Day One: The Return of FacesBy Barbara Palumbo
Teeth. Remember teeth? Remember smiles? Remember… faces? The last two years may have temporarily shrouded our punims behind airline-approved blue surgical masks, but today — on the opening day of Watches and Wonders Geneva — those faces, along with their smiles, were back, better than ever, and kissed three times by each friend, acquaintance and colleague they hadn’t seen in the last two years. Today, we in the watch world looked at faces in a way we never had prior, and not because the faces were made of a rare mineral or because they were decorated in a colorful enamel, but rather because they were reminders of the reason we are all here in the first place: to enjoy the art of watchmaking as a community.
A return to Geneva for what may likely be the premier watch event of 2022, was as exciting as it was calming. Walking into the halls of the Palexpo expecting both the similarities and the differences that would come from a rebranding of the “watch fair formerly known as the SIHH” made for an overall curious vibe. On the one hand, the calming cream and cocoa-colored facades, three-course gourmet lunches, and endless cups of espresso still existed. On the other, the mega-booths we were accustomed to seeing at the “show that shall not be named” were a new addition, and although surprising at first glance, they quickly fell into the background, seeming as though they’d been there all along.
Obviously, you’ll be learning more about the releases from Watches and Wonders in the coming days and weeks, but hopefully these daily highlights give you, the reader, just a little taste of what’s happening on the ground here in Geneva. The watches are, of course, the reason we’re all here, but the experiences surrounding each release and the stories behind the brands doing the releasing are what make these moments memorable for all in attendance, either physically or virtually. And with masks no longer mandatory here in Geneva, the enjoyment we get from those moments are written all over our faces.
Watch standouts from day one were, well, fairly numerous. The big names came out with guns blazing and we were here for all of it.
From an 18K yellow gold Yacht-Master with bidirectional rotatable bezel and a Cerachrom insert, to a white gold, gem-set version of the same collection with a bezel consisting of trapeze-cut diamonds and sapphires inspired by the colors of the aurora borealis, to a platinum version of the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 40 with an ice blue dial, Rolex showed their true colors yet again, and this year, those colors were subtle and soft, cool and calm, and were seemingly welcomed by those in attendance.
Of course, who can overlook the left-handed GMT Master II, the star of the Rolex outing if you ask us. Switching sides is no easy task. In Rolex’s case, it required an entire redevelopment of the COSC-testing equipment to allow for the change in movement orientation. In terms of colorways, the black-and-green Cerachom bezel combo is likely to fan the sizzling GMT-Master II market further.
Always a highlight in Geneva (no matter the technical name of the show), Cartier turned up with a number of new novelties as well as paying homage to some of their popular older ones. A standout was the Cartier Masse Mystérieuse; an extraordinary (and absolutely gorgeous) timepiece that includes the caliber 9801 MC movement which the maison considers to be its most complicated movement to date.
Green was most certainly a theme with a handful of the new Patek Philippe novelties released at Watches and Wonders. The color — a popular one amongst collectors still — was incorporated into a number of their new additions. But at the end of the day, it was the charcoal-gray, textured dial of the Calatrava reference 5226 in white gold that seemed to captivate the masses and garner huge reactions via social media.
Another head-turner at Patek is the Annual Calendar Travel Time 5326G-00, which marks the first time the maison has combined these two complications into a single watch.
When the watch community thinks of Hublot, they don’t exactly think of watches that are square in shape, but at this year’s Watches and Wonders — where Hublot is making its first appearance — the brand set out to change that mindset with the introduction of the Square Bang Unico. And we’re here for it. We’re really here for it.
One of the highlights from day one of Watches and Wonders was undoubtedly the return of the iconic Vacheron Constantin 222 Jumbo in sumptuous yellow gold and powered by the caliber 2455/2, which operates at 4Hz and boasts a 40-hour power reserve.
The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon Skeleton, meanwhile, is introduced by the brand in 18K 5N pink gold as well as in Grade 5 titanium. It marks the first timepiece in the Overseas collection equipped with a tourbillon movement in a skeletonized version. And let’s face it… the three-day power reserve is just the cherry on top.
In a move that some retailers might look upon as controversial, TAG Heuer introduced the Carrera Plasma watch which features lab-grown diamonds as part of the watch’s design. It was a bold move on the brand’s part as there is still a debate amongst the gem and jewelry community about the benefits of lab-grown diamonds as opposed to naturally mined diamonds. But whatever side of the aisle one might stand on, there’s no doubting that the Carrera Plasma watch is pretty damn good-looking.