Touring Geneva Watch Days
Our Top Five Favorites
WRITTEN BY THOM WILLIAMS
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR
OCTOBER 6, 2021
Last month, for the first time in what felt like an eternity, the Swiss watch industry assembled en masse in Geneva for an in-person (albeit decentralized) watch fair. Rather than running the old convention center method, as was the way with the now defunct Baselworld and others, brands set up shop in a series of hotels lining Geneva’s lakefront. This new format has flown under the banner of Geneva Watch Days since its founding last year. Disappointed with the cancellation of other industry shows, Bvlgari CEO Jean Christophe Babin rallied with Breitling’s Georges Kern and other key brand figures in an attempt to keep the industry’s momentum moving amidst global chaos. While last year’s showing was primarily digital, 2021 turned into more of a 50/50 split as more Global media, collectors, and retail partners have regained confidence in international travel. Eager to set boots on the ground, I made the trek across the Atlantic for a look at the year’s latest-and-greatest. The fact of the matter is that as good as a press release and official imagery can be, when it comes to watches nothing beats a first-hand look to properly evaluate a new release. Without further ado, here are some of the highlights, including one piece that was under embargo until this week.
H. Moser Heritage Dual Time
Officially kept under cover until October 6th, this new Moser Heritage Dual Time was a colorful beacon, reminding us of lighter and brighter times. A continuation of the vintage pilot themed watches found in the heritage line, the 42mm stainless steel watch features a vibrant burgundy fumé dial with sunburst pattern adorned with Moser’s “secret signature” logo on the dial. According to the team, the brand is moving away from the use of printed logos on dials moving forward, and any future release outside of the Concept series of watches will feature this more subtle branding. Powering the watch is the new HMC 809 self-winding caliber with a listed power reserve of a “minimum of three days” per Moser.
Czapek Antarctique Rattrapante
While the Moser is the latest to break cover, the Czapek Antarctique Rattrapante is truly the watch that stole the show. The Antarctique collection has been positioned as an extremely well executed (and available) alternative to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Patek Philippe Nautilus, and to have a stainless-steel reference with an openworked geartrain and a split-seconds complication for a hair under $50,000 USD? That’s precisely the kind of thing to get collectors and enthusiasts extremely excited. While more variants of this watch are anticipated, unfortunately all of the initial 77 piece production run has already been spoken for.
Bvlgari Octo Roma World Timer
It’s safe to say that Bvlgari’s pivot from “oh they make watches too” to a world record holding powerhouse in watchmaking has been an impressive journey to follow over the last half decade. I’m always impressed by their ability to build on their existing collection pillars, consistently delivering thoughtful and well executed watches that never stray too far from the brand’s design DNA. This couldn’t be more the case with their latest Octo Roma World Timer, an elegant yet edgy take on the classic travel complication. Its steel case is finished with a black sandblasted DLC coating, which is in turn matched to a matt black sandblasted dial that is contrasted by crisp white printing for its city ring, 24-hour scale, and indices. The legibility on this piece is so sharp that it almost steals the show from the extensively detailed profile of the Octo Roma case. For those wanting something just a touch more traditional, there is also a blue dial version with a brushed stainless-steel case and bracelet.
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF
The Tonda has been a part of Parmigiani Fleurier’s roster for a good while now, however during Geneva Watch Days the brand unveiled something completely different—an outright refresh of the Tonda lineup. The Tonda PF has a new case profile, a new bracelet, a stunning new patterned dial, and even a completely new approach to dial branding. Let me tell you, in the metal this thing is an absolute stunner, and the closer you look the better it gets. The dial is finished with a very fine barleycorn guilloche pattern, which the brand used previously on the quirky Ovale Pantographe. This time around the pattern seems just a touch finer, and adding a sense of completion to the watch, the pattern is repeated on its winding micro-rotor (visible via a display caseback). From a comfort and fit standpoint, the bracelet of the Tonda PF is equally remarkable. As this battle of integrated bracelet steel sports watches continues to heat up, this Parmigiani makes one hell of an argument as an understated and incredibly refined option. Apples to apples, I’d wear this over a Nautilus any day.
MB&F HM10 Only Watch Panda
Back in August we brought you up to speed on the Only Watch charity auction being held this coming November, and one of the treats of Geneva Watch Days was to see one of the most outlandish creations heading for the sale—the MB&F HM10 Panda. It’s surprising to me how little work (in the grand scheme of things) it took in order to make this watch truly look like a miniature panda is hugging your wrist. In the same breath, it’s also surprising how well the finished design comes together. Touches of white or black lacquer in all of the right places around its stainless-steel case quickly help one’s imagination run wild. This won’t be a rough-and-tumble tool watch, given that you’ll want to keep the panda’s ears out of harm’s way, but this is about as bold and unabashedly playful of a watch as we’ve seen in years now.
Needless to say that there were other noteworthy watches found over the course of my week at Geneva Watch Days, but the resounding sentiment leaving the show feels like the more important element here. The pandemic era has not quashed the watch industry, but rather it has given rise to even more creativity and willingness to challenge convention. If Geneva was any indication, we can expect more creativity and excitement through the balance of Q4. The WatchTime NYC show and Dubai Watch Week are bound to deliver at least a handful of exciting releases.