: Watches & Wonders Geneva 2023 – Part 1
Text Sean Li, Cherie Wong, Francis Cheung
Photos WWGF / Pierre Albouy, Valentin Flauraud, Cyril Zingaro

There was a sense of heightened excitement earlier this year as the watch world prepared for Watches & Wonders Geneva. Held from March 27th to April 2nd at the Palexpo exhibition centre, the fair was once again able to greet people from around the world, and it seemed that everyone responded to that call after three years of mostly digital presentations.

The fair has certainly evolved in that time, with major brands that had previously exhibited in Basel now joining W&W Geneva, bringing the total number of exhibitors to 48, although they have all been located within the same physical space that had previously housed only 16 maisons. Needless to say, it made for a rather hectic few days as we went around and visited numerous brands.


We start our coverage with what seemed one complication which is naturally the focus of many maisons as it’s one of the most popular in the market: the chronograph. This one commonality though is interpreted in numerous ways, aesthetically and functionally.

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A. Lange & Söhne – Odysseus Chronograph

The German maison made a splash in 2019 when it introduced its first steel series watch, the Odysseus, with a large day-date complication that was easily set using the pushers on the side of the case. With this year’s Odysseus Chronograph, their watchmakers managed to maintain the day-date display whilst adding a central chronograph, with both complications operated using the same pushers; with the crown screwed in, they are used to start, stop and reset the chronograph, while pulling the crown allows you to set the day and date. A considerable effort was made to ensure that these pushers would maintain Lange’s well-known tactility, with little effort required to start, stop and reset the chronograph. In fact, this is the main reason why the chronograph’s seconds hand has what Lange refers to as a “dynamic reset-to-zero” function, which makes it spin several times when the chronograph is reset, thanks to an innovative construction which does not rely on the traditional heart-shaped cams but ensures minimal resistance when activating the reset pusher.


Grand Seiko – Tentagraph SLGC001

Grand Seiko introduced a high frequency chronograph to expand on their Evolution 9 sports watch offerings, the Tentagraph. The first fully mechanical chronograph offering from the maison, the watch prominently features a high frequency escapement of 36,000 vibrations per hour, or 10 beats per second, to increase the precision in elapsed time measuring, while also implementing the Dual Impulse Escapement to increase the energy efficiency, allowing it to achieve a three-day power reserve even with the chronograph in operation with a high frequency escapement. In addition, the calibre 9SC5 uses a vertical clutch to minimise the amplitude drop from actuating the chronograph, a three-pointed hammer to ensure a perfect reset synchronisation, and a free-sprung balance instead of a regulator. Altogether an impressive high-end chronograph package. And if you’re wondering where the name comes from, it’s a concatenation of the watch’s major features: 10 beats per second (Ten), three-day power reserve (T), automatic winding (A), and chronograph (Graph) – Tentagraph.


Hermès – H08 Monopusher Chronograph

Two years on from its introduction, the H08 collection has welcomed its very first monopusher chronograph. Animated by the H1837 automatic movement developed by Vaucher, with new additional chronograph functions, the H08 retains its silhouettes by discreetly integrating the monopusher in the crown. Following the usual H08 sense of a rational and clean aesthetic, the charcoal dial is composed of contrasting matte and grained textures with a touch of orange accents for inner hour markers, three hands and crown pusher. The two sub-registers are aligned to the crown which creates a visual balance with the iconic square case composed of carbon and graphene composite with a titanium bezel, giving the timepiece a colourway of various shades of charcoal.


Jaeger-LeCoultre – Reverso Tribute Chronograph

One of the true icons in watchmaking, the story of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is well-know, first presented in 1931 in response to a request from polo players to have a watch that could be better protected from the elements. Although it must be said that the new Reverso Tribute Chronograph does not necessarily follow that initial requirement, it does have a dual personality that is perhaps better suited to modern times, with a discrete classical time display on one side, and a sporty chronograph displayed on the other with a skeletonized dial that allows you to see the technical aspects of the calibre while maintaining the Reverso’s elegant form factor. Two models were presented, one in steel with a blue dial, the other in pink gold with a black dial.

1858 The Unveiled Secret Minerva Monopusher Chronograph LE 88 43mm (5)

Montblanc – Unveiled Secret Minerva Monopusher Chronograph

While display case backs give us the ability to see the inner workings of a watch’s calibre, there are instances where the mechanism is so intriguing that we’ve pondered wearing the watch upside down. Montblanc has effectively solved this dilemma with the Unveiled Secret Minerva Monopusher Chronograph. It may initially look like a skeletonized watch, but it is in fact a reversed movement. This requires an additional 21 components so that the time indication runs in the usual direction, but it does allow you to see the intricacy of the Minerva calibre MB 16.26 (which is based on the 16.29, but Montblanc, “for fun”, decided to flip the last digit to indicate that it’s reversed). Initially presented last year in lime gold and stainless steel, we now see it in a limited edition of 88 pieces distressed steel with a different, darker anthracite ruthenium finish on the movement, which gives it a much more contemporary look.


Roger Dubuis – Monovortex Split-Seconds Chronograph

Perhaps one of the most intriguing constructions at this year’s Watches & Wonders, Roger Dubuis’ Monovortex Split-Seconds Chronograph is certainly more than the sum of its parts. The name may point to its main complication, a split-seconds chronograph, or rattrapante, but it’s the underlying mechanisms that have perhaps not yet received the attention they deserve. First, the tourbillon, which is a much-lauded classical mechanism designed to improve a watch’s chronometry, but which is actually ill-suited for the modern wristwatch, given that the escapement is seldom in the optimum vertical position for the tourbillon to work well. The Monovortex is equipped with a conical tourbillon that is better suited for a wrist-worn application. In addition, it has a very unique cylindrical winding rotor at 12 o’clock, an interesting mirror to the rotation of the tourbillon at 9 o’clock.


TAG Heuer – Carrera Chronograph

TAG Heuer celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Carrera model with a series of new watches, one of which is the Carrera chronograph in 39mm. We have seen in recent times some other reiterations of the Carrera that used early references of the models as inspiration, however, this specific model shows strong resemblance from the Dato 12 reference 3147 and the reference 2447 NS, dubbed the “reverse panda”. On top of putting together the emblematic elements, thoughts have been put on improving the legibility of the chronograph without oversizing the case. The domed profile of the sapphire crystal works in conjunction with the flange, the tachymeter and the indexes, which are now curved, or adjusted to maximise the perceivable angles of the chronograph reading, in keeping with Jack Heuer’s original purpose for the watch.

ZENITH_Pilot Big Date Flyback PR (1)

Zenith – Pilot Big Date Flyback

Paying tribute to the brand’s rich history in pioneering aviation, Zenith debuted the all-new Pilot collection that combines vintage aesthetics and modern materials. This version of the Big Pilot Date Flyback features a stealthy black ceramic case in a microblasted finish, and a corrugated black dial and white Arabic numerals in SuperLuminova for a high, legible contrast. One of the impressive, perhaps quirky, functions is the patented, instantaneous big date at 6 o’clock, which is capable of completing a date change (or jump, rather) within 0.03 seconds, accompanied by an audible and satisfying click as the discs move. It is a very interesting mechanism as it involves a high level of energy and torque, from release to buffer and stabilisation, animating the jump in a very short amount of time. The high-frequency El Primero 3652 movement held within also provides better precision to the chronograph, complemented by the flyback function that offers the possibility to record consecutive times without stopping.

A. Lange & SöhneChronographGenevagrand seikoHermesjaeger-lecoultreMonopusherMontblancRoger DubuisTAG HeuerWatches & WondersWWGFzenith