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A foretaste of Watches and Wonders
Watches and Wonders

A foretaste of Watches and Wonders

Monday, 05 April 2021
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Christophe Roulet
Editor-in-chief, HH Journal

“The desire to learn is the key to understanding.”

“Thirty years in journalism are a powerful stimulant for curiosity”.

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7 min read

In the run-up to the Watches and Wonders digital fair, this selection from the new releases so far sets the tone for a year which, after a sobering period, sees creativity bounce back.

In pre-pandemic days, brands would tease some of their upcoming releases before fairs opened their doors. Not so this year, as the majority of 2021’s new watches remain firmly under wraps. Those that have been presented in these early months nonetheless raise hopes that 2021 will see a rekindling of the grand watchmaking tradition… if only to exorcise the ghosts of the pandemic and prove that – echoing Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac – in the face of adversity, the best combats are fought with panache.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo S

Ahead of a possible seventh world’s-thinnest record, Bulgari is presenting the Octo Finissimo S in a new monochromatic edition, featuring a vertically brushed silvered dial in a 40mm satin-brushed steel case. Sporting credentials are boosted by 100-metre water-resistance and a screw-down crown, though still with requisite slimness. Behind the scenes is the BVL 138 calibre measuring 2.23mm high.

Octo Finissimo S © Bulgari
Octo Finissimo S © Bulgari
Cartier Tank Cintrée

Making its debut in 1917, the Tank is an icon of the last century that has inspired multiple iterations. This year Cartier returns to the Tank Cintrée, which celebrates its 100th anniversary, and is releasing a 150-piece limited edition. All the attributes of the original are there: railroad minute track, Roman numerals, apple hands and the beaded crown set with a sapphire cabochon. Keeping time is the manually-wound, in-house 9780 MC calibre.

Tank Cintrée 2021 © Cartier
Tank Cintrée 2021 © Cartier
Chanel J12 Electro Dream black

All the rage in the 1990s, the electro vibe runs through this pre-Watches and Wonders J12 from Chanel. Crafted in black ceramic, the aptly-named J12 Electro Dream fuses 12 colours in a continuous gradient of sapphires around the bezel. They are echoed by the colours of the 12 baguette-cut indexes.

J12 Electro Dream black © Chanel
J12 Electro Dream black © Chanel
Greubel Forsey Balancier Contemporain

Introduced in 2019 in a relatively modest 39.6mm size, Greubel Forsey’s Balancier Contemporain reappears in 5N red gold with a contrasting dial on split levels. The eye moves from the large balance, partly overlapped by the hours and minutes dial, up to the indicator for the 72 hours of power reserve, drops down a level to the barrel drum then across to the small seconds. A three-dimensional architecture that showcases the technical complexity of this Balancier Contemporain.

Balancier Contemporain © Greubel Forsey
Balancier Contemporain © Greubel Forsey
H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon Titanium

H. Moser & Cie. has succeeded in distilling the complexity of a flying tourbillon regulator and a minute repeater mechanism in the minimalism that has become its signature. The hammers and gongs for the repeater are positioned on the dial side while an opening at 6 o’clock allows a glimpse of the tourbillon below. The absence of markings on the Electric Blue dial confirms the sobriety and profound nature of a watch that reveals nothing but the essence of time.

Endeavour Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon Titanium © H. Moser & Cie
Endeavour Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon Titanium © H. Moser & Cie
Hermès Slim Perpetual Calendar

Simplicity is all at Hermès, even for its most complicated watches. This Slim perpetual calendar is an excellent illustration. While the calendar indications of date, month and leap year are shared between two subdials, Hermès has added a day/night indication in an aperture and moon phases. Not forgetting the second time zone at 6 o’clock, shown with typical Hermès whimsy. The result is beautifully balanced and perfectly legible.

Slim Perpetual Calendar © Hermès
Slim Perpetual Calendar © Hermès
Hublot Classic Fusion Shepard Fairey

Hublot’s ongoing collaboration with American artist Shepard Fairey has produced this stunning Classic Fusion Chronograph. Truly a sculpture for the wrist, its design symbolises a mandala representing the cycle of life in engraved and brushed titanium for the 45mm case and the bezel. The pattern continues on the dial whose openwork reveals glimpses of the HUB11545 chronograph movement.

