What We Learnt At LVMH Watch Week
Big, bold and bright – the best the of the week that was for Hublot, Bulgari, TAG Heuer and Zenith.
LVMH Watch Week rang in the new year in Singapore with a slew of new models from Hublot, Zenith, Tag Heuer and Bulgari.
The luxury conglomerate has wisely been releasing new models each January (debuting with an ultra-luxe show in Dubai in 2020) ahead of April’s Watches & Wonders when most watch brands traditionally show their new key product for the year.
The takeaway in 2023 is that most of the collections were permeated with bright saturations of colour in dials, gem-setting or sapphire crystal cases. The overall vibe is a decidedly cheerful outlook, at least as far as this luxury conglomerate is concerned, for a year that is expected to be looming with economic challenges. Here are some of the highlights.
Want to make sure your wrist candy can be spotted across the room? Hublot has no shortage of options for you. From fully gem-set pavé rainbow watches to vibrant sapphire crystal timepieces with skeleton movements in neon yellow and a punchy purple, these models live up to the “Big Bang” in their name. With complicated movements and in-your-face design, they mean business but they’re also dressed for the party.
Big Bang Integrated + Time-Only Rainbow
Just when you think there cannot possibly be another flex on the gem-set rainbow watch, Hublot comes along and puts yet another new spin on the cult-favorite style. The Big Bang models—an integrated self-winding chronograph and a time-only version—are executed with the usual array of multi-colored gemstones from rubies and amethysts to blue topaz, orange sapphire and more but this time around they come mixed. Pink sapphire blend into orange sapphires and blue topaz blends into tsavorites on the center bracelet links mimicking the rays of color in the natural weather phenomenon. The integrated model comes set with a total of 1,290 gemstones, while the time-only iteration sports 1,100. Hublot, as we mentioned, is always keen to make a splash.
Case Size: 42 mm and 40 mm
Case Material: 18-karat King Gold
Spirit of Big Bang Carbon Blue and Purple Sapphire
Hublot has yet to release the full info on its Spirit of Big Bang models as of press time, but judging from the photos the Carbon Blue model takes after the Spirit of Big Bang Tourbillon that debuted in January 2021 which was executed in a carbon case with white micro-glass fibers. Here those fibers take on a baby blue hue and the case is paired with a rubber strap in the same color to match.
But Hublot is known for its work with colored sapphire crystal cases, so the model was also created in a striking purple variant of the material. Sapphire crystal cases are notoriously expensive as a result of their difficulty to machine, which is why you see so few of these in the market. But the company was an early adopter of the use of the material and therefore capitalizes on it each year.
Big Bang Tourbillon Yellow Neon Saxem
At first glance, this looks like another iteration of Hublot’s exuberantly colorful sapphire crystal cases, but this Big Bang is made of something else altogether. It’s called Saxem, a material used in satellite technology that has even more brilliance than colored sapphire. It took three years for Hublot to develop the material in bright, neon yellow, which it describes as a fluorescent shade of acid yellow. Saxem (which stands for sapphire aluminum oxide and rare Earth mineral) was first used in 2019 in a shade of emerald green on the Big Bang MP-11. Like sapphire, it is transparent and incredibly scratch and chip resistant. The automatic tourbillon caliber HUB6035 is skeletonized and uses a micro-rotor so that plenty of light passes through the case and, because it’s transparent, you can see it from all sides. It comes on a neon-yellow rubber strap, color matched to the case.
Price: approx $433,000, limited to 50
Case Size: 44 mm x 14.40 mm
Case Material: Saxem
Big Bang Unico Sorai
Hublot has long sponsored sports heroes, but recently the company dovetailed into conservation issues, in some cases overlapping the two areas. This watch is Hublot’s third limited edition dedicated to an animal conservation organization run by former England International cricket champ, Kevin Pietersen. It’s called Saving Our Rhinos Africa & India (SORAI for short), and it focuses on protecting rhinoceroses from poachers. The dial is trimmed with colors of the sunset representing the heightened danger from poachers faced by rhinos at nightfall when the poachers pounce. Sadly, rhino horns are worth more per kilo than gold. The Unico Sorai contains the automatic caliber UNICO 2 and comes with either a gray fabric strap or a black rubber strap with black, orange and purple camouflage pattern.
