Watches & Wonders 2020: Six We Like
Our favourites from A. Lange & Söhne, Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc, Panerai and Vacheron Constantin.
The inaugural Watches & Wonders 2020 may have taken on a very different format and tone compared to what has been planned, no thanks to you-know-what. However, the watch companies involved in the showcase are soldiering on, eager to introduce what they have been working on for previous years.
Likewise over here at CrownWatchBlog, we have been privy to these new releases and are excited to share them all with you. There is much to unpack with more in-depth reviews and opinions in the coming weeks. But for now, let us help you cut through the noise and present five of our favourite timepieces of Watches & Wonders 2020.
A. LANGE & SÖHNE – Zeitwerk Minute Repeater
Introduced in 2015 in platinum with silvered dial, the groundbreaking Zeitwerk Minute Repeater returns in more striking finery and with greater exclusivity. Limited to 30 pieces, the 2020 version is clad in white gold with navy-hued silver dial, a delightful aesthetic switch-up that recalls the 25th anniversary Lange 1 commemorative editions of last year.
But as it is with all Lange watches, the best virtues of the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is more than skin-deep. Unlike normal minute repeaters, which require their owners to do mental arithmetic as they chime the minutes in quarters, the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater features a world premiere decimal system, which sounds out the time exactly as one reads it - a low-pitched tone for each elapsed hour, a double tone for each elapsed ten-minute period, and a high-pitched tone for each elapsed minute.
CARTIER – Maillon de Cartier
We featured the Maillon de Cartier in an earlier post, but this collection makes our list of favourites for Watches & Wonders 2020 for sheer debutant impact. This dress watch collection, distinguished by its voluminous ‘twisted’ profile, carries on Cartier’s fine tradition of creating instantly recognisable and commercially on-point timepieces.
Like the Pasha, Santos and Tank that came before – all of which come with new offerings this year – the Maillon de Cartier lassoed us from the get-go with its irresistible profile, made of a centrepiece bracelet featuring off-set and diagonally aligned chain-links, and a case that flaunts a skewed hexagonal shape. Combining throwback 1980s ostentation with modern sensuality, the Maillon de Cartier is a shoo-in for must-have women’s dress watches for the year.
JAEGER-LECOULTRE – Reverso One Red-Wine
Surely this is Art Deco-inspired gorgeousness at its finest? During times of uncertainty, we always revert to the classics and Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso, first launched in 1931, has got to be one of the most bank-able icons of all time. Reminiscent of last year's Reverso Tribute Small Seconds with a gorgeous burgundy dial and strap, this year's merlot-hued model is strictly for the ladies.
The new Reverso One Red-Wine for women does just what it says, offering an intoxicating hit of ravishing ruddiness on its sunray lacquered guilloche dial and glossy alligator leather strap. We especially love the graphic execution Arabic numerals and corner lines on the dial, which evoke vintage Art-Deco. The watch’s slim and elongated profile (40 mm x 20 mm x 7.9 mm) is perfect for ladies, while the rows of diamonds on the gadroons at the top and bottom of the stainless steel case adds a touch of glamour. And in our books, a workday to weekend accompaniment that never goes out of style.
MONTBLANC – 1858 Automatic Exploration 24H
The 1858 Automatic Exploration 24H isn’t the fanciest or most complex watch from Montblanc this year, but it certainly looks the most fun to wear. Even at first glance, the timepiece stands out with its design and dial interface; its stainless steel case with bronze bezel framing a black dial with single hand traversing a 24-hour scale.
Admittedly, time-telling accuracy isn’t the 1858 Automatic Exploration 24H’s strongest suit, given the solo hand and how each hour is marked out only with 15-minute intervals. Instead, this watch is all about the ‘feel’ factor. The timepiece goes full-on with its field-equipment aesthetic (vintage-y bi-coloured case, handmade Nato strap), depiction of the northern hemisphere on the dial, and charming ability to double up as a compass with cardinal points on the inner flange. With loftier models that include a split-seconds chronograph and a monopusher chronograph in the 1858 line-up, the 1858 Automatic Exploration 24H presents itself as an interesting gateway watch.
PANERAI – Luminor Marina Fibratech
The Luminor Marina Fibratech makes our list of Watches & Wonders favourites for its epochal, yet unassuming tech. While the gradated blue dial with date and small-seconds screams classic Panerai, the watch’s appeal lies in its case. Cloaked in a matte dark grey with wood grain-like texture, the case is made of a proprietary material comprising mineral basalt fibres (a rock-based material), eco-sustainable row fibres and other polymers.
Said to be 60 per cent lighter than steel, yet highly corrosion-resistant, the Fibratech case is complemented by a carbon fibre bezel, crown and crown-guard. From popularising bronze cases to improving carbon fibre cases, Panerai has emerged as an unlikely flagbearer for material innovation in recent years. For those who want a piece of modern horological history, the Fibratech offers first dibs of things to come.
VACHERON CONSTANTIN – Traditionnelle Tourbillon
Confession: we were surprised that the Traditionnelle Tourbillon is Vacheron Constantin’s only first-ever automatic tourbillon for women. This is a long time coming and, if anything, the watch clearly gives credence to the adage ‘good things come to those who wait’.
Vacheron Constantin has had very good reasons to ask for patience. The beautiful Calibre 2160 that powers this watch debuted only in 2018 as the company’s first- in-house tourbillon movement. An ultra-thin, fastidiously calibrated calibre with peripheral rotor and three-day power reserve, the Calibre 2160 runs with the same elegance and energy in the new Traditionnelle Tourbillon, appropriately sized at 36mm and offered in a diamond-set pink gold case with mother-of-pearl dial (our choice), or the ostentatiously ornamental fully diamond-paved white gold version with 559 stones totalling 6.59 carats.
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