Taking place in a hybrid phygital format, the year’s largest watch fair, Watches & Wonders, recently kicked off. Taking place from March 30 to April 5 in Geneva, as well as online through virtual presentations, the summit will see 38 participating brands unveil their latest horological creations. These are the highlights from day four of the event.
It’s been several years since Cartier regularly presented High Watchmaking creations such as the cutting-edge Astrotourbillon and Astrocalendaire timepieces, but this year, it reminds us of what it’s capable of on the technical front with the Masse Mysterieuse. Available only in platinum (30-piece limited edition) or platinum with diamonds, the 43.5mm creation is captivating at first sight, with its unique mobile movement.
The result of some eight years of development, the new self-winding calibre 9801 MC is housed within a skeletonised rotor, moving freely with the wearer’s wrist movements. One patent has been filed for a differential system that is integrated into the system to prevent the hour and minute hands from being affected by the movement of the rotor. Appearing suspended within the movement with no visible connection to any gears, the time display is inspired by that of the mystery clocks that Cartier first introduced in 1912.
It’s the 25th anniversary of Chopard’s L.U.C collection, and the brand is literally ringing in this milestone with a trio of new chiming watches. In creating these timepieces, Chopard co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele roped in brothers and classical musicians Renaud and Gautier Capucon to fine-tune their sound. The clear and rich chimes are the result of Chopard’s unique sapphire gongs and glass, which are machined in a single piece — a feature launched in 2016 with the L.U.C Full Strike, the brand’s first minute repeater.
One of the three new chiming watches, the L.U.C Full Strike Sapphire is a comprehensive elaboration of the sapphire crystal theme. Aside from the gongs of the L.U.C 08.01-L calibre, the 42.5mm case, crown and dial of the watch are also crafted from this transparent, scratch-resistant material.
Aside from technical features such as a dedicated spring barrel for the chiming mechanism that can be wound via the crown (which gives the minute repeater greater energy and lets it run for longer), this watch also has safety mechanisms such as a strikework-activation device. A pusher within the crown is used to activate the minute repeater, and this device disengages the pusher after it is used, so there’s no risk of damaging the minute repeater if one accidentally presses it again.
Until recently, when Bulgari unveiled its record-breaking 1.8mm-thin Octo Finissimo Ultra, the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept (AUC) was the thinnest mechanical watch in the world with its barely-there height of 2mm. In simple terms, it did so by fusing components so as to compress the usual four layers of a watch — the bezel and crystal; dial and hands; the movement; and the caseback — into two: The bridges, dial and hands are integrated into one part, as are the caseback, movement, mainplate and bezel. The timepiece was first unveiled in 2018 as a concept timepiece, and was produced commercially just two years later.
This year, Piaget creates a unique piece to celebrate the precise birth of the AUC, which first came to life at the brand’s manufacture in La-Cote-aux-Fees in Switzerland on Feb 7, 2017 at 7.47am. Housed in a 41mm case made of a cobalt-based alloy, the watch features the Piaget logo in a historic font that is also used in the logo at its manufacture.
The time when the AUC began ticking, 7.47, is cleverly highlighted with two enlarged circles on the minute ring. On the ratchet wheel are inscriptions paying homage to Piaget’s home, La-Cote-aux-Fees, complete with its GPS coordinates. In the background, stars are lit up with Super-Luminova, reproducing the sky above La-Cote-aux-Fees when the AUC took its first beat.
At a keynote discussion with Van Cleef & Arpels’ president and CEO Nicolas Bos at Watches & Wonders, English historian and writer Nicholas Foulkes congratulated the former on his brand’s return to the event, commenting that it “put the wonders back into Watches & Wonders”. Van Cleef & Arpels exited the watch fair, then still known as the Salon Internationale de la Haute Horlogerie, in 2018. We definitely agree with Foulkes.
For 2022, the maison showcases its Poetic Complications — mechanical watches that “tell stories, not just the time”, according to Bos — as well as its enchanting tabletop automatons. One such Poetic Complication is the Lady Arpels Heures Florales, which tells the time by the opening of the 12 flowers on its dial. At the top of each hour, flowers open to indicate the hours — the number of flowers correspond to the hour. It’s all powered by an automatic movement with a module developed in-house.
There are two versions of the 38mm timepiece: One in green and blue (white gold case), and the other in pink and red (rose gold case). Each dial bears 226 stunning elements enhanced by the brand’s artisanal skills: Articulated petals and butterflies in miniature painting, brances in sculpted gold and clouds in sculpted mother-of-pearl, as well as expertly set gemstones such as sapphires, and yellow and white diamonds. It’s truly wondrous.
This article originally appeared in The Peak