The MCH Group, which organizes Baselworld each year, announced earlier this week that it will cancel Baselworld 2021. That show, which MCH scheduled for January 28 to February 2, 2021, was initially announced in late February this year after the MCH Group canceled Baselworld 2020, originally slated to begin April 30, in response to a Swiss government ban on large events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The cancellation of the 2021 event comes after a host of major watch companies, including Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chopard and others, left the 2020 event to start a Geneva-based event alongside Watches & Wonders next January. That move was followed by the departure of three LVMH brands (Hublot, Zenith and TAG Heuer. Bulgari announced its departure earlier in the year).
According to the MCH Group press statement, the cancellation was agreed on in collaboration with the Swiss Exhibitors’ Committee, and also “unanimously approved by the Comité Consultatif and also supported by industry associations.”
“I welcome the constructive attitude of the representatives of the MCH Group, which has enabled us to find a balanced solution”, says Hubert J. du Plessix, President of the Swiss Exhibitors’ Committee. “I would also like to thank Patek Philippe, Rolex, Tudor, Chanel, Chopard, Hublot, Zenith and TAG Heuer, who, in a spirit of solidarity with the sector as a whole, have agreed to a lower refund so that the other exhibitors can benefit from better conditions.”
“We are pleased to have worked together and, in just a short time, found a solution that is acceptable to everyone. In the light of the large loss of revenue due to COVID-19 and our responsibility to all our stakeholder groups, this solution marks the limit of what is possible for us, said Bernd Stadlwieser, CEO of the MCH Group. “With the amicable settlement for Baselworld 2020, we can now concentrate fully on the future.”
Ever since its 1992 debut, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control collection has been the source of many of the watchmaker’s most classically styled complicated watches. At the recent (virtual) Watches & Wonders 2020, Jaeger-LeCoultre refreshed that well-rounded collection with new movements, more contemporary styling and more impressive technical specifications.
To do this, the watchmaker has incorporated design cues from many of its most important collections over many decades, most notably the Futurematic, PowerMatic and Memovox designs of the 1950s.
A few of the overall updates and Master Control enhancements include:
— A new 40mm case design that includes models with a new pink gold alloy called Le Grand Rose gold.
–New movements with increased power reserves (up to 70 hours in many of the new calibers). Most prominently, Jaeger-LeCoultre has re-engineered Calibre 899, a pillar of the Master Control collection. The improvements (also incorporated into the entire range of Master Control calibers) include a silicon escapement, a redesigned barrel and various energy-saving enhancements.
–On the dials, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s designers place sunray brushing on a silvery-white background, a blue central seconds hand on some models and blued subdial hands.
— All case-sides will be satin-brushed and complemented by a polished bezel, crowns and lugs. On the back you’ll find bas-relief engravings and a sapphire crystal caseback.
— The collection will now include soft, tan matte-finish Novonappa calf leather straps, made in France through a vegetable-based tanning process. The new straps can be changed without the need for a tool.
Like all Jaeger-LeCoultre timepieces, the Master Control watches carry an eight-year warranty in addition to the 1,000 Hours Control certification.
Master Control Chronograph Calendar
At the top of the new Master Control lineup is this model, set with a newly developed movement, Calibre 759, that combines a chronograph with a triple calendar display and a moonphase display. The new movement features a column-wheel chronograph with a vertical clutch, a moon-phase indicator and a 65-hour power reserve.
A central chronograph seconds hand anchors the watch’s triple calendar, bi-compax display, while a pulsometric scale is marked around the dial flange. Jaeger-LeCoultre also adds rectangular chronograph pushers to the case, which is offered in steel ($14,500) or the new Le Grand Rose gold alloy ($26,000).
Master Control Date
With a thin 8.78mm case and a clean design, this model is directed by the new caliber Calibre 899, which now features a silicon escapement and pallets made using a slightly modified shape. Jaeger-LeCoultre says it has also remade the central-seconds wheel to eliminate shaking while also utilizing titanium for the fixing screws of the oscillating wheel.
