This past week, the who's who of the watch world flocked to Geneva for the annual Watches and Wonders, a show that certainly lives up to the name. Today on DG, with the help of our friends, we break down the top five wonders of Watches and Wonders 2023.
5. Piaget's Stone and Jeweled Novelties
Vintage Watch Consultant Arthur Pfister muses, "The new heritage gem and stone novelties from Piaget is a hopeful step in the right direction, rediscovering the unique finesse they represented so well in the 70s. I can't wait to see what they will come up with for their 150th anniversary next year! Also, please go get yourself a factory custom Andy Warhol piece while you still can!"
Time+Tide's Zach Blass, agrees, "It is great to see Piaget push the Polo further, as there was definitely room for growth, interchangeable straps and increased complication. But, if that is emblematic of modern Piaget, it is great to see it balanced with their more jewelry-segment pieces like the Limelight. It is such a core part of their heritage, and, while the dudes club of watch snobs may scoff at it, it positions Piaget in an elite class of watch manufacture that only brands like Piaget, Bulgari, Cartier, and Van Cleef can work in. Jewelry watches are highly intricate to manufacture, and a reminder that the externals are just as crucial as the internals - if not more.”
4. Ulysse Nardin's Mirror Pic Moment
Biased to the iconic nature of a mirror pic, UN took that to new extremes by creating a blown up version of the FREAK watch complete with a mirrored ceiling for optimal content. "The Ulysse Nardin Freak is about as much fun as one can have when it comes to high end watchmaking, hence it follows suit that their booth at the end all be all of watch shows would follow suit. UN built an absolutely gargantuan facsimile of their iconic Freak movement - on the floor. That’s right, the floor. In fact, with soft padding on the hour and minute indicators, it was easy enough to mistake for it for an open air lounge space. What it was, however, was a massive jungle gym for show goers to live out their Harold Lloyd fantasies (think “silent film guy hanging off building clock face”). Thanks to an ingenious, and equally gargantuan 45 degree angled mirror, the opportunities for trompe l’oeil selfies depicting their subjects in various poses of feigned distress were essentially unlimited. Ulysse Nardin’s booth may not have been the biggest, or the most outlandish this year at Watches & Wonders, but hands down it was the most fun. Freakishly so, one might say." says Redbar's co-founder and Revolution's Editor-At-Large, Adam Craniotes.
Ulysse Nardin Communication & Marketing Director, Séverine Charlet says, "The booth is a tribute to the Freak which epitomizes Ulysse Nardin’s independence and free-spirited mindset. Thanks to an open design of the space, visitors are invited to enter the giant Freak construction and be a part of the watch itself as an immersive and interactive experience. They can lay down on the floor and take pictures of their reflection in the mirror, looking like they are hanging to/ falling from the Freak ONE.
This booth is literally changing the visual perspective on the installation and represents a metaphor of how the Freak changed the perspective on watchmaking when it was launched in 2001."
3. Jacob's 217-Carat Canary Billionaire Watch
Phillips Watch Specialist Arthur Touchot says, "For some, less is more. I suspect this is not a proverb Jacob & Co is familiar with, as the Billionaire Timeless Treasure is unapologetically bold, in size, carat-count, and in price. The only brand that could make this watch with any creditability is Jacob." The creation of diamond timepieces (at this level) is nothing new as in 1979 Vacheron Constantin unveiled the Kallista, with Graff and Piaget following suit with their own respective quartz models. Yet when accounting for canaries and complications, the Billionaire undeniably supersedes any of its other market competitors.
Hodinkee's resident Style Editor Malaika Crawford beamed, "The Billionaire is simply outrageous. I don't think anybody has ever seen that many yellow diamonds in a room, let alone on a singular object. But hey that's what Jacob is all about: maximum glam for maximum impact."
2. Rolex's Jigsaw Day-Date 36 Models
If the Jacob and Co Billionaire watch was the most Instagrammed watch of the fair, than the Rolex Jigsaw Day-Dates were the most contested. The release of the Rolex Day-Date 36 Jigsaw pieces were nothing short of a showstoppers, generating opinions at every spot on the spectrum. Bilal Khan simply notes, "Taking oneself seriously is passé in 2023. Alongside the colorfully bubbled Oyster Perpetuals, it’s a signpost heralding a new creative vision from the brand: expect the unexpected and even if it's not to your taste, it will be exquisitely finished." Whereas Zoe Abelson wished for more with the Jigsaw novelties, "The Day-Date is my favorite model and I’m always excited for Rolex to come out with new ways to elevate the super classic and elegant style, however in my opinion, the playfulness of the jigsaw design is better suited for an OP or Datejust."
Photographer Justin Hast saw a different side, "Rolex went rogue in 2023. And I for one loved witnessing the fall out firsthand. For years...decades, Rolex has been known for consistent, considered product evolution and for the first time ever, they stepped away from its multi-billion dollar recipe to produce a watch unapologetically colorful but third redundant (while it still shows the time, the day and date are a side note). Some will say it's a millennial power play or that there was Rolex pre and post emoji, but I think the political line Rolex has shared in that it just wanted to bring some joy during a tough period for many globally is about right. It is a global superpower after all. I just can't help but wish I was a fly on the wall in the boardroom when this was first pitched."
1. Revolution's Fondue Party
The perfect end to the week of watches, Revolution's fondue dinner was an unforgettable evening bringing all kinds of industry members together. Malaika Crawford shared: "Fondue, copious amounts of white wine and tequila and all your best watch buds under one roof: the Revolution fondue party closed out the week's antics with a bang and I'm pretty sure we all experienced the same raging hangover on Saturday morning to prove it."
Roy Davidoff echoed Crawford's sentiment, "When I walked in with my brother, everyone was there. It was the who's who of the watch world and an unhinged riot, I really feel like it was like a Gatsby style debutante crowd but with watches."