Watchmaking creativity and mechanical ingenuity packed into four incredible days
From 26 to 29 August 2020, 16 luxury Swiss watch brands will be participating in the inaugural Geneva Watch Days exhibition. This is the first and likely only watch exhibition in Switzerland after Baselworld and Watches & Wonders cancelled their shows in March-April due to COVID-19.
Taking place across various hotels and boutiques around Geneva’s beautiful historical city centre, the event is a decentralised and self-managed multi-brand show. It is an initiative launched by several major luxury watch brands including Bvlgari, Breitling, Ulysse Nardin, Girard-Perregaux, Gerald Genta, Urwerk, H. Moser & Cie, De Bethune and MB&F.
CEO of Bvlgari, Jean-Christophe Babin, broke the news on this new platform in early March. “The decentralised format of this unique watch brands gathering will allow us to be safe. Also, we have put together strict hygiene rules for all participants and visitors. No risks will be taken. Grouping the entire Swiss watch industry in a single location, Geneva, is a major and unique opportunity to rekindle the flame of the watchmaking sector that has been slowed down [over] the last weeks.”
Across various hotels and boutiques around Geneva’s beautiful city centre, a total of 16 luxury Swiss watch brands will be participating in the inaugural event.
On top of the nine founding brands, visitors may expect to discover Artya Watches, Bovet 1822, Czapek Genève, Ferdinand Berthoud, Louis Moinet, Maurice Lacroix, and Reuge, a traditional handcrafted music box specialist that’s collaborated many times with MB&F.
Presenting their novelties through the show as well as over various digital formats to a worldwide audience, these are the key highlights of Geneva Watch Days 2020.
Kicking things off on a high note, Bvlgari unveiled a strong line-up that includes a record-breaker, a tribute to Gerald Genta, a blast from the past, an extra elegant addition to the Octo collection.
The Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic scored Bvlgari a sixth world record in six years. Despite a 3.5mm-thin movement and a case height of 7.4mm, it exudes power with full sandblasted titanium case and bracelet. Calibre BVL 388 is also completely modern in design, underscoring Bvlgari’s identity as a Swiss watchmaker with strong Italian design sensibilities.
Next comes the Bvlgari Aluminium, a retro icon by the Roman jeweller, first introduced in 1998. As its name suggests, this watch is made of aluminium, as well as rubber – two highly unusual materials in luxury watchmaking then.
Of course today we’ve all come to love and appreciate rubber elements in high-end timepieces, but aluminium still remains fairly low-key. Well, not anymore, as the brand brings the Bvlgari Aluminium back in three models: a grey dial, a black dial, and a panda chronograph.
Meanwhile, Bvlgari’s flagship Octo collection gets a new member in the Octo Finissimo S, which looks somewhat similar to the existing models except that it’s cased in satin-brushed steel. Paired with a blue or black lacquer dial option, it’s everything a modern stylish gent would want in a luxury timepiece.
From the makers of the Freak and Freak X comes a supercharged tour de force. The Ulysse Nardin Blast rocks a new powerful automatic silicium tourbillon beating at a very composed 2.5 hertz frequency.
You see the familiar rectangular cage and X-shaped frame of the Executive collection but the Blast has a case modelled after stealth aircrafts. Its horns in particular are strong and geometric, smooth yet muscular.
Ulysse Nardin’s first skeletonised automatic tourbillon keeps powered with a platinum micro-rotor visible through the front. At the moment, there are four variations of the Blast: White, Rose Gold, Black, and Blue. All are 45mm with a multi-part structure that fuses different materials in one timepiece.
One just can’t talk about Girard-Perregaux without mentioning its legendary Tourbillon with Three Gold Bridges. Yet this incredible manufacture has evolved so much beyond that iconic watch, whilst retaining its unique DNA. The new Free Bridge paves a new path for Girard-Perregaux using the arrow-shaped Neo Bridge spanning the base of the main plate. Most importantly, the escapement and parts of the balance wheel are made of silicium.
