Day Two: The View from AfarBy Felix Scholz
Yes, watch fairs are back in person, and it’s incredible. And from what you can see on our Instagram, it’s been a whirlwind. Watches and Wonders? More like Watches and Reunions, am I right? But IRL isn’t the default for everyone, and some of us are still learning about the latest and greatest from late-night digital presentations, 2021 style.
What is Watches and Wonders 2022, the remote edition, like? Well, there’s less champagne and bonhomie, to be fair, but there are advantages to a bird’s-eye view. You’re less stuck in the minutiae and can perhaps take in the big picture. So, which are the watches that are so great, we can’t help but be drawn to them even from half a world away? Let’s find out. Spoiler alert: this year it seems that complication is Queen.
A. Lange & Söhne
First cab off the rank, A. Lange & Söhne — the quiet masters of the watch fair flex. This year they’ve done it again with a veritable Superman of a watch, the Richard Lange Minute Repeater. From the front, this slender 39mm platinum watch is pure Clark Kent, with the traditional aesthetic we expect from the RL line. Turn it over, though, and the superpowers this watch possesses become instantly apparent. The manually wound L122.1 looks incredible, with hand-tuned gongs. Not being able to hear this one in person is one of my few W&W 2022 regrets.
If the Germans are keeping their engineering masterpieces on the down-low, the Japanese are shouting about theirs from the Swiss rooftops, as well they should. Grand Seiko makes their Geneva debut in style with a production version of the T0 Constant-Force tourbillon they announced in 2020, and it’s better than we could’ve hoped. The Kodo Constant-Force Tourbillon not only combines the constant force mechanism with the tourbillon cage, but it does so in a design that is quite radical for Grand Seiko: open-worked and airy — but still superbly finished.
Speaking of superbly finished, how about Laurent Ferrier? The new Classic Origin Blue might technically just be a manually wound time-only watch, but good golly Miss Molly, will you look at the caliber on this thing.? The LF116.01 is stunning. No over-the-top perlage or other decorative elements, just the purity of line and the quality of finish. The dégradé dial isn’t too bad either.
H. Moser & Cie.
On the topic of stunning dials, how about Moser’s new Streamliner? Oh wait, you didn’t see it. Well, you’re not alone, and that’s because the whole thing (hands excluded) has been coated with Anish Kapoor’s favorite paint, Vantablack. This high-tech substance absorbs 99 percent of light, and the result, when viewed against a black background at least, is an invisible watch. Incredible.
From a watch you can’t see to a watch you can’t miss — specifically, Zenith’s new Chronomaster Sport that is one of the best-looking chunks of gold I’ve seen in a long time. Sure, it’s packing the vaunted El Primero movement and the famous tricolor subdials, but all I see is a 41mm solid gold Chronomaster Sport. Sometimes, that’s all you need.
Of course, Zenith doesn’t have the monopoly on ridiculously cool sports watches released at W&W. TAG Heuer also owns a piece of that pie with the so-called Superdiver, which sees the brand temporarily depart the racetrack for 1,000 meters underwater. This souped-up Aquaracer has numerous water-resisting features, like the entirely new crown guard. It also — and somewhat uncharacteristically for a technical diver — looks pretty wearable on the wrist. Well done, TAG Heuer.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Black Bay family, a line which, by now, is synonymous with the brand as a whole. As part of their celebrations, they created an absolute knockout. The Black Bay Pro is pretty much every Tudor fan’s wish list delivered in one, glorious, 39mm, GMT-equipped, retro-inspired, yellow-accented watch. Of the top tier of releases from the fair, this is fast shaping up to be the people’s choice.
Ressence always charms with their “Look Ma, no hands” approach to watch design. The Type 8 is their latest take on this unique philosophy. It pares back what a watch is down to its essence, a super lightweight 42.9mm titanium case with hour and minute displays, and an ingenious mechanism squared away behind the matte cobalt blue dial. It also represents a new entry model for the brand at CHF 12,500.
We may well have saved the best for last with Chopard. They hit a series of home runs with a triptych of striking watches and a tourbillon-powered Alpine Eagle. Really though, the bravura display is the one put on by the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire, with a 42.5mm sapphire case, along with the patented monobloc sapphire crystal and gongs for a minute repeater that is jaw-dropping in both its technical sophistication and beauty. Hearing the time never looked so good.
So that’s the view from afar — check back tomorrow our Day Three roundup.