If 2020 had gone as planned, the peak would have headed to Geneva in april to attend Watches & Wonders, the major watch fair formerly known the Salon Internationale de la haute horlogerie, or SIHH. Then Covid-19 struck, big gatherings became a no-no and international travel came to a standstill. As a result, Watches & Wonders decided to take the show online.
On april 25, watchesandwonders.com went live, with 30 participating brands offering visitors a look at their 2020 novelties through product images with descriptions and videos that included snazzy product clips and addresses by brand CEOS. The exhibitors comprised Richemont group brands such as Cartier and Vacheron Constantin, other long-time SIhh participants such as hermes and parmigiani, as well as independent brands like H. Moser and HYT.
In the following pages, we reveal our top picks from the digital fair, and share industry leaders’ thoughts on their latest offerings, leading their teams through the current crisis and what a postpandemic future might look like.
A. LANGE & SOHNE
ZEITWERK MINUTE REPEATER IN WHITE GOLD
Two novelties made up A. Lange & Sohne’s tight edit for Watches & Wonders. Firstly, there was the follow-up to its 2019 steel sports watch launch, Odysseus – this time clad in white gold. The brand then moved right into high-watchmaking territory with a new version of its Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, a watch that can sound the hours, 10-minute segments and minutes, instead of the usual hours, quarters and minutes. Previously only available in platinum with a silver dial, the new Zeitwerk Minute Repeater comes in a 44.2mm white gold case, resulting in a warmer, softer sound, and has a deep-blue dial that gives the distinctive design a cool, almost sporty feel.
TANK ASYMETRIQUE IN YELLOW GOLD
Among Cartier’s slew of design-driven new releases, the one that stands out the most is a throwback to 1936. The Tank Asymetrique is the latest addition to the Cartier Prive range of limited editions that pay tribute to the brand’s iconic designs. Having first appeared in the early 20th century, the Tank Asymetrique design saw the original Tank case morph into a diamond shape and all its dial elements shift 30 degrees to the right. Like the other Prive family watches, the new watches are only available in precious metals – yellow or pink gold, or platinum. Aside from the regular, manually wound editions, there are also skeletonised ones that come with or without diamonds.
ARNOLD & SON
GLOBETROTTER NIGHT IN STEEL
In high horology, many brand heads are the first to admit that mechanical luxury watches are more about art and emotions than anything else. With its hand-applied silver sparkles and rotating, hand-lacquered globe, supported by a large, handfinished double-foot bridge, Arnold & Son’s Globetrotter Night is the perfect example of a beautiful timekeeper and world timer that will enchant the aesthete – and enrage the user who wants to know the exact time in London for example, without having to brush up on geography first. The 45mm automatic timepiece shown here features the Northern Hemisphere, but a Southern Hemisphere version is available on request.
TIME WITH THE CEO
WILHELM SCHMID, CEO A. LANGE & SOHNE
LOOKING BEYOND LIMITS
If you want a glimpse into the home of A. Lange & Sohne head Wilhelm Schmid, check out the brand’s novelty presentation video, where he gives a welcome address. Required to stay home because of confinement measures, the CEO roped in his son to film the segment on an iPhone. Speaking to The Peak via Zoom, Schmid says with a laugh, “We were in our dining room. The alternative would have been not having a message from me, which I thought would be strange.” He later notes: “There is no environment that fuels creativity more than working with major constraints.”
Last year, the Odysseus sports watch caused a stir as the first serially produced steel watch by A. Lange & Sohne, which usually works with precious metals. You released a followup in white gold this year with new strap options, including rubber. Why not release another steel Odysseus?
Before we first launched the Odysseus in steel last October, we had long debates about whether we should launch three watches or just one. Eventually, we decided to launch the steel one alone. Otherwise, the other models would have gone under the radar. We said the Odysseus would be a family, but we never said it would be a family dedicated to steel. There will be more to come.
A. Lange & Sohne has about 760 employees. How has Covid-19 impacted the way your team works?
We are a family company. To keep people close while also keeping our distance is something we need to practise because we’ve never done it before. We have been working on the novelties, back orders and custom orders, and using measures we have implemented to protect our people and ensure they are in good health. This comes with challenges, but new technologies are supporting us a lot.
