The world’s largest and most anticipated watch fair returns. With almost 50 brands spanning traditional Swiss heavyweights to young and bold independent marques vying for attention at Watches and Wonders 2023 in Geneva, headspace can get a tad congested. But because first impressions count, our editors decide to go with gut instinct and single out the timepieces that thrill the most at first sight.
A. Lange & Sohne: Odysseus Chronograph
By Alvin Wong, Editor-in-Chief Robb Report Singapore
The audacity of Lange to premiere just one watch at the world’s largest watch exposition certainly raises eyebrows. It is a chest thumping, big brand-energy type of move that could’ve easily gone south. Even so—and unsurprisingly—the Odysseus Chronograph knocks it out of the park with its solo act.
For one, this steel watch already seems destined to be out of reach. It is limited to 100 pieces, which I am sure are all but spoken for. Waiting lists for Odysseus’ first three models in steel, white gold and titanium are stuff of legend. What more this gleaming new beauty, with desirability preceding its reputation, and one that bears the honour as the first Lange watch to house Lange’s first-ever proprietary automatic chronograph movement? So what if Lange has only one chop this Watches and Wonders? It is a darn good chop.
Cartier: Santos-Dumont XL
By Celine Yap, Editor-at-Large Robb Report Singapore
Another year, another stellar lineup from the horological powerhouse that is Cartier, proving once again how worthy the maison is of its world number two position. For 2023 Cartier is firing on all cylinders, with novelties introduced across all of its key product pillars, from Tank and Santos, to Pasha and, of course, the much anticipated Cartier Privé collection. Even jewellery watch classics like Ballon Bleu, Baignoire, and Panthère show tasteful evolution that truly emphasises Cartier’s might as a jeweller-watchmaker, not forgetting Clash Unlimited and metiers d’arts pieces forefronting the maison’s exceptional gem-setting and stone-cutting savoir-faire.
While the Cartier Privé Tank Normale looks set to be the maison’s top highlight—and it is indeed a winner with the faithfully re-issued case and stunning seven-link brushed metal bracelet—we foresee the new Santos Dumont models to be this year’s sleeper hits nobody saw coming. Pushing the limits on creativity are the Santos Dumont skeleton pieces with a micro-rotor adorned with a miniature aircraft modelled after Alberto Santos Dumont’s very own Demoiselle monoplanes of the early 20th century. Sized elegantly and with refined case dimensions, this watch looks especially good in yellow gold with blue lacquered bezel.
A favourite is the new Santos Dumont XL with ornamental stone numerals in jasper, jade, and dumortierite, continuing the signature red-green-blue colour trio previously seen in the lacquer dial Tank Musts. Laser cut to perfection, ornamental numerals add an artisanal touch to the otherwise clean and classic ultra-thin dress watch, with pomme hands and matching coloured cabochon stones set into the crown—a satisfying detail we’ve now come to expect from all of Cartier’s special-edition models.
Grand Seiko: Evolution 9 Collection Tentagraph SLGC001
By Wei-Yu Wang, Robb Report Malaysia Timepieces Editor
This year, Grand Seiko’s technical highlight is a lot less flashy than the Kodo Constant-force Tourbillon but it has it where it counts, quietly, in a manner that appeals to watch enthusiasts. At first, it is easy to dismiss the Tentagraph SLGC001 as yet another traditional three-register chronograph, tachymeter bezel and all. But under the hood is Calibre 9SC5, which builds upon the brand’s groundbreaking 9SA5 movement and its Dual Impulse Escapement.
This is, in fact, Grand Seiko’s first mechanical chronograph, as past implementations were Spring Drive-based. With a 5Hz frequency and three-day power reserve, it is by the brand’s estimation the first high-beat automatic chronograph with this sort of stamina. At 43mm in diameter and 15mm thick, it has a considerable wrist presence but its low centre of gravity, wrist-friendly lugs, and lightweight titanium makeup (bracelet included) make it a viable everyday option for those who want to discreetly sport some cutting-edge horology.