April 14, 20246 min Read

Watches and Wonders Opens Up the World of Watches

By Niclas Berglund

Watches and Wonders, the world’s largest watch fair, opens its doors to the public for the first time. This is further proof of the growing watch market. For many brands out there, growth may be happening too fast, with waitlists spanning several years and eager customers pouncing on their models as soon as they get the chance. Many watches remain just a dream for many, but despite this, the enthusiasm is incredible and Geneva truly boils with anticipation and opportunities for many like-minded individuals to share their thoughts.

Rolex – One of the main attractions of the fair, as usual the brand attracts a lot of attention. The queues were long to partake in the crown’s novelties. One of the big rumors before this year’s Watches and Wonders was that Rolex would discontinue its iconic model, the so called GMT-Pepsi. That was not the case and the model remains in the Rolex catalog, but the GMT line instead receives a new addition that immediately attracted a lot of attention. The Rolex GMT Master II with a gray/black ceramic bezel and a green GMT hand is one of the big talking points of the fair. The question is what nickname this model will get. Someone said Bruce Wayne… time will tell.

Outside the Rolex exhibition booth, the queues were long to partake in the brand’s news.

This is what caused the buzz: the brand new addition to Rolex’s GMT line.

The inscription ‘GMT-Master II’ is featured in green on the black lacquer dial, mirroring the hue of the triangle-tipped 24-hour hand—a distinctive feature that plays a significant role in the model’s design.

Tudor with its ear to the ground

Tudor – Another main actor, seems once again to have its ear to the ground and listens to its customers. They are releasing a Black Bay 58 GMT with a Coke-inspired bezel ring and gilt-tone in the markers. Personally, the gilt might be a bit too much for me, but I still love you, Tudor. Another model from the brand that appeals to many is their release of the Black Bay Monochrome. The model is slightly larger with its 41 mm case compared to the 58’s 39 mm. The dial is very subdued with its toned-down appearance. Tudor also released a Black Bay 58 in full gold with a green dial. Tudor has done it again – and delivered, what I believe will be, new successes to its catalog.

Outside Tudor, the interest in the brand’s novelties is one of the biggest draws during the fair.

The new Black Bay 58 GMT is fitted with Tudor’s new mid-size GMT Manufacture Calibre paired with warm hues of burgundy, black, and gilt on the bezel.

The newest iteration of the Black Bay in monochrome. This model features evolved design elements, a “T-fit” clasp and is Master Chronometer certified by METAS.

Tudor introduces a bold version of its popular model, the Black Bay 58, in 18 ct yellow gold with an open case back.

your imagination far from the watch dial

Trilobe – An independent brand from France, tells time in a somewhat unexpected way. With a design that is exciting and takes your imagination far from the watch dial, they have really made an impression on me. Their Nuit Fantastique is a fantastic watch that sits nicely on the wrist with fine balance. The case measures 40.5 mm, alternatively 38.5 mm, and has an outstanding finish. The titanium case makes it light to wear. One of the stars of the fair, and I think Trilobe have a bright future ahead.

Nuit Fantastique, Brume: This automatic watch, crafted from titanium, combines sleek design with sophisticated technology.

The lightweight titanium case enhances comfort and durability, making it an ideal choice for everyday wear. Its elegant aesthetics are highlighted by a minimalist dial that captures the essence of modern style while providing exceptional readability.

Patek Philippe – The giant that stands in a class of its own in haute horlogerie, particularly excels in the segment they themselves call Grand Complications. However, the more accessible models intended for a broader audience were somewhat disappointing this year. Patek Philippe is trying to reach a younger audience and appeal to a new generation of collectors by attaching a denim strap to their Nautilus 5980G and World Timer 5330G. I must admit that the new World Timer’s dial really appeals to me. Another nice touch is the new movement that can adjust the date according to the time zone. Unfortunately, it was a miss for the giant and somewhat of a disappointment at the fair this year.

Outside the Patek Philippe booth, there was a very bright and welcoming ambiance that enhanced the way they displayed their watches.

