The Best New Timepieces From Geneva Watch Days
Who doesn’t love a watch fair? Herein, the best of what we saw at the horological world’s newest festival.
Whether you’re a serious collector or merely an aspiring one, it’s hard not to love a watch festival—even if it’s relatively small. This year’s edition of Geneva Watch Days, which first took place last August in the wake of Baselworld’s demise, didn’t disappoint. A group of 27 brands debuted new wares for the occasion, which was held this week in the titular Swiss city. And even though the entirety of the world’s horological press corps didn’t get to see all of the new watches in the metal, thanks to ongoing pandemic-related travel constraints, there was still a lot to like from afar. Below, a look at some of the most inspiring new timepieces at the show.
Bulgari kicked off Geneva Watch Days with a slew of new timepieces. The Italian maison went big for the micro event with nine new releases across four collection ranges including everything from high complications and high jewellery pieces to sports watches and a surprise appearance from one of Disney’s most recognizable characters.
The robust lineup includes a new 41 mm Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon (approx. $173,000) which uses a typically feminine inspiration for one of its more complicated pieces with a more conceptual take on the perennial motif that reimagines the way we read time.
The brand didn’t forsake a focus on its less-famous, but no less distinctive, Octo Roma collection. The collection’s new WorldTimer (approx. $11,220), introduced today at the Geneva Watch Days show, tells time around the world the Bulgari way. It contains a new, integrated movement, the 261-component automatic calibre BVL257.
As for the Disney partnership? Bulgari is bringing Mickey Mouse to one of its most iconic formats—the chunky, round Gérald Genta Arena case. The elite brand has been making Mickey Mouse watches since long before Bulgari acquired it in 2000. They have become coveted collectors’ items, along with Genta’s high complications and iconic case designs. You can learn more about all of those watches and the rest of Bulgari’s new offerings at the link below.
Known for producing extremely complicated watches in ultra-small quantities, even Ferdinand Berthoud is getting in on the steel sports watch craze, albeit with a one-of-a-kind model. This is not only the first all-black model from the niche watchmaking house, but it is also its first steel model. The alloy is sand-blasted and covered in a black DLC coating. Contrasts to its noir background include elements like a sandblasted hour and minute counter treated with a lighter matte material with hands made of gold, as well as hour markers and a central seconds counter in red, and a power reserve aperture in gold with a red arrow indicator.
On the flip side, the half-bridges (made in sapphire crystal and therefore ensuring an even heftier price tag) are angled, engraved and coloured red—enclosing the tourbillon carriage and central seconds hand. Also visible through the caseback, is the fusee-and-chain transmission, an ultra-complex and very hard-to-make solution for providing a constant force escapement that was common during this brand’s namesake founder’s heyday. Berthoud himself may have never imagined one might exist in a blacked-out DLC coated steel timepiece bearing his name some two centuries later.
As you can imagine, this piece will belong to a rarefied collector. It will only be available at the Art in Time gallery in Monaco and part of the proceeds will go to benefit Prince Albert’s Foundation in the French principality.
Ulysse Nardin is a founding partner of Geneva Watch Days and, while it only focused on one collection, presented five new models for its Marine Torpilleur collection. All come equipped with Silicium escapements (the company was among the first to use the material in 2001 on its Freak model) and are marked with the signature “Chronometry since 1846” to herald Ulysse Nardin’s 175th anniversary.
Parmigiani is getting a bit of a makeover under the direction of the brand’s newly appointed CEO, Guido Terreni, who took over the helm in January of this year. The first fruits of his labour were revealed at Geneva Watch Days. The new look is cleaner and more directional with a focus on the Tonda collection, which has a new chronograph, annual calendar and split-seconds model. The new lineup is dubbed the “Tonda PF” in reference to the new branding, which removes the Parmigiani Fleurier name in favour of a simple PF logo at 12 o’clock. And while that’s no small change, Parmigiani’s fan base will likely approve—many collectors over the years have grumbled or joked about the brand name’s similarity, in both pronunciation and spelling, to Italy’s most pervasive cheese, parmesan.
The new 42mm Tonda PF Annual Calendar exemplifies these changes: It comes with retrograde date, day, month indications, as well as a 122-year moonphase aperture that displays the cycle in both hemispheres. But its looks are cleaner and more minimal, a sure sign that change is afoot. You can see the rest of the new watches at the link below.
Girard-Perregaux’s new Tourbillion with Three Flying Bridges was created to celebrate the company’s 230th anniversary, and is the first in this line to cast all three bridges in 18 carat pink gold. Along with supporting the geartrain, barrel and tourbillion the bridges also act as the mainplate, and they feature a black PVD coating that turns their lustre into something of a wearer’s secret. Each flying bridge is painstakingly cut by hand using a small piece of boxwood, requiring skilled artisans a full day to achieve its finish. Following the release of the Perregaux Free Bridge model in 2020, the new watch will be the final reference to join the manufacturer’s Bridges collection.
H.Moser & Cie
A casual glance at H. Moser & Cie’s new Streamliner Perpetual Calendar might leave you with the impression of an exquisitely finished watch with a simple date complication. Look a little closer, and the fourth central hand on its elegant fumé dial invites the question, What’s that for?
