Watches & Wonders: the Final Recap

Well folks, it’s been a hectic Watches & Wonders. So hectic, in fact, that we missed the last few days of recaps. But the show has ended (public days start tomorrow, but we head back to the States early in the AM) and we’ve all taken a deep breath and thought about this back half of the week. This isn’t a final summation of our thoughts on the show, but our immediate reactions as it winds down in real time. Thanks for following along with us as we’ve reported from Geneva – we can’t wait to tell you more about what we saw.

Zach Kazan

The back half of Watches & Wonders has been essentially nonstop for all of us. We took a divide and conquer approach, splitting up to cover the most ground, and as a result will have tons of great watches to tell you about over the coming weeks. For me, the final day of Watches & Wonders was possibly the best single day of the show. 

Highlight number one: Hublot. This was perhaps my most anticipated meeting, because it unexpectedly turned out to be my favorite meeting of last year. The vibe when the Hublot novelties is presented is so markedly different from every other presentation, it’s hard not to notice. It’s lowkey and genuinely a lot of fun, and the watches, for me, have a Wow Factor that few brands can match. The most noteworthy piece is one I’ll be writing more about soon, the Big Bang Tourbillon Automatic in blue sapphire, with a sapphire bracelet. It’s a technical marvel on a number of levels, and is one of those watches that kind of has to be seen to be believed. 


Highlight number two: Cartier, in what I call the neverending parade of amazing watches. This meeting simply rules. You sit down at a table and they just bring out tray after tray of watches. Some of them are jewelry pieces that you’d just never see outside of an environment like this. One of them was a platinum Santos Dumont that I still haven’t been able to stop thinking about. 

For the big finale, Friday was spent outside Palexpo entirely, and we took meetings in Geneva. Let me tell you, it was fantastic to not spend the day in the Palexpo, which is an environment much like a casino where things like time and weather cease to exist. Meeting with brands like Louis Erard and DeBethune in a far more relaxed atmosphere was a real treat. 

This year, Watches & Wonders has truly been nonstop. It’s a lot of work, and very tiring, but it’s also a lot of fun, and I look forward to doing it again next year. Mostly though I’m looking forward to covering all the great stuff we saw, and seeing how people react once these watches find their way to wrists. 

Blake Buettner

The last three days have been a bit of a blur, but entirely amazing. Highlighted by time with industry friends and colleagues, and of course, meeting new people. Toward the end of these shows is typically when I start finding time to catch up with old friends, going through some of the many pictures taken, and finally being able to process what I’ve seen throughout the week. It’s funny, as you see people you’re inevitably asked “what have you seen that’s good?” and you struggle to even recall all the watches you’ve come across that you can possibly come up with a reasonable answer, so you end up repeating whatever the last person said to you. “I hear the TAGs are good!” Confession: I never saw the TAGs, that was someone else from the team… but I hear they’re good!

Now comes the longer, arduous task of processing everything we saw and experienced over the week, in hopes of providing you with some interesting insights about the people, places, and watches we were most enthusiastic about. We’ve seen plenty of amazing things this week, the past few days in particular, and can’t wait to share as much as we can with you. Some of it will be here in written form, some in audio form over the podcast, and certainly a few more videos yet to come over on our YouTube channel. 

One immediate impression is that the most surprising use of bright color schemes came from Rolex, something I would not have put money on leading into the show. Perhaps the big color trend is waning a bit? One of our favorite releases from last year, the Parmigiani Tonda GMT Rattrapante got something for a sequel this year with a Minute Rattrapante (more on that coming soon), but the monotone gray presentation didn’t quite make the same impact. Was a similar story throughout, save for, ironically, Rolex, who dropped an OP with all the colors, and a jigsaw dialed Day-Date with an emoji date disc. 

In total, this was a rather subdued year of releases, but some amazing watches still managed to sneak in and I can’t wait to spend more time with some of them in the coming months. As I head back to New York, attention will now turn to the Windup Watch Fair in San Francisco in a few short weeks, and maybe a few surprises in between to look forward to. Until then, thanks for following along on our Watches & Wonders 2023 adventures.

Kat Shoulders

Today is my last night in Geneva. And even though I’m beat tired, I’m still sad to leave. I think I’ll process the entire show on the plane ride back home to Nashville. There just hasn’t been the time of day to think and recall the hundreds of watches and people I’ve met. The last two days were spent outside of Palexpo at Time to Watches and the Beau-Rivage Hotel visiting the independents and micro-brands. Granted the stature of the booths and spaces were not on the same playing field as Watches & Wonders, but the watches were equally as exciting. There’s so many smaller brands that are doing some really really amazing work with movements and designs that I believe are making the big brands step up their game. It’s a fun thing to witness and I look forward to seeing the coverage of many of these brands on Worn & Wound.

Something that was sort of a surprise to me was a visit I had in town with Blake Buettner today. We headed to central Geneva to meet with F.P. Journe, a brand that I’ll be honest, has never truly peaked my interest. Today that changed. After checking out the new novelties in person and getting a thorough walkthrough of the brands history and newest watch, the FFC, the brand completely won me over. I mean wow, this watch is truly amazing all the work that went into it is incredible.

After a long day of walking about town we put down roots at the Grand Duke Pub and worked a bit before heading out with some familiar faces. We were invited to dinner with the great folks at Fears Watches and we quickly joined by The Collective and the MONTA watch crew. It felt so good to see old friends in a new and unfamiliar city.

My first trip to Geneva was a success and I’ve got lots of great coverage to show for it. It used to be very difficult to imagine how big this show is when I was back home, and my mind had truly been blown. I hope that myself and the entire Worn & Wound team were able to give our readers/listeners a taste of what attending this show is really like. I am so thrilled that they’ve opened the doors the the public as everyone deserves to see the magic the watch brands have created. And hopefully, reignite the passion for watchmaking that I’ll admit, sometimes burns out. Stay tuned in a few days for a full photo report of the entire show for some awesome things you may not see anywhere else! Thanks for following us along!

Zach Weiss

I feel like it’s the last day of summer camp. Misty eyes, overblown nostalgia. New friends made, old friends reunited, another year until we meet again… lol, j/k. After about 10 days gone, I am happy to return home, though I suppose I will miss, if briefly, being inundated with watches and watch talk every second of the day. I will also miss being asked and asking “how’s it going” only to give and receive the same answer, which is some variation on “I’m exhausted, but hanging in there.” There’s a certain charm in the collective exhaustion that everyone –  press, brands, retailers, and those in between – share. It’s an icebreaker for the whole trip that acts as social lubricant (along with champagne) in meeting others. 

But, on to the sights. I ended the week in Geneva at Time to Watches and various group exhibitions in hotels. I had more meetings in two days, as well as spontaneous conversations than I frankly count. From Sinn to Elka to Lebois & Co. to Yema to De Bethune and others, I was steeped in releases and great discussion. While I saw plenty of great watches, the most exciting stuff I can’t really talk about. Future plans, and things in the works. Big-picture-type stuff from brands that might surprise you. If I were to take away one thing it’s this: we’re about to enter the age of disruption brought to you by a segment of brands that used to be ignored. Exciting stuff.

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