In order to increase the watch’s power reserve to seventy hours, Jaeger-LeCoultre redesigned the barrel to accommodate a stronger and longer mainspring without increasing the 3.3mm height of the movement. Price: $6,700.
Master Control Calendar
Here Jaeger-LeCoultre retains the model’s classical layout with the dates marked around the edge and indicated by a red-tipped hand, the days and months displayed in the upper part of the dial, and the moon-phase set within the small seconds subdial. But now there’s an all-new jumping complication.
Every month, the date hand makes a 90-degree leap from the 15th to the 16th, which means the hand never obscures the moon-phase display. Available in rose gold ($22,500) and steel ($11,000).
Master Control Geographic
Now powered by the new-generation Calibre 939 (with a full 70-hour power reserve) the Master Control Geographic retains its familiar layout, with timezone displays balanced by a date subdial and a power reserve indicator. But now Jaeger-LeCoultre has brushed the entire dial in a brushed sunray pattern and added elongated triangular indexes.
The watch’s unusual world time indication displays the city name relating to the zone, which gives travellers the option of setting the second time by location, rather than needing to calculate the time difference. The new edition is available in a choice of steel ($12,200) or Le Grand Rose gold case ($23,700).
MASTER CONTROL CHRONOGRAPH CALENDAR
Caliber: Automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 759 with a 65-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours/minutes, small seconds, calendar with date, day and month indications, moon phases, chronograph
Case: 40mm x 12.05mm stainless steel or Le Grand Rose gold, satin and polished finishes, sapphire crystal case-back, water-resistance to 50 meters
Reprising the ethereal Arceau de la Lune moon phase watch that was for many a highlight of the 2019 SIHH, Hermès during this past week’s virtual Watches & Wonders 2020 unveiled five new models in the collection.
If you recall, Hermès in 2019 presented the 43mm gold-cased Arceau de la Lune as an alternative to the classic moonphase watch. Instead of a single moon display showing monthly moonphases in the northern hemisphere, the Hermès Arceau de la Lune offers a simultaneous display of moon phases in both northern and southern hemispheres. Two discs, one indicating the date and one showing the hour and minute, rotate around the dial.
As they do, their position above two mother-of-pearl moon discs syncs exactly with the moon’s phase at the time and date indicated.
In an interesting – and appropriately quirky – Hermès touch, the southern hemisphere’s moon is displayed at the top of the dial while the moon as seen in the northern hemisphere rests at the 6 o’clock position.
Jean-Francois Mojon (who has worked with MB&F and Harry Winston, among others) devised the dial’s 59-day lunar dance for Hermès by developing a patent-pending module linked to the Hermès H1837 automatic caliber.
While the first two Arceau de la Lune models in 2019 had the time and date counters floating over an aventurine or a meteorite dial, the new releases extend the celestial exploration. Among the five new models Hermès includes a platinum-cased limited edition (of two) with a green-tinged Martian meteorite dial and two new meteorite models. In addition, Hermès debuts two stunning stone dials, made from Lapis Lazuli and from Blue Pearl stone.
Also found on the dial, within the moon at 12 o’clock, is an image of Pegasus, which links the equestrian origins of Hermès even more tightly to the Arceau de la Lune collection. The second moon at 6 o’clock is a more realistic depiction of the lunar surface.
As you’d expect from Hermès, each watch is matched to he appropriate color matte alligator strap in black, Havana or Veronese green, depending on the Arceau de la Lune versions. Prices begin at $33,200 for these models and rise to $54,100. The price of the platinum-cased model with the Martian dial is available on request. Details are below.
Hermès is also expanding its Slim d’Hermès collection in 2020 with a new Slim d’Hermès GMT, which artfully combines its ultra-thin Manufacture Hermès H1950 movement with a thin GMT module exclusively developed by Agenhor for Hermès. We’ll present more details about this 39.5mm rose gold model in future posts.
