Until 2018, watch fans have grown accustomed to having two major showings of brand-new watch goodness. That relative peace was shattered as brands split away from Baselworld, allowing brands to go forward with their own plans for releasing watches. 2020 was supposed to be different. It was announced in October 2019 that the two major watch shows, Watches and Wonders Geneva and Baselworld The Watch and Jewellery Show would attempt to co-exist next April. That collaborative spirit lasted exactly zero events. Baselworld postponed, then cancelled, Baselworld 2020 after losing essentially every brand of note still committed to participating in the fair. The brands set to exhibit at Watches and Wonders Geneva were prepared to show off in April 2020 anyway, so the entire affair went digital for the first time.
I would be willing to bet the Foundation de la Haute Horologerie (FHH), organizers of Watches
and Wonders, couldn’t pat themselves on the back fast enough for “adapting” to the pandemic, but they
either tragically forgot or previously had no idea how most end-consumers get information in the year
2020. How did they think we learned about new releases? It certainly was not by attending the show. I
know this because the show itself was not open to the public until 2018. Even then, it was for a grand
total of 1 day. It wasn’t because of the network of people I knew at the event, because I can call plenty
of people who did not get the invitation until the show relaxed its entry requirements in 2016-2017. We
relied on press coverage of the watches. A majority of niche press is online. So, I am saying that we all
looked online for coverage of Watches and Wonders.
Having released any pent-up frustration through the previous paragraph, let’s discuss some of
the good that happened. I was extremely impressed at the way the rollout was handled. Watches and
Wonders had a simple yet effective strategy: highlight each brand, showed off the major novelty of
each brand, and then sent you to the brand for more information. Simple. It also pushed the visual
aspect of the watch (which is how we fall in love with watches in the first place). I also sincerely
appreciated that the brands updated their websites to reflect the new releases. Previously, it was kind
of odd to click on a link for more information and be greeted by a website full of not the information you
wanted. I also love the fact that several of these watches were available for purchase the day of their
premiere. I hope that in the future, they will retain this model in addition to the in-person presence.
Now, on to my favorite and some not so favorite pieces.
My favorite watch – The Hermes Arceau L’huere de la lune with Martian meteorite. This is a
showstopper all the way around. It has an interesting and poetic take on the moonphase complication,
and it uses a freaking Martian Meteorite for the dial! This watch is incredible to look at and knowing that
there are only going to be 2 produced means that the view of that dial will be very exclusive.
The watch I am most likely to actually buy – The Montblanc 1858 Geospehere Titanium Blue on Bracelet.
Full disclosure: I worked for Montblanc when this watch was introduced in 2018. I liked it a lot back
then, but I love it now. The complication is uniquely Montblanc and it removed all of the faux heritage
to make this was look amazingly current.
The watch I am rooting for – The Baume & Mercier Hampton Small Seconds. Baume & Mercier
is like Williams in F1. The brand was always a contender in the 1-3k price point, but it began to seriously lose
focus. I hope that this Hampton helps return the brand to the path that makes the most sense. I find
the watch to be a super clean design, if a little JLC Reverso, in photos. It is also the value king of the
releases from Watches and Wonders Geneva at $2,600.00.
The disappointment – The return of the Pasha de Cartier. This one is not going to make me any new
friends at Richemont HQ. The Pasha is just the latest in a string of releases that felt uninspired at best
and kind of lazy at worst. It joins the Panthere and Santos as products that feel like warmed up leftovers
that someone found in the creative refrigerator. It also feels like Spider-Man movies, in the sense that
no one asked for a reboot, but it is happening no matter what. Based on this trajectory, I predict that
we will see the “brand new” Roadster next year and I will let out another exasperated groan.
I kicked this question around the office and got some really great answers. Let’s start with my co-
founder, OJ Whatley.
Favorite Watch – The Panerai Luminor 70 Years Collection. Love the lume and I can’t wait to see it in
Watch You Are Most Likely to Buy – Rebellion Re-Volt Bruno Senna. I like to see independent brands
really start to push the limit and Rebellion has been doing that for awhile. I really like skeleton dial with
the colors honoring the Senna legacy and how it really pops against the forged carbon case.
The Watch You Are Rooting For – Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Ultra-Slim Skeleton on
bracelet. The Overseas is a great watch on the wrist. I appreciate the quick change straps and having
straps included in the box. I hope that a complicated sports watch like this will guide people back to
The Disappointment – a serious lack of interesting watches under the 10k mark.
And finally, resident Master of the Visual Arts, but new guy to watches, Oscar Galban
Favorite Watch – Roger Dubuis Excalibur Two Fold. It is a highly complicated watch in all white. This
thing is a total flex for the summer.
Watch You Are Most Likely to Buy – Jaeger-leCoultre Master Control Complete Calendar. It is simple,
clean, and elegant. I also think it can be dressed up or down based on the strap.
The Watch You Are Rooting For – IWC Portuguiser Perpetual Calendar 42mm. Its gorgeous and I hope
that the new size is well received and brings even more people to IWC. Plus it’s hard to go wrong with
the blue dial gold watch.
The Disappointment – Watches are still too new to be disappointed, haha.
We are now in the anxious waiting phase between the release of the 2020 novelties and their first appearance in stores. I hope that we can all get back to normal quickly, and we start seeing these amazing pieces on some wrists!