This just in from Watches & Wonders 2020: beautiful shapes from Cartier; technical finesse from Vacheron Constantin; Panerai salutes an icon; Montblanc ups the style factor; and IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Hermès focus on their core strengths
Watches & Wonders enters its 28th year in 2020 with a completely new approach sparked by the onset of COVID-19 earlier in January. In early March, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) cancelled the event, as did all other watch fairs around the world.
But the FHH worked fast to come up with a coordinated digital presentation for its participating brands, making this an e-fair to remember.
As of 25th April, 12am Singapore time, Watches & Wonders brand partners released their 2020 novelties. Some went ahead with a strong and exciting portfolio, while others were tentative to unveil much more than a modest range of new timepieces.
Here are our top picks from the show:
The maison has been on a roll ever since it reintroduced the Cartier Privé line. Reclaiming its leading position with quintessential gent’s watches. Collectors love how Cartier went back to its core values of shapes, elegance, and art. Several iconic timepieces have consistently returned to the Cartier line up. This year the Pasha makes a glorious comeback. Also making big headlines is the Tank Asymétrique and Santos Dumont.
Star of the show: Tank Asymétrique Skeleton
Covering all, if not most of its bases, Vacheron Constantin offers stunning complications for both men and women.
After reintroducing the Égerie earlier in the year, the manufacture continues with its stalwarts: Overseas, Traditionnelle, and Les Cabinotiers. Incredible feats of technical mastery across all lines assert Vacheron Constantin’s leadership in fine watchmaking. But of course we know that already.
Star of the show: Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Split Second Chronograph – Tempo
You don’t need to be an actual mountaineer to appreciate what Montblanc has done with the 1858 collection – everyone remembers the Geosphere that is unique to the brand. This year, Montblanc gets inspiration from the ice-blue world of glaciers, running water, and snow-capped peaks. But the sartorially savvy crowd hasn’t been forgotten. A strong lineup of distinctive colours paired with striking details are ready to woo the vintage lovers.
Star of the show: 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 100
It’s the year of the Luminor for Panerai, and the brand has taken the word luminosity really seriously. The Italian brand with a Swiss heart also spent a lot of time in laboratories in the past years. After Carbotech, Goldtech, BMG-Steel and DMLS titanium comes Fibratech. A new high-tech composite based on basalt fibre, which apparently is more eco-sustainable – very woke.
Star of the show: Luminor Marina Fibratech PAM1663
It’s always inspiring to see how Hermès approaches watchmaking with its artistic and design-savvy sensibilities. This year it’s all about the fine touches, very expressive timepieces, métiers d’art with a creative eye. Both men and women would be pleased with what the French luxury house had come up with. We especially love the Cape Cod Martelée, which is such a simple but sensuous timepiece.
Star of the show: Cape Cod Martelée
A key celebratory moment for Piaget in 2020 is the realisation of the Altiplano Ultimate Concept as a commercial piece. It took them six years of hard work and R&D to achieve this, so mad props to Chabi Nouri and team. Meanwhile in the women’s universe, the maison is having lots of fun “painting” with precious and ornamental stones, combining colour and gold in the most exceptional ways.
Star of the show: Limelight Gala with palace decor and blue enamel
Go big or go home. This has been the overarching theme for all Roger Dubuis creations every year, and 2020 is no exception. But now you could also add “see and be seen” to the fray, as the creative juggernaut experiments with new processes, new materials, and new expressions of luxury watchmaking. Word of the year for Roger Dubuis? LumiSuperBiwiNova.
Star of the show: Excalibur Twofold
A beloved icon of IWC gets a complete overhaul. The Portugieser and its offshoot, the Portugieser Yacht Club, takes the spotlight in 2020. We love how the new Portugieser Chronograph moves closer to its original design, yet is enlivened by bright new colours. The perpetual calendar also re-emerged with a cleaner aesthetic, although the biggest must-see is undoubtedly the Portugieser Yacht Club Moon & Tide.
Star of the show: Portugieser Yacht Club Moon & Tide
A ’90s classic takes centre stage, but with touches inspired by the glorious ’50s, and watchmaking techniques from the 21st century. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control takes us back to the heydays when the manufacture made very sober, very performance-oriented timepieces for the discerning gentleman.
Star of the show: Master Control Chronograph Calendar
Stainless sports watches on integrated bracelets have a huge following in the watch community, and now Laurent Ferrier joins the fray with the Grand Sport Tourbillon. At first it seems a little out of character for this classical brand. But as independent watchmakers are often wont to search within themselves for watchmaking inspiration, so has Ferrier recalled his motor racing days at the 24 Hours of Lemans from the ’70s.
A. Lange & Söhne
It’s undoubtedly a quiet year for the German manufacture, with just two key launches, at least for now. The Odysseus is back and goes the way of many luxury sports watches, offering a white gold case and a choice of rubber strap. Meanwhile, the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater might find new fans with its striking blue coat.