Watches & Wonders: Day 1 Recap

Throughout the week, the Worn & Wound team on the ground in Geneva will be bringing you updates on our general impressions of the show as it happens. At the end of the day, you can expect our candid thoughts on the watches we saw, the tenor of the crowd, observations of what people are discussing and really excited about, and, of course, a rundown of all the sandwiches consumed in the press lounge. Without any further delay, here’s our Day 1 recap.

Zach Kazan

Day 1 of Watches & Wonders began with a choice: which watch to wear? I brought three: my IWC 3706, the Louis Erard I picked up recently, and the Grand Seiko SBGA469. I decided on the Grand Seiko, partly because I had a meeting with them later in the day, and partly because it feels like the dressiest watch I brought with me, and that’s kind of the vibe on the first day of Watches & Wonders. 

My first impression of Watches & Wonders last year (my first show) was that of total insanity. It seemed electric, and my memory is that the hall was full of people right from the start. I honestly can’t remember what time we actually arrived on day 1 last year, but this year we were among the first at Palexpo, and the mood was quite a bit more subdued. My first meeting was at 10:00, and until that time we mostly got our bearings as a team, went over the plan we had previously established, and watched the hall fill up (gradually) as we waited for that first appointment. Maybe it’s the fact that this is no longer a brand new experience for me, but it felt remarkably calm. That’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned. 


You’ve probably already seen Zach’s impressions of the new releases from Tudor. Everything we saw there was very nicely executed, as you’d expect, but I was surprised how much I liked the new Black Bay sporting a red bezel. It’s only a touch thinner than the previous version, but it makes a pretty big difference on the wrist. The Black Bay 54 was impressive as well, and truly feels like a vintage watch made in a contemporary world at just 37mm in diameter with that always familiar Black Bay profile. I’m not sure if people were still asking for a smaller Black Bay after the success of the 58, but they’re about to get it, and I think it will be popular. 

We’ll have more on Grand Seiko soon, but for now I’ll just say that the Tentagraph, the brand’s big release at the show, is growing on me. It fills an obvious gap in Grand Seiko’s catalog (how they’ve gone this long without a mechanical chronograph in the collection is a mystery to me) and feels like the beginning of something new for the brand, rather than a culmination. 

A late afternoon meeting with Czapek was a nice change of pace. This was in the dedicated space reserved for smaller independents, and the atmosphere here is very laid back, with a large bar at the center of the room circled by tables, and small brand booths dotting the room’s perimeter. Czapek showed us the Titanium Dark Sector Antarctique that Blake wrote about last week, and it’s wonderful to wear. It’ll be even better, I imagine, when the titanium bracelet to match it is ready – the sample we saw on a steel bracelet was a stopgap. The real highlight for me thought was the lovely skeletonized Antarctique Révélation, which is the kind of watch I come to Watches & Wonders to see – the type that makes you realize why they call it Watches & Wonders in the first place.


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Blake Buettner

I love the first day of these shows. There’s a general air of excitement akin to christmas morning as a child. The promise of untold surprises awaits, and expectations are high. This year was no different, and while I didn’t connect with some watches as much as I’d hoped, there were still a lot of great experiences to greet us right out of the gates. Most centered around the people you only see this time of year. Global press gathers and familiar faces fill the halls. Sadly, with tight schedules there’s not much to connect and reminisce about years prior. But there’s a shared experience of going through this gauntlet and coming out the other side together. 

As for the watches, my immediate thoughts on the new Daytona were… not great. But after seeing a few different variations behind the glass (we meet with them later in the week), those fears may have been misplaced. Watch this space for my full thoughts in the coming days. The IWC Ingeniuer was another highlight of the show, and their booth was just as exciting. IWC has proven adept at creating a unique environment, and they aren’t the only ones. A first walk by the Van Cleef & Arpels booth revealed yet another enchanting space I can’t wait to explore later in the week. Dito with Hermes. And in the Tudor booth? A pair of bikes set into a simulator to test your mettle against pro riders in specific race stages. I’ll be bringing my sneakers one day to take advantage of that. 