Specifications: Hermès Arceau L’heure de la Lune (five models)
CASE: 43mm white gold, rose gold (lapis lazuli) or platinum (green Martian dial), 17 mm width between lugs , sapphire crystal and caseback with anti-glare treatment, water-resistant to 30 meters
DIALS: Black Sahara meteorite with crystal-effect silver lacquered mobile counters (36-piece limited edition, $54,100)
At this year’s virtual Watches & Wonders, A. Lange & Söhne debuted two watches with white gold cases. For each watch, the debuts represent their premier in the precious metal.
One, the Odysseus, was available strictly in its debut metal and is the first steel-cased sports watch for this Glashutte-based luxury watchmaker.The other is the ultra-complex Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, the world’s only watch that combines a mechanical jumping numerals display with a decimal minute repeater, which was previously only sold with a platinum case.
The Odysseus is now available in white gold 40.5mm case (the same diameter as the steel debut) and offered with an all-new integrated rubber strap or leather strap. The sporty-elegant timepiece with the large date and day display features a grey, newly textured dial (instead of the blue dial used for the steel model) within a highly sculptured case. And while the case metal and dial finishing are new, the Odysseus continues to be powered by the L155.1 Datomatic, an automatic movement that boasts fifty hours of power reserve.
Along with the precious metal case, the new strap options present A. Lange & Söhne fans two more options novel for this watchmaker. The rubber bracelet or brown leather strap on this first-ever sporty A. Lange & Söhne watch are both new, and both appear highly integrated with the case. They offer the wearer a lightweight conveyance for the somewhat heavier precious case.
A. Lange & Söhne has a placed luminous white-gold hands and notched baton appliques on the dial, as we saw on the steel model. Alongside the large date and luminous hour markers, these carefully considered design elements ensure that the time and date are both exceedingly legible as viewed against the darker Odysseus dial. A red 60 on the silvered flange ring is a nice accent. Specially sealed, tapered buttons for correcting the date and the day of week are arranged at 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock. As you’d expect from this top-tier luxury watchmaker, case and lug finish is superb, with newly brushed and polished surfaces enhancing the dial’s textured appearance.
Those familiar with this high-end maker know that the caliber’s name, Datomatic, stands for the combination of a date mechanism and automatic winding.
From the back of the watch you’ll see the Datomatic’s skeletonized and partially blackened rotor, set with a platinum mass to better assure dependable winding.
Also visible: the German silver plate decorated with Glashütte ribbing, the wave pattern engraved on the balance bridge and the screwed gold chaton above the escape wheel. Price: $40,600.
The Zeitwerk Minute Repeater
When debuted by A. Lange & Söhne in 2015, the platinum-cased Zeitwerk Minute Repeater was the world’s only watch to combine a mechanical jumping numerals display with a decimal minute repeater. In 2020, that still holds true, but now the watch is offered with a white gold case. Five years after the watch’s debut, it now comes in a limited edition of thirty pieces cased in 44.2mm x 14.1mm white gold with a deep-blue dial.
Among its many impressive attributes, the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater features a pusher mechanism rather than a slide for triggering the repeater.
A. Lange & Söhne designed the caliber to deliver its striking power directly from the mainspring barrel, which means there is no need for a slide to wind a separate spring. And since a pusher, unlike a slide, can be sealed, the watch is water-resistant up to 30 meters.
To read much more about the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, click here. Price: 449,000 Euros. In the U.S., final price upon request.
When it launched in 2016, Chopard’s L.U.C Perpetual Twin garnered applause for its easy-to-read steel-cased perpetual calendar. Its high-end finish, eclectic large-date dial and superlative C.O.S.C.-chronometer-rated L.U.C caliber attracted those in search of an ‘everyday’ steel-cased haute horology perpetual calendar.
For 2020, Chopard expands this previously limited offering with a somewhat dressier L.U.C Perpetual Twin design presented without the large Roman numerals of the earlier model. Chopard replaces those numerals with faceted gold markers and more fully harmonizes the colors within all three sub-dials and under the minutes track.
