Five very inventive timepieces unveiled at Watches & Wonders 2023

Watches

These individual pieces—whether entirely new or based on a reworking of a collection—were among the highlights of the fair because of their conceptually sound engineering and design, their ingenuity and their craftsmanship.

Watches & Wonders 2023 was the second since Covid-19 disrupted the world but really the first full watch fair since the global pandemic ended. Prior to its March 27 opening, the watch industry experienced several years of tremendous growth, particularly among the highest priced watches. The companies while celebrating their good fortune are also predicting a leveling off period this year.

Perhaps this is why several brands and watchmakers produced fewer new models for 2023. Some placed their emphases on a specific collection while others placed nearly all of their focus on a single model.

Many of these individual pieces—whether entirely new or based on a reworking of a collection—were among the highlights of the fair because of their conceptually sound engineering and design, their ingenuity and their craftsmanship. Below is a summary of these important new timepieces.

A Lange & Söhne Odysseus Chronograph
A Lange & Söhne Odysseus Chronograph

A Lange & Söhne Odysseus Chronograph

As with everything produced by the German watchmaker, this 42.5mm stainless-steel timepiece is well researched and engineered from the mechanics to the finishes.

The Odysseus Chronograph is the newest model from the Odysseus series of elegant sports watches introduced in 2019. This piece marks the first automatic chronograph movement from the watch brand and the first with a vertical clutch. The L156.1 caliber movement had to be constructed from scratch. It took six years to produce the movement, which includes an innovative and dynamic function that resets the chronograph hands to zero. It is available in a limited edition of 100 pieces.

To retain the characteristic dial design of the Odysseus, the customized movement positions both chronograph hands, the minute counter and the red chrono seconds hand, in the center of the dial. This means the chronograph counters normally at 3 and 9 o’clock were not needed, so the watch model could retain the Odysseus signature outsize date and day of the week indicators at 3 and 9 o’clock, respectively. It also means that the chronograph can measure the time for 60 minutes.

Instead of traditional button or crown pushers, the pushers of the Odysseus Chronograph are integrated into the 42.5mm stainless-steel case, creating an elegant tapered finish that again is in line with the collection.

Lange also introduce an innovative, dynamic reset-to-zero function. When the tapered reset-to-zero button at 4 o’clock is actuated, the minute counter jumps back to its starting position in the conventional way, while the red chrono seconds hand covers the entire distance previously travelled within a fraction of a second — one revolution for each chronograph minute. If the minute counter didn’t reach the 30-minute mark, the two hands move counter-clockwise. If the minute counter passed the 30-minute mark, both hands will advance to zero clockwise.

To set the watch, there is a three-position crown. The first position sets the chronograph functions, the second position sets the date and day windows, and the third position sets the time.

The black brass dial is designed to create an illusion of depth, again, consistent with the Odysseus collection. The inner surface of the main dial is textured, the notched baton hour markers are made of white gold and the subsidiary seconds scale are underlaid with concentric circles. A palladium-colored flange ring with a printed two-part minute scale frames the dial. The scale for the fractions of a second is positioned on the outer circumference, while the scale for minutes and seconds is arranged inside. The typical Lange lancet-shaped hour and minute hands are luminous as well as the inner surfaces of the baton appliques.

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40
The IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 in titanium

The IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 in titanium

Gérald Genta died in 2011 but he remains the most influential and the most bankable watch designer in the world today. This month, LVMH announced that it will revive the Gérald Genta brand through its La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, high-end movement manufacturer. The Patek-Philippe Nautilus and the Audemars Piquet Royal Oak are two of the most sought-after watches on both the secondary market and among new timepieces.

If anything, Genta was prolific, claiming at one time to have drawn more than 100,000 watch designs throughout his career. He designed watches for many of the most important Swiss watch brands and for his own eponymous brand.

At Watches & Wonders, it was IWC’s turn to bring out a Genta designed timepiece and it was so important to the Swiss watch brand that it focused nearly all of its attention on it. As usual, it was one of the most popular and most talked about timepieces of the watch fair.

IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 is based on Genta’s Ingenieur SL, Reference 1832, he created for IWC in the 1970s. However, the new watch is updated to meet contemporary standards of ergonomics, finishings, and technology. The watch is typical of the luxury sports watch with an integrated bracelet that Genta is best-known. IWC unveiled four Ingenieur Automatic 40 models: three in stainless-steel and one in grade 5 titanium.

It’s the titanium model, the lightest of the four, that attracted the most attention. The titanium case and bracelet features a highly detailed finish with sandblasted, satin-finished and polished surfaces. The grey dial, as well as the black hands and appliques provide an accent to the matte grey titanium.

A stainless-steel model with an “aqua” colored dial also attracted a good deal of attention.

The overall dimensions of the case were reworked and improved. The lug-to-lug distance of 45.7 millimeters ensures sounds ergonomics and excellent wearability, even on a slender wrist, the company says.

The new model introduced functional, polygonal screws on its bezel. For the Ingenieur SL, a bezel with five recesses was screwed onto the case ring. The recesses ended up in a different position on each watch. With the Ingenieur Automatic 40, five screws secure the bezel to the case. The screws now have a technical function and are always in the same position, the company says.

