Watches and Wonders Geneva all the time makes me assume how fortunate the Swiss are to have a veritable legion of tourism officers within the type of watch fanatics. I’m speaking about of us like us at World of Watches (WOW) Singapore and LUXUO, but additionally you, expensive reader. This has been true since approach again earlier than there was such a factor as this specific truthful in Geneva. To be truthful (no pun supposed), there’s something magical and mysterious about Swiss time, and the reply all the time appears to be simply past the closely protected doorways of the worldwide watch truthful held now in Geneva.
It now appears sure that Watches and Wonders Geneva has taken the place of BaselWorld as the primary worldwide watch truthful and can solely get larger because the years march on. Already, there are a number of showcases taking place across the metropolis throughout what’s being hailed as Geneva Watch Week, unofficially. On the identical time, Geneva Watch Days continues to be scheduled to run later this yr — the town has emerged as the right worldwide capital of watchmaking. For these of you who know something about Geneva’s current standing and its historical past, this may solely appear becoming.
Identical to final yr, WOW Singapore was totally sponsored by all collaborating manufacturers exhibiting at Watches and Wonders Geneva — although there are not any particular protection payback tales. Usually talking, as a watch specialist journal, nothing will get us psyched up like a watch truthful, so we’re solely too completely happy to cowl Watches and Wonders Geneva. In actual fact, now we have been doing simply that on-line because the truthful began and have probably not stopped. This story can be certainly one of a number of in our summer time situation protecting the watch novelty exhibition in addition to the novelty debutants themselves.
This specific story is a primer for individuals who need some info and figures in regards to the Geneva truthful and the opposite exhibits on the town. It additionally covers some fundamental info that we realise is sorely missing, contemplating a few of the nonsensical protection on YouTube and social media. Provided that our crew was on the bottom and doing our personal stuff, we realise that watch gala’s do appeal to new individuals too, a few of whom could not have the slightest concept of the way it all works. For all of you, let me say this: the scrum to get into the exhibition space is just not regular, however discovering a option to eat lunch with out stressing out is. That wrestle could be very actual.
As for the safety measures which prompted airport-gate model snaking strains, these have all the time been a characteristic of the watch truthful held on the PalExpo. Within the days of the Salon Worldwide de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH, a reputation we’ll come again to), the metallic detectors had been very a lot commonplace. Additional, nobody had ever requested if we had been bringing liquids into the exhibition space. This was new and completely egregious. The Asian contingent wants its cup noodles, and a thermos with sizzling water is de rigueur. It’s merely unimaginable to seek out sizzling water exterior of the workers canteen.
Talking of sizzling water, with regards to social media, there have been greater than 1.8 million posts mentioning #watchesandwonders which reached an estimated 600 million individuals (supply: WWG 2023). This quantity, launched April 3, has doubtless grown considerably and doesn’t embody the quantity of fabric on YouTube or TikTok. For some purpose, Watches and Wonders privileges Instagram unfairly, as evidenced by the utilization of the hashtag as definitive of social media.
Taking a look at official attendance and participation by watchmaking manufacturers, the improved efficiency of the Geneva truthful over final yr’s version is apparent. Then again, it must be remembered that BaselWorld drew one thing like thrice the general attendance and hosted nearly each model, from the smallest to the biggest. Simply as BaselWorld didn’t characteristic Richemont manufacturers, Watches and Wonders Geneva has a Swatch Group-shaped gap in its record of manufacturers. The Swiss press didn’t miss the possibility to comment on this and we too miss the presence of a very powerful Swiss watchmaking group which doesn’t present at any type of international truthful. It’s our understanding that the Group’s administration has no plans to alter the established order, however we urge them to rethink. Watches and Wonders president Jean-Frederic Dufour, who can be Rolex’s CEO, publicly prolonged an invite to Swatch Group by way of Le Temps, so we’ll see how that goes.
Watches and Wonders Geneva can be lacking the likes of Citizen (although Citizen-owned Frederique Fixed did debut this yr ), the Seiko Watch Company (Grand Seiko nevertheless confirmed as much as the occasion after its debut final yr) and Casio. On that be aware, the German and French pavilions are completely absent too, although this simply underscores the purpose that Watches and Wonders Geneva is just not BaselWorld 2.0. It’s definitely extra inclusive than the outdated SIHH, with manufacturers equivalent to U-Boat and Charriol additionally discovering areas for themselves. If the primary stage of the Geneva truthful goes to absorb extra such manufacturers, it could be higher to open extra halls and contemplate permitting these manufacturers to create their very own stands. This was BaselWorld’s resolution to maintain from wanting like a conference, which it undeniably is.