Chopard presents all this refinement within either a 43mm rose gold case (a first for this model) or a more familiar 43mm stainless steel case.
The new design reprises the excellent automatic caliber L.U.C 96.22-L, with its impressive 65-hour power reserve, two-barrel Chopard Twin Technology wound by a handsome 22-karat gold micro-rotor.
The steel model fronts a blue dial while the rose gold edition features a subtle grey dial. On both, it’s the large date display that first attracts the eye, likely followed by the now unicolor sub-dials, including those that indicate the perpetual calendar’s day, month and leap year indications, and small seconds (at 6 o’clock). Price: $24,700 (steel) and $49,800 (rose gold).
More 2020 Debuts
This all-new L.U.C. Perpetual Twin is just one of several 2020 debuts Chopard has just released. Others include the latest Mille Miglia watches (the Mille Miglia GTS Azzurro Power Control and the Mille Miglia Azzurro Chrono) plus two new jewelled Happy Sport watches.
Chopard’s new Mille Miglia GTS Azzurro Power Control ($9,690) is an automatic time and date steel watch, limited to 500 pieces in a 43mm stainless steel case with rose gold crown and bezel. In keeping with its historic role accompanying the 1,000-mile Mille Miglia classic car race, the watch features a power reserve indicator designed to mimic an automotive fuel gauge.
The second addition to the Mille Miglia collection is the Mille Miglia GTS Azzurro Chrono ($7,400), a 44mm stainless steel (750-piece limited edition) watch with a sub-dial layout inspired by a classic car instrument cluster.
Both these new watches are named for their steel blue ‘Azzurro’ dials, which Chopard contrasts with the traditional Mille Miglia red hue found on the hands and ‘1000 Miglia’ direction arrow that frames the date window on each watch.
And finally, Chopard has added a new Happy Sport watch to this ‘dancing diamond’ collection with two 36mm jewelled versions, each showcasing diamonds using a prong setting that maximizes the amount of light reaching the diamonds. Made in either white gold or rose gold, they feature the automatic Chopard 96.17-C caliber. Each is priced at $88,300.
Specifications: Chopard L.U.C Perpetual Twin (stainless steel and in rose gold)
Ref. 168561-3003 – in stainless steel
Ref. 161976-5003 – in 18-karat rose gold
Case: 43mm by 11.47mm stainless steel or rose gold with polished bezel and clear sapphire case back. Water resistance to 30 meters.
Movement: Automatic L.U.C 96.22-L, with 65-hours of power reserve. Frequency is 28,800 vph (4 Hz) using two barrels (Chopard TwinTechnology) and a 22-karat gold rotor. COSC-chronometer certified.
Dial: Blue or ruthenium grey-colored dial with sunburst satin-brushed motif focused on the big date. Perpetual calendar dials (large-aperture date, day of the week, month and leap years), rhodium-plated or gilded Dauphine-type hour and minute hands, rhodium-plated or gilded baton-type hands small seconds, day and month indications, black-tipped or gilded triangular leap-year hand, facetted rhodium-plated or gilded hour-markers, minute track
Functions and displays: Central display of the hours and minutes, small seconds at 6 o’clock, date at 12 o’clock, day of the week and month displays at 9 and 3 o’clock respectively, offset leap-year display between 2 and 3 o’clock.
Strap and buckle: Blue or brown alligator leather with cognac alligator leather lining, polished and satin-brushed stainless steel or 18-karat rose gold pin buckle.
For 2020, IWC Schaffhausen is updating and expanding its Portugieser collection, focusing on equipping the entire collection with in-house calibers while also re-emphasizing the design’s nautical history.
Among the highlights: a smaller (40mm) Portugieser Automatic model, a smaller diameter (42mm) perpetual calendar, additional examples of the Portugieser Chronograph newly set with an in-house caliber, a new Yacht Club watch with a moonphase display, plus an all-new edition of the watch with a tide indicator. In addition, IWC added several complicated Portugieser watches that combine a tourbillon with a perpetual calendar and a chronograph.
