Watches & Wonders opened its doors for only the second time, but the young watch fair is already creating a new dynamic in the industry, turning a destination for Swiss watches into a hub of new releases. Last year, the fair created specifically for the region by the Exhibiting Committee of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), welcomed more than 16,000 visitors from all over Asia. But this year, it drew visitors all the way from Europe as exhibiting brands—13 to be exact, mostly from Richemont—were unveiling novelties on a global scale. Here are the five watches that received the most notice.
This limited-edition timepiece represents the craftsmanship, design and style that Jaeger-LeCoultre is known for, and joins together three complications—a minute repeater, a flying tourbillon, and a zodiacal calendar. It is the only high-end watch to use a flying tourbillon in order to indicate sidereal time, via three discs. And it reproduces the movements of the Earth relative to the Sun and stars, while the guilloché dial represents a sky chart and zodiacal map. The watch is powered by the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 945 hand-wound movement, which boasts a 48-hour power reserve. The white gold case is 46.7mm and is adorned with 294 diamonds and 64 sapphires. The watch is fitted with a black alligator strap and white gold buckle and is part of a limited edition collection of eight pieces in white gold offered by Jaeger-LeCoultre.
Most of the features in the Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph will be familiar to Audemars Piguet connoisseurs, from the model’s eight trademark polished steel screws on the bezel, to the ‘Méga Tapisserie’ motif on the dial. In fact, the new timepiece is the latest evolution of the Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph, introduced in 2010. Of course, it also introduces features of the brand that are less systematic, such as a semi-skeletonized dial, which exposes a large gear at one o’clock, and a blackened titanium bridge for the tourbillon. The powerful case middle is constructed from forged carbon, giving it the sportiest and most rugged look of the year. Inside, it houses the Calibre 2897 movement, created entirely in-house by Audemars Piguet. Limited to 50 pieces at $273,200.
3. Vacheron Constantin
Traditionnelle World Time Collection Excellence Platine
Two years ago, Vacheron Constantin introduced the Patrimony Traditonnelle World Time, an incredible watch featuring a single-crown worldtimer that shows every single timezone on the planet, in addition to the half and quarter hour timezones. The piece was received to critical acclaim, and quickly became one of the most desirable watches in the brand’s line-up. This year, the brand decided to revisit the timepiece and fit it with a new 950 platinum case. And it has a tiny “Pt 950” hallmark in between 4 and 5 o’clock on the dial, to remind us of that feature. This is part of a recent effort from the brand to select the very best pieces in its collection, and dress them in platinum cases, dials, hands, crowns, pushers, buckles, and even platinum stitching in their straps. Limited to just 100 numbered pieces, each for $111,000.
Montblanc introduced the first Metamorphosis watch at SIHH in 2010, and it shocked watch enthusiasts with its transforming faces. According to the brand, the team went back to work t immediately after the company realized the success of the original design, and the second chapter is finally here four years later. Unlike the original’s sporty veneer, the Metamorphosis II boasts a classic robe. The case features polished 18-K rose gold with curved and hooded lugs. Like its predecessor, it’s a regulator, meaning there’s a central minute hand and running seconds at the top of the dial, and at the 12 o’ clock mark there’s an hour subdial. But its face changes drastically when a slide at 10 o’clock activates the “metamorphosis” of the watch. At this point, two mechanical curtains retract into the case to reveal a second function. The first face shows the time of the day, while the second face displays a chronograph subdial. It’s another great piece from a brand that continues to surprise watch collectors, and gain recognition from the industry. Limited to 18 pieces, $340,000 each.
Richard Mille’s Sapphire watches have been incredibly popular, especially in Asia, so it wasn’t surprising to learn that the latest design, the RM 56-02 Tourbillon Sapphire, was made expressly for the Watches & Wonders event in Hong Kong. Richard Mille’s engineers have revisited the design of the winding barrel bridge, tourbillon and center bridges in sapphire to make this model even more transparent than in previous editions. But this time, the biggest talking point will be the new movement. The tripartite case of the RM 56-02 is milled and ground from blocks of solid sapphire by the prestigious and highly specialized experts at Stettler Sapphire in Lyss, Switzerland. Creating ergonomically-curving tripartite cases was a massive challenge, and once again shows Richard Mille’s determination in using high-tech materials in his watches. The RM 56-02 will be released in a limited edition of 10 examples worldwide, and is rumored to cost $2,020,000.