How are you harnessing technology these days?
We are doing quite a few customer meetings via Zoom. What we would have done at Watches & Wonders in A. Lange & Sohne’s very personal style, we now do in Zoom. This would have been unthinkable a few months ago as it’s not our style. It would also not have been appreciated by our clients, but right now, they appreciate it. I think this medium is here to stay and complement personal interaction.
TIME WITH THE CEO
CHRISTOPH GRAINGER-HERR, CEO IWC
RIDING THE WAVE
Swiss horology brands might make the world’s best watches, but few would say the same of their efforts on the digital front. An exception to the rule is IWC, which has quickly emerged as one of the standout brands in this regard, offering augmented realityenabled views of its novelties and virtual walk-throughs of its W&W booth and boutiques. In an e-mail interview, CeO Christoph Grainger-herr proudly shares: “From the early adoption of social media and e-commerce to the virtual motorbike ride with Bradley Cooper or the live broadcast of the Silver Spitfire’s take-off from the Goodwood aerodrome in Sussex, england, last year, IWC has always been a technology-savvy brand.” The time for IWC, it seems, is now.
How has the current crisis changed the way you work?
It’s incredible how swiftly we were able to adapt to this new situation. I think what a lot of people will take away is that videoconferencing does work. In general, our virtual collaboration via telephone, e-mail and video is very efficient. What motivates us is the pride we take in our work and in the beautiful, timeless products we build.
With the establishment of its new manufacture in 2018, IWC has been increasing its capacity to make its own movements. Where do you stand now in terms of in-house movements?
The history of IWC was founded on high-quality pocket watch movements. As a top brand, of course, we want to demonstrate our expertise in in-house movements. We have strategically pushed the development of new movements in recent years.
This year, we are launching an all-manufacture portugieser collection with, among other feature, in-house movements from our 89000, 69000, 52000 and 82000 calibre families.
During the global lockdowns, IWC launched an experiencefocused campaign, Time Well Shared, where ambassadors shared their stories online. How do you think consumers will change after this pandemic?
The current situation is an opportunity to reflect on our behaviour as consumers. there is a possibility that more people will rethink their consumption habits and look to spend on more sustainable products with longer life cycles. In this context, IWC is in a unique position because we offer a high-quality product that is made responsibly in Switzerland and engineered to last for generations. Our actions also have a significant emotional component, which may be another thing that people look for when we overcome this challenge.
H. MOSER & CIE
STREAMLINER FLYBACK CHRONOGRAPH AUTOMATIC IN STEEL
Known for its minimalist dials in gradated hues, h. Moser now enters the competitive arena of steel watches with integrated bracelets. as its name suggests, the fluid design of its bracelet is inspired by the highspeed streamliner trains of the 1930s. Together with its cushion shape and smoked grey dial, the 42.3mm automatic watch has a 1970s vibe that makes it stand out from other luxury steel sports models. Built by Genevan complications specialist agenhor, the flyback chronograph movement is unusual in having two central chronograph hands – one for the minutes and one for the seconds – instead of tracking the minutes on a separate register. Minimalism, Moser-style.
SLIM D’HERMES GMT IN ROSE GOLD
Featuring date and time displays that revolve to reveal moon discs, the L’heure de la Lune moon-phase watch launched last year was a big winner for hermes, with the aventurine-dial and meteorite-dial models selling out fast. Which is why the brand has updated the timepiece with five stunning new dials, including Martian meteorite, this year. Even though they are enchanting, we find ourselves equally fond of the Slim d’hermes GMt with a new blue dial. Housed in a 39.5mm rose gold case, the self-winding watch’s most distinctive feature is the second time zone display, with numbers – in the font specially designed for the Slim d’hermes series – that are arranged in a charmingly, seemingly haphazard way.
PORTUGIESER YACHT CLUB MOON & TIDE IN RED GOLD
With a clean, classic aesthetic inspired by deck watches that IWC was producing for the British Royal Navy in the 1930s, and a signature larger size thanks to the pocket-watch movements that used to power early models, the portugieser is our favourite IWC watch family. a highlight among the raft of new models is the portugieser Yacht Club Moon & tide. The 44.6mm sporty-elegant watch, in 5N red gold, is the first IWC watch to features its brand-new tide indication – a subdial at six o’clock shows the expected times for the next high and low tides, while the double moonphase display at 12 o’clock has been augmented to show spring and neap tides (which help to provide information about the strength of current tides).