Also big for Girard-Perregaux this year is a selection of special edition models named Infinity, featuring onyx dials and bridges. There is a Free Bridge Infinity, Infinity versions of the 1966 and 1945, the Laureato Infinity, as well as the Cosmos Infinity. All of these watches embrace the natural beauty of onyx while showcasing a new savoir-faire within the Girard-Perregaux manufacture.
Some watches just take your breath away the moment you lay eyes on them. De Bethune’s often do, and the DB28 Steel Wheels Sapphire Tourbillon is no exception. Playing with the dazzling light and transparency of blue sapphire, this strong yet brittle material has been integrated into the movement.
It’s used on the delta bridge and twin barrel covers, featured alongside the famous De Bethune tourbillon, which is the lightest ever made. A titanium and silicium contraption, it beats at a high frequency – 36,000 vph – and is definitely one of the most beautiful tourbillon designs in the modern era.
Mention the name Gerald Genta to watch connoisseurs and you’re guaranteed to turn a few heads. Although the brand is now owned by Bvlgari, its spirit lives on in the ultra-exclusive selection still produced today. This year, the Gerald Genta Arena Bi-Retrograde Sport enters the fray, brandishing bold yellow features juxtaposed on matte black and brushed titanium.
Notice the reimagined brand logo here which is a tribute to the brilliance of the man, who also designed the Bvlgari Bvlgari among many other horological icons. This watch combines the jump hour indication with retrograde minutes and date, thanks to the Calibre BVL 300. It’s a remembrance of how the master watchmaker had been the first to combine jumping hours with retrograde minutes in a wristwatch.
With its signature chunky case, the Arena was also the first retrograde watch in modern watchmaking. Remember the famous Gerald Genta Mickey Mouse watches? They were all done in the Arena collection, and who knows, maybe Bvlgari will find a way to revive that beloved tradition one day.
Once again MB&F partners with L’Epée to create a new mechanical objet d’art for what appears to be an ever-expanding universe of spacecrafts, droids, cyborgs and bionic animals masquerading as timepieces. At once prehistoric yet futuristic, Trinity is the 13th collaboration and a sort of half-animal, half-robot model that MB&F calls Robocreatures.
There are three insectoid legs supporting a cast acrylic body in one of three neon hues, plus three globular mineral glass eyes to show the time at any angle – the dial that rotates once in 36 hours. It’s creepy and alien-like, but that’s why we like it. And we imagine it’ll be very good friends with the other MB&F x L’Epée creations sitting on your bookshelf.
H. Moser & Cie.
A continuation of the chronograph version launched last year, the Streamliner Centre Seconds offers more of what people love about H. Moser & Cie. – the minimalist and ultra-elegant fumé dials.
This time the manufacture gives us a rich yellowish green hue they’re calling Matrix Green and yes it does remind us of the familiar green and black screens. Sized just right at 40mm, it sits nicely in the steel-sports watch category yet offers a powerful dose of individuality thanks to the aforementioned dial and elegant bracelet design.
When issued a challenge by one of its squad members, there’s only one thing Breitling would do: rise up to it. The Breitling Endurance Pro is the result of a conversation between Jan Frodeno from the Breitling Triathlon Squad and brand CEO Georges Kern, and answers the question, “what sort of watch should a champion triathlete such as Frodeno wear?” The Endurance Pro is ultra lightweight yet ultra robust and super precise.
Using resin-based Breitlight, which is lighter than titanium and yet totally scratchproof, along with SuperQuartz movement, Breitling blends a professional mindset with a sporty lifestyle, adding a pulsometer and engraved cardinal points into the watch for when you’re really going into the great outdoors. Available in a range of Breit – sorry, bright – colours on rubber straps, with a sustainable recycled nylon ECONYL yarn NATO strap sold separately.