Regardless, Watches and Wonders Geneva continues to be a conference the place individuals come for work and to do enterprise. It would seem like a luxurious mall of some kind, however it’s positively not. To be clear, which means retailers are right here to purchase watches – it is a simplification however it would do – and press are right here to seek out tales. If you’re not with the manufacturers, then you might be right here to satisfy with both the model’s business crew or the advertising and marketing and communications crew. Completely nobody is right here to fall in lust with a watch in a show case, after which attempt to get an excellent worth on simply that one watch to put on it strolling across the PalExpo. At this watchmaker’s market, nobody is promoting direct-to-consumer.
However sufficient about our personal gripes about what the truthful is or not, save for only one extra — and solely as a result of we wish to convey our protection of the truthful throughout LUXUO and social media collectively. Watches and Wonders Geneva doesn’t give out “best-in-show” awards — it isn’t that type of occasion both. It falls to business observers and journalists to make such pronouncements. Right here is our take: Rolex has gained the annual watch truthful, if such a factor is feasible, and reminded us why it deserves its crown. We started our watch truthful protection with Rolex on-line, the place the joy over what the model will do in 2023 was palpable.
As Watches and Wonders Geneva bought underway, the large information was that titanium is lastly a part of the usual assortment as foreshadowed by the Deepsea mannequin final yr. This yr, the Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Grasp 42 bought the RLX titanium therapy which was one more signal that titanium was lastly taking centre stage at Rolex. After everybody bought finished patting themselves on the again — a few of it’s essential to have harm yourselves ( who you might be) — even essentially the most blinkered of observers realised that this was not the story.
The true information was on the traditional facet of issues — the dressier little bit of the Rolex story. In case you could have been dwelling in a time-free zone or a black gap, right here is the deal: it appears the Cellini assortment has been reworked into one thing fairly completely different, known as the Perpetual 1908. We initially thought this was only one watch that will add further flavour, however a fast scan of the Rolex web site confirmed that the Cellini fashions of latest occasions had been nowhere to be discovered. One may assume this a storm in a teacup, however this new assortment arrives with a full set of fabric variants and exhibition casebacks (which showcase calibres with Syloxi hairsprings). The exhibition caseback on the Cosmograph Daytona definitely broke the Web, however solely time will inform if the Perpetual 1908 can grow to be an actual star.
Certainly, there are tonnes of little developments and main ones at that for the world’s most essential luxurious watch model and this isn’t the story to get into all of it. Properly, one thing to sit up for then, however do be aware right here that the calibre 7140 powering the Perpetual 1908 is completely new and options the primary use of each the Syloxi hairspring and the Chronergy escapement.
Monitoring Elapsed Time
On the technical entrance, there was some disappointment this yr with a perceived lack of horological substance. There have been few new grand issues to talk of, if any. The phrase earlier than the truthful was that teams are involved about financial contagion spreading and had been making ready for the worst. The closest we bought to grand issues was new variants of the Patek Philippe Grand Grasp Chime (Ref. 6300) and an idea watch from Roger Dubuis, the Monovortex Cut up-Seconds Chronograph, which the model is just not promoting; that is the one true idea watch at Watches and Wonders Geneva which is kind of one thing. Even Van Cleef & Arpels shall be promoting its automatons (they’re all offered as we’re reliably if not formally knowledgeable). We are going to come again to the Roger Dubuis piece on the finish, however for now it serves as a pleasant lead-in to a hard-to-miss pattern: the dominance of the chronograph.
The chronograph complication obtained loads of consideration this yr, with loads of fascinating examples together with the next: the primary new formed variant showing at Jaeger-LeCoultre since 1996 and now the one such watch from any main model on the planet; the Odysseus Cut up Seconds Chronograph redefining the consumer expertise and the show; the Montblanc 1858 Unveiled Timekeeper Minerva Restricted Version additionally enjoying with consumer expertise; and the Zenith Pilot Flyback Chronograph Large Date for which the consumer expertise is as soon as once more paramount. The chronograph was additionally in focus at Hermes Horloger in addition to on the independents, with Gronefeld’s splendidly named Gronograaf being a standout. We will nearly hear you groan out loud at how this watch debuted final yr and gained the Chronograph prize on the GPHG.
For this overview, we needed to supply what quantities to a teaser on a big new improvement at Grand Seiko, the place one more chronograph was on the up. Helpfully named the Tentagraph, the watch is in fact recognized by its reference quantity, SLGC001, as is regular for Grand Seiko. It’s recognisable by its tri-compax format, fairly commonplace for this type of complication. In all different methods, the Tentagraph is totally completely different, being certainly one of solely a handful of chronographs on the planet regulated by one thing apart from the Swiss lever escapement. Right here, it’s the twin impulse escapement you may recall from a few years in the past and most notably in calibre 9SA5, which is now applied within the chronograph calibre 9SC5. We perceive that it is a chronograph module added to 9SA5. The Tentagraph is definitely the primary chronograph from Grand Seiko and is actually an impressive begin.
