Instead of flocking to Switzerland this year, journalists, watch enthusiasts, and retailers are staying at home. The glitzy stands that filled the cavernous exhibition centres in Basel are gone, but, if there's one thing this a pandemic can't stop, it's the watch industry, because, while Baselworld might be cancelled this year, the adjoining show, Watches & Wonders lives on.
Originally Watches & Wonders was supposed to take place in Geneva, directly after Baselworld, but due to restrictions on events, quickly moved online.
The new digital launch event features 30 of the world’s leading fine watch brands, including A. Lange & Söhne, Cartier, IWC and Vacheron Constantin, all presenting brand new watches to the world.
The Watches & Wonders online platform will continue to be updated with new content over the longer term, with additional product launches planned for later in the summer. For now, though, let's take a look at the best watches announced at Watches & Wonders…
Hermès Arceau L’heure de la Lune
The Hermès Arceau L’heure de la Lune has been a favourite of ours since it was first released in 2019 due to its stylish and unique take on a classic complication, but this year Hermès has taken craftsmanship and artistry up a notch with a selection of very special dials.
The Arceau L’heure de la Lune is capable of simultaneously displaying the moon phases in both northern and southern hemispheres, with two mobile counters coupled to a Manufacture Hermès movement.
The two mother-of-pearl moons can now set in a Black Sahara, lunar, or Martian meteorite dial. Yes, you read that correctly, you can wear a piece of Mars on your wrist!
Framed by a white gold or platinum case, Hermès is selling just two examples of the Martian meteorite dial (we assume because the rest of the meteorite is in a museum, or being experimented on by NASA), while there are 30-pieces with a Black Sahara dial, and 36 examples of the lunar dial.
A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus While Gold and Rubber Strap
A. Lange & Söhne's Odysseus now comes in white gold with an integrated strap (rather than a bracelet). This is the second model in the Odysseus family, featuring a grey dial, a large date and day display and a water-resistant case.
The integrated straps are available in hand-stitched leather or black rubber. The latter features air ducts on the inside for added comfort.
The watch is powered by the L155.1 Datomatic manufacture calibre developed exclusively for the Odysseus. It has a 50-hour power reserve and is viewable through sapphire-crystal caseback.
The new White Gold Odysseus is priced from €39,500.
Cartier Tank Asymetrique
The Tank Asymétrique first appeared in 1936 (at the time it was also known as the Parallélogramme or Losange) and was unlike any other watch before.
Everything on the dial was shifted 30-degrees to the right. The rectangle of the original Tank became a diamond, with the 12 placed in the upper right-hand corner.
Today, Cartier has brought back the Tank Asymétrique. The watch is available in pink gold with a grey dial and strap, in yellow gold with a champagne dial and brown strap, and in platinum with a silver-coloured dial, ruby cabochon and grey strap. Each aesthetic comes in a limited edition of 100 numbered pieces.
The Cartier Tank Asymétrique is priced from $26,400.
IWC Portugieser 2020 collection
IWC has expanded the Portugieser family with a number of new models, including a compact time-only automatic, a highly technical perpetual calendar, and a nautical sports chronograph, to name a few.
All of new watches are equipped with IWC-manufactured calibres, which come with an international guarantee of eight years if you register with the My IWC program.
The Portugieser Automatic 40 (Ref. 3583) marks the return of an iconic design. It features a small seconds deal at 6 o’clock and a compact case with a 40mm diameter. The new automatic model takes its power from the IWC-manufactured 82200 calibre with Pellaton winding.
The Portugieser Yacht Club Moon & Tide (Ref. 344001, pictured above) is the first watch from IWC to feature the newly developed tide indication, which indicates the arrival of the next high and low tide.
The new IWC Portugieser collection starts at £6,450.
Montblanc 1858 Automatic 24H
We've really been digging Montblanc's recent exploration-inspired launches, and this newest batch from Watches & Wonders is no different.
The highlight of the show for us is the 1858 Automatic 24H, which features a new complication: a single hand that allows the timepiece to be used both as a timekeeper, to read hours and minutes, and as a compass.
The timepiece is completed with a special “Spirit of Mountain Exploration” engraving on the case back, and a hand-crafted NATO strap. The Montblanc 1858 Automatic 24H is priced at $3,030 USD.
Montblanc has also released the 1858 Monopusher Chronograph, a stylish reinterpretation of a historical Minerva chronograph, which will probably be a bit more popular than the single-hander above.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date
Since it was introduced in 1992, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Master Control collection has been defined by technical rigour and timeless style. At Watches & Wonders, JLC has relaunched the collection with improved movements and new complications.
According to JLC, these new pieces have been "designed for the urban sophisticate", creating a refined yet contemporary aesthetic that highlights the collection’s complications.
Sitting at the bottom of the collection is the Master Control Date (pictured above) which costs £6,000, and ranges up to the Chronograph Calendar, which is priced at £12,900. Like all Jaeger-LeCoultre timepieces, the new Master Control watches carry a massive 8-year warranty.
Vacheron Constantin Fiftysix and the Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton
The Overseas collection is Vacheron Constantin's flagship range. In this new gold-clad version, Vacheron Constantin highlights how complex and beautiful its perpetual calendar movement is, while retaining a modern, dynamic design.
Openworking a mechanical movement by hollowing out its components is an extremely complex undertaking, and Vacheron Constantin is one of the few Manufactures capable of doing so with calibres as complex as perpetual calendars (which don't require adjustment until March 1, 2100). All components of the 1120 QPSQ calibre have been hollowed out, finished and decorated to show of watchmaking at its finest.
Sitting at the other end of the scales is the simple and elegant Fiftysix collection. Its part-retro, part-contemporary silhouette is perfectly suited to a new sepia brown-toned dial colour. Finished with a calfskin strap this watch is designed for everyday wear.
Panerai Luminor Marina DMLS
Panerai is marking the 70th anniversary of Luminor with a suite of three extraordinary new Luminor Marinas. T3's pick of the bunch is the DMLS 44mm (PAM01662).
The case is made of titanium with Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) technology, a futuristic 3D printing process by which titanium powder, sintered by a high power fibre optic laser, takes a solid shape that grows 30 microns at a time. This makes the watch surprisingly light and at the same time incredibly resilient.
This material, together with the equally advanced Carbotech, used for the bezel, crown and lever of the Safety Lock crown protection bridge, creates a more modern Panari.
Waterproof up to 30 bar, the new Luminor Marina 44 mm is accompanied by a black Panerai Sportech strap with anthracite stitching.
The Panerai Luminor Marina DMLS is priced at £13,500.
Roger Dubris Excalibur Diabolus Machina
Roger Dubuis is one of the most out-there watchmakers we've ever seen, and the Excalibur Diabolus Machina is the perfect example of that. If the bold case, skeletonised dial, and flying tourbillon aren't enough to impress you, the minute repeater should be.
It plays the famous “Diabolus in Musica” chord, which was outlawed in medieval religious music, and found, for example, in Camille Saint-Saëns’s symphonic poem, Danse Macabre.