The Portugieser Chronograph (Ref. 3716), long a best seller for IWC, is newly equipped in the standard version with the IWC in-house 69355 caliber and a clear sapphire-glass back. The two stainless-steel models ($7,950), one with deep green dial and one glowing in deep ‘claret’ red, are equipped with the newly developed folding butterfly clasp. A third model, elegant in 5N gold, (Ref IW371614, $17,800) features a blue dial, gold markers and gold hands.
Automatic, now at 40mm
The Portugieser Automatic 40 (Ref. 3583) marks the return to the collection of the three-hand design with the small seconds at 6 o’clock. You’ll find it now in a compact case with a 40-millimetre diameter–and bearing the collection’s entry price of $7,250.The new automatic model gets its power from the IWC-manufactured 82200 caliber with Pellaton winding. Four versions are available in 18-karat 5N gold or stainless steel cases.
A fifth Portugieser Automatic, in a larger (42mm) case, sports its power reserve display and small seconds on the dial and will be offered as either a gold-cased boutique edition (blue dial, $23,900) or with a the same rich red dial ($12,700) found on the new Portugieser Chronographs. These offer a longer power reserve than the 40mm models (up to seven days) thanks to their larger case diameter, which allows space for two winding barrels.
IWC Portugieser Automatic 42 (boutique Edition), with seven-day power reserve.
IWC adds its own in-house caliber 82650 with 60-hour power reserve to the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 42 (Ref. 3442). Thanks to the new movement, IWC was able to case it in a smaller 42mm diameter size (above). This could be the sleeper hit given its moderate starting price ($22,900) and full, easy-to-read perpetual functionality. All the displays are perfectly synchronized with each other and can be adjusted with a quick turn of the crown. In this version of the calendar, the displays for the date, month and day of the week are seen in three subdials.
Also look for a boutique 5N gold edition of the classic 44mm Portugieser Perpetual Calendar ($37,900, above). This model, with a nautical design, features a blue dial and shows the year in four digits–a feature IWC pioneered with its earlier Kurt Klaus-designed perpetual calendars starting in 1985. Thanks to its slightly larger dimensions of the boutique edition, the movement has room for two barrels that offer a power reserve of seven days.
Three new Portugieser Yacht Club watches combine a 44mm diameter with a recognizable Yacht Club bezel shape, flat casing ring and very useful flyback function.
The new IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph.
One, the Portugieser Yacht Club Moon & Tide (Ref. 344001, $33,100) is the first watch from IWC to feature a newly developed tide display, which shows the expected times of the next high and low water. The Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph (Ref. 3907, starting at $13,100) comes with either a stainless-steel bracelet or a two-tone bracelet in stainless steel and 18-karat 5N gold.
IWC will ship more of the Yacht Club models to its boutiques, including those with expanded maritime-inspired colors (blue and gold). These are identifiable with their blue dials, braided blue calfskin straps and cases in 18-karat 5N gold or 18-karat Armor Gold. The latter is a new alloy that demonstrates a higher hardness value than traditional 5N gold alloys.
Two watches in the new collection underscore IWC’s expertise at the high end. These are the new Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph (Ref. 3940, starting at CHF 105,000), which combines a tourbillon with a retrograde date display and chronograph, and the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon (Ref. 5045, starting at CHF 115,000) that combines a tourbillon and perpetual calendar.
Focusing on its vintage-styled 1858 collection, Montblanc in 2020 is adding artisanal blue dials to its 1858 Split Second Chronograph and one 1858 Geosphere world timer watch while also introducing an all-new one-hand, 24-hour watch and a bronze-cased 1858 Monopusher Chronograph.
