15 Watches You Need To See From Hong Kong’s Watches & Wonders 2014
Watches & Wonders, inaugurated two years ago as an Asian version of the SIHH, has evolved into an important horological exhibition for local press and watch aficionados thanks to its strategic location in Hong Kong.
“We aspire to send fine watchmaking across continents, generations and cultures, to transmit our passion, to impart our knowledge, to share all the richness of what we do,” said Fabienne Lupo, chairwoman of the FHH, in her opening speech.
“But it is important to remember that exchange is always a two-way street. We are also here to deepen our ties in Asia, to know our clientele better and to learn as well.”
The 2014 edition of Watches & Wonders took place at the beginning of October. Here is a rundown of the most important new releases from the fair.
The Rendez-Vous Ivy Minute Repeater represents Jaeger-LeCoultre’s continuing quest to conquer the heart of the female connoisseur. This sophisticated timepiece combines brains with beauty: the new automatic Caliber 942A not only features a minute repeater, it is also housed inside an elegant 39 mm white gold case embellished by 548 diamonds (2.3 ct). The dial’s decoration combines the arts of the gem setter with that of the engraver in an interwoven pattern of stylized ivy leaves.
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Master Grande Tradition Complication was released in an edition of eight pieces in a freshly decorated version featuring aventurine set with brilliant-cut diamonds, two rows of baguette-cut sapphires and a lacquered guilloché dial rim. Its 46.7 mm white gold case now boasts 294 brilliant-cut diamonds (19.8 ct).
Jackie Chan teams up with Richard Mille, a phoenix and a dragon to create the RM 57-01 tourbillon. Strictly limited to 15 pieces in either white or red gold, this timepiece features a carved, incised and engraved set of the mythical animals against the backdrop of a PVD-coated titanium base plate.
Richard Mille also releases a new version of the Sapphire Tourbillon Split-Seconds Chronograph called RM 56-02. Aside from the all-sapphire crystal case, this new iteration contains a suspended movement à la the RM 27-01 Rafael Nadal. There will only be 10 examples of this for the world, with a price tag exceeding US$2 million.
Vacheron Constantin literally released a plethora of mechanical delicacies at Watches & Wonders, led by the Maître Cabinotier Astronomica. This highly complicated 47 mm timepiece housed in white gold boasts 15 functions and features including a minute repeater, tourbillon, perpetual calendar with equation of time and display of sunrise/sunset, power reserve indication, a sky chart along with age and phase of moon, sidereal hours and minutes and display of seasons and zodiac signs. The Astronomica has thus far been issued as a unique piece.
In addition to a number of Traditionelle, Patrimony and Collection Excellence Platine model variations as well as Malte high jewelry and open-worked tourbillon variations, the traditional Genevan brand introduced an original specialty in the Metiers d’Art L’eloge de la Nature. This handcrafted set of three unique timepieces housed in 40 mm pink gold cases juxtaposes east and west in beautiful dials showcasing artistic crafts such as wood marquetry, engraving, guilloche, enamel, Japanese lacquer, stone cloisonné and gem setting. They are powered by automatic calibers.
The Traditionelle 2253 L’empreinte du Dragon displays “dragon footsteps” in gold engraving on its 44 mm red gold case. This unique piece is highly complicated, displaying a perpetual calendar with equation of time and sunrise/sunset indications in addition to the time and the ballet of a visible tourbillon. A power reserve indication is found on the back. This fiery dragon is powered by manually wound Caliber 2253 boasting 457 components and has a power reserve of 14 days. It is remarkable in that it is only 9.6 mm high despite all of its complexity.
For a full rundown of the new Vacheron Constantin pieces from Watches & Wonders 2014, please see this Watches TV video at www.thewatches.tv/en/editorial/vacheron-constantin-new-watches-presented-at-watches-wonder-2014.
