For one week each spring, the eyes of watch aficionados around the globe are focused on Geneva, Switzerland, the epicenter of status timepieces. That’s when the world’s most coveted brands debut their newest styles at two events, Watches & Wonders and Geneva Watch Week. Together, they’re roundly agreed to be the industry’s most prestigious and high-profile event.
In both a convention space minutes from Lake Geneva and in venues throughout the city’s historic district, new models are launched by brands beloved by hardcore fans. From Rolex to Patek Philippe, Hublot to TAG Heuer, the latest mechanical timepieces spark a frenzy of conversation and online coverage before arriving in boutiques.
Indeed, if there’s one lesson to be learned as the watch industry continues to trend upward in both consumer interest and record-breaking sales, it’s that if you fall in love with a just-launched timepiece, don’t wait. Watch collectors understand more than ever that new models move quickly, so if you’ve fallen in love with either the look or the functions of a particular piece and it’s in your hand, do not hesitate.
From high-end mechanical watches sure to get noticed to painstaking handcraft, we’ve curated a selection of eight timepieces that made headlines in Geneva.
SOUTH COAST PLAZA
NEW WATCH DEBUTS
Bvlgari Octo Roma Auto
In a penthouse suite atop Geneva’s luxurious Hotel Beau-Rivage, Bvlgari debuted a variety of new styles in its iconic Octo collection. Named for its multilayered, eight-sided case, Octo’s original design emerged in the 1980s from the mind of legendary designer Gerald Genta, the late watchmaker also known for creating the Patek Philippe Nautilus and Audemar Piguet’s Royal Oak.
Over the years Bvlgari has put the spotlight on ultra-thin designs in its Octo Finissimo collection, but for a similar silhouette in a piece that feels perfect for everyday wear, the new Octo Roma Auto Blue combines an eye-catching design with a polished feel. The 41mm stainless steel case houses an automatic movement and a beautiful blue dial featuring a Clous de Paris finish and a date window in the 3 o’clock position. The satin-brushed case in stainless steel also can be easily switched out for an included band in black rubber.
Cartier Tank Américaine
For proof of the watch industry’s robust health, consider the incredible number of new pieces released by Cartier. While some brands release only a handful of new models, and others go all-in on just a single debut, Cartier introduced more than 80 novelties, many from its legendary Tank collection. Introduced in 1918, Cartier’s Tank indeed takes its name from the lines and proportions of the tanks seen on World War I battlefields, and over the years it’s become an incredibly popular watch, celebrated for its classic styling and timeless elegance.
Cartier offers a variety of sub-collections within Tank, from the Tank Française to the Tank Louis Cartier and the Tank Normale. The Tank Américaine, seen here, was launched in 1987 as a larger, updated take on the original Tank. Cartier fans often prefer this larger, elongated model, which may be the reason the jewelry and watch house highlighted several new Tank Américaine styles. Crafted to highlight both a case and bracelet in 18-karat yellow gold, this model also features parallel rows of diamonds on the rectangular case.
Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Pique-Aiguilles
Among its latest debuts, Chanel Fine Jewelry chose to highlight an image integral to the house: Coco Chanel in her atelier, with two essential tools, a pair of scissors and a pincushion, always close at hand. The latter idea was used to create a series of oversized watches in five motifs, each limited to just 20 pieces and featuring a dial rooted in the passion of handcraft.
The Mademoiselle Privé Pique-Aiguilles Tweed Motif seen here indeed takes its cue from the pattern of a Chanel jacket in the midst of construction, with a thimble, scissors and measuring tape delicately placed on top. Housed in a 55mm case of 18-karat yellow gold, the black-lacquered dial is embellished with hand embroidery, 92 brilliant-cut diamonds, four pearls as buttons, and 18-karat gold for both the tools and the chain that finishes every Chanel jacket. The slim hands, meanwhile, are meant to evoke thoughts of sewing needles.
Hublot Square Bang Unico Sapphire
Hublot excels at employing forward-thinking materials — the brand was among the earliest adopters of titanium to design lightweight cases, while it’s always experimenting with ceramic techniques to create bold colors not seen elsewhere. Sapphire is another material that’s been established as a Hublot signature, used to create transparent cases that are beautiful alone, but also do a spectacular job at highlighting a watch’s inner workings.
The latest is the Square Bang Unico Sapphire seen here, featuring an automatic chronograph movement in a 42mm square case of polished synthetic sapphire, celebrated both for its transparency and its durability. Functions on this self-winding chronograph flyback movement include a 72-hour power reserve, while the case is placed on a matching transparent rubber strap.
IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40
Another Gerald Genta success story was his 1970s update of IWC’s Ingenieur, which the brand introduced in 1954. French for “engineer,” this piece’s origins are rooted in science and technical applications, but once Genta got his hands on it, the Ingenieur also became ultra-cool.
The latest Ingenieur — IWC’s primary focus at Watches & Wonders — honors the design codes beloved by Genta fans, from the integrated bracelet in stainless steel to the screws that accent the rounded bezel. On the model’s Aqua edition, the dial’s deep turquoise hue also was among the week’s major color stories and added to the Ingenieur’s status as one of Geneva’s most talked-about new watches.
Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date
Exclusive to Montblanc boutiques, the new 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date celebrates the brand’s love of mountaineering, starting with the color and design of its dial. The pattern is meant to evoke thoughts of looking into an icy glacier and is achieved via a somewhat ancient handcraft technique that adds texture to resemble the look of cracked ice. The shade, meanwhile, also takes its cue from glaciers, which are most often white or blue, but at their core also can take on the color of emerald green.
Housed in a 41mm stainless-steel case, the automatic, self-winding movement also includes a date window at the 3 o’clock position. This boutique edition exclusively comes with a steel bracelet that also can be changed out for the included black rubber strap, edged in green to match the dial.
Patek Philippe Ref. #5261R Aquanaut
Patek Philippe is the undisputed powerhouse of the status-watch world, garnering record-breaking prices when its pieces come to auction and coveted by pretty much every timepiece fan in the world.
That idea extends to its women’s models, which this year include this stunning Aquanaut. Blending a blue-gray dial and strap with a 39.9mm case in 18-karat rose gold, this new Aquanaut has been introduced with a new complication, an easy-to-read annual calendar that highlights the month, day and date between two subdials and a date window at 6 o’clock. Other functions include a moon-phase indicator at 12 o’clock and a sweep seconds hand. While this Aquanaut is both elegant and subtle in its sporty-chic styling, its design codes unmistakably announce that it’s a Patek Philippe, resulting in a watch that’s sure to be noticed.
Piaget Limelight High Jewellery Watch
Gold and turquoise blend is a design duo Piaget does exceedingly well, a look that instantly conjures an image of cocktails poolside in Saint-Tropez. Among the house’s latest high-jewelry watches is this addition to its Limelight collection, which starts with a bracelet of 18-karat rose gold, engraved allover in Piaget’s signature Palace Décor motif. On this quartz piece, the dial is crafted of genuine, pristine turquoise and then tucked into the bracelet, framed with a free edge that inspires thoughts of seaside cliffs. Finally, you notice that the right edge of the case is finished with brilliant-cut sapphires on the bezel, resulting in a watch that feels like sun, sand and the azure sea at its most glamorous.