The Montblanc 1858 Automatic 24H is the newest design among the four debuts and displays the time using one hand to indicate time on a 24-hour scale. As one of the few Montblanc 24-hour watches available, the new 1858 Automatic 24H also serves another function: compass. (You may recall the 2018 Montblanc 1858 Pocket Watch Limited Edition 100, which also features a single 24-hour hand but includes additional chronograph timing hands – and a compass on its back.) Here, Montblanc has printed a compass scale in a beige ring on the outside of the dial, with markers for approximately every five degrees, and includes the cardinal points in red.
To use the hand as a compass (in the northern hemisphere) simply ensure the watch is correctly set and then hold it horizontal to the ground. Then rotate it until the tip of the hour hand is pointing towards the sun. In this position, all the cardinal points on the dial will be correctly aligned. North is located at ‘24h’ and South at ‘12h’.
As one of Montblanc’s ‘adventure’ themed models, the new watch is carefully color coded and heavy with SuperLuminova. Not only is the red-tipped single hand colored red, it is luminescent, as is the map of the Northern Hemisphere and twenty-four meridians on the black dial.
The 42mm automatic watch is cased in a new stainless steel case with a bronze bezel, creating the vintage look that marks the 1858 collection. On the back you will find a “Spirit of Mountain Exploration” engraving. At its $3,030 price, we expect the Montblanc 1858 Automatic 24H to compete directly with the other relatively few one-hand watches currently on the market.
Montblanc’s 1858 Geosphere, the brand’s worldtimer with quite distinctive turning, slightly domed globes at the top (Northern Hemisphere) and bottom (Southern Hemisphere) of its dial has been among the most impressive world time watches in its price range since its debut just a few years ago. Previously available with a steel case and in a bronze case, the 1858 Geosphere is now available with a lighter grade-5 titanium case, here combined with a blue dial and ‘icy’ white accents.
Still at 42mm in diameter, the 1858 Geosphere’s titanium case is topped with a fluted, bi-directional stainless steel bezel that Montblanc then further decorates with shiny blue ceramic bezel and four engraved luminescent directional markers.
On the new 1858 Geosphere, the two domed globes are each surrounded by a fixed 24-timezone scale that includes a day/night blue indicator. A second time zone is indicated at nine o’clock and a date, linked to the local time, is at three o’clock.
For added ‘adventure’ effect, Montblanc marks the world’s Seven Summits and Mont Blanc on the turning globes with blue dots. They are also engraved on the caseback along with a drawing of Mont Blanc, a compass, and two crossed ice pick-axes. Price: With blue dial: $5,800 (on leather) and $6,200. Black dial with bracelet: $5,800.
Also for 2020, Montblanc adds two new versions of existing chronographs, both with unusual, high-end features and vintage designs.
One, the 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 100, is the latest of Montblanc’s stunning reinterpretations of historical 44mm Minerva military monopusher chronographs from the 1930s with its distinctive snail tachymeter scale dial. This newest edition comes cased in (44mm) titanium and with a new, vibrant blue grand feu enamel gold dial.
Inside Montblanc places its own manufacture monopusher chronograph caliber MB M16.31 that features two column wheels, horizontal coupling and a power reserve of fifty hours. The movement is beautifully designed to echo the original 1930s Minerva caliber 17.29. From the back you’ll see the same V- shape bridge as the original, along with a large balance wheel beating at the traditional frequency of 18,000 bph.
The new model continues the vintage aesthetic Montblanc nailed when this collection debuted in 2015. Echoing the collection, this new blue-dialed limited edition features a satin-finished case, polished lugs with beveled edges, a fluted crown and a domed sapphire crystal. Price: $36,000
1858 Monopusher Chronograph
Finally, Montblanc in 2020 adds to its 1858 Monopusher Chronograph collection with a new Limited Edition 1858 in a 42mm bronze case. Formerly only available in steel (and additionally within the Montblanc Heritage collection), the 1858 version of this monopusher chronograph adds a bit of adventure to the truly useful, vintage-inspired function by surrounding the black dial with a beige-railway track and a telemeter scale.
