Autumn Memories: Looking Back at Geneva Watch Days 2023
The 2023 edition of Geneva Watch Days saw more participating brands with important debuts and unveilings than ever before. So, today, we’re taking another look at the best of our show coverage, made more relevant by the fact that many of these brands are set to unveil equally exciting models at the rapidly approaching Dubai Watch Week!
Of course, each of these novelties is worth a second look in their own right. However, seeing as Ulysses Nardin, Bulgari, and Gurgle Forsey will all be unveiling new watches during the upcoming Dubai Watch Week, which runs from Thursday, November 16th to Monday, November 20th, we can’t help but wonder if they also may form some kind of a preview of what is to come.
Ulysse Nardin’s Blast Free Wheel Marquetry
When it comes to the use of silicon – or silicium – in watchmaking, Ulysse Nardin is a pioneer. The Le Locle-based brand’s revolutionary Freak was the first watch to incorporate this high-tech material when it was launched at the turn of the millennium, thanks to Ludwig Oechslin’s Dual Direct Escapement, which employed a pair of silicon impulse escape wheels.
Fast forwarding two decades, Ulysse Nardin has again harnessed silicon’s properties in a thoroughly innovative way. This time, it wasn’t silicon’s strength or lightness that the self-styled “Manufacture of Freedom” took advantage of, but its aesthetic attributes. The result, 2019’s Freak X Silicium Marquetry, was, to our knowledge, the first watch decorated with an artistic pattern of lustrous, multi-colored, wafer-thin silicon tiles, and its success ensured that further Freak X Silicium Marquetry limited editions followed.
Now in 2023, Ulysse Nardin has taken its silicon marquetry concept to a new level by combining this craftsmanship with the maison’s in-house “flying” UN-176 movement to create the 45mm Blast Free Wheel Marquetry. Launched at Geneva Watch Days 2023, this eye-catching timepiece marks the first time that the art of marquetry has been deployed in the independent brand’s Blast collection and manages to look strikingly technical while also being artistically avant-garde at the same time.
That duality is made possible thanks to the UN-176 calibre, designed so that its key elements are in plain view over a dial plate that acts as a blank canvas for breathtaking artistic feats. Let’s take a closer look.
Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic & Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Perpetual Calendar
It is difficult to argue against the assertion that the Octo Finissimo is responsible for placing Bulgari on the radar of watch collectors and sparking an engaging discourse about the limits (or lack thereof) in watchmaking within our community.
To put it plainly, the Octo Finissimo is a horological masterpiece that seamlessly marries suave sophistication and technical prowess with a generous sprinkling of Italian allure, resulting in a modern and distinct timepiece that dances effortlessly between the realms of style, substance, and charisma.
Since 2014, Bulgari has artfully woven into its Octo Finissimo a slew of complications, achieved 8 world records, and used an array of materials. By undertaking this type of creative odyssey, the brand is not only underscoring its dedication to innovation and pushing the horological envelope, but it is also celebrating the very essence of craftsmanship and design.
That is why we were so excited to learn that the brand was continuing its “Material Odyssey” at Geneva Watch Days 2023 by presenting two Octo Finissimo watches – one an Automatic (Ref. 103779; $26,800), the other a Perpetual Calendar (Ref. 103778; €100,000) – with cases and bracelets made using its new CarbonGold material for the first time.
To learn more about Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Automatic (Ref. 103779) and Octo Finissimo CarbonGold Perpetual Calendar (Ref. 103778), check out our article Geneva Watch Days: Bulgari’s New Octo Finissimos Continue to Go Beyond the Elements by Using a New Material from August 2023.
Greubel Forsey’s Double Balancier Convexe Carbon & Balancier Convexe S² Carbon
Since Antonio Calce became CEO nearly three years ago, Greubel Forsey – known for its tourbillon innovation, chronometric credits, and superlative hand-finishing – has ushered in a contemporary sports watch styling across its collection centered around the contoured Convexe case and more openwork dials showcasing the brand’s architectural in-house movements.
So far, titanium has been the brand’s go-to material to make these curved, wrist-hugging cases; however, while some watchmakers have used Geneva Watch Days 2023 to unveil brand-new movements, fresh dial executions, or exciting collaborations, Greubel Forsey took advantage of the decentralized fair to unveil its first timepieces to feature a carbon fiber case.
Specifically, the high-end independent brand has chosen its Double Balancier Convexe and Balancier Convexe S² to debut this high-tech case material, which catches the eye with its horizontal veining and bold presence on the wrist.
What’s more, switching to carbon fiber has allowed the La Chaux de Fonds-based outfit to make a slightly smaller sized case – 42.5mm instead of 43.5mm for the Double Balancier Convexe, and 41.5mm rather than 43.5mm for the Balancier Convexe S².
To learn more about Greubel Forsey’s Double Balancier Convexe Carbon and Balancier Convexe S² Carbon models, check out our article Geneva Watch Days: Greubel Forsey Unveils Its First Carbon Fiber Watches, Plus Smaller Cases! from August 2023.
Frederique Constant’s Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture
Known for its classically styled dials and cases, in-house developed movements, and fair price point, Frederique Constant unveiled yet another belter at Geneva Watch Days 2023 with the launch of the Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture.
As its name implies, this new addition to the brand’s Manufacture line-up boasts power reserve and big date displays, which are neatly balanced out on the dial by a poetic moonphase indication – the first time the watchmaker has combined these three complications.
Powered by the new, in-house-developed automatic calibre FC-735 (the company’s 31st manufacture movement), all the indications are presented on a clean, harmoniously laid-out dial – as you would expect from Frederique Constant – framed by a universally wearable 40mm round case.
Moreover, to cater to varying tastes and budgets, the Plan-les-Ouates outfit – which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year – has released the Power Reserve Big Date in four different editions, so let’s break them down.
To learn more about the Frederique Constant Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture, check out our article Geneva Watch Days: Hands-On with Frederique Constant’s New Classic Power Reserve Big Date Manufacture from September 2023.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)