In our third installement on Watches & Wonders Geneva 2023, we focus on the timepieces that are less traditional, either with the use of innovative materials, designs, complications or time displays.
Bell & Ross – BR-X5 Carbon Orange
Of all new offerings from Bell & Ross, this BR-X5 Carbon Orange stands out for its technical appearance, one that echoes the brand’s established design language inspired by flight instruments. Although it is not the first time we see them use carbon fibre and titanium, the case of this watch shows a very discreet and interesting construction when viewed from the side. By layering both carbon fibre and titanium, and a splash of colour, the case is rich in texture which makes it quite youthful and appealing. The physical properties of the material combined with the rubber strap are also effective in bringing lightness to the watch. The orange accent extends to the dial, on the second hand and the power reserve indicator, as well as the waterproof depth printing, nice touches that don’t disrupt the already quite legible layout for the complication.
Chanel – J12 Cybernetic
An evolution from the J12 Paradox which launched in 2020, Chanel has continued to play with the iconic black and white colours for the Interstellar collections.The inspiration was taken from cosmic rhapsody, from asteroid fields to cybernetic worlds. The debut of the pixelated motif creates a sense of playfulness to the stepped case and the checked dial, a pattern that was all that much more difficult to create as it’s executed in ceramic, a material that is approximately three times harder than steel. Continuing to host the calibre 12.1, the automatic movement is produced by Kenissi with a 70-hour power reserve and COSC-certification.
Hublot – Big Bang Integrated Tourbillon Full Carbon
Combining innovation and tradition, the Hublot Big Bang Integrated Tourbillon has been newly cased into a scratch-resistant composite case of Texalium and carbon fibre to achieve a light weight of 42 grams only. It has a matching integrated strap that’s only an additional 26 grams, adding up to a total weight of 68 grams for the 43mm Big Bang case, an impressive feat given the complex construction of the case alone. The research and development of new material is embedded in the brand’s DNA. Since it’s almost impossible to colour carbon fibre, coloured Texalium fibreglass was woven into the carbon base. The skeletonised dial showcases the calibre HUB6035 with the revolving tourbillon movement at 6 o’clock and a micro rotor at 12 o’clock, suspended on transparent sapphire bridges supported by an interlaced structural baseplate. This construction further showcases Hublot’s abilities with in-house complications while emphasising the timepiece’s ultra lightweight nature as a sought-after aspect in the luxury watch market.
Oris – ProPilot x Kermit
This year, Oris has jumped on the playfulness bandwagon and taken the initiative to collaborate with Disney in bringing something light-hearted to an adult’s day to day watch with the new ProPilot x Kermit. For every first day of the month, the date aperture will show the smiling face of the famed character Kermit the Frog from the classic Muppet Show. In addition, the watch dial is made in Kermit’s lime green tone. Housing in-house calibre 400 movement is antimagnetic and features a five-day power reserve, and is fitted in a 39mm titanium case with a twilled bezel and protective crown guard. It’s a sprightly combination of function and whimsy.
Piaget – Limelight High Jewellery Watch
We often associate Piaget with its expertise in ultra-thin mechanical watches, which culminated with the Altiplano Ultimate Concept, one of the industry’s thinnest ever, but the ones that we feel are perhaps even more representative of the maison’s identity are the High Jewellery Cuff Watches. Inspired by Piaget’s cuff watches from the ‘60s and ‘70s, this year’s collection are truly works of art that show perfectly exemplify how a watch can also be an art piece, with the maison’s master artisans crafting beautiful jewellery cuffs from which a watch seems to be peering out under the hand finished precious metal. Each piece is created very organically, with the goldsmith following a mood rather than a pattern, such that each cuff watch becomes unique.
Rolex – Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36
Much of the talk from Watches & Wonders was about this mischievous way for Rolex to reinterpret the iconic Day-Date without any actual day or date. At first glance, this new Day-Date continues its signature design with a bevelled bezel, oyster case and President bracelet, immediately disrupted by the colourful puzzle motif enamelled dial which stands out with 10 rainbow baguette-cut sapphire indexes. An additional surprise comes when the original day disc is now showing heart-warming and motivational words, “Happy,” “Eternity,” “Gratitude,” “Peace,” “Faith,” “Love” and “Hope”, while the date disc has been decorated with 31 different emojis. The Day-Date Jigsaw dial model is powered by the calibre 3255 automatic movement in a 36mm case.
Ulysse Nardin – Freak One
It’s extraordinary to think that Ulysse Nardin’s signature Freak collection is now over 20 years old, as we would submit that it would look just as revolutionary if it were newly introduced today. It’s a testament to Ludwig Oechlin’s extraordinary vision, making, in effect, the entire movement the time display. At first glance, you may wonder how to actually read the time, but once explained, it becomes second nature, with the carrousel construction of the movement indicated the minutes, with the hours rotating underneath. There is no crown to speak of, as the bezel is used to set the time. It is equipped with a very efficient winding system dubbed the Grinder, but additional mechanical power can be given by using the caseback to manual wind the watch if necessary. With a refreshed aesthetic, the new Freak One continues to be one of the most recognisable timepieces in the industry today.
Van Cleef & Arpels – Lady Féerie Or Rose
Van Cleef & Arpels continually creates fulfilling dreams for ladies with whimsical mechanical movement for poetic story-telling. This year, the maison added a new mood for the Lady Féerie Or Rose watch with shades of rosy colour. The cherished fairy motif has been with the house since the 1940’s, having first inspired a Poetic Complication in 2007 with the Lady Arpels Féerie in 38mm demonstrating retrograde indications for hours and minutes, using an exclusive module developed by Agenhor for Van Cleef & Arpels. The fable was further enhanced, when the maison launched the Lady Féerie watch in a more diminutive 33mm case with a much more compact movement made by Valfleurier with jump hour and retrograde minutes, which mimicked the fairy waving a magical wand. Instead of the turquoise plique-à-jour enamel background depicting the early morning, the scene has changed to a pink plique-à-jour enamel dial imitating the sunset, decorated with mother of pearl clouds and diamond adorned stars. The jump hour aperture is the centre of the sunray, portraying the sun in the soft and gentle beams. The delicate gradient effect, with white, gold, plum and fuchsia employed to illustrate the sky, is a statement on the tremendous skill exhibited by the maison’s artisans.