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Eight standout luxury watches from Watches & Wonders 2020

Eight standout luxury watches from Watches & Wonders 2020

As the first-ever digital-only Watches & Wonders event took place recently, we examine a few of the standout pieces to emerge from among the world’s finest watchmakers

Watches & Wonders

Cartier

Privé Tank Asymétrique Skeleton (pictured above)
Round watches may have been the norm in the 20th century, but going against the grain as far back as 1917 was Louis Cartier with the rectangular Tank timepiece. The Tank Asymétrique which followed nearly two decades later in 1936, pushed the idea of atypical designs with all the details on the dial moved 30 degrees to the right. (There’s further proof of Cartier’s radical designs in its Crash and the Maillon de Cartier collections). This year’s Tank Asymétrique Skeleton features the Caliber 9623MC skeletonised movement where the hour markers double up as bridges holding together the different parts of the in-house movement.

The manual winding timepiece with a power reserve of 48 hours, features case materials of either platinum, platinum set with diamonds or 18k pink gold, all of which come with made to measure alligator straps, and none of which stray from Cartier’s singular focus on impeccable design.

 

Watches & Wonders
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Chronograph Calendar

Jaeger-LeCoultre

Master Control Chronograph Calendar
This year’s stunning Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication with its dome-shaped wire crystal on the dial and its numerous astronomical complications did attract much attention, but it wasn’t nearly enough to eclipse the arrival of the Master Control Chronograph Calendar. The first Master Control timepieces surfaced in 1992 and was named after a battery of in-house tests including the ‘1000 Hours Control’ certification that fully cased-up watches in this collection are subjected to including temperature variations and water resistance.
This year’s Master Control Chronograph Calendar features a triple-calendar display showcasing the day, date and month as well as a moon phase and a column-wheel chronograph, all backed by an all-new self-winding movement, the JLC 759. The movement returns 65 hours of power reserve, and as with the other watches in the Master Control collection for 2020, JLC used silicon components within its escapement.
Rather than a traditional tachymeter scale to measure speed, the chronograph scale on this timepiece measures heart rates instead. Mild tachycardia cannot be ruled out the moment you try one of these on your wrist for the first time.

 

 

Watches & Wonders
Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Astronomical Striking Grand Complication – Ode to Music

Vacheron Constantin

Les Cabinotiers Astronomical Striking Grand Complication – Ode to Music

Making ultra-complicated watches is a specific area of expertise at Vacheron – it takes little effort to remember the incredible Ref 57260 from 2015 that featured 57 complications. This year, the watchmaker tapped into its Les Cabinotiers department to debut this dual-sided minute repeater – the Les Cabinotiers Astronomical Striking Grand Complication-Ode to Music – which features a total of 19 complications including a perpetual calendar, equation of time marchante, moonphase, among others.

It must be noted that those 19 complications have been built upon an ultra-thin Caliber 1731 movement. While in most cases, we’re content with gazing at the intricate movement through the caseback, at the rear of this watch you’ll also find an equally mesmerising rotating star chart that indicates the sidereal time.

Vacheron has gone a step further and collaborated with the iconic Abbey Road Studios too. The sound print of this minute repeater, which will be very limited by production, will be recorded and certified at the studio before it is deli­vered to a customer.

 

Watches & Wonders
Hermès Arceau L’Heure De La Lune

Hermès

Arceau L’Heure De La Lune
At the last edition of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve – the Oscars of the watchmaking world – it was Hermès that won the Calendar and Astronomy Watch category with its Arceau L’Heure De La Lune timepiece that launched a year ago. On it, you’ll find a pair of stationary moons made from mother of pearl, with rotating discs indicating the time on them and also revealing the moon phase in the north and south hemisphere (the moon in the top half displays the moonphase in the southern hemisphere while the lower one indicates that of the northern hemisphere).
This year, Hermès introduced five new dial options within the collection with three of them made from meteorites. These include a Black Sahara meteorite dial, a lunar meteorite dial (pictured here) and even a Martian meteorite dial which is limited to only two pieces. Truly, out of this world.

 

Watches & Wonders
Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 100

Montblanc

1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 100
The 1858 collection houses Montblanc’s prized movements – in this timepiece, you’ll find an in-house MB M16.31 caliber that features a rattrapante chronograph.

