The Wildest, Most Extravagant Timepieces We Saw At Watches & Wonders
From wondrous gems to a crazy new gesture from Rolex, here are the timepieces we can’t get out of our heads.
There were plenty of serious, restrained, elegant, and even relatively small timepieces on offer at Watches & Wonders. But a handful of brands proved that there’s truly nothing that succeeds like excess—or at least a wild swing for the fences. From the sparkling gem-set pieces designed by Chanel, Grand Seiko, Jacob & Co and more, to Rolex’s weird and wonderful new emoji watch, here are the unexpected and delightfully bonkers new watches we saw at this year’s show. Something tells us we’re going to be thinking about these things for a long time.
Rolex Day-Date 36
Rolex is so well known for its hardworking professional watches—the Submariner, Daytona, Yachtmaster, and GMT-Master II—that it’s hard to conceive of the Swiss brand making anything that isn’t wholly pragmatic. Which is why its new Day-Date 36 with emotions (“LOVE” “HAPPY” “GRATITUDE”) in the date aperture and emojis (yes, emojis) in the date window, caught so many people off guard when it was unveiled last week. Still, it’s nice to know that the Swiss masters of serious consistency can still surprise us. And with plenty of colour and charm to boot.
Case Size: 36 mm
Materials: Everose gold, yellow gold, white gold
Power Reserve: 70 hours
Chanel J12 Hyper Cybernetic
Pixelation was never this pretty. Chanel’s new Hyper Cybernetic version of its iconic J12 watch makes a bitmap beautiful with 240 brilliant-cut diamonds in a graphic interpretation that plays on the contrast between the gems and the matte black ceramic of the dial, case and bezel.
Case Size: 38 mm
Case Material: Matte black ceramic and 18k white gold
Power Reserve: 70 hours
Straps: Matte black ceramic bracelet
Van Cleef & Arpels Planetarium Table Clock
One of Van Cleef’s introductions for 2023 is a universe unto itself. Following on the groundwork laid by its Planetarium watches, introduced in 2014, and a massive automaton clock unveiled at Watches and Wonders last year, is a new edition of the Planetarium Automaton clock that offers a new combination of materials. This version is complemented with a black Aventurine glass dial, which helps to make the sparkling sun at the center and the seven planets that revolve around it look like they’re floating in outer space. It’s even accompanied by a special melody created in partnership with Swiss musician Michel Tirabosco.
Dimensions: 50 cm x 66.5 cm
Power Reserve: 15 days
Movement: Automaton and mechanical movements including a planétarium and 11 other modules such as hour/minute display, perpetual calendar
Gucci G-Timeless Planetarium
It’s hard to tell from a static image, but Gucci’s G-Timeless Planetarium is one of the most interesting timepieces you can put on your wrist. That’s because the 12 stone on its outer edge spin individually, and together complete a full revolution around the dial once every 90 minutes. It’s a thrilling spectacle to behold no matter which variation you’re looking at—and it’s no wonder Idris Elba chose one of last year’s versions of this watch to wear to the Oscars last month.
Case Size: 40 mm
Case Material: 18k white and rose gold
Jacob & Co Billionaire Timeless Treasure
Jacob & Co. spent over three years putting together its new $20 million Billionaire Timeless Treasure watch—and most of that time was spent just on finding enough stones to cover the case and bracelet. The 217 carats of fancy yellow and fancy intense yellow diamonds that cover it are the main draw here; a representative of the brand told us that each link is worth about $150,000 alone.
Dimensions: 52.2 x 43.5 mm
Case Material: 18k yellow gold
Power Reserve: 72 hours
Grand Seiko Masterpiece Collection Spring Drive 8-Day
Every ounce of Grand Seiko’s watchmaking prowess is on display in the new SBGD213: a Spring Drive-powered masterpiece, it’s handset with 5.62 carats worth of diamonds, and 1.25 carats of blue sapphires. Housed in a truly magnificent, highly angular, Zaratsu-polished platinum case recalling the lion—Grand Seiko’s spirit animal, so to speak—it features 112 diamonds along its upper surfaces and a further 60 baguette-cut stones along the bezel. Even the crown is inset with a brilliant-cut sapphire that matches perfectly the deep blue colour of the dial.
Speaking of the dial: Blue sapphires and baguette diamonds—each of which has been set by hand between pairs of 18K white gold rails—form the hour and minute indices. Executed by the Shinshu Watch Studio in the Shiojiri facility in Nagano prefecture, they make for a stunning display, and are further joined by an additional 48 diamonds and 12 blue sapphires around their periphery. Flipping the watch over reveals the Spring Drive movement sat beneath a sapphire caseback: With its one-piece bridge and Mt. Fuji-inspired design, the Calibre 9R01 is accurate to an impressive +/- 10 seconds per month and offers an 8-day power reserve due to three barrels arranged in sequence.
Case Size: 44.5 mm
Movement: Grand Seiko Calibre 9R01 Hand-Wound
Power Reserve: 8 days
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