A coalition of watch collectors, brand representatives and journalists descended upon Geneva, Switzerland to attend this year’s Watches and Wonders trade show, one of the most exclusive industry events worldwide. The return to an in-person experience allowed those present to touch extraordinary wristwatches and observe their nuance, complexity and finishing. At this level of watchmaking, the visual texture of timepiece is always carefully considered, but what we share below is beyond satin-polished stainless steel or brushed gold. From a glowing green enamel orb to a fused surface of lab-grown diamonds and a crystalized precious metal, material and technique collide in order to create something astounding.
Czapek & Cie
From the independent Geneva-based watch brand Czapek & Cie, the limited release Antarctique Frozen Star S features a sparkling dial composed of crystalized osmium, an ultra-dense material in the platinum family (10,000 tons of platinum create 30 grams of osmium). Often referred to as the rarest precious metal on the planet, osmium is only stable in crystal form—a process that requires temperatures above 3000 degrees Celsius. Within a 38.5mm case, the dial offers a cool blue brilliance.
The monochromatic Tonda PF Flying Tourbillon from luxury maison Parmigiani Fleurier incorporates an all-platinum case and a sandblasted platinum dial. Though sandblasting isn’t foreign to watchmaking, this particular dial and its subtly hypnotic texture represents the finish at its absolute most refined. A technically superior piece, the automatic watch features an in-house Calibre PF517 movement and, of course, a flying tourbillon complication. This exquisite wristwatch will be limited to 25 pieces.
From a material innovation position, nothing at Watches and Wonders impressed quite as much as the TAG Heuer Carrera Plasma, Diamant d’Avant-Garde. Amidst TAG Heuer‘s iconic Carrera design DNA sits a dial crafted from the fusion of lab-grown crystals. Specifically referred to as a polycrystalline diamond dial, the attribute is an engineering marvel and, perhaps as expected, reflects light in an extraordinary way.
H. Moser & Cie
From H. Moser & Cie, the watchmaking pioneers who continue to redefine our understanding of minimal design, comes the Endeavour Centre Seconds Concept Lime Green, an automatic watch with a fumé dial that calls to mind the eye of a dragon. Further, this glowing green appears to have the texture of a lime skin. Both the color and pattern stem from a process wherein three enamel pigments are melded together atop a gold base. Though this particularly striking timepiece was a highlight from the fair, Moser’s unique “Blacker than Black” Streamliner Chronograph Flyback Automatic—in Vantablack—was also worth seeing (if your eyes could catch it against the black backdrop it was presented with).
A. Lange & Söhne
A masterpiece of watchmaking, German manufacture A. Lange & Söhne‘s GRAND Lange 1 returns this year in rose gold with a dark grey dial composed of solid silver with a grained finish. Once again, the relationship between material and process elevates the texture into the extraordinary. With the 2022 GRAND Lange 1’s enlarged proportions (at 41mm) and slenderized height (at 8.2mm, the dial plays an even more prominent role in a timepiece that includes the classic in-house manually wound calibre L095 movement.
A wonder to behold, Cartier‘s two limited edition Coussin de Cartier Innovation timepieces boast soft cases that subtly squish as if they are gem-encrusted stress balls. A firm module hidden inside protects each watch movement and other functional components. From the luxury maison’s research and innovation laboratory, these woven white gold cases come paved in diamonds (for one model) or emeralds, tourmalines, tsavorites and sapphires (for the other).
Inspired by the Mer de Glace (which translates to “sea of ice”), a glacial valley alongside Mont Blanc in the French Alps, the dial of the Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date looks as if it has been extracted from a block of ice. Its rich, textured pattern evokes cracks and veins running through depths of ice. Though Montblanc‘s Swiss dial partner used the historic gratté-boisé technique to produce the textured effect, many additional steps were taken to achieve the exquisite illusion.
Hero image courtesy of H. Moser & Cie