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The Top Timepiece Trends From Watches And Wonders Geneva 2023

Salmon, green, small and artistic dials, here’s the lowdown on some of the trends dominating the world of fine watchmaking.

Mitrajit Bhattacharya

Watches & Wonders is the luxury watch industry’s biggest event that sets the trends for the year. Hosted in Geneva, Switzerland every year, the event sees participation from almost all the big watchmakers and many smaller independent brands from around the world. 

I just came back from my visit to the Watches and Wonders (earlier known as SIHH)—my 20th on the trot, excluding the two years when the event didn’t take place due to the pandemic. Now, with the Asian markets back at full capacity, the exhibition just recorded the best-ever results—43,000 visitors as compared to 22,000 last year.

With Baselworld discontinued, the Geneva exhibition—traditionally the smaller but more exclusive of the two fairs—has clearly established itself as the singular voice to represent the rapidly growing global watch market, which clocked 24.8 billion Swiss francs in 2022. With almost 50 exhibitors—that include Patek Philippe, Rolex, Chopard, brands from the Richemont Group and LVMH Group, and many independent brands—Watches and Wonders is on cruise control.

Many other statistics point to the enormous success of the recently-concluded event—5,400 retailers, 125 nationalities represented, and 35,000 overnight stays, during the first five days that were open to invite-only guests. Social media was buzzing with over 1.8 million posts mentioning #watchesandwonders and an estimated reach of a mindboggling 600 million people.

Here are some of my favourite watch trends from the exhibition that will set the trend for the year. 

While the old favourite, blue, is still going strong and the new favourite, salmon, is making a strong statement on the dials, the first trend I spotted at the fair is ‘going green’, literally. Every second brand I saw was sporting a green dial. Some handpicked ones are:

1. Bell & Ross BR 05 Green Gold

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The case and bracelet are made entirely in gold; the new BR 05 Green Gold is the third link in the Gold family by Bell & Ross. Characterised by the distinctive colour of the dial, now green, the painted metal plate at the base of the dial has a sunburst effect, thus making the hue change with the tilting of the wrist. Depending on the angles and ensuing reflections, the colour varies between almost fluorescent to dark bottle green. The numerous coats of tinted green varnish help to achieve the depth of this unique colour.

2. Piaget Polo Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin

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Green has reached even the powers within fine watchmaking. The iconic Piaget Polo, which comes for the first time with a mechanical perpetual calendar, also sports a green colour. Designed to tell the day, date, and year (until the year 2100), months, moon phases and leap-year cycle — without any manual adjustments — perpetual calendar watches are for the collectors. At just 8.65 mm thick overall, the new 42mm Piaget Polo Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin brings the universe to the wrist while retaining the joyful highlife in a vibrant green.

3. Pequignet Concorde Imperial Green

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Pequignet, a fine French watchmaking brand from just across the Swiss borders, brings its racing car style, the Concorde Imperial Green, combining a sublime English green dial with an exceptional French mechanism. Fitted with the Calibre Initial, the Concorde reminds you of the Parisian obelisk on its signature mesh. The dial sports a minimalist look without numerals, the time display is discreet, completed by a date aperture at 3 o'clock.

4. IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40

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The focus of IWC Schaffhausen at Watches and Wonders this year was the Ingenieur line. This newly engineered automatic model in 40mm is inspired by the aesthetic codes of Gérald Genta’s Ingenieur SL, Reference 1832, from the 1970s, known for high-quality ergonomics and quality of finish. The collection has four references — three in stainless steel and one in titanium. 

The Ingenieur Automatic 40 is powered by the IWC-manufactured 32111 calibre with a power reserve of an astonishing 120 hours. All new models feature soft-iron inner cases to protect the movements from magnetic fields and are water-resistant to 10 bars. Of the three models of the Ingenieur Automatic 40 in stainless steel, the greenish aqua dial steals the show. The watch features rhodium-plated hands and appliques, an integrated stainless steel bracelet with polished centre links and a butterfly folding clasp. A newly-designed crown protection further underscores the sporty character of the timepiece.