1858 GEOSPHERE IN TITANIUM
Once again, Montblanc presents a complete range of timepieces designed to cater to various tastes and settings: outdoorsy (1858), vintage (Heritage) or elegant (Star Legacy). Aesthetically, we find the latest iteration of the 1858 Geosphere most arresting. Montblanc watch head Davide Cerrato has emphasised his goal to make this timepiece, characterised by two hemisphere globes, the brand’s flagship model. While we once thought the 1858 Geosphere – in military-esque green or black – was a tad too unique to enjoy widespread popularity, this year’s edition, complete with a versatile, glacier-inspired blue and white palette, plus a new steel and titanium beads of rice bracelet, has convinced us otherwise.
MASTER CONTROL CHRONOGRAPH CALENDAR IN STEEL
“Technical rigour and stylistic restraint” have been the defining characteristics of JaegerLeCoultre’s Master Control pieces since they were introduced in 1992. This year, one of the world’s oldest watch brands reminds us of this with updates of three original models – Master Control Date, Master Control Calendar and Master Control Geographic – albeit with improved movements and longer power reserves of up to 70 hours. Making its debut is the Master Control Chronograph Calendar, which features a new automatic movement – the Calibre 759 unites a chronograph with a triple calendar display and a moon phase. The 40mm case comes in steel or Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new alloy, Le Grand Rose gold with oxidation-preventing palladium.
LUMINOR MARINA PAM 1119 IN FIBRATECH
It’s the 70th anniversary of Panerai’s iconic Luminor and the Italian-Swiss brand has released a slew of new Luminor models to celebrate. Based on the Luminor Marina PAM 1312 and powered by Panerai’s 9.010 slim automatic movement, the novelties may not be very different on the inside but, boy, are they different on the outside. We’re talking technologically advanced new materials, right down to the lume. The new PAM 1119, for instance, has a case made of Fibratech, a light composite material made of basalt-rock fibres, as well as extra-strong lume (Super-Luminova X1) that has been applied not only to the hour markers and hands, but also the flange, crown guard and strap stitching. Even more astounding? The 70-year warranty that Panerai is offering with the Luminor models launched this year.
TIME WITH THE CEO
JEAN-MARC PONTROUE, CEO PANERAI
POWER WITH CONTROL
Speaking to The Peak over Zoom from his office in Geneva, Panerai CEO Jean-Marc Pontroue replies with characteristic verve when asked about the lifestyle-focused approach the brand – best known for its historical military associations – has adopted since he came on board. “We have always been a pioneer. This is what we are doing now with new materials, new experiences, and new service standards such as the 70-year warranty we are offering with the Luminor references this year.”
How is a 70-year warranty on all the 0new Luminor watches this year possible?
It’s possible because we trust in the quality of our movements. Just a year ago, we had a two-year guarantee, which we extended to eight years. The reliability of our movements allows us to offer a 70-year warranty without worrying that a massive number of people will come to our stores every day because they have problems with our watches. There are no hidden conditions – these are the same as those for the eight-year warranty and the two-year warranty.
Last year, Panerai gave its clients the chance to go for extreme experiences with South African-born Swiss explorer Mike Horn and French free diver Guillaume Nery. How will the current travel bans affect such offerings?
We have two experiences planned – one with Mike Horn in the North Pole and another with the Luna Rossa sailing team in Auckland during America’s Cup next year. We have had to delay all the others because of the travel bans. I went for the experiences with the Italian navy in La Spezia and Guillaume Nery in Tahiti. The most memorable part was seeing the smiles on the participants’ faces. Some have already booked, with no limit, their places for all of the other experiences to come.
How are you meeting the challenges of Covid-19?
With 19 subsidiaries and 150 boutiques worldwide, we have had to organise ourselves according to the situations and the health and safety of our people in different countries. We have been in survival mode for many weeks, but some countries are now slowly reopening. International travellers are important but Panerai has always been very strong with local customers. In countries like Singapore, Japan and the US, we sell mainly to locals. This is a major asset for the brand.