As we’ve been reporting over the last month, A. Lange & Söhne has had a very big fall with its 20-year anniversary of the Lange 1, and the brand’s major introduction at Watches & Wonders reflected this: 5 sets of his-and-hers watch pairs in a limited edition of 20 each comprising one full-sized Lange 1 in a 38.5 mm case and one Little Lange 1 in a 36.1 mm case. See The A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst: Happy 20th Birthday To The Lange 1 for more on the anniversary.
The sets are available in 5 case-and-dial combinations: platinum case/black dial, platinum case/rhodium-plated dial, white gold case/blue dial, rose gold case/silver-plated dial and rose gold case/black dial. All of the dials are solid gold and embellished with a special guilloche pattern. The Little Lange 1 in each set comes with a diamond-set bezel comprising 64 brilliant-cut diamonds.
For more information on these sets, please read A. Lange & Söhne Celebrates The 20th Anniversary Of Its Iconic Lange 1.
Montblanc released a new version of its Metamorphosis in a rounder case. Like the original, its premise is to achieve a “metamorphosis,” which sees the dial transforming to set its functions aside to show the next, in essence flipping from displaying the time to displaying the chronograph functions and vice versa. The Metamorphosis II’s functions include hours, retrograde minutes, central seconds, date, chronograph seconds and a 31-minute counter. The “metamorphosis” takes place when the wearer pushes a slide on the case.
For more information on this, please read Montblanc’s New Metamorphosis II.
Audemars Piguet introduced the Millenary Quadriennium, a menologically inclined timepiece outfitted with manually wound Caliber 2905/B01, which features an AP Escapement and a double balance. The pink gold case comes in at 47 x 42 mm. The big news here is the timepiece’s “annual” calendar is “quadriannual,” which means that it only requires adjusting every leap year (once every four years).
Alongside a large amount of high jewelry and specialty one-off pieces, Cartier also introduced a clever “small complication” timepiece for men: the Rotonde de Cartier Day and Night Retrograde Moon Phase housed in a 42 mm white gold or pink gold case. While the name already reveals all of its functions, (thankfully) it doesn’t say that it is powered by Cartier’s new automatic Caliber 1904-FU MC. In a nice and very efficient touch, all of the complications can be set and adjusted using just one button.
IWC has done something unprecedented, and I fear it’s likely because the brand has now realized that it has probably been alienating an ever-increasingly important segment of the market: IWC has introduced a ladies watch.
While I never thought this would be something I would report on (this brand is truly focused on the man’s man), I am a little disappointed that this potentially big step was achieved by shrinking down an existing man’s watch and embellishing it with diamonds and mother-of-pearl. Despite that, the new Portofino Midsize Automatic Moon Phase is quite good-looking.
Outfitted with an off-the-rack automatic movement, the new Portofino is available in five references gem-set with 66 to 90 diamonds, ranging from stainless steel to red gold in a 37 mm case. The dials are either mother-of-pearl or black lacquer. I think it’s a bit of a shame that they are all diamond-set as in this size – unusually small for IWC, but perfectly wonderful for a classic dress watch – I am more than sure that men may have also considered buying them.
Roger Dubuis’ main introduction was very complicated: the Hommage Minute Repeater Tourbillon Automatic. Its Caliber RD104 is powered by a double-rotor automatic caliber, and the signature flying tourbillon is placed at 5 o’clock and visible on the semi-skeletonized dial. Stamped with the Geneva Seal, its base plate is treated in pink gold to match the case. It will be available in an edition of only 20 pieces to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the manufacture in 2015.
Panerai introduced a special edition set containing a Luminor Black Seal and a Luminor Daylight, two models inspired by original Panerai watches from 1996 that helped build this brand’s mystique and legend. Produced in limited editions of 500 pieces each, the watches in the set measure 44 mm and are powered by the hand-wound Panerai P.5000 movement.
For more on these two special pieces, read Deployant’s excellent story Panerai Luminor 8 Days Set (PAM 785).