April 4, 2023
Watches & Wonders Geneva 2023 recently ended, making it the second successful iteration of the still-new Watches & Wonders Geneva timepiece tradeshow event that started in 2022. Participant brands included most of the traditional SIHH brands, as well as many of the more important brands from Baselworld. The aBlogtoWatch team met with nearly 50 exhibiting brands and got a first-hand look at many of the new watches being released in 2023. While many releases we saw remain under embargo, the aBlogtoWatch team has selected its favorites among the newly debuted timepieces, and we think they represent a perfect picture of the current state of watches and the industry as a whole.
Before we get into it, a quick note on overall product trends. Like 2022 before it, 2023 is shaping up to be a very cautious year for brands, meaning that investments in things like research and development, as well as entirely new model families, are limited compared to historic averages. That means some brands only released one watch publicly while others clearly focused on small batch production of extremely expensive watches intended for elite clients as opposed to those designed to cast a wider net and garner the interest of a more mainstream luxury consumer. In essence, brands are playing it safe selling to existing high-net-worth clients and focusing on product formulas that work, as opposed to experimenting with new shapes and concepts in the pursuit of discovering and creating new modern classics.
What brands are still heavily focused on is reviving older designs and revising the past for today. This has been an ongoing trend in the industry and, in 2023, we continue to see how modern watches are directly or partially inspired by older concepts and aesthetics. This continues to feel like a safe bet for an industry that isn’t as patient as it was in the past when it comes to its new products taking a few years to find their customers; short-term thinking still pervades the watch product development cycle at the majority of even major watchmakers. That means they are hoping to make products that the market already wants, as opposed to inventing the look of the future. While the predominant crowd-pleasing designs may not stand the test of time, there are a lot of great watches being released that are trendy and inspired while seeking to offer a more universal wearing experience geared toward today’s more casual, sporty lifestyles. Let’s take a look at what the aBlogtoWatch team thinks are the top 10 timepieces from Watches & Wonders Geneva 2023.
After years of leaving its Pilot collection in apparent limbo, Zenith revitalized the line with a complete redesign, bursting out of the gate with four models. It was exactly the kind of thing we always hope for when covering new pieces, especially those released at big shows. These watches bring a modern look to a collection that had languished in the Vintage-inspired Doldrums, combining classic pilot watch elements with fresh design and contemporary proportions. The chronograph stood out for us, with a triple-patented big date and a model throwing it back to one of Zenith’s classic ’90s designs. Both Pilot models are available in stainless steel or black ceramic, with The Zenith Pilot Big Date Flyback priced respectively at $11,500 USD and $13,500 USD, and the Zenith Pilot Automatic priced respectively at $7,500 USD and $9,600 USD. Read the aBlogtoWatch hands-on with the new Zenith Pilot here.
For 2023, Rolex has ended production of its Cellini dress watch family in order to make way for the new 1908. This is the brand’s only non-Oyster piece, allowing for a thinner case profile and more elegant proportions. The 39mm-wide cases begin with availability in 18k yellow or white-gold cases, paired with either an opaline or black face and a dial inspired by some of the first Rolex wristwatches ever. When Rolex comes out with a new dial or collection, it is certainly a cause for celebration. More important for timepiece fans is Rolex’s decision to outfit 1908 watches with a new in-house movement that for the first time includes a silicon balance wheel—a high-performing component previously only used in a small number of women’s watches at Rolex. The Rolex 1908 is priced at $22,000 USD in yellow gold and $23,300 USD in white gold. Read the full aBlogtoWatch hands-on with the Rolex 1908 here.
For Watches and Wonders 2023, A. Lange & Söhne released just one model. Four years after it wowed the world with its first steel sports watch, it finally expanded the Odysseus line with the Odysseus Chronograph. Unsurprisingly, they went big: the watch uses central hands for both chronograph seconds and minutes and has an incredibly novel zero-reset mechanism sure to keep owners playing with it non-stop. With its new movement and a colorway only seen in a single other Lange, this 100-piece stainless steel model plots a promising trajectory for the Odysseus collection. A. Lange & Söhne was unable to provide pricing information ahead of press time. Read the aBlogtoWatch coverage of the A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus Chronograph here.
For many years, TAG Heuer has split its trademark Carrera series between the contemporary TAG Heuer-branded modernist side of the line and overt homages to vintage models under the legacy Heuer nameplate. Few if any models aimed to bridge the gap between these two sides of the lineage, until this year’s release of the TAG Heuer Carrera “Glassbox” family. As the series celebrates its 60th anniversary, TAG Heuer has announced the “Glassbox” sub-line, blending the smaller proportions and clean case design of the vintage-inspired models with a dramatic, futuristic bezel-less domed sapphire crystal that gives the famously angular series a more rounded, spacious character. The TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 39mm models are priced at $6,450 USD, while the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Tourbillon 42mm is priced at $21,000 USD. Read the full aBlogtoWatch hands-on with the TAG Heuer Carrera “Glassbox” Chronographs here.