TIME WITH THE CEO
CHABI NOURI, CEO PIAGET
THE BIG PICTURE
Chabi Nouri became the first female CEO within the Richemont group when she took the reins at Piaget in April 2017, and for the Swiss national, gender is just part of the equation. Via an e-mail interview, she declares: “I believe in diversity as it strengthens an organisation and fosters creativity and innovation. Diversity in terms of gender, culture and one’s background – these are strong assets.” During these trying times, Nouri shares how she is continuing to broaden how she and her team can stay connected to Piaget’s clients.
With several new Gala jewellery watches this year and whimsical campaigns such as Sunny Side of Life in recent years, is Piaget looking to shift its focus to feminine offerings?
Our focus is on precious watches for men and women. The preciousness lies in the crafts and unique know-how of the maison. From ultra-thin watches and audacious complications to gem-set and jewellery watches, all are designed for women as much as they are for men. We have two strong heritage pillars, watchmaking and jewellery.
The 2mm-thin Altiplano Ultimate Concept has been released as a made-to-order timepiece. Are customisation and special orders an area of the business that Piaget is looking to further grow?
Personalisation has always been important for Piaget and we receive many requests from our clients. Back in the 1960s, we had what we called the Piaget Style Selector, offering clients a choice of dials with different ornamental stones, precious gems or hand-engraved motifs. Today, we continue to do so through Infinitely Personal Concept, our online app that lets you design your Altiplano Ultimate Concept. You can choose the colour of the bridges, screws and hands, and even engrave your initials or lucky number on a dedicated part on the dial.
What is your game plan for leading the brand and your team during this crisis?
We are staying very connected with our clients, our press and our partners by using online platforms to share novelties and stories about the maison. We are continuing to develop our e-commerce platforms. From Net-a-Porter to Wechat or Tmall in China, we aim to always be more present to our clients. We have more than a thousand passionate people working around the world and we have put in place the necessary measures at our boutiques and manufactures. Our top priority is to protect our teams in these difficult times.
ALTIPLANO ULTIMATE CONCEPT IN COBALT ALLOY
When Piaget debuted the 2mm-thin Altiplano Ultimate Concept as a, well, concept watch in 2018, the prototype was mostly kept in its box during presentations – presumably because it was relatively delicate. Two years of refinement later, Piaget is confident enough to sell the super-svelte timepiece on a made-to-order basis, offering customisation options for most components, except the case – a must for toughness. The slim profile was made possible by combining the mainplate and case, spreading out the movement components instead of stacking them, and incorporating innovations such as an exposed mainspring barrel mounted on a single ceramic ball bearing.
OVERSEAS PERPETUAL CALENDAR ULTRA-THIN SKELETON IN PINK GOLD
The world’s oldest watch manufacture likes complicating matters – but in the best way possible. One of Vacheron Constantin’s blockbusters for 2020, for instance, is a oneoff, 24-complication wristwatch that is double-sided and measures 50mm across and 21mm thick. A novelty that’s still complex but a lot more wearable is the openworked version of the ultra-thin Overseas Perpetual Calendar. Housed in an 8.1mm-thin and 41.5mm-wide pink gold case, the self-winding 1120 QPSQ/1 movement has been openworked and finished with processes such as bevelling as well as straight- and sunburst-graining. To give it a cooler look, the skeletonised movement has been given a gunmetal-grey finish via an electrolytic treatment.
EXCALIBUR DIABOLUS IN MACHINA IN CARTECH MICRO-MELT BIODUR CCMTM
Now, here’s a timepiece we would have liked to see – and hear – in the metal: the Excalibur Diabolus in Machina, a minute repeater by in-your-face highhorology brand Roger Dubuis. True to the brand, its gongs have been tuned to the tritone, a musical interval that was banned in medieval religious music and supposedly results in a somewhat menacing sound. Visually, it makes a bold impression as well. The timepiece is crisscrossed with bridges and outsized Roman numerals in a deconstruction of Roger Dubuis’ signature star motif. The material of its 45mm case has an equally over-the-top name: CarTech Micro-Melt BioDur CCMTM is a wear-resistant alloy used in the aeronautical and aerospace industries.