Whereas it isn’t a chronograph in any approach, the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Minute Rattrapante additionally makes a present of doing one thing no watch has ever finished. Patek Philippe additionally chimes in withan unusually offbeat Ref. 5224. In actual fact, this might need actually been the truthful of idiosyncrasy, given the tide of very odd watches that succeeded in stunning everybody. To record them, these are in fact the Puzzle and Bubble watches from Rolex; the Oris ProPilot X “Kermit”; the Ulysse Nardin Freak One; the Chanel Lion Astro Clock (Chanel by no means fails to convey the quirk, so this is only one of them); and the Hublot Large Bang Built-in Tourbillon Full Blue Sapphire which nonetheless has a tough time escaping the shadow of the not too long ago launched Neon Yellow SAXEM Large Bang and the persevering with Murakami collaboration.
Hublot introduced a brand new watch to the occasion that we’re reserving house for right here, the MP-13. The bi-axis tourbillon with double retrograde time show seems prefer it was all the time a part of the Hublot catalogue regardless of being completely new. The mixture of the multi-axis tourbillon and retrograde motion is a primary in watchmaking, and the case is definitely new right here too (though it’d put in thoughts the visage of earlier MP fashions). Whereas we’ll get into the main points of the MP-13 in one other story, it’s suffice to say that this watch spoke loudest to nice watchmaking’s new emphasis on fit-and-feel, which is a little bit of an obsession at WOW. If there may be one factor you may recall in regards to the MP collection, it’s that the instances defy easy explanations and are sometimes difficult on most wrists. This one is an enchancment, whereas nonetheless providing loads of attraction and horological leisure worth each.
Sadly, there was little else in the best way of enjoyable with time at Watches and Wonders 2023, with even the LAB exhibition being largely a showcase for the hits (and a repeat of final yr’s highlights, which we perceive given how a lot larger the viewers is that this yr). It’s a minor criticism however nonetheless, having a robotic canine steal the present as a result of the watchmaking innovation is a rehash of final yr’s is just not nice. Maybe accidentally, it additionally revealed that conventional watchmaking advances incrementally, not by nice leaps ahead. That’s in fact for the perfect. For an instance of such an ideal leap, look no additional than quartz within the Nineteen Seventies.
This brings us to the ultimate level, the place that Roger Dubuis idea watch comes again to serenade us on our approach out. Watchmaking manufacturers promote goals about what it means to grasp your individual time, whether or not that’s within the type of time-only watches constructed largely by hand as Ferdinand Berthoud does, or of “hyper horology” as Roger Dubuis does. A lot of the substance is between these extremes, however this could not obscure the truth that it’s all nonetheless about goals. We want excessive ends to make highly effective statements. In any other case, essentially the most thrilling concept about time is one which has to do with greenback indicators. To place it one other approach, your wine fridge, shelf or cellar solely actually pays for itself if you happen to assume wine is a tasty beverage. If it’s only about worth, then style is irrelevant, and that could be a disgrace for each winemakers and wine lovers alike.
Watches and Wonders Geneva is now more likely to be the biggest watch truthful on the planet, if the numbers launched by the organisers are something to go by. When it comes to materials house, the organisers stated nothing and a lot of the experiences don’t concentrate on this. For some context, it’s in all probability the dimensions of Corridor One at BaselWorld, and twice the dimensions of the outdated SIHH on the PalExpo (estimates are our personal so ship brickbats my approach please). There are 48 collaborating manufacturers at Watches and Wonders Geneva this yr, up from 35 final yr by our depend with supposedly 10 new manufacturers in 2023 and a pair having dropped out.
Held over the course of seven days, the truthful attracted 43,000 guests (an enchancment over the 22,000 in 2022), together with 5,400 retailers and 1,400 journalists. These enterprise guests had been joined over the weekend by 12,000 ticket-holders (these had been offered at CHF70), which is spectacular in a metropolis that generally feels slightly ambivalent in regards to the watchmaking festivities going down inside its house. Watches and Wonders says that 25% of the tickets offered went to individuals underneath 25, with ticket-holder ages averaging out at a really hip 35. Provided that watchmaking has been making an enormous deal of chatting with new generations, that is essential and can go a protracted option to confirming that Watches and Wonders Geneva is heading in the right direction. For some context, BaselWorld was criticised for being out-of-touch with the younger whereas the SIHH was just for insiders who tended to be a lot older.
In a attainable preview of future occasions, the motion prolonged from the PalExpo, which is subsequent to the airport, to the town correct. There have been actions organised at boutiques and different centrally positioned areas that had been a part of the official agenda for Watches and Wonders Geneva. To be clear, these didn’t embody the adjoining showcases by particular person manufacturers, nor different exhibitions that had been half of what’s now often called Geneva Watch Week.
For the broader world, the truthful organisers stated that protection of Watches and Wonders Geneva reached greater than 600 million, which is roughly double what it achieved final yr. It must be famous right here that 2,600 journalists had been tuning into the motion on the official digital platform which undoubtedly helps in growing the attain of the unique occasion.
This text was initially revealed in print in World Of Watches‘ 2023 Summer time particular, situation #69.
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