W&W 2020 This Year We Did Watch And Wonder

Was the 2020 edition of Watches & Wonders (nee SIHH) really any different from previous years?

Most enthusiasts and collectors will have experienced the new releases in the same way as before, online. The only real difference being that everything was conveniently gathered into one, slightly buggy, website.

Every year I head out to Geneva for a few days to visit the show. I like to see and get hands on my favourite releases. Even though this year I am housebound in pyjamas instead of strolling around Geneva in my usual dandy attire, I have decided to make my usual “Best of SIHH” compilation and this time I’ve been kindly asked to share them with you…

Laurent Ferrier

Followers of my personal Instagram will know my love for the work of M. Ferrier.

Scottish Watches and Moritz Grossmann

I always admire the way he creates a truly modern, yet classic watch with perfect proportions. I’m not a total fan-boy though, last years Bridge left me disappointed so this year I was slightly nervous as to what he’d reveal.

Well I needn’t have been. The Grand Sport on a bracelet is simply perfect! Fans of the brand will be accustomed to this new family having seen the first piece, launched in Titanium on a rubber strap, last year. This year’s addition of an integrated stainless steel bracelet combined with the new blue dial is just sublime.

What I like

  • The blue and orange work very well together, even better than last year’s brown and orange.
  • The Bracelet is perfect. Simple and not distracting from the case (I’m looking at you Lange…)
  • Probably the most sporty tourbillon on the market, great to see the hidden wording on the dial still presen

Lange & Söhne

While the Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport became a better watch due to a bracelet, the Odysseus becomes a better watch due to the removal of a bracelet.

Thought the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is stunning (especially in blue) it was the Odysseus on a rubber strap that did it for me. The leather strap is hideous and makes no sense, so we’ll ignore that. However, the rubber strap makes the watch look complete. Now the beauty of its clever dial and case design can shine.

Combined with a warmer white gold case (rather than steel) and the use of an Anthracite grey dial (over the more expected blue) this is now the sports watch that ALS deserves.

What I like

  • The rubber strap suits the case perfectly, the bracelet always felt a little ‘add on’
  • The grey dial is more subtle and unusual than the blue, this seems more in keeping with the brand
  • Use of white gold gives a softer appearance compared to the steel version (might be different in real life but photos certainly give that appearance)

 

Cartier

So much to love from Cartier this year.

There was, however, one piece that caught my eye immediately and I keep going back to – the Santos-Dumont “La Demoiselle”. Wow, what a watch. The “La Demoiselle” somehow manages to at once be both distinctly Cartier, yet something completely new from the brand.

A platinum case always gets my attention, with its whiter appearance over the more silvery tones of steel and white gold. The use of a red stone in the crown is a nice change and complements the panama hat-inspired dial perfectly. The weaving of the strap complements the dial, and makes this feel so complete.

What I like

  • The combination of colours – simply stunning!
  • Hiding the word “Santos” in the No. 7 where “Cartier” would usually appear, clever and quirky.
  • Breguet hands work surprisingly well and nicely reference the first Santos watch.

Jaeger-LeCoultre

I’ve never really warmed to the Master Control range from JLC, always preferring the Master ultra-thin range. It always felt a little forced. The new pieces certainly change this.

The pick of the three is the Master Control Calendar, in stainless steel. It’s great to see a new complete (or triple) calendar watch being released. The date pointer jumps across the moon phase in a charming reference to the 2019 Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel (what a mouthful!) which featured a similar ‘jumping pointer’.

What I like

  • A modern complete calendar, a useful complication which brings character to the watch’s dial
  • The ‘jumping pointer’ gives a quirky addition to an otherwise traditional layout
  • This feels like the well-loved JLCs from the 1960s and yet doesn’t have an “overly vintage” feel

Vacheron Constantin

I think most people agree that 2020 has been a hit year for the underdog Vacheron. A host of hits from the oldest watchmaker in existence, but my pick has to be the latest dial variant to their “entry-level” FiftySix.

The FiftySix Self-Winding first appeared in 2018 as part of a new family of ‘accessible’ VCs. The Self-Winding in steel commanded a (reasonable for VC) £10,000 price tag, with a very attractive Rose Gold version also available. 2019 saw the addition of blue dial to the steel model and so it seems fitting that this year we see the addition of a new dial colour for the Rose Gold.

And what a colour! A rich chocolate brown that keeps the beautiful finishings of the previous dial. I’m pleased to see the choice of brown over the more obvious black, as its both interesting and helps give the watch its own identity. Interestingly, they’ve paired the Self-Winding with a calf strap — not alligator – potentially a taste of things to come in a non-Exotic skinned world?

What I like

  • Brown! Great to see this unusual colour being used, as it brings such a warmth to the watch.
  • This could be the perfect “forever” gold watch
  • Great to see Vacheron continue to expand the FiftySix range

Baume & Mercier

Baume & Mercier are not a brand I usually pay much attention to. Not being a huge fan of their designs, I was pleasantly surprised by the introduction of a new range of Hamptons – the B&Ms rectangular watch.

The three new Hamptons all feature stunning combinations of silver opaline dials with a rough textured surface beneath the appliques. The darker indices and dark grey strap make for a great combination with a more contemporary feel.

Now, I have to say out of the three models, the best *by far*is the simple three hand with central seconds. The other two have a charming sub-seconds, but the balance is ruined by the needless addition of “Automatic” beneath.

What I like

  • Great to see a properly contemporary rectangular watch
  • Beautiful dial textures, less is more, and Baume & Mercier have achieved this perfectly
  • Good balance on the dial of the simplest model

(Editors Note : Because he is too modest to self promote, you can find Nick and all his own watches at www.fearswatches.com)