Last week, much like a flood of watch makers, executives, media and watch lovers at large, we descended in Geneva for the biggest horological moment in 3 years, Watches and Wonders 2022 and to say we were excited is an understatement. Returning after a three year hiatus, executives from 38 of the most prestigious watch makers, alongside a sprinkling of independent marques brands returned to Switzerland for what could best be defined as THE horology re-union.
The Global Arena of luxury watch brands, Watches and Wonders 2022 came at a time as the industry bounces back to pre pandemic sales. Though things were slightly different, it was evident that we were all overjoyed!
Creativity, Innovation and sustainability were the central themes this year, with celebrities ready to the maison’s latest releases and partake and also press for action.
Industry chiefs spoke of pushing the boundaries in new technology, their commitment to the planets’ future with innovative materials, impressive upgrades and fascinating craftsmanship.
The heavy hitters get attention by the very virtue of their popularity and not without their impressive track records, but the independents brought along their A game, variety, expertise and fun along !
During the pandemic, Watches and Wonders pivoted online for a digital event and, while the return of the physical event was celebrated, with over 20,000 guests in attendance, the show also continued to share product launches, panel discussions and keynotes through the watches and Wonders official website, as well as the brand sites.
A few strong trends that stood out this year were the extensive use of color and materials.
It was nice to say that color has found its way into the luxury watch space, not just on the dials, but also the cases and straps.
Brightly colored ceramics as seen at Hublot, multitude of colored stones at Cartier, a refreshing use of gemstones to show off their techniques, at Van Cleef & Arpels and the salomon colored dial at Oris are all testament to this change.
Ceramics are freely used now, so is reclaimed material from the oceans, such as fishing nets. The industry is pushing the boundaries with innovative metals, such a s eSteel at Panerai and lab grown diamonds at Tag.
Nature, from the atmosphere or the ocean and its depths have inspired artists and creatives for eons and they’re finding their place in the watch world too! Ulysse Nardin took us on a space odyssey with it Freak S and condensed the entire solar system in a 44 mm astronomical watch in a black ceramic and black DLC treated titanium, while Panerai took us underwater, for a submersible encounter at their booth and with their novelties.
IWC has been heavily leaning towards the earth and its various nooks and corners. With a unique collaboration with Pantone, they created an interesting color palette ranging from the start white of the winter landscape at Lake Tahoe, the beige of the desert or the military/olive green inspired from the misty thicket of a forest.
The booths were immersive and experiential! Just the way we like it. The ones that stood out were RD, Baume and Mercier & Hermes.
The landscapes, created by a commissioned artist, Sabrine at Hermes were riveting, as was the “club” vibe at Roger Dubois!! Baume Mercier created an augmented reality trial service for all the visitors, since we hadn’t been in real stores since the pandemic.
Great use of technology and the immersive take at most brands made the fair that much better. It was quite exhilarating to see a traditional industry as ours, embracing change and growth. Several brands announced blockchain initiative.
Czapek, who have more experience in this field than many, and make the entire process simple and its partner Adresta, a Swiss start-up creating unforgeable digital authenticity certificates ( NFTs) for physical watches, explore the multiple benefits of the blockchain. It spares you a lot of hustle incase of theft and digitisation also helps in passing on of these tangible assets. Two years into the pandemics, brands are pushing the envelop with their tech & its exciting to see what the real impact of e-commerce is going to be?
Will Metaverse and NFTs change.. It lefts to be seen!