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Horological Masterpieces at Watches & Wonders 2024: Highlights From The Geneva Watch Fair

Horological Masterpieces at Watches & Wonders 2024: Highlights From The Geneva Watch Fair

22. April 2024

The watch manufactures attending this year’s watch fair in Geneva presented us with some absolute horological masterpieces. Vacheron Constantin launched the world’s most complicated watch with 63 complications (including the first Chinese perpetual calendar), Piaget the world’s thinnest tourbillon watch and Rolex, at 322 grams, certainly the heaviest diver’s watch ever launched. The watch with the deepest water resistance this year comes from Montblanc, actually weathering summits rather than diving beneath them. The Iced Sea 0 Oxygen Deep 4810 can accompany divers to a depth of 4,810 metres without any effect.

The brightest model in the room comes in the form of A. Lange & Söhne’s new Datograph Lumen Honeygold, on which almost the entire dial has a greenish glow. We saw repeaters with horse-head hammers, platinum strap stitching at Vacheron Constantin, and a moonphase from IWC that will not need to be set for the next 45 million years – by which time, as my colleague Thomas Wojtowicz dryly predicts in his article, we are likely closer to being crude oil than to a human being capable of wearing a wristwatch. He’s probably right about that. But hey, it’s also about exploring new limits of what’s possible – and it’s all purely mechanical. That’s what fascinates us, time and time again.

And fortunately, it fascinates countless others – 49,000 guests visited the Geneva Watch Fair this year, 14 percent more than last year. Of these, 19,000 tickets were sold to end consumers, who had the opportunity to visit the fair over three days this year. 25 percent of the tickets sold went to under-25s, while the average age was 35. This is a very positive sign for the industry, which is predicted to have a difficult year in 2024 due to the strong franc, rising gold price, and geopolitical uncertainties worldwide.

CO2 cases and denim-look straps

However, the atmosphere at the trade fair was brilliant, at least in the numerous Touch & Feel sessions and interviews. In addition to the record-breaking watches, there were also numerous other great new products and trends on show. Green dials, for example, in all kinds of shades, as my colleague Catherine Bishop sums up. Titanium is also becoming increasingly relevant – almost every haute horlogerie watch brand now has at least one model in its range made from this ultra-light and robust material – something that would have been unthinkable ten years ago. A. Lange & Söhne certainly caused a stir with the launch of the Odysseus made of titanium two years ago.

In the same year, Rolex also presented a titanium model for the first time with the Deepsea ChallengeVacheron Constantin and Chopard also ventured into titanium a few years ago and introduced new titanium models again this year. Although titanium is a popular material, it is now a thing of the past. Panerai, on the other hand, presented a completely new material called Ti-Ceramitech, which uses electrolytic plasma oxidation to transform the surface of the titanium alloy into a dense ceramic layer. At Montblanc, part of the case of the new 1858 Geosphere O Oxygen CARBO2 is made from CO2 captured from biogas production and mineral waste from recycling factories. The CO2-containing powder is then mixed with carbon fibres.

Panerai Submersible QuarantaQuattro Luna Rossa Ti-Ceramitech and Montblanc 1858 Geosphere O Oxygen CARBO2


I think the new TAG Heuer Carrera with panda dial is fantastic: 39 mm case with a silver-coloured dial and black subdial counters – not to mention a manufacture chronograph movement with an 80-hour power reserve, all for 6,500 Swiss francs. The dream! The real highlight from TAG Heuer, however, is the new Monaco split-seconds chronograph, which is very boldly priced at 165,000 Swiss francs. Essentially, I like how TAG Heuer has developed in recent years, and new CEO Julien Tornare will certainly ensure continuity in the coming years.

TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Panda

With the Tonda PF already a huge success at Parmigiani Fleurier, the brand is now reviving another model that will capture the hearts of watch collectors: the Toric. Almost everything that glitters here is gold: the case, dial, hands and indices, and even the movement. The manufacture went for a fresh reinterpretation of the original 1996 model with a good splash of Italian-Mediterranean flair. The highlight for me: the Toric Chronograph Rattrapante.

Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Petite Seconde and Chronograph Rattrapante

Even though Hublot has unveiled a whole host of new products, one model in particular stands out for me personally. The Big Bang Integrated Time Only is now also available in 38 mm (9.4 mm height), which suddenly makes it a very wearable watch; almost discreet in contrast to the brand’s otherwise loud watches. I like it best in blue ceramic.

Hublot Big Bang Integrated Time Only 38

For the first time, Patek Philippe is offering denim-style straps, which don’t particularly appeal to me personally. But I have also heard from collectors who love them. However, I find the new Ellipse in rose gold with the beautiful gold chain bracelet, which is made by a manufacturer from Germany, all the more successful. The ebony black dial with a sunray finish is a perfect match – but you have to see the watch live to really appreciate it. For me, it was the most elegant watch at this year’s fair.

Patek Philippe Ellipse

The second most elegant model for me is the new edition of the Cartier Tortue, particularly the Monopoussoir Chronograph version in yellow gold (there is also a platinum version). For me, everything is perfectly implemented: the decision to place the minute track around the Roman numerals, the blue pomme hands, the proportions and arrangement of the two sub-dials at 3 and 9 o’clock, and the beautifully finished hand-wound calibre 1928 MC, which, at 4.3 mm, is also Cartier’s thinnest chronograph. Bravo!

