Everything You Need to Know About the Watches & Wonders fair in Hong Kong (Part 1)
The third edition of the Watches & Wonders fair has just concluded. This year it looks like watch and jewellery makers have finally found their pace as each brand introduced several new products at the event. They also welcomed some international press and journalists from the Asia continent, along with VIPs. Here's what went down at the fair, in one quick roundup.
Vacheron Constantin reference 57260
1. Vacheron Constantin just made the world's most complicated watch.
In fact, the brand released several new timepieces apart from the Harmony collection earlier this year. However the most outstanding has to be the reference 57260, a nuanced tribute to its 260th anniversary this year.
It took three watchmakers eight years to create this watch, featuring 57 complications, including a lunar perpetual calendar, a sonnerie timepiece that essentially has a "Do Not Disturb" function which keeps the watch quiet during night time, along with a dual function perpetual calendar, multi-axis tourbillon... we could go on. What's amazing is the incredible legibility of the watch. There're a lot of indicators on the dials, but they are very clearly marked out so you don't get turned around or puzzled. Translation: this thing is dummy-proof.
Maître Cabinotier Perpetual Calendar Regulator
The other piece that truly stood out was the Maître Cabinotier Perpetual Calendar Regulator, which is pretty self-explanatory. Once again, legibility rules the day. The spacious dial is classically styled with aperture displays for the day and month, while the leap year indicator is on the hour display.
2. Roger Dubuis made carbonite and gold blend perfectly.
Not quite carbonite, but a sanded down stone dial on the classic Excalibur 42 Automatic was the piece that really mesmerised us, even though the Excalibur Spider Pocket Time Instrument was the star of the show. The Quatour's RD101 calibre is incredible as a feat of engineering and Roger Dubuis' skeleton timepieces are always impressive stunners.
Excalibur 42 Automatic with stone dial (limited to 188 pieces)
Still, the hands on the Excalibur 42 with the stone dial (imited to 188 pieces) look almost like the sword itself, lying atop the Round Table. We're particularly interested in how the brand managed to carve the hour indices as relief on the dial, and the challenges of cutting stone that thin as well as the weight of the material and its impact on working the watch.
In addition, Roger Dubuis also welcomed Korean actress Hee Seon, who was wearing the Velvet High Jewellery collection at the event. CEO Jean-Marc Pontrou hosted an evening gala with the Korean star to celebrate the brand's latest timepieces with collectors.
Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Dual Time Vasco da Gama
3. Montblanc presented a really beautiful dual time watch in two tone.
I'll be honest, two-tone watches have never really done anything for me. It's always looked slightly out of place, and a bit of a wannabe, like the kid that's trying to get into the cool crowd but not succeeding. That's till I saw Montblanc's Heritage Chronometrie Dual Time Vasco da Gama. The Portuguese explorer has been a source of inspiration to Montblanc this year as the brand continues to develop its new line, with functional, well-designed and well-priced timepieces making the mark. This one is no exception. The seconds counter at 6 o'clock bears a map of the world, and the home time display at 12 o'clock with a 24-hour display and set against a starry blue sky. There's a second hour hand on the main dial as well, to display local and home time simultaneously for legibility. The MB 29.19 calibre worked in-house is put through the Montblanc Laboratory Test 500 and a steady workhorse. It's not the most expensive timepiece around, but the balance of the dial, a silvered, satinised display, with the ample use of blue, and complemented by a gold bezel with stainless steel case, make this a really elegant watch. Limited to only 238 pieces. Oh of course, there's also Hugh Jackman who was at the fair, who concurs with our opinion. See videos for reference. It's pretty fun.
4. A. Lange & Söhne made a pulsometer that we really want.
Yes, it's 200 years since the birth of the man who made watchmaking in Glashütte a possibility, without which we would have so many German watchmaking brands to admire. The 1815 "200th Anniversary F.A. Lange" timepiece is in the brand's coveted honey gold, and it's a perfect example of what makes a Lange watch so refined, right down to the curves of the Serif font that they use for their Arabic indicators.
1815 "200th Anniversary F.A. Lange" in honey gold
However, what I found pulling at my heartstring was the 1815 Chronograph with pulsometer indicator that's in a white and blue dial, available only at Lange boutiques worldwide. The gentle blue that's used to print the dial details looks almost slightly faded, giving it a vintage feel that's effected further by the pulsometer. In case you don't use a Fitbit, you can manually take your heartbeat after exercise. Of course, the chronograph is a beautiful movement and the bonus is the oversized balance wheel that gives it added impact.
5. IWC offers an analog day and date function in the Portofino.
Last year, IWC presented a surprising new series in the Portofino, the Automatic 37 series (formerly known as the Portofino Midsize). This year, they expanded on the presence of the series with new versions (and new coloured Santoni straps, I'm really digging the green). But my sigh of satisfaction came from the Portofino Handwound Day & Date, bearing the 59220 calibre (in-house) with an ample 8-day power reserve in a single barrel, that delivers ample energy for an instantaneous day and date jump at 12 o'clock.
Ordinarily I'd say that a day and date function should have an automatic movement paired with it for practicality, but 8 days is more than enough for you to put down the watch for a few days, come back to it and still find it running smoothly. At 45mm, it's a little large on my wrist, but should fit the average person fairly well. Opt for the red gold with charcoal dial if you wanna splurge, otherwise a stainless steel edition should suffice.
6. Panerai's P.1000 movement is perfect for the Radiomir case.
This is a slightly biased opinion, since I've always had greater fondness for the Radiomir case than the Luminor. The Radiomir 1940, one of the "transition" cases during the said period when Panerai was on the verge of inventing the Luminor design with the crown lock, bore integrated instead of wire lugs that made the watch more secure. (See Panerai's CEO Angelo Bonati introduce the new watches, and a video on the Radiomir 1940 case construction.)
The cushion form, the lugs, all offer it great balance in design. With the new slim P.1000 hand wound movement with 3-day power reserve, with stop seconds and zero reset, the PAM00574 and PAM00575 are very slim, beautiful versions of Panerai watches. The steel edition comes with a green alligator strap that's meant to reflect the SuperLuminova tone of the sandwich dial, which I do find strange (I'd request a change for a deep blue). With standard Panerai simplicity it has the small seconds at nine and a view of the movement from the case back.
This is only part 1 of the fair roundup, check back for part 2 in a few days.