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04/19/2024
 6 minutes

Watches and Wonders 2024 Through the Eyes of My Friends

By Kristian Haagen
Watches-and-wonders-2-1

Watches and Wonders 2024 Through the Eyes of My Friends

Rather than just sharing my own thoughts on this year’s Watches and Wonders novelties, I sought the input of my trusted friends – not because I’m lazy, but because other people’s opinions matter.

When you enter the bright halls of Palexpo – which is very conveniently located next to Geneva Airport – you will meet many faces. Some of these you may be meeting in real life for the first time, while others you’ve known well for years. Watch writers tend to be a tightly-knit bunch.

Watches and Wonders is where journalists from all over the world come together to talk about the old days, and about the new watches presented during the six days of the show.
The annual event offered new timepieces from 54 watch brands this year, a record high. We had novelties from Rolex to Chopard, Bell & Ross to Hautlence, Cartier to Patek Philippe, and everything in between – the crème de la crème of watchmaking, all under one roof. And what goes on under this roof is a big, flashy show that we, the watch writers, look forward to every year. I’ve visited the fair for 23 years in a row now, only interrupted by COVID.

I’ve visited the show for 23 years in a row…

However, before we go any further, let’s agree on this: Nobody needs a mechanical watch. Moreover, nobody needs a new mechanical watch every year. As Hodinkee founder Benjamin Clymer said in a recent episode of Hodinkee Radio, “My dream for Rolex would be that they do nothing at all. They just said: ‘You know what? Things need to calm down. We’re just going to make more of what’s already in the catalog.’ And I think that would send a really powerful message to the market and the industry.”

I understand Mr. Clymer’s point, as it does seem unnecessary to have an annual deluge of horological news. And I believe most brands showcasing at Watches and Wonders wouldn’t object to the idea. The break could allow watchmakers to focus more on existing models. Let’s face it, a watch does not get better with a new dial color.

“The hamster wheel of just churning out new stuff for the sake of new stuff,” as Mr. Clymer puts it. Or if we look at a wider question when considering all the new timepieces being introduced year after year, and quote Professor Brian Cox, an English physicist and professor of particle physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester, “What is Time? Sounds like such a simple question. And the correct scientific answer is that we don’t know.”

The only dilemma with Mr. Clymer’s masterfully phrased remark on new timepieces and Mr. Cox’s scientific musings, of course, is that consumers and fans of horology may stop showing an interest in watches if they weren’t reminded about the importance of mechanical microtechnology. And even worse, watch journalists would be out of work – nobody likes an unemployed watch-writer.

But let’s get back to this year’s watch fair…

Watches and Wonders is a big deal. For watch journalists, this is like Christmas Eve. It’s that important. We start stressing months before the event, as our schedules tighten up. We double-book appointments and constantly run around late for the next meeting and presentation during the fair. Not only that, but we stress in the days before, during, and weeks after Watches and Wonders to meet our deadlines. So, maybe Mr. Clymer has a point, for the sake of public health: Do we actually need this many new timepieces every year?

Sour grapes and old man grumbling aside, Watches and Wonders 2024 was, of course, full of new watches, so I asked my friends what they saw and what they liked.

Łukasz Doskocz, Editor-in-Chief at CH24.PL

“This year’s Watches and Wonders seemed to be rather restrained, with few ‘wow’ moments. However, Zenith’s latest take on the Defy Extreme line is a diving watch done right: lightweight with titanium, bold with angular contours, bright with that blue dial, and all-purpose with a set of no less than three straps.”

The new Defy Extreme Diver is available in black or blue.
A diving watch done right: the latest Zenith Defy Extreme

Lex Stolk, Senior Editor at Fratello Watches

“The return of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre was one of the highlights for me. It debuted in 2007, but was ahead of its time. Now, the Duometre concept is back with new calibers, cases, and complications – all stunning creations.”

Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual
Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual

Tracey Llewellyn, Watch Editor for The Telegraph

“The attention lavished on women’s watches (as opposed to the recent abundance of unisex models) was discernible, with particularly covetable pieces from Chanel, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Beauregard. But perhaps the most exciting of all was the fabulous Hermes Cut. Described by one visitor as ‘a joyous confusion of shape,’ it is certain to follow in the successful footsteps of its older sibling, the H08.”

Robin Swithinbank, Freelance Journalist and Editor

“The Portugieser is a perennial favorite, and there’s little doubt the faithful will welcome the new collection’s softer color palette and point to the Eternal Calendar as a watchmaking milestone. Style magazines will lap up the white gold Horizon Blue models, in particular. But there’s an extra burden on the line this year, with IWC reportedly losing ground to its competitors in 2023. A return to its classic Portugieser after a few years experimenting with bold colors and far-reaching innovations may be just the tonic it needs.”

Portugieser Eternal Calendar ref. IW505701
Portugieser Eternal Calendar ref. IW505701

Frank Geelen, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Monochrome Watches

“Once again this year, ultra-thin records have been broken, and we see watches with a thinness that’s almost impossible to comprehend. This pursuit of ultimate slenderness started some 10 years ago, and it seems like we’re in a golden age of ultra-thin watches. This year, the quest resulted in the thinnest watch in the world with a mere 1.70 mm thickness, or rather thinness: the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra COSC. So yes, it’s even chronometer-certified, attesting to the fact that it’s more than a prototype. The other world record is Piaget’s Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon, measuring no more than 2 mm in height. All this has been made possible by the ground-breaking Piaget 900P from some ten years ago, which first showed that the case-back and main-plate could be merged to achieve even greater thinness.”

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon
Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon

Justin Hast, Freelance Watch Writer

“I’m a simple man. Early nights, warm weather, lifting sessions, and medium rare beef wellington all hit the spot. And so when it comes to watches, I appreciate the simple things, done well. Vacheron Constantin is not only the oldest watchmaker in continuous production, but also one that has been flying high in recent years. And for Watches and Wonders 2024, the star of the show for me wasn’t a grand complication, but a time-only, 39-mm dress watch to mark the anniversary of the Patrimony collection. With a hand-wound movement, ‘old silver’ dial, two-tone indices, and case, it’s pure class!”

Of course, this article would not be complete unless Benjamin Clymer told me which new Rolex made him smile. So, let the famous last words be from him:

“The yellow gold Rolex Daytona Le Mans. You won’t find it in the catalog, as it’s not an official release, but the world has already seen it on Instagram. That is a very special watch from Rolex,” Mr. Clymer told me, when we met on the first day of Watches and Wonders 2024.

Mr. Clymer is already the owner of the white gold version of the Daytona Le Mans, which was discontinued in 2024. “I hate to say it, but I prefer the yellow-gold version. I’m a yellow-gold guy. I’m wearing yellow-gold right now, in fact,” he said when I asked him which of the two he prefers, showing me his stunning Patek Philippe ref. 2526.

Obviously, Watches and Wonders is about new watches, but it’s also about old friendships, as this article, and the old watches worn by esteemed colleagues and friends like Mr. Clymer, prove.


About the Author

Kristian Haagen

I've been collecting watches since I was about 20 years old. I like vintage watches most; they often come with a fascinating history or a cool provenance. Provenance makes a watch far more interesting than any brand-new watch.

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