Watches & Wonders is fast approaching, and that means one thing: we’re running out of time to make predictions. It seems like everyone has some ideas about what we might see later this month in Geneva from Rolex, Tudor, Patek Philippe, and others, and that certainly includes the Worn & Wound editorial team. The key difference, as podcast listeners are well aware, is that we have a demonstrated history of being completely, 100%, wrong. Here now are our wildest thoughts on what we might see at Watches & Wonders in just a few short weeks. These might seem a little crazy, but would you really have thought Rolex might release a lefty GMT at this time last year? We didn’t think so.
I’m really not good at making predictions for Watch & Wonders or other release events, and this year, half of the brands have already unveiled at least something coming up already (we keep embargos, so don’t even ask). That said, last year I did jokingly say in the office that if Tudor came out with a BlackBay 58 with a GMT and a steel bezel, I’d buy it, assuming the notion was too absurd. Sadly, that’s not in writing, so you’ll have to take my word for it, but I did follow through with the BBPro purchase. Anyway, I’m not making any such promises this year.
Last year was one of big releases as it was the first true-Swiss tradeshow post-Covid lockdown. This year, I don’t think we’re going to see such exciting launches in general. So, prediction one is just a more ordinary, iterative launch cycle. Sorry if that’s boring, but hey, not every year can follow a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.
As for something fun, I think Jaeger LeCoultre is poised for a great year. They’ve been posting beautiful vintage examples on their social media for a few months now under the hashtag #thecollectibles, which makes me wonder, and hope, that they are going to revive some old case or design. Last year, they had some great pieces including ones with a complication that sends a shooting star across an aperture on the dial at seemingly random intervals just to be poetic. But, they didn’t have a bread-and-butter launch for collectors, like the Reverso 1931 from several years ago, so I think the fans are hungry. Personally, I’d love to see them do more with the Duometre line, but that’s just because I love German silver movements.
What else…hmmm… Rolex will launch something and it will equally please and disappoint and everyone will talk about it endlessly. Tudor as well. And even though we’ll see it in person and tell our opinions, people will tell us we’re wrong, but hey, I wear the BBPro all the time and it isn’t too thick, ok? GS will win over us nerds as the underdog of sorts in the room, and brands like Ressence, Ferdinand Berthoud, and Czapek will likely be a lot of people’s real favorites after the dust settles.
I might sound a bit cynical, I know, but I am genuinely looking forward to the event. It’s an onslaught like no other for us watch fans, and it always gets me more excited about what we do. I’ll also be spending time at other shows in the city, meeting with brands like Sinn, Nivada, DOXA, Louis Erard, and more. As is often the case, it’s the brand you least expect that will surprise you.
This time of year, right before Watches & Wonders, I see all the “Prediction” content and kind of groan. I like to be surprised, and actively trying to think about what a brand might release always seems to wring a lot of the fun out of the whole Watches & Wonders experience. This is particularly true, in my opinion, when the predictions gravitate toward the, well, predictable. A Pelagos GMT, for example, has been discussed so much that when it inevitably becomes a reality, many will swear it has existed for years. So many renders have been made of this hypothetical watch at this point, one of them is bound to be exactly what Tudor (someday) releases. Just as an infinite number of chimpanzees sitting at an infinite number of typewriters will eventually produce the works of Shakespeare, so too will watch writers hit the Tudor lottery.
I’ll go on the record here and now: I don’t think this is the year for the Pelagos GMT. We’ve seen two major releases in the Pelagos line in a relatively short span of time considering the five year gap between the initial introduction of the LHD and the late 2021 debut of the FXD. The Pelagos collection evolves slowly, and I’d be surprised if Tudor returned to it so quickly after back to back years with marquee Pelagos releases. Besides, both of the recent new additions to the Pelagos collection came later in the year, outside the scope of Watches & Wonders. Sorry folks, but I wouldn’t expect your dream Ti diver-GMT until the fall of 2027 at the earliest.
My favorite Tudor releases over the last few years, at least from the point of view of someone who wears a Watch Media hat, have been the ones that absolutely nobody was predicting. Specifically, the Black Bay P01 and the Black Bay 58 in silver. I’m hoping for, and expecting, something similarly off the wall after a year of strong but relatively safe releases. Tudor could return to precious metals, for instance, and refresh the somewhat tired Date+Day line in the basically ignored “Glamour” collection. A full gold Date+Day, a dressy riff on the solid gold Black Bay 58 from a few years ago, would be a lot of fun, especially if it had a design element not currently found in the Rolex catalog. A bark textured bracelet, perhaps? And give us a choice of yellow or white gold, while we’re at it. If everyone’s expecting a sports watch, going the opposite way will create a buzz at the show, and I sense a growing interest in precious metal watches in general coming off a period of all steel everything, so something like this could be quite well received (unlike the unfairly maligned P01). When we get a Black Bay Pro Chronograph or a Back Bay 58 in ceramic, or something, my precious metal dreams might be deemed wishcasting, but until then, I’m holding out hope that we’re back on the weird bus with Tudor this year.
I get genuinely excited about this time of year, with nothing but excited anticipation for what’s to come. Does this often result in a litany of disappointment over the course of release season? Sure. But I still hold out hope and welcome the chance to be surprised in the best ways possible. Truth be told, I don’t want to see easily predictable watches released that can be created with a slide of the hue adjuster in photoshop. I want to see the unexpected, the risky, the moonshots. Nothing against a great new dial color or the addition of a sensible complication, but I’m here for the leaps, not the steps.
So what leaps would I like to see this year? I’ll lead off with something I’ve been asking for frequently of late, and that is an embrace of high accuracy quartz movements in more than mere entry level watches, and using them in creative ways. For instance, an oil filled diver from Tudor, perhaps. Even without the quartz movement, just merely being more creative period would be welcome in my book. Remember the IWC-Porsche Design Compass watch? Where are those types of watches these days? I’d love to see a watch like that released these days from a brand of that stature (but I’m not holding my breath).
I agree with Zach Weiss in that Jaeger LeCoultre is well positioned, and I’m hopeful we’ll see them return to earth a bit compared to last year, and lean into their history in more simple ways that connect them to the present. Their Tribute to Deep Sea alarm watch from 2011 was a revelation at the time, and they have plenty of territory from which to draw from to do something like that again.
As for Rolex, well, I never really expect anything that dramatic from them. They plod along at their own pace it seems to work out pretty well for them, so I’d expect more of that. A new color or material here, a movement update there, and they’ll be set just fine. I’d be happy to be proven wrong with something entirely new ala the Sky-Dweller, but those seem an exception rather than the rule.
Overall, I’d love to see more approachability, more creativity, and more accessibility from each of the presenting brands. I truly hope to bring you exciting news from every corner of the Palexpo later this month, and if I can find a halfway decent sandwich along the way, I’ll call it a win.