The halls of the Palexpo are familiar, yet notably different from last year, with seemingly less space for press to make space for the exhibiting brands. But I can’t confirm that suspicion. The little sandwiches are back, as is the champagne. It’s exhausting and exhilarating at once, and while my voice is completely shot from a day of banter and interviews, I’m just as optimistic for day 2. 

Kat Shoulders

I had really no expectations going into today. My colleagues here at Worn & Wound did their best to prepare me for what is said to be the biggest watch event of the year. I had everything I needed from a photography standpoint, I had my outfits picked out, I had my watches ready for each day of the week. But…I can say without a doubt that I don’t think anyone could have prepared me for the grandeur of the event itself. It is beyond massive. As we all began lining up this morning like cattle making our way through the venue’s security lines, it started to hit me how big this show really is. 

I’m sitting down going over the releases of the day, my brain is a bit scrambled and it’s extremely hard to pick a favorite or a standout of the show so far. I was able to visit Tudor, Grand Seiko, and Czapek today. Honestly, the watch I was most surprised to learn I actually really like is the Czapek Antarctique Révélation. Those that know me, know that I am not the biggest fan of skeletonized dials but this one really blew me away. The 40.5 Antarctique, features the brands in-house Calibre SXH7 movement and it is on full display for the wearer to drool over while wearing the watch. I’ve always had a fondness for the Antarctique case design, and the skeletonized dial felt like it added just the right amount of tech to this case. 

Another piece that stood out to me was the Tudor Black Bay 54. Having recently moved on my from my Rolex Submariner, I’ve been looking for something that can fill it’s place but add a little more ‘character’ to an otherwise plain dive watch. This seems to fit the bill perfectly and wears extremely well on my wrist I must say. My overall experience at the show however, trumped any new watch release. The excitement in the air, the endless watch chatter, and the tiny sandwiches were all the highlights of my day.

Zach Weiss

Ah… Watches & Wonders, we meet again. I’m at a slight advantage this year because I’ve been in town for a few days thanks to the Tudor factory tour (post coming soon), so I’m a little less delirious than usual. We started this morning pretty early so we could get to the halls before things got crazy and perhaps sneak a look at some of the bigger brand’s releases. Well, the gates were still down on the booths, but at least some of the team got lockers, which are rarer than Daytonas.

Speaking of Tudor, I went back to the Black Bay Pro today as they were my first meeting, and I figured it would be good to have for photos/comparisons with new models. I wasn’t wrong. I love my BBPro, and I promised myself I wouldn’t succumb to the impulsive pressure of seeing new watches at the moment of launch…but… I really really like the Black Bay 54. As a partner piece to the BBPro, it would be perfect. A bit smaller, a bit (over 3mm) thinner, it really worked for me.

From there I went between cranking on posts, downloading photos, posting on the gram, drinking as much water and espresso as possible, and bouncing between meetings with various other brands. Grand Seiko was great, as was to be expected. The Tentagraph will obviously be the talk of the town, but the SBGZ009 was truly astonishing. The birchiest birch yet, the fully carved platinum case was exceptional. Of course, it had a price tag to match at around $80k. One less thing to be tempted by.

A standout of my day was getting to see the new Delphis by Chronoswiss. A revival of one of the brand’s more famous designs from the Gerd Rudiger Lang days, it was the first wristwatch to feature three displays of time telling on a single watch: jump hour, retrograde minutes, and ticking seconds. But, the new execution was far more decadent than anything from back then. Most notably, the multi-part dial featured a domed, guilloched, gold surface that was also enamelled and fired 10 times. A deep sapphire blue, it sat within a heavily textured black surface/space with tons of depth. This is all contained within a fairly traditional rose gold case with straight lugs and an onion crown. Certainly unique.

See you tomorrow.

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