For the first time at Patek Philippe, the date display mode comprises a transparent hand made of glass with a hammer-shaped tip in red lacquer that moves along a transfer-printed scale from 1 to 31, to avoid this relatively static hand’s disturbing the legibility of the other information.

Those who know, know

Cartier – The brand that year after year gains ground in the watch industry and wins the hearts of enthusiasts, is hardly a novice. They’ve been around for a while and know design. This year they are releasing, Cartier Privé Tortue Monopoussoir Chronograph, a model with a Tonneau-shaped case in rose gold and, what made me kneel, one in platinum with a glowing ruby that confirms the metal in design. Those who know, know. Cartier has picked up speed, and if they don’t slow down soon, they might well become the best-selling watch brand within a few years. Cartier is like a breath of fresh air sweeping into a dusty room. Well done, Cartier.

Cartier had the most elegant and beautiful showroom at the fair. It seems like everything they touch breathes elegance and class. The design of the space perfectly complemented the exquisite craftsmanship of their watches.

Cartier Privé Tortue Monopoussoir Chronograph, Platinum. Limited edition of 200 numbered pieces.

I am a heading

Outside the fair, at various hotels around the city, one can find several watch brands. Geneva really boils over with watch fever and everywhere I see people with fantastic watches on their wrists. My watch radar is on high alert and is in need of service after this week. At the Beau Rivage Hotel, several manufacturers such as L’Epée, Baltic, Furlan Marri, and De Bethune are found.

The latter had an exciting launch of the DB28 XS Purple Rain – as the name suggests, the watch is purple. It wears absolutely fantastically. De Bethune has several models with larger cases, but this model, with its 39 mm case, felt just right in size. I must admit that I got the urge to buy and a desire kicked in. But I have to dunk my head in a bucket of ice water and snap my credit card before I do something my budget won’t allow.

Hotel Beau Rivage hosted many brands and was one of the main attractions during the week in Geneva.

DB28 XS Purple Rain, 39mm case in titanium.

the world's thinnest mechanical watch

One of the major wow-watches was Bvlgari’s new ultra-thin Octo Finissimo in titanium. With this 1.8 mm thin model, the manufacturer sets a new record – the world’s thinnest mechanical watch. An impressively magnificent creation. The brand also presented several other new products, including the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic. This watch features a mechanical ultra-thin movement (1.95 mm thick), automatic winding, and a flying tourbillon, which was truly something special to wear on the wrist. Bvlgari is an exciting brand that has emerged strongly in recent years, and their Octo Finissimo model has gained significant attention in the watch industry – rightfully so.

Octo Finissimo Ultra COSC: A remarkably thin, 1.8mm COSC-certified mechanical watch with manual winding. Crafted with a sandblasted titanium case and bracelet.

Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic watch with mechanical manufacture ultra-thin movement (1.95 mm thick), automatic winding and flying tourbillon.

One Brand Missing

One of the unexpected encounters of the week was when I visited the L’iceBergues Exhibition Centre and suddenly saw Kari Voutilainen, a legend in watchmaking. With a cautious demeanor, he presented his models. I hope to have the chance to meet him again in the future. Another giant I had the chance to shake hands with was Maximilian Büsser, the founder of MB&F. It was fantastic to have the opportunity to exchange a few words with him after following his work from afar for many years.

If I were to mention a brand that was missing from the mix, as we’ve touched on earlier, it would be MB&F, in my opinion the king of the throne in independent watchmaking. But fortunately, the M.A.D. Gallery is located in central Geneva, so one can still partake of their fantastic watches.

In summary, it has been a fantastic week and I highly recommend visiting Geneva during Watches and Wonders. However, I would like to emphasize that the fair is just part of the big picture. There is so much more to discover than just those exhibiting at the fair. My strongest memories from the week happened at the exhibitions downtown in Geneva.

Don’t miss out on the article about Bezl’s visit to MB&F and their M.A.D. House. You can read it here: MB&F – Where Time Becomes Art ⏱

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