Equally important here is the titanium case. We’ve had iterations in gold, bronze and steel, but there’s been only one 1858 Split Second Chronograph timepiece in titanium which was made for the Only Watch auction last year.

With the rapturous reception it received back then, Montblanc responded by introducing this timepiece with a grade 5 titanium case now limited to 100 pieces.

The blue grand feu enamel dial is made of gold. The outer chronograph scale features a telemeter scale while the inner tachymeter scale, thanks to its snail-shape design, allows you to measure speeds for events lasting up to three minutes. A third of the time it will likely take you to decide you want one of these timepieces.

 

Watches & Wonders
Panerai Luminor Marina Fibratech PAM01663

Panerai

Luminor Marina Fibratech PAM01663
This timepiece features a case made up of an all-new material called Fibratech that Panerai says is made up of mineral basalt fibres. The watchmaker says that Fibratech is 60 per cent lighter than steel, tested within the aerospace industry, and has “unidirectional mineral fibres produced by the fusion of basalt rock.”

The fibres which are bonded with polymers, are applied in layers and are compressed using a combination of pressure and heat. Apart from Fibratech, the bezel on this watch is also made from another Panerai proprietary material called Carbotech – a carbon fibre composite that is lighter as well as less corrosive than ceramic and titanium.

The military-grade timepiece also features a robust P.9010 automatic-winding caliber with a three-day power reserve.

 

Watches & Wonders
Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept

Piaget

Altiplano Ultimate Concept
How thin can a thin watch really be? Piaget answers that question with this year’s Altiplano Ultimate Concept which at just 2mm thick, including the movement and case, now holds the world record for the world’s thinnest mechanical wristwatch.

For a sense of scale, consider that a Dhs1 coin has a thickness of 2.3mm.

This new timepiece is even thinner than the Piaget Ultimate Automatic 910P which held the record for the world’s thinnest automatic wristwatch when it debuted towards the end of 2017, but even that timepiece came in at 2.3mm.

The Altiplano Ultimate Concept with its 900P-UC movement still boasts a power reserve of 40 hours. It merges the bezel, crown, movement, dial and also the case which itself doubles up as a movement plate and is made up of a cobalt-based alloy. Piaget says that this made-to-order timepiece has up to 10,000 different customisation options including allowing customers to choose the colour of the bridge and the dial as well as the finish of the hands and main plate so that no two watches will ever really be the same.

 

Watches & Wonders
A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater With Blue Dial

A. Lange & Söhne

Zeitwerk Minute Repeater With Blue Dial
The Zeitwerk collection first appeared a decade ago. The first Zeitwerk Minute Repeater meanwhile launched in 2015 with a platinum case, and this year Lange has instead built one with a white gold case and blue dial that features a mechanical jumping numeral display as well as a decimal minute repeater that sounds ten-minute intervals.
On the dial-side itself, you can see the two black-polished steel hammers striking the gong when the minute repeater is activated. The watch is limited to just 30 pieces, and the L043.5 caliber has a total of 771 components. There are only two highly-skilled watchmakers at A. Lange & Söhne who are authorised to work on minute repeaters within the Zeitwerk department at the brand’s manufacture in Glashütte, so don’t expect to receive yours in a hurry.

 

Three Questions with…
Wilhelm Schmid, CEO of A. Lange & Söhne

1. What is the key lesson that the luxury watch industry must learn from the coronavirus pandemic?
Obviously, I can only speak for my own company. From the onset of the global spread of the virus, we used the time to prepare for rebound and recovery. And, although it is still too early to assess the long-term impact of the pandemic, I am convinced that the enduring commitment, engagement and solidarity of our employees, the support we receive from the Richemont Group and the trust of our customers will ensure that we will weather this storm.

2. Is there a ‘new reality’ that the industry must comprehend?
The gravity of this pandemic is unprecedented and the return to normality will be a long journey for the global economy as well as for most industries. If we look at the big picture the luxury watch industry is the cherry on the cake. And, to take the metaphor further, it will be back on the top of the cake once we have returned to economic prosperity.

3. Has there been a steep learning curve with the digital-only Watches & Wonders format this year?
Like other companies, we have found new ways to present our timepieces successfully online. This represents a transformed reality, and we have gained new experiences, which we are currently evaluating. My personal assessment is that digital ways of presentation cannot fully compete with face-to-face launch events.

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