Classic Fusion Shepard Fairey © Hublot
Classic Fusion Shepard Fairey © Hublot
IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705”

IWC is releasing this Pilot’s Watch in honour of its Flieger chronograph, a 1994 model in ceramic. After a long period “under the radar”, it is now sought-after by collectors. This 1,000-piece edition stays true to the design of the original but with a case in Ceratanium®, an alloy exclusive to IWC that is as light as titanium and as hard as ceramic.

Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” © IWC
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” © IWC
Nomos Glashütte Cub automatic

Nomos greets the new season and 175 years of watchmaking in its hometown of Glashütte with a special version of the Club. Three limited series of 175 pieces each sport dials in onyx, navy or olive. The movement inside the 40mm case is the DUW 5001, which happens to be Nomos’s first automatic calibre. Supremely legible, this new Club guarantees water-resistance to 200 metres.

Cub automatic © Nomos Glashütte
Cub automatic © Nomos Glashütte
Panerai Luminor Marina 44mm Guillaume Néry Edition

Panerai has longstanding ties with the sea, ever since its early days supplying diving instruments to the Italian Navy. Today its ambassadors include free-diving world champion Guillaume Néry. This watch, water-resistant to 300 metres, is in his honour. Standout features include a rubberised coating on the bezel, crown and crown-guard, as well as a convex crystal and a gradient effect for the dial that shades from dark around the edge to a lighter centre. The 44mm case is 3D-printed from titanium and presented on a PET strap. It houses the P.9010 calibre for 3 days of power reserve. The warranty on this Luminor Marina is an impressive 70 years.

Luminor Marina 44mm Guillaume Néry Edition © Panerai
Luminor Marina 44mm Guillaume Néry Edition © Panerai
Piaget Polo Skeleton

The Polo, introduced in 1979, is Piaget’s sport-chic watch. Not only does this 42mm version fit that bill perfectly, it does so with the additional constraints of a wafter-thin case and a skeletonised movement. The 1200S calibre in question provides 44 hours of power reserve and keeps all its promises in just 2.4mm height. The end result is sporting, elegant and unmistakably Polo.

Polo Skeleton © Piaget
Polo Skeleton © Piaget
Patek Philippe Twenty~4 Automatic Ref 7300-1200A

Patek Philippe continues its refresh of the Twenty~4 collection. This includes a stainless steel version of the round-case Automatic paired with a sunburst olive green dial, a new colour for Patek Philippe. The applied Arabic numerals and hands, all in white gold, benefit from a luminescent coating. Two rows of diamonds – 160 in total – in a “dentelle” (“lace”) setting accentuate the circular shape.

Twenty~4 Automatic Ref 7300-1200A © Patek Philippe
Twenty~4 Automatic Ref 7300-1200A © Patek Philippe
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pirelli

The Excalibur is where Roger Dubuis lets its creativity run wild. This latest model spotlights the brand’s partnership with Pirelli. The movement, delivering 60 hours of power reserve, incorporates Roger Dubuis’ signature skeleton flying tourbillon and has been reduced to its essence to fit inside a 39mm titanium case. Red accents stand out on the flange and bridges.

Excalibur Spider Pirelli © Roger Dubuis
Excalibur Spider Pirelli © Roger Dubuis
TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02T

Five years after its launch, this automatic chronograph – whose flying tourbillon rotates in an ultra-light carbon and titanium cage – is fitted with the same COSC chronometer-grade movement. What has changed is the azure blue colour of the bezel and dial that carries onto the tourbillon bridge as well as the rubber protecting the crown and pushers. The 45mm case in grade 5 titanium flows into an integrated bracelet.

Carrera Heuer 02T © TAG Heuer
Carrera Heuer 02T © TAG Heuer
Ulysse Nardin Sparkling Free Wheel

Diamonds, diamonds and more diamonds adorn this Sparkling Free Wheel by Ulysse Nardin. And sparkle it does, with a carpet of 2,251 stones. Snow-setting all 5.9 carats takes 120 hours to complete. The unique features of the Free Wheel stand out against this precious backdrop, not least the unusual shape of the bridges for the tourbillon and the seven-day power reserve indicator.

Sparkling Free Wheel © Ulysse Nardin
Sparkling Free Wheel © Ulysse Nardin
Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Silver

Produced as a 250-piece limited edition, this Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Silver is a reminder of Zenith’s exploits as a maker of pilot’s watches – including one that crossed the English Channel with Louis Blériot in 1909. The solid silver case of this Type 20 surrounds a silver dial whose rivet detail recalls the rivets that secured the body panels on historic aircraft. The irregular satin-brushed finish brings out the raw beauty of the metal.

Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Silver © Zenith
Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Silver © Zenith
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