The second trend that’s sweeping the world of fine watchmaking for a couple of years now is ‘Going Small’. It’s clearly the time to flaunt those smaller timepieces, even on your broad wrists. The fair was full of men’s and unisex models in 36mm and 37mm diameters.

5. Tudor Black Bay 54

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Tudor presents a new addition to the Black Bay line that embodies the purest modern expression of the brand’s first-ever diver’s watch. The icon, reference 7922, that was released in 1954, is now Black Bay 54 available in a smaller size of 37mm case fitted with a Manufacture Calibre.

6. TAG Heuer Carrera Date

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TAG Heuer Carrera Date renews its ageless 36mm racing-inspired design in beautiful dial colours ranging from intense blue, pastel green and warm silver. The dials show a tone-on-tone, speedometer-like track along the flange. Available in a stainless-steel case, the watch now comes with the upgraded Calibre 7 movement delivering a superior 56-hour power reserve.

7. Zenith Defy Revival Shadow

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Zenith continues its journey of Defy Revival — “a modern creation with a vintage silhouette.” The Revival Shadow gives a contemporary touch to the Defy model. Available in a more muted and monolithic aesthetic look now, the new watch arrives in a lightweight yet durable titanium. Its trademark angular 37mm case is paired with its hallmarked fourteen-sided bezel. The look is now complete in a matte finish. In a first for the series, the Defy Revival Shadow features a matte black dial, while the hands are doused in Lumi-Nova for legibility in low-light conditions. Not to forget, the watch comes fitted with Zenith’s powerhouse Elite 670 manufacture movement with 30 ATM water resistance as well as 50 hours of power reserve.

This brings us to the third big trend of artistic and fun styles that brought a breath of fresh creativity into the serious world of horology. ‘Go Express’ was the recurring theme, where even hard-nosed serious brands sought the fun route to express themselves, a much-needed dose for the world recovering from the drudgery of the pandemic.

8. Beauregard Lili Bouton Rose Gold - Pink Opal

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The Canadian owner Alexandre Beauregard’s Swiss Dreams comes alive with the Lili Bouton blooming in its full glory. In 33mm watch, the floral composition on the dial is so beautiful that it transforms the timepiece into a piece of high jewellery. The Pink Opal used for the petals comes from the Peruvian Andes, has a high concentration of water, and must be waited for two years before it can be worked on. The top quality Pink Opal is therefore quite precious as they are challenging to source and cure.

9. Chopard Imperiale Day & Night

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Even the big players like Chopard didn’t shy away from expressing themselves. The new Imperiale’s emblematic floral motif appears against the backdrop of a sky whose ever-changing beauty evolves with the passing hour, thanks to a rotating mechanism that distinguishes between day and night-time. Set with sapphires and diamonds and adorned with engraved gold lotus petals, the dial exudes an aura of absolute refinement, brought to life by L.U.C Calibre 96.30-L.

10. Rolex Day-Date 36

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Could you have imagined Rolex launching a watch with a jigsaw on the dial, that too on its icon — the Day-Date 36? Matching the wearer’s changing moods, Rolex displays a new emotion each day, bringing an element of spontaneity. The new Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36, full of joy and energy, is available in three versions — 18ct yellow, white or Everose gold. The day of the week in the arc-shaped aperture at 12 o’clock is replaced by an inspirational word — ‘Happy’, ‘Eternity’, ‘Gratitude’, ‘Peace’, ‘Faith’, ‘Love’ and ‘Hope’. The window at 3 o’clock reveals 31 exclusive emojis throughout the month, in place of the traditional date.

The Day-Date 36 is equipped with Rolex’s robust calibre 3255, a movement that enables the display of a special keyword each day of the week and an individual emoji each day of the month, as well as the hours, minutes and seconds. As always, the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36 comes with the Superlative Chronometer certification, a guarantee of excellent performance on the wrist.

Photo: Watches and Wonders; respective brands
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