This year for Watches & Wonders Geneva 2023, Jaeger-LeCoultre decided to focus on its iconic Reverso collection, and the standout among the handful of new releases was the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Chronograph. One side offers a clean and classic time-only display in the spirit of the original Reverso watch from 1931, while the other side is a thoroughly modern contemporary chronograph with a skeletonized display and a retrograde minutes counter. While JLC frequently creates dual-sided Reverso watches, seldom do the two sides offer such different possibilities, making this one of the best new releases unveiled not just by JLC, but at the entire show. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Chronograph is priced at $21,400 USD in steel and $37,400 USD in pink gold. Read the aBlogtoWatch hands-on with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Chronograph here.
Over the last five or so years, IWC has been diligently working on making a new version of the Ingenieur that not only faithfully recalls the Gerald Genta-designed model from the 1970s, but that actually results in a far better-looking watch than the original. This complicated design exercise was thanks to IWC’s leadership and the brand’s current focus on design and aesthetics. The Ingenieur Automatic 40 isn’t an inexpensive watch, but it is very nicely done and manages to be an interesting look at the brand’s own history as well as being decidedly on-trend. The steel versions are excellent, but the titanium model was the real standout. The IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 watches are priced starting at $14,600 USD. Read the full aBlogtoWatch hands-on with the IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 watches here.
This year, Parmigiani Fleurier has once again wowed with the TONDA PF Minute Rattrapante. As it did with last year’s stand-out TONDA PF GMT Rattrapante, Parimigiani has rethought the core mechanics of the push-button-operated, split-seconds movement. In the Minute Rattrapante, a secondary minute hand (concealed behind the primary minute hand) can be independently set to a designated time, allowing the watch to be used as a timer. Realistically speaking, this is a complicated solution to a fairly simple task, and this same core functionality could just as easily be offered by a rotating bezel. However, the fact that this can be achieved entirely through the movement is the real story here, and it is this type of innovation that ultimately makes this industry exciting. The Parmigiani TONDA PF Minute Rattrapante is priced at $30,600 USD. Read the aBlogtoWatch coverage of the Parmigiani TONDA PF Minute Rattrapante release here.
Since its inaugural appearance in 2012, the Tudor Black Bay lineup has become increasingly truer to its vintage inspiration, and as part of the latest batch of new releases unveiled this year at the show, Tudor has given us its most historically accurate, vintage-inspired dive watch yet. The new Tudor Black Bay 54 faithfully reinstates the original 37mm case diameter of the very first Tudor diver from 1954, while simultaneously incorporating a number of other vintage details in regard to its bezel insert, hands, and winding crown. Given that Tudor already offered Black Bay dive watches with both 39mm and 41mm case diameters, few people expected a 37mm model to join the lineup this year, yet its thinner case, T-fit clasp, and vintage Submariner details have made the Black Bay 54 one of the fan-favorite releases of this year’s show. The Tudor Black Bay 54 is priced at $3,625 USD on rubber and $3,850 USD on the bracelet. Read the full aBlogtoWatch hands-on with the Tudor Black Bay 54 here.
Among the most impressive novelties unveiled this year was the Patek Philippe Calatrava 24-Hour Display Travel Time ref. 5224R-001, which offers an ultra-clean, elegant design thanks to its 24-hour format and a re-designed setting mechanism that eliminates the need for extra pushers or buttons on the side of the case. Crafted from 18k rose gold and fitted with a multi-textured blue dial, the new reference 5224R-001 also gets rid of the need for a day/night indicator, as its two independently adjustable hour hands only make one full rotation around the dial each day. Offering highly practical dual-time capability while also retaining all of the refinement and elegance that has always defined the longstanding Calatrava collection, the watch is also powered by the new automatic Caliber 31-260 PS FUS 24H. The Patek Philippe Calatrava 24-Hour Display Travel Time 5224R-001 is priced at $57,370 USD. Read the full aBlogtoWatch hands-on with the Patek Philippe Calatrava 24-Hour Display Travel Time here.
Building on last year’s Evolution 9 drop, Grand Seiko snuck this modest-looking chronograph in between bejeweled lion watches and hand-engraved platinum cases. But don’t let its straightforward design fool you: the Grand Seiko Tentagraph features the brand’s first-ever mechanical chronograph, and the 9SC5 movement features a 5hz frequency and a 3-day power reserve (even when the chronograph is running. Add to that rigorously tested -3/+5 accuracy and Grand Seiko’s winning design (including, of course, a textured dial), and you’ve got a certified winner. Oh, and did we mention it’s titanium? The Grand Seiko Tentagraph SLGC001 is priced at $13,700 USD. Read the aBlogtoWatch coverage of the Grand Seiko Tentagraph SLGC001 release here.Check out all of aBlogtoWatch’s coverage of Watches and Wonders 2023, including podcasts, live video, hands-on articles, and tons of new releases!