The watch, a seamless marriage of Moser’s Perpetual 1 and its popular Streamliner series, uses that fourth hand to indicate the months: January when it’s pointing at 1 o’clock, and so on. The Flash Calendar instantaneous date-change mechanism that figures into the HMC 341 calibre means the date automatically changes at midnight. The hand-wound movement is robust enough to achieve 168 hours of power reserve, and there’s a handy indicator at 10 o’clock.
The 42.3mm cushion case, like its sinuous integrated bracelet, has alternating brushed and polished finishes. It’ll set you back $54,900—a small price to pay for one of the most beautiful ways to know the date.
They say the third time’s the charm, and Greubel Forsey’s GMT Earth might just prove it. The model, which debuted in 2011 and got a second version in 2018, is now in its third and final iteration—and the watchmaker is sending it out with a bang. This year’s version, created in a very limited edition of 11 pieces, features a lightweight titanium case and a primarily black and metallic finish that enhances the watch’s urbane aesthetic.
Model three preserves the sapphire crystal alcove that allows the wearer to see its spinning globe from all angles, including at the equator, that Greubel Forsey incorporated into the 2018 edition. It also preserves the original’s clear and readable display: There’s an off-centre hours and minutes display with a small sub-seconds dial, a power reserve indicator, and a GMT indicator with a red hand that helps it stand out against the black gold, lacquer-filled disk.
The spinning globe, which takes up the most real estate on the dial, completes one revolution every 24 hours. You can watch it spin through the sapphire crystal or through the caseback, where the world time indicator shows you the UTC, or Coordinated Universal Time, of 24 major cities representing every time zone. It’s the ultimate travel watch—but if you find yourself grounded, it’s a trip across the world you can wear on your wrist.
Revisiting the three-satellite time display of the UR-100 model, launched in 2019, Urwerk’s futuristic watchmakers Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner came full circle with a new kind of alloy—inspired by the material used in Greek coins from antiquity—to create the latest Electrum version. Although it appears gold in the image, Frei and Baumgartner say it actually gives off a greenish-gold hue IRL. The duo approached two different companies to try and recreate this particular colouring used in ancient currency with no luck. The particular method is health hazardous in today’s times. Instead, they sourced from a company that supplied a type of gold with similar effect, using a mixture of gold and palladium, to Rolex in the ’60s and ’70s and asked them to reproduce it for just 25 pieces of the Electrum.
The concentric rings on the metal, meanwhile, took inspiration from both modern and ancient beauty. Their design board included everything from a runway dress from avant-garde Dutch fashion designer, Iris van Herpen, to the tiered seating of an ancient Greek theatre.
For their next project, the watchmakers teased they have something else up their sleeve—a wild new movement inspired by the automotive industry will be revealed in the coming months.
Breitling took the lifestyle route with a rollout of three new timepieces inspired by 60s-era cars like the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang and Shelby Cobra. All three chronographs in the Top Time Classic Cars Capsule Collection (approx. $7400) take their hue cues from each sports car. The Top Time Chevrolet Corvette model (pictured centre) has a red dial and black subcounters based on the body of the Corvette C2 or “Sting Ray” from the mid-60s. (Coincidentally, founder Louis Chevrolet was a race car driver born in Switzerland’s watchmaking mecca of La Chaux-de-Fonds.) The green dial with black subdials, our personal favourite, is based on the first Ford Mustang from 1964 and the blue-and-white iteration matches the racing stripes of the Shelby Cobra, created by race car driver and manufacturer, Carroll Shelby, in the 1960s for competitions.
The Top Time watches will be a must for collectors with any of these cars in their vintage fleet. Both the Chevrolet Corvette and Ford Mustang models come in 42mm with the Breitling Caliber 25 as their engine—a self-winding 1/8th of a second chronograph movement with 42 hours of power reserve. The logos of the cars that motivated their production are located at 12 o’clock. The Top Time Shelby Cobra is slightly smaller at 40mm and houses the calibre 41, a 1/4th of a second self-winding chronograph movement with 42 hours of power reserve. Its car logo is placed at 6 o’clock. Whether you start with the car or the watch, this launch will inspire you to acquire both. The cars, however, will burn a hole in your pocket.
MB&F x L’Epée
The ongoing collaboration between MB&F and L’Epée never ceases to disappoint. The partnership brings together Max Büsser of MB&F’s wildly creative ideas realized in the form of table clocks with L’Epée’s expertise in the decorative objets. For the duo’s 14th project together, Büsser enlisted a third collaborator, Maximillian Mærtens of Studio Mærtens, a Berlin-based interdisciplinary industrial design studio, to conceive the Orb. Inspired by an eye, the iris is the clock itself in the centre surrounded by curved lacquered white (or black if you prefer) structures that open up in four sections like a flower to expose its inner working parts and perch on its petals on your desk as an alternative display. The petals also swivel so you can play with the position. It’s almost as if the “eye” pops out of its socket to peer at you from your tabletop—a humorous reminder that time is ticking.
The clock comes with 8 days of power reserve and is equipped with a mechanism based on L’Epée’s historic 1839 carriage clocks, known as “officer’s clocks.” The curved aluminium dial sports a domed mineral glass with a hole in the centre to set the time with a key. It has two barrels: one for the time and one for the striking hours, which are each wound separately. It comes in palladium-plated brass and stainless steel and retails for $43,000. Available in white or black, they are limited to 50 pieces each. Although, the most literal interpretation of theme, in white, is our favourite. The company says these will be delivered to retailer in the next two weeks, but are available for pre-order now. Regardless, these are a must-see IRL.
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