Echoing Minerva chronographs from the 1930s, the entire 1858 Chronograph line, including its two-pusher and mono-pusher models, is one of the brand’s highest-value designs.
Here, Montblanc creates an in-house module that it pairs with a Sellita caliber to ensure that the monopusher function is available at an affordable price. As a monopusher, the watch’s start, stop and reset can be activated through a single pusher integrated into the crown.
You’ll see beige-SuperLuminova numerals and rose-gold-coated, cathedral-shaped luminescent hands on the bronze and steel-cased 1858 Monopusher Chronographs. The bronze watch ($5,600) is available with an interesting new beige NATO strap. Two other unlimited models are available in stainless steel ($5,200), one of which comes with a new stainless steel bracelet made of a mix of link shapes, and a third set with an aged, cognac-colored calfskin strap.
Chrono24 just made it easier for watch buyers and sellers to conduct business and communicate with customers online with the release of a dealer app on iOS and Android.
Chrono24 dealers can use this app to more efficiently sell watches by selecting and uploading images directly from a smartphone and quickly update delivery and shipping details. Dealers can also monitor wristwatch availability within the app as well as keep track of monthly statistics like revenue and transactions.
The new Chrono24 app allows dealers to download invoices as a PDF. In addition it can be set to generate push notifications to alert the dealer to new requests and orders. And finally, the new app allows dealers to tap into the app’s mobile messenger to communicate directly with potential buyers and sellers around the world.
The idea, according to the German-based online watch market, is to offer dealers a modern tool to help process sales more quickly and facilitate communication with customers.
The free Chrono24 Dealer app is available for download here:
The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) is launching a website this Saturday as a digital stand-in for Watches & Wonders (previously known as SIHH), the Geneva-based watch debut show the organization planned for April 25-28.
The now-cancelled event will migrate online as thirty of the watch brands involved with the show (including A. Lange & Söhne, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Hermes, MB&F and many others) will now debut new products through watchesandwonders.com.
The FHH explains that the new site will “provide dynamic opportunities for interaction, education and inspiration, while showcasing the heritage, values and ambitions of the brands it represents.” FHH will open the site as a centralized portal where watch enthusiasts, retailers and journalists can learn about the brands’ 2020 collections.
“This dynamic new platform will allow watch lovers everywhere to discover exciting new products, engage in enriching experiences, and connect directly with our participating brands in one place, “says Fabienne Lupo, Chairwoman and Managing Director of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie.
In addition to gathering information and images of new watches, viewers will be able to view social media content and connect directly to the brands’ own sites. Viewers can expect to learn about many of the new watches directly from product launch presentations conducted by brand executives. The presentations, to be made in ten-minute streaming videos, will then be permanently accessible on the site.
The FHH has also gathered industry experts to provide product analysis, trend forecasts and technological, design and artistry discussions. Expect the site to be updated over the longer term, starting this summer with a second phase of product launches and e-commerce announcements. For additional details and videos, click on watchesandwonders.com, or check out the site when it launches after 6 am EST Saturday, April 25.
As I’m sure many of you will agree, traveling can be a wonderful experience. It’s an opportunity to discover new landscapes, meet new people, explore new cultures, eat new food, and so on.
Since I travel often, I’m always on the lookout for something truly special. However, due to globalization, many parts of the world are starting to look and feel the same; identical brands, products and stores are spread across the planet and it can be disappointing. When I was a kid, seeing my father’s friends bringing a Sony Walkman from Japan or a varsity jacket from an American university to France was a big deal.
So in an effort to find that something special, my daughter and I decided to fly to Iceland to discover some of the country’s famed nature spots including glaciers, geysers, volcanoes, waterfalls, natural hot springs and the like. But we were also excited to learn about the rich history of Iceland firsthand and looked forward to meeting some locals.
Iceland is known for its high winds and unpredictable weather during the winter season. Thankfully, the first two days were perfect for hiking and sightseeing. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as I’ll soon learn), a storm was expected on the third day and our guide informed us that it would be too dangerous to explore since certain roads would be closed due to snow and high winds.
