality with playful relief and depth. Sapphire is a material that is demanding as it is fascinating, requiring an impeccable level of finish to achieve total transparency.

Through 3D machining and over 100 hours of painstaking work, the Spirit of Big Bang Sang Bleu Sapphire boasts remarkable hardness and scratch resistance, comparable to that of a diamond (9 on the Mohs scale). Only a few elements, such as the crown, push buttons, screws and clasp, are not transparent, and are crafted from titanium to complement the transparent sapphire components and the movement itself.

Big Bang Unico Ice Bang

The Big Bang Unico Ice Bang 2024 edition is now available for online purchase only. But before you “add to cart”, here’s what we love about it.

This timepiece integrates numerals and mechanics, resulting in a harmonious two-tone creation visible through the sapphire crystal, enhanced with an anti-reflective coating. The matte black dial unveils the column wheel of the HUB1280 Manufacture calibre, a self-winding flyback chronograph movement boasting a 72-hour power reserve. The date is displayed at 3 o’clock within the seconds counter.

Crafted from black micro-blasted and polished ceramic, the case offers a blend of lightweight comfort, hypoallergenic properties and durability. The satin-finished and polished tungsten bezel provides a striking contrast against the black ceramic, embodying Hublot’s commitment to innovation through the fusion of diverse materials.

With a diameter of 42mm and a thickness of 14.5mm, the Big Bang Unico Ice Bang fits both men and women, adapting effortlessly to various styles and occasions. This 2024 Ice Bang edition includes two interchangeable straps featuring Hublot’s patented One Click system: the first, a Velcro mesh strap with a black ceramic buckle for a sporty aesthetic, while the second boasts a classic Hublot look with striated black rubber and a black titanium folding clasp.

Hermès 

Being at the Hermès exhibition area at Watches and Wonders is like a walk through an art gallery where special objects are placed in artfully designed areas. The object in this case is the Hermès Cut collection which is a bold fusion of sharp edges and soft lines, drawing inspiration from simple geometric shapes. This innovative design marries a spirited round form with the precise geometry of a circle, resulting in a clean and captivating aesthetic. Designed by Philippe Delhotal, the Hermès Cut collection transforms raw materials into timeless pieces that exude a feminine yet universal allure.

To match such a breath-taking creation, Erin O’Keefe was selected to create a design around the timepiece. Her work took us on a mesmerising and immersive, yet disorienting, journey that pushes the boundaries of perception. Her colourful structures evoke the essence of both ancient cave art and the minimalism of modern sculpture. In a unique collaboration with Hermès, O’Keefe elevates her art by creating a magnified interpretation of her creations, introducing visitors to a world where perceptions of time and space are challenged.

Visitors to the Watches and Wonders Geneva exhibition are invited to experience O’Keefe’s captivating installation, which offers a playful and disorienting journey that pushes the boundaries of perception. Through optical and sensory illusions, the installation encourages viewers to explore new perspectives and realities. Moving through the space, guests are urged to look beyond the ordinary, much like the unique angles that reveal the beauty of the Hermès Cut watch.

A beauty indeed, with its range of geometric shapes and colours with sharp angles and clean lines, this timepiece exudes a timeless charm that appeals to a wide audience. One standout feature of the new collection that caught everyone’s attention is that the crown is positioned at half past one, embellished with an H emblem. 

Apart from its ergonomic design, the Hermès Cut dazzles with its aesthetic appeal. The interplay of light creates mesmerising effects, while the bevelled bezel frames a generously sized dial with a gracefully curved edge, resembling a circle within a larger circle. The finely crafted case, with its satin-brushed and polished finishes, offers a tactile experience that enhances its overall charm. The luminescent Arabic numerals and unique font add character and readability to the dial without compromising on simplicity.

Powering this timepiece is the Manufacture Hermès H1912 movement, a self-winding mechanical calibre that elegantly displays hours, minutes and seconds through a transparent caseback. The polished hands with their openwork design exude sophistication, while luminescent accents ensure clarity against the silver-toned dial adorned with a stylish minute track in grey and orange hues.

The Hermès Cut offers versatility with metal or rubber straps, each bringing a distinct style to the watch. The metal bracelet blends flexible links with a sleek profile that mirrors the case design, while the rubber strap offers a vibrant colour palette inspired by Hermès’s iconic shades.  

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