Geneva Watch Days 2022 Round Table Discussion: What We Liked, What We Didn’t Like, And What We’d Buy
The third edition of the sunny, COVID-19-friendly Geneva Watch Days came to a close on September 2, so of course we must talk about it. And we brought friends! Please join this Quill & Pad round table discussion in which we discuss what we did and didn’t like at Geneva Watch Days 2022.
Our panelists are:
ED: Elizabeth Doerr, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Quill & Pad
IS: Ian Skellern, co-founder and technical editor of Quill & Pad
RJ: Robert-Jan Broer, founder and editor-in-chief of Fratello Watches
LD: Łukasz Doskocz, editor-in-chief of www.CH24.pl
IS: Three in a row is a hat trick and GWD 2022 is the third consecutive seemingly (from the outside anyway) flawless Geneva Watch Days. Again, we had perfect weather, stunning views of the lake and Alps, visitors from all over the world, meeting old friends and making new friends, and, yes, lots of great watches. GWD is a relatively small watch fair, and it only has a small fraction of the brands and watches of the large fairs like Watches & Wonders, but there’s more than enough brands that you cannot see them all and their watches in three or four days. And the quality and variety of the brands presenting was excellent, especially for this lover of the smaller indie brands.
Seeing the sun and feeling its warmth so many times a day by the lake in Geneva can’t help but put a smile on your face. And then there’s the watches as well!
ED: As in the last two years, this loose fair’s decided focus is basically on smaller brands, independent watchmakers, plus Bulgari. And most of the watches we were able to see here were either line extensions or have yet to launch later in the year and are still under embargo. However, there were enough lovely timekeepers and wonderful watch friends to make us more than happy!
A non-watch highlight of the week for me, though, was the launch of Horopedia. The last-minute press conference taking place in the GWD tent was in essence a pre-announcement as the platform is not yet quite live. But for now, we know that it’s a non-profit visual watch wiki with the goal of transmitting transparency and knowledge. It was conceived and spearheaded by Marc-André Deschoux of The Watches TV and will run under the auspices of a hand-chosen executive committee comprising Philippe Dufour, Dr. Helmut Crott, and André Colard. More to come for sure!
RJ: I felt this edition was similar to last year’s event with the exception that I noticed there were some panel talks organized. Unfortunately, my schedule didn’t allow me to follow any of them as we were fully booked with the exhibiting brands. Making appointments with brands was easier this year because some of the brands decided to share an online schedule in which you could block a slot with them. Very convenient. I still believe that Dubai Watch Week sets the standard in creating a wonderful 360-degree experience for the watch industry. Geneva Watch Days will hopefully get there too; it definitely has a lot of potential.
LD: I went to Geneva (on a three-plane, ten-hour-delayed flight) to regain my watch mojo. I kind of lost some of the passion recently so was looking forward to enjoying watches again. The laid-back, casual, and easy-going atmosphere of this Geneva fair is what I needed. And the people, it’s all about the people – from the brands and industry, the watch media, and collectors. So good to see everyone enjoying some nice Geneva sun. The people are far more important than watches themselves, which were not too bad either.
IS: I thought that the organization and brand distribution (location) of Geneva Watch Days was excellent, as was the large tent by the lake opposite the Beau Rivage hotel, where the majority of the brands presented in rooms or suites. The tent had showcases of watches on display of the presenting brands, hosted daily seminars that were well attended, and a cocktail party each evening where collectors, press, watchmakers, and brands happily mixed. I often learned more about a watch there than in the presentation.
LD: I guess kudos have to go where kudos are due – the organizers of the GWD do a splendid job of keeping things cool, easy, and organized at the same time. Not to be locked under one roof but allowing us to enjoy a stroll along Rue de Mont-Blanc feels relaxing, despite my walk-o-meter noting some all-time highs.
ED: And, boy, did my feet hurt at the end of the week, Łukasz! That’s how I know there were more brands than ever before at Geneva Watch Days.