Cartier Tortue Monopoussoir Chronograph

As for the model with the horse-head hammers as mentioned at the beginning? That comes from Hermès in the form of its latest masterpiece Arceau Duc Attelé, integrating a triaxial tourbillon and minute repeater. The brand’s watches have actually been in the haute horlogerie league for a long time now. It should not be forgotten that Hermès holds shares in Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier, which Michel Parmigiani founded in 1975 and established as a supplier of high-quality luxury watch movements. In keeping with the close connection to equestrian sports (Thierry Hermès ran a saddler’s workshop for fine horse harnesses in Paris), the hammers for the repeater gong come in the shape of horse heads. The Arceau Duc Attelé is available in two versions (platinum or rose gold), and is limited to 24 pieces each.

Hermès Arceau Duc Attelé

In addition to the major watch houses, many well-known independents also showcased their new creations. One of them is Laurent Ferrier, whose Classic Moon was unfortunately somewhat lost in the spotlight of industry leaders. In addition to the more sporty models in the Sport line, it is above all the École Annual Calendar models by Ferrier, whose aesthetics I not only greatly appreciate but also admire, because their neo-classical design has such a strong identity and combines simplicity of presentation and complexity at the same time.

Laurent Ferrier Classic Moon

Now the watchmaker is introducing an annual calendar with a moon phase – and it is the first moon phase from Laurent Ferrier since the brand was founded in 2009. The Classic Moon comes in two versions, made of stainless steel or 18-carat red gold in Ferrier’s typical Classic case with a diameter of 40 mm. The gold version is my personal favourite, because here the colour combination of the silver-coloured dial with the warm gold tone of the case, the blue chemin de fer minute track and the red hand for the date display is particularly aesthetic. The moon phase sparkles on a beautiful aventurine glass with translucent enamel.

Whispers in the corridor

It was repeatedly rumoured that the Swatch Group would join Watches & Wonders. Indeed, the Rolex CEO and President of the Watches & Wonders Foundation had held talks with Swatch Group President Nick Hayek in the run-up to the event, but he declined for the time being, as discussed in an interview with Rolex’s CEO and the NZZ. However, there were repeated rumours in the corridors of the exhibition centre that Swatch Group could take part next year. We are already planning a few extra days in Geneva just in case.

What else?

In addition to the new products from Patek Philippe, less attention was paid to the fact that the watchmaker is now labelling all new models that are certified as water-resistant with a water resistance of 30 metres. According to the data sheet, the Aquanaut no longer has 120 metres of water resistance and the Nautilus no longer has 90 metres, but 30 metres, which is the same (or less) than Patek’s 5396G annual calendar, for example. It is not yet entirely clear why Patek Philippe has introduced a uniform standard for water resistance. According to the horology house, “the measure makes it possible to guarantee the same level of performance for all models concerned and to provide absolutely comprehensible information on the everyday activities that customers may undertake while wearing their watch: washing hands, showering, bathing, swimming and other activities in water, including diving to a depth of 30 metres – which largely corresponds to actual use.” 

After just one year, Rolex has discontinued the Daytona Le Mans in white gold. However, it has introduced an incredibly beautiful successor model in yellow gold, which is not listed in the catalogue. The move is understandable to a certain extent, as last year it was introduced as an anniversary model to mark the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Nevertheless, nobody expected it. The immediate consequences this had on the second-hand watch market are nothing short of absurd. The anniversary Daytona reference 126529LN is now on the pre-owned market for over 300,000 euros – the listing price at the time was around 50,000 euros.

Rolex Daytona Le Mans in yellow gold from 2024

Zenith also surprised us with a new product that we all didn’t see coming. A diver’s watch from the 1960s, or two diver’s watches to be precise: the Defy Extreme Diver, a reinterpretation, and the Defy Revival A3648, a retro model of the original Defy A3648 from 1969. After Zenith celebrated the comeback of its pilot’s watches last year and the new models were very well received, we were expecting new models within this collection. It’s encouraging to see the potential that still lies unlocked in the brand.

Zenith Defy Extreme Diver und Defy Revival A3648

In the run-up to the event, speculation was rife as to whether Rolex would present a new GMT Master ‘Coke’. The rumours were fuelled by a patent application filed by Rolex in January 2024 with Moinas & Savoye SARL in Switzerland for the manufacture of a ‘multicoloured ceramic component made of zirconium oxide’. The photos of the patent specification clearly showed a bezel inlay of the GMT Master and the colours black and red, which was nicknamed ‘Coke’ when it was first launched in 1983. However, it was not Rolex that presented a new black and red bezel this year, but its subsidiary brand Tudor with the Black Bay 58 GMT. Well, Rolex has really led us around by the nose. Will there still be a Rolex GMT Master ‘Coke’ in the foreseeable future? Percy Schoeler, renowned Rolex expert and publisher of Luxify, is pretty sure the answer is yes.

Tudor Black Bay 58 GMT

Of course, there were many other great horological innovations to see at the trade fair. In addition to the big players in the industry, many independents were also present. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to see them all live, nor is it possible to mention them all. Nevertheless, we have tried to give you an idea of what best raised our spirits this year, along with a smattering of our personal impressions and highlights of the fair.