In addition, the watch dial has a distinctive “grid” structure, creating a balance to the technical and sculptural case design. Consisting of small lines offset by 90 degrees to each other, it is stamped into the soft iron blank before being galvanized.

Perhaps the most impressive detail of this collection is the finishings. The case, bezel, and bracelet use a combination of polished and satin-finished surfaces. The integration of an elaborately finished butterfly folding clasp highlights the beauty and thinness of the H-link bracelet. A newly designed crown protection further underscores the sporty character of the timepiece.

The watch is powered by the IWC manufactured caliber 32111 automatic movement with a power reserve of 120 hours. The case is water-resistant to 10 bar (328 feet).

Ulysse Nardin Freak One
Ulysse Nardin Freak One

Ulysse Nardin Freak One

The first Freak watch created by the Swiss watch brand in 2001, created with cutting-edge technology and avant-garde design, and changed perceptions of what a mechanical watch should look like and how it should work. Twenty-two years later, after a series of memorable executions of this revolutionary timepiece, Ulysse Nardin returned to its roots with the Freak One, inspired by the original.

It has the three signature characteristics of the original Freak: no dial, no hands and no crown. It’s regulated by a silicon hairspring introduced by the watch brand in 2008 and an escapement treated with DIAMonSIL, a synthetic diamond and silicon plasma surfacing treatment first applied to the Freak in 2007 that makes the movement abrasion and shock resistant.

The latest rendition also takes its visual cues from other Freak models. For example, it recreates the notched bezel of the original 2001 Freak, to the open gear train of the Freak Cruiser of 2013, and the legibility details of the 2018 Freak Vision. The 44mm black DLC-coated titanium case and rose gold bezel echoes recent Freak iterations, such as last year’s Freak S.

Other details that are unique to the Freak include:

Its unconventional time-setting system is operated by the bezel. Turning the bezel rotates the entire movement, which doubles as the watch’s hands.

The black sunray-engraved barrel cover sits under the movement and doubles as the rotating hour disc. It makes a full rotation once every 12 hours, indicating the hour via a V-shaped pointer that is filled with Super-LumiNova.

The minute bridge carries the entire gear train, an oversized silicon oscillator and an orbital 60-minute flying carrousel tourbillon.

The Freak ONE’s UN-240 automatic movement has a 72-hour power reserve. Its patented Grinder winding system is designed to capture energy with even the smallest of wrist movements. Its rotor is connected to a frame carrying four blades, which gives the system twice the angular stroke.

The watch is completed with a rubber strap is made of 30 percent recycled production waste by Ulysse Nardin’s Swiss partner BIWI.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Blacklight Spin-Stone Monobalancier
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Blacklight Spin-Stone Monobalancier

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Blacklight Spin-Stone Monobalancier

This watch features a creative use of gems. This timepiece uses vivid spinels from red to blue, coated with Super-LumiNova, so they shine in the dark. This multi-tone effect gives the watch a chromatic look. To achieve the shades, uniformity, and luminescence desired, the spinels are synthetically grown. Most visible are the spinels that encircle the bezel and flange with the name of “Spin-Stones,” which is trademarked. The cut, which resembles a semi-circle, is patent pending. In addition, uniquely shaped 3D spinels are on the skeletonized dial, making up the Roger Dubuis signature “star,” centered with a small round diamond. A spokesperson for the company said it would have been near impossible to create the shapes and uniformity of color with natural spinel and even, if possible, would have resulted in a great amount of wasted material.

Louis Moinet Impulsion
Louis Moinet Impulsion

Louis Moinet Impulsion

The Swiss watch brand, named after the inventor of the chronograph, happened to have worked with Abraham-Louis Breguet, inventor of the tourbillon. Using this historical reference as a background, the contemporary independent watchmaker founded by Jean-Marie Schaller produced a timepiece that combines a chronograph with a tourbillon, a first for Louis Moinet.

This required a new way for the independent watchmaker to create a timepiece.

Powering the watch is the signature in-house Memoris caliber, with its column wheel, classic horizontal clutch, and a single pusher. However, to use this movement in this new concept, many of its 301 parts had to be completely redesigned and remanufactured.

For example, this redesigned movement incorporated a “volte-face” (flip-flop) double spring barrel manual winding system to ensure sufficient energy to power both complications. The system is called volte-face because the two barrels are arranged upside down. They release their energy at the same time, delivering a power reserve of 96 hours.

In addition, there are new aesthetic considerations. Among them, the chronograph mechanism is exposed on the upper half of the watch. To house the tourbillon, the brand used a bicompax layout with the chronograph subdials at 6 and 9 o’clock, and the tourbillon at 6 o’clock.

The 42.5mm case was custom designed as well. The interior portion that houses the movement is in light and strong grade 5 titanium surrounded by an 18k 5N rose gold frame.

The watch is available in two variations, each limited by 28 pieces: With the titanium case core in “Moinet” blue and aventurine base plate or “intense” black titanium and base plate.

This article was first published on forbes.com.

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