I remembered that our guide had mentioned that the smallest watch manufacture in the world, called JS Watch, was located in the capital city, Reykjavik. So, I searched for the company online and sent them an email to inquire if I could visit and meet the owner. JS Watch replied almost immediately and said they would love to have me come over.
The following day, I headed to JS Watch to meet the owner and master watchmaker Gilbert Gudjonsson and his son Sigurdur, who is also a watchmaker and the company’s Technical Director. Gilbert warmly welcomed me to his store and I immediately noticed all the wood displays, memorabilia, clocks, customer photos, and of course, the JS watches. We sat down and Gilbert shared his story with me.
Gilbert began his career as a watchmaker and was happy to repair watches. However, fifteen years ago he decided that he would develop his own watch brand with his son. One of his first steps was to locate the right suppliers in Switzerland.
Today, the company has a total of nine suppliers. He sources Swiss movements from Eterna, dials from suppliers in the German town of Glashütte, and other draws from other sources for crystals, cases, hands, straps, and buckles.
All watches are designed by hand and after all the parts arrive, the watches are assembled at the company’s workshop. Between Gilbert and Sigurdur, around 350 watches are produced here per year and each timepiece is also tested for accuracy and water resistance onsite.
The workshop is a tiny space measuring around six square meters (65 square feet)—making JS Watch possibly the world’s smallest watch manufacture indeed!
Along with the regular watch collection, Gilbert and Sigurdur also design a few special edition pieces. For instance, when Iceland qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup—a first for the national soccer team—Captain Aron Gunnarsson asked JS Watch to design a watch in honor of the achievement. And these watches were not just for the players but the entire team, including coaches, doctors, and other personnel, which totaled forty people.
JS Watch decided to create a limited edition run of 300 pieces with forty reserved for the Icelandic national team. The JS World Cup watch includes thoughtful design details such as the hour markers 1 – 11 in silver to represent the players on the pitch and the 12 in red to symbolize the Icelandic fans (collectively known as Tólfan or The Twelfth Man). Furthermore, the first forty-five minutes are printed in blue for the first half of the game while the remaining fifteen minutes are in red to mark half time.
On the dial, JS included the “WOЯLD CUP MMXVIII” logo where the R is reversed as a nod to the hosting country Russia, in addition to “Fyrir Ísland,” which means “For Iceland.” The watch was a great success and JS Watch currently has another special project in the works.
Small staff too
Along with Gilbert and Sigurdur, the company’s employees include Grimkell Sigurthorsson, Director of Design/Marketing, Julius Heioarsson, Director of Product Development, and two apprentices, who are currently training in Denmark. It was a real pleasure to be around the team because the love and appreciation for each other were evident immediately.
Gilbert is a joyful person, who is proud to admit he does not use a computer and is even prouder of his small watch operation. He was delighted to show me his machinery and super organized workstation.
Over the last fifteen years, JS Watch has enjoyed great success and counts celebrities such as Quentin Tarantino, Elvis Costello, Ed Sheeran and others as clients. There are framed pictures of happy customers peppered throughout the store.
Ed Sheeran visited the JS Watch workshop in August, 2019.
The brand currently only makes stainless steel watches and the price range is around $2,500. It is difficult to find pre-owned JS Watch models in the market because owners want to keep them and first-time buyers often turn into repeat customers.
It’s refreshing to see a family business that can remain small while managing to produce high-quality wristwatches. This is thanks in part to the pride of workmanship and love of the craft at the center of the company culture.
My visit to JS Watch was a special treat as their philosophy echoes my own—remaining small, specializing in a high-end craft, focusing on innovation and differentiation, a sense of pride in one’s work, and most importantly, utmost respect for the client. It’s a formula that works and I wish them all the best.
Laurent Martinez is the proprietor of Laurent Fine Watches, Greenwich, Connecticut. Read more by him at blog.laurentfinewatches.com or visit his store’s site at www.laurentfinewatches.com