Price: $34,583, limited to 100
Case Size: 44 mm x 14.50 mm
Case Material: Gray ceramic
Zenith is juicing up its Defy collection, the brand’s launchpad line for showcasing its most advanced technology, materials and modern designs.
Defy Skyline Skeleton
The new lineup is headlined by the Defy Skyline Skeleton, an openworked version of the El Primero caliber 3620 SK, with a frequency of 36,000 vph and a 60-hour power reserve. Built with an architecture similar to the El Primero 3600 chronograph caliber, the automatic movement drives a 1/10th of a second hand directly from the escapement. It famously displays the fraction-of-a-second indication on the dial, a spectacle almost upstaged by the bold, colored (black or blue) bridges. They’re formed in a four-pointed star to evoke Zenith’s double Z logo of the 1960s. Otherwise, everything about this watch is modern, including the openworked design, state-of-the-art movement and heavily lumed hands and markers—a must for reading time on a skeletonized watch, which generally has a lot going on in the background.
Case Size: 41 mm
Case Material: Steel
Defy Extreme Glacier
The Defy Extreme Glacier is the priciest of the new models and a boutique-only edition. It harnesses the power of the most advanced version of Zenith’s El Primero movements, caliber 9004, capable of timing events to 1/100th of a second. It’s the highest-frequency chronograph in regular production today, and it struts its stuff on the dial: You can see the chronograph seconds hand whipping around the dial once every second. The Defy Extreme is all about, as its name suggests, extreme watchmaking and rugged sports, and was “inspired by the raw beauty of wild terrains” according to Zenith. The Glacier represents the opposite landscape of the Defy Extreme Desert launched in 2021 and is a cooler take on the model. Accordingly, it has an unusual decorative element representing the winter palette: The pusher guards and outer bezel are made of chalcedony, a semi-translucent, fairly tough quartz stone with a pale blue hue. Each piece is cut and polished by hand, and because their matrix and hue can vary slightly, each of the 50 examples of the Defy Extreme Glacier is unique. The case is titanium, which eliminates the potentially uncomfortable heaviness of a large watch—this one is a whopping 45 mm wide. It comes on a Velcro or white rubber strap.
Price: $37,100, limited to 50
Case Size: 45 mm
Case Material: Titanium
The Defy Skyline, the sporty everyday piece Zenith introduced last year in 41 mm, now comes in a more unisex-friendly 36 mm size. Keeping pace with the trend for bright dial colors that has been pervasive across the watch industry, the model now comes in pink, lime green and light blue dial colors. The dials are notched in a star-shaped pattern for extra glitter. It comes on a steel bracelet or optional starry-patterned rubber strap to match the dial colors. The movement is the Elite 670 automatic, with a 50-hour power reserve.Price: $12,500 to $17,000
Case Size: 36 MM
Case Material: Steel
Defy Skyline Boutique Edition
Back to the more manly size, there is a new 41 mm Boutique Edition of the Defy Skyline, with a dial designed in a gray and gold version of the star pattern – like stars in the night sky. It contains the El Primero caliber 3620, so it includes the dramatic 1/10th of a second indicator in a subdial. With a price tag of $16,000, this handsome piece and the 36 mm ones above, make for compelling alternatives to significantly more expensive pieces of similar designs from other Swiss brands.
Price: approx $16,000
Case Size: 41 MM
Case Material: Steel
Tag Heuer Monza Flyback Chronometre
It’s not easy to continuously update an icon over the years without compromising the original design, but the Monza Flyback Chronometre is a futuristic refresh that enhances rather than detracts from the spirit of the 1976 original. The carbon case emphasizes the model’s signature cushion shape while taking it into the future. Adding to the sporty vibe are translucent fumé blue sapphire crystals over the subdials at 3 and 6 o’clock, which also emphasize the model’s original purpose: motorsports timing. As does the new movement, flyback chronograph caliber Heuer 02, previously used only in the Autavia. The lumed date window at 9 adds to the functionality and the modern cool vibe. The lacquered hands and indexes also glow blue in low light. Racing red details, along with a tachymetre and pulsometre, add to the racing vibe.