Best in show
IS: The watch of the show for me is a tough one as there were so many watches that were best for different things. Three favorites for me were the MB&F Split Escapement EVO Beverly Hills Edition, Moser Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack, and De Bethune DB 25s perpetual calendar in 40 mm.
But the standout watch of the fair for me despite its, for most of us, unwearable 47 mm diameter was the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture. With its open, three-dimensional movement, Greubel Forsey’s Double Tourbillon 30° Technique (even larger at 48 mm) has long been one of my all-time favorite watches, and the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Architecture has refined the concept. You could lose an afternoon gazing at the universe in that dial.
LD: I like that Geneva Watch Days is far more restrained in terms of new watches than Watches and Wonders. Fewer “novelties” (I hate that word) mean more time to appreciate what we see, and there were some cool kids on the block.
I particularly loved the H. Moser Streamliner Tourbillon. With its pink gold case and bracelet and a Vantablack dial this watch is so, so good in the flesh. Moser CEO Edouard Meylan was apparently very happy with it, and I could totally get his excitement.
Gold seems like my leitmotif of the fair because I also dearly enjoyed the new Octo Finissimo models. Both the pink and yellow gold models with tobacco-brown dial are just so perfect, but the 8-Days Skeleton in pink gold . . . that just made my jaw drop to the marble floor of the Ritz-Carlton. Signore Buonamassa outdid himself. Again.
RJ: For me, the MB&F Legacy Machine Split Escapement EVO was simply breathtaking. MB&F never disappoints, to be honest, managing to make that perfect combination of innovation and wearability. You can really wear their “machines,” it’s not just for show. The icy-blue base plate simply stands out and contrasts perfectly with the dark grey subdials.
Honorable mention has to go to the H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack. What an amazing watch, combining that incredible black dial with a gold case and bracelet. I just wish Moser wouldn’t have done a tourbillon version or at least keep the dial “closed.” But who knows what will come at a later stage.
ED: I was more than impressed by the streamlined De Bethune DB25s perpetual calendar and found it entirely wearable, even on my small wrist. With all that information in such a wearable case, beautifully organized and visible at a glance, and re-designed in such a creative and stunning way it has to be my pick for watch of the show. Unmistakably “De Bethune” in every way, to wear it is to love it.
IS: I was fortunate during Geneva Watch Days to be invited to the premiere of the very well made documentary film Seeking Perfect about De Bethune co-founder Denis Flageollet. Produced by Todd Searle, the film focuses on Flageollet’s life and philosophy rather than his watchmaking. You can watch it for free at www.seekingperfectfilm.com.
Object of desire
ED: Arnold & Son blew me away at Geneva Watch Days 2021 with the Luna Magna Ultimate I, a watch I immediately fell in love with. I had no idea the La Chaux-de-Fonds-based brand could up the ante on that piece of treasure, but somehow it did. I absolutely want to marry the Luna Magna Ultimate II!! And if that isn’t what I would call desire, I have no idea what is.
This latest version features a lagoon of millions of pure ruthenium crystals that have been reformed and dyed using complex processes before being deposited onto a dial plate, making this the most exquisite dial I saw during GWD. It is surrounded by 5.9 carats of invisibly set baguette-cut diamonds on the bezel.
But it is the enormous three-dimensional white gold moon that commands almost all the attention: entirely pavé set, this rendition of the earth’s satellite is split into 161 brilliant-cut diamonds to represent the illuminated side of the moon and the same number of Paraíba tourmalines for the dark side. I could not take my eyes off of this beauty.
RJ: Definitely one of the two gold Bulgari Octo Finissimo models with tobacco brown dials. Bulgari has been a bit too enthusiastic with the number of Octo Finissimo introductions in the last decade, so it was difficult to choose one. Until they came up with these two beautiful gold models, yellow gold for the U.S. market (limited to 50 pieces) and pink gold for all markets (and non-limited). What I like about the use of gold for the Octo Finissimo is the weight of this ultra-thin watch (and bracelet). It somehow doesn’t compute when you see a watch so thin and delicate. The color combination (gold and brown) and weight of the watch give the Octo Finissimo proper “wrist presence.” What I like so much about the Octo Finissimo in general is that these watches are unmistakably Bulgari. You won’t mix them up with anything else.
