Style / World of Watches (WOW)

Watches and Wonders 2022 Day 5 Highlights

Our regular coverage of Watches & Wonders Geneva bows out with this fifth story. Stories from the fair will continue to pop up, now and then.

Apr 08, 2022 | By Ashok Soman
Image: Tudor

By the time your fifth day at a watch fair rolls around, you know how well things are going when all the watches begin to blur into one another. Obviously, the Van Cleef & Arpels Planetarium Automaton cannot be mistaken for anything else, but the Tudor Black Bay Pro might be mistaken for a certain Explorer II, even though Rolex did not release anything in that area. Popularity, legacy and the weight of expectation weighs down everything at Watches & Wonders Geneva. But more on that later because we must open properly with a standout watch, one that is entirely unprecedented: the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF GMT Ratrapante. 

No, this is not what it sounds like because the Fleurier-based watchmaking firm has not combined a flyback chronograph with the GMT function. In fact it is a straight-up two-time zone watch, but on demand. Using the pusher at 7 o’clock moves the white gold hour hand forward by one hour, while revealing a second hour hand in red gold. This red gold hand will remain tied to home time while the white gold hand now indicates local time; using the pusher at 3 o’clock gets the white gold hand gliding across the dial to once again take its position over the red gold hand, where both then move forward as normal. In practice, we think this works best when trying to manage times in two countries or time zones for short periods. 

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF GMT Ratrapante
Image: Parmigiani Fleurier

We will return to this watch soon, but for now there are many 2022 novelties that need our attention, briefly. Piaget has a unique timepiece that pays tribute to its own Altiplano Ultimate Concept watch (until recently the thinnest wristwatch in the world). Piaget specifically notes the time of 7:47am, February 7, 2017 in references all over the face and case of the Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tribute watch. This was the date and time that the prototype of the Ultimate Concept watch started beating at La Côte-aux-Fées, Switzerland. That is one of two Piaget manufacture sites, and the name is also engraved (on the ratchet wheel, visible dial-side). 

Roger Dubuis also pays homage to its recent past, specifically the Excalibur Knights of the Round table watch, with a new version that ups the excitement factor. Instead of all the knights on the dial striking the same pose, this latest version has them all in quite different poses as they prepare to do battle for the future, or perhaps the past. Each knight is a micro-sculpture representing an artisanal touch that reminds us that Roger Dubuis is more than just ultra contemporary watchmaking. 

Having said that, the centre of the watch features a flying tourbillon (because Roger Dubuis) and blocks of Murano glass and sapphire crystal. The case middle also features sapphire crystal so the owner can better witness the theatre that Roger Dubuis has put together. We wondered about the Murano glass around the crown, and so asked about the potential dangers there, but the manufacture is confident that everything is good, pointing out that the watch has earned the Poincon de Geneve so its construction is solid.

Ulysse Nardin is also on the tribute path with a trio of watches, all of which bring icons into the 21st century, or updates them for a new generation that might be unfamiliar with the brand’s achievements under the late Rolf Schnyder. This is apt because the company has once again gone independent, after a few years under the stewardship of the Kering Group. It was Schnyder’s death that saw the watchmaking firm he rescued become part of a group; Schnyder himself was adamant that his company was in it for the long haul as an independent firm. Current Ulysse Nardin CEO Patrick Pruniaux has proved himself worthy of his mantle by taking the company independent again, along with Girard-Perregaux of course. As a quick note to casual readers, Girard-Perregaux did not show at Watches & Wonders.

All three Ulysse Nardin watches are quite excellent, and the standout is the Freak S. At the same time, we have a lot of affection for the Blast Moonstruck because of its connection with watchmaker and physicist Ludwig Oechslin. This vision of the Ptolemaic astronomical world is simply off-the-rails, and Ulysse Nardin notes that Oechslin worked out all the math for the various indications here by himself. It is mainly algebra though so it will not have been a challenging undertaking for him. This brings us, briefly, to the Freak S, which introduces double oscillators set at an incline and conjoined by a differential gearing system… Now that there might be a bunch of watchmaking gobbledygook to you but really it is meant to be cool. It certainly looks cool, and we know that there are no real advantages to be gained by using this system – other than the wow factor of course. 

Now there are still quite a number of watches from Watches & Wonders to get through, including a few updates from brands not exhibiting in the Palexpo, but we must unfortunately bring our official daily round-up to a close. We tried to be a little more forward-thinking and experimental this time, and we are gratified that not everyone likes it. Anything with character is bound to be a little divisive, which all of the above watches demonstrate. We finish off our coverage of Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022 with a second look at Tudor, namely that Black Bay Pro from the introduction. 

ThIs winner from Tudor — the Internet has already decided that it is destined for great things — is everything that plenty of brands aspire to. Of course, only Tudor can bring reference 1655 to the 2022 watchmaking party in perfectly legitimate form. If that sentence makes sense to you, whether you agree or not, then you are the intended audience for the Black Bay Pro. This writer in particular fancies it because it puts him in mind of the now-discontinued North Flag; I’m amused that this format seems to be more popular. We have already heard from multiple markets that the watch will be sold out on arrival, if such a thing can be said. 

With that, we say farewell as we prepare to embark on an expedition to the Parmigiani Fleurier manufacture, from our temporary base in Spiez, Switzerland. Do look for our extra time coverage of Watches & Wonders Geneva here on LUXUO, and check out the videos we shot at the fair. We have multiple formats competing for your attention. 

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