Case Material: Carbon
Case Size: 42 mm
Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary
The Carrera was launched in 1963, and over the past six decades, it has become an important pillar for the company. The anniversary edition is a remake of the fan favorite, the ref. 2447 SN, introduced in the late ’60s. It represents the second series of Carreras and comes in a panda design featuring a silvered dial with black subdials (SN in the reference number stands for “silver” and “noir”). It also repeats the striped markers and hands of the original, along with the double index markers at 12 o’clock. The position of the 60-minute counters is reversed compared to the original, but otherwise, it’s a faithful reproduction, with the addition of Super-LumiNova and a modern movement, the Heuer 02. This is a 600-piece limited edition but stay tuned for more anniversary pieces later in the year.
Case Material: Steel
Case Size: 39 mm
In between shattering one world record after another for micro-thin watchmaking, Bulgari can also be consistently relied upon to honor its roots as a master jeweler, with colorful, gem-laden jewellery watches. Here are the latest drool-worthy diamond and gemstone watches in its Allegra, Serpenti and Diva’s Dream collections, set to be launched next week during LVMH Watch Week in New York.
Serpenti Tubogas Infinity
The serpent, a symbol of vitality and passion, has become Bulgari’s most recognizable motif, expressed here in a rendition that, comparatively speaking, is quite refined. The latest version of the iconic Serpenti comes with diamonds slithering down the wrap-around bracelet to further hone in on its character. The “Tubogas” in the name refers to the particular intricate engineering of the bracelet, with gold links that coil around the wrist like a snake. It is set with a total of 486 diamonds weighing 5.85 carats, set into the case, dial and bracelet. The movement is quartz.
Price: approximately $98,000
Case Material: 18-karat gold
The gems in the Diva’s Dream collection demonstrate the subtle art of color blocking, using perfectly matched hues and sizes of stones and alternating them with gems of another color. There are three variations: amethyst (1.21 carats) paired with pink tourmaline (1.33 carats); topaz (1.56 carats) with tanzanite (1.45 carats); and all ruby (3.5 carats), with perky red hands to match the gems. In between the prong-set colored gems are stations of gold flutes—sculptural representations of this collection’s signature motif, the fan-shaped ginkgo leaf. The bezel and leaves are set with 1.51 carats of diamonds. The design is inspired by Bulgari brooches and necklaces of the 1980s and ’90s, with large, brightly colored gems in various sizes. The movement, as in most high jewellery watches, is quartz. The 33mm cases are rose gold.
Price: Approximately $69,800 for the ruby version; approximately $45,100 for amethyst and tourmaline; and approximately $45,100 for topaz and tanzanite.
Case Material: 18-karat rose gold
Case Size: 33 mm
The Allegra line showcases Bulgari’s trademark ingredient: big, brightly colored gems in seemingly random cuts and sizes, arranged in a design that is freeform yet harmonious. It looks easy but from matching the gems to cutting, arranging and setting them, there is a lot of expertise involved in creating each piece. They are variously set with tourmalines, citrines, rhodolites, peridots, yellow sapphires and pink sapphires for one of the brand’s most exuberant expressions of La Dolce Vita. The gems are set prong style with open backs, the goal of which is to have as little metal as possible surrounding the gems in order to allow for plenty of light return, making the colors pop like neon. They contain quartz movements and are priced at €32,100
Diva’s Dream Mosaica
This model also celebrates the ginkgo leaf motif, but in a way that is closer to its initial source of inspiration, the mosaics on the floors of Rome’s Baths of Caracalla. There are two versions, one fully set with a gradient of 3.5 carats of sapphires ranging from pale pink to magenta, in white gold; and the other with 3 carats of blue sapphires ranging from sky blue to deep azure, set in white gold. They are interspersed with arc-shaped panels set with diamonds. Even the diamond-set links on the bracelet of the white gold/blue sapphire model are shaped like gingko leaves, with an overall effect that, in pure high-jewellery style, is crafted more like jewellery than a typical watch bracelet. The pink version has a strap connected to decorative lugs that also take the shape of the gingko leaf. The middle case is set with diamonds, so the watch sparkles from every angle. This one is a slightly larger canvas, with a 37 mm rose or white gold case. Each contains the automatic caliber BVL 191.
Price: Approximately $80,570 and approximately $139,650 for the blue sapphire
Case Material: 18-karat white gold or rose goldhttps://robbreport.com/style/watch-collector/hublot-zenith-bulgari-tag-heuer-debut-new-watches-for-1234793076/
Case Size: 37 mm
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