IS: I do not tend to wear dress watches or gold watches, but every time I saw the Moser Streamliner Tourbillon Vantablack I lusted after it. If I owned it, I’d make an effort to go out on the town just to create opportunities to wear it. With my small wrists, 40 mm is my upper limit for a dress watch and the Tourbillon Vantablack fits perfectly. And while you can’t appreciate it by day, the hands are inset with a solid block of Super-LumiNova-infused ceramic called Globolight.
Black and gold have never looked so stunning.
LD: I have to agree with Ian on the Moser Streamliner as I appreciate the design codes of this line more and more. The gold Tourbillon Vantablack is surely way out of my reach, but I had a very difficult time taking it off the wrist. Desire is certainly the word that describes my emotions from the brief encounter with that timepiece.
There was also a new watch launch that, although not part of GWD, stole the attention of pretty much everyone for a moment. Tudor came up with a titanium 39 mm Pelagos, and If I didn’t already own a regular 42 mm version of the Pelagos, I’d be very tempted. By the way, I saw it on a terrace at Hôtel Longemalle, a very highly recommended place for coffee with a great view.
IS: The watch that made me smile the most during Geneva Watch Days 2022 was Konstantin Chaykin’s Harley Quinn Wristmon. Chaykin’s Jokers and Wristmons always generate smiles, even from those with no interest in wristwatches. Harley Quinn is a DC comic book female villain embodied famously by Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad.
ED: I also really enjoyed the Harley Quinn, Ian. But since you nominated it, I’ll go with the Purnell Ballon d’Or, which was introduced in late 2021 and I had not yet seen. Made in honor of the soccer event from which it takes its name, instead of a visible tourbillon at 6 o’clock, it has a revolving gold soccer ball.
LD: The most fun for me was the people, but since they’re not watches I have to give that title to Trilobe and the aptly named Une Folle Journée. The little manufacture run by Gautier Massonneau came up with a truly ingenious way of reading the time, yet managed to also give it a rather classic, traditional feel. The size, the case and the finish is all like great watchmaking we love, yet the dial is mesmerizingly fun and differently cool. I love it, makes me smile every time.
RJ: Although normally I sincerely dislike the Maurice Lacroix Aikon (for various reasons and not in the least because of its poorly chosen name) the plastic #tide Benzilla is simply a fun watch. It’s not that cheap given the fact it has a quartz movement and is made of plastic (a price that buys you three MoonSwatches), but the execution is well done. They weren’t able to sell it on the spot (I asked), otherwise I would have probably bought it.
Which watch might we buy from this show with our own money?
RJ: I would love to say the gold Bulgari Octo Finissimo, but I would need to let go of some other watches in my collection to do that. So for now, I will say the Doxa Army in steel and bronze on the green rubber strap. I think Doxa did a great job with the Army variations they introduced, and I prefer the model with the bronze bezel.
IS: At around €4,200, the Doxa Black Ceramic Army for Watches of Switzerland is about the only new watch at Geneva Watch Days that I could dream of buying. And while, if the Metaverse is any judge (and it is, though not necessarily a good judge), it’s an extremely popular new launch. But while I like the design, I just can’t see it on my wrist. But. There was a similarly priced elephant in the room during (though not presenting at) GWD, the launch of the Tudor Pelagos 39, and that’s a watch I’d be happy to put my money down for.
LD: Well, Geneva Watch Days is a show for rather expensive, mostly independent brands that I both truly love and can’t afford. Out of those within reach I’d be absolutely overjoyed to get the Trilobe Nuit Fantastique Dune or the new Oris Divers Sixty-Five with a 12-hour bezel and an in-house Caliber 400. That’s a super cool, restrained and vintage-looking piece for good money. I’d wear it a lot.
ED: For me it would definitely be one of the bronze Oris Cotton Candy models that we first saw in 2021, but now available on recycled textile straps. Very, very wearable in size, coming in three beautiful summer colors, and at €2,400 just right for my budget!