Rare Birds: The Most Delightful, Surprising, and Unexpected Novelties from Watches & Wonders
The 2022 edition of Watches & Wonders was an amazing experience: The brands all brought their A-game; it was incredible to be able to talk watches with our colleagues in person; and frankly, we got emotional just being able to hold physical timepieces in our hands again.
It was so overwhelming that every watch seemed like the best watch ever.
Now that we’re back home, we can look back at the week-worth of presentations with more objectivity. Here’s a more in-depth look at timepieces we can’t stop thinking about.
Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222
The clear-cut star of Watches & Wonders 2022 was, of course, the Historiques 222 from Vacheron Constantin.
In fact, its status as unofficial Best-in-Show was so obvious that we were worried that we had been caught up in the hype about this retro reference.
It’s been over a week later it still haunts our dreams.
Why? Well, included in that oh-so-delicious all-gold metal façade, the Historiques 222 has a sinuous sexiness that photos can’t fully express (though Watchonista Senior Photographer Pierre Vogel came very close, as you can see). The 222 also sums up the current watch collecting zeitgeist for a slimmed-down vintage ‘70s aesthetic with updated mechanics. We’ve come a long way from having hockey puck-sized watches strapped to our wrists.
H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Chronograph “Blacker Than Black”
Every year, H. Moser & Cie. pranks the watch industry with a concept that blows our minds. Think: the 40mm Endeavour Centre Concept X Seconde/Seconde/ “Erasure” model from 2021. And who could forget the 39mm Venturer Concept Vantablack featuring a Vantablack dial with Vantablack hour and minute hands from 2019?
This April 1st, H. Moser, once again, used the darkest substance on Earth once again and introduced the Streamliner Chronograph “Blacker Than Black,” featuring a case covered in Vantablack. And we’re here to tell y’all that this watch is no joke.
It seems impossible, but the Streamliner Chronograph “Blacker Than Black” is so dark that it seems to suck all other colors into a void. And if placed against a black background, the timepiece all but disappears – only the hands are still visible.
It is definitely a unique piece but, sadly, extremely fragile. Fortunately, we’ve been told that the Moser team is hard at work researching ways to make the material more wearable.
Trilobe Une Folle Journée
Team Watchonista made the lounge in the Hall of Independents our unofficial headquarters for the duration of Watches & Wonders. While there, we found ourselves surrounded by the spirit of iconoclastic watchmakers like Trilobe.
If you don’t know them, Trilobe is a French brand founded in 2018 by Gautier Massonneau. And the Une Folle Journée is the perfect summation of their watchmaking journey.
This watch takes the manufacturer’s original disk concept and ups the ante with rotating and floating eccentric rings, a bubble crystal, and matte finishes to give it a multidimensional design. It’s also easier to read than its predecessors. The watch drew a lot of comparisons to MB&F, but at the end of the day, there’s plenty of room at the table for timepieces that are reinventing the wheel.
TAG Heuer Carrera Plasma
The TAG Heuer Carrera Plasma represents the brand’s first haute horology introduction in about a decade.
Cosmetically, the Plasma is an eye-catching combination of ceramic, aluminum, and various forms of lab-grown diamonds. To achieve this, TAG Heuer worked with a company called Capsoul to create stones. Plus, lab-grown diamonds are more sustainable than natural diamonds, making the novelty more appealing to the environmentally conscious.
The way the 44mm-wide case and the dial are embedded with these sparkling stones is incredibly imaginative (the brand’s slogan is “Swiss Avant-Garde Since 1860,” after all). Moreover, the black-colored, DLC-coated anodized aluminum case and leather strap pay tribute to carbon, the source of all diamonds. Finally, the in-house caliber Heuer 02 Tourbillon movement also employs a carbon-based hairspring.
Ressence Type 8
The Ressence Type 8 makes our list of W&W novelties that deserve a closer look because it represents the future of watchmaking. Aesthetically, it expresses a lean and clean vision of 21st-century watchmaking.
The design of the Type 8 exemplifies Ressences’s goals: Clarity, simplicity, and ergonomics. Its hyper-modern case is constructed entirely from grade five titanium. The tapered case has no visible lugs, contributing to the space-age effect. Best of all is the minimalist look, with its simple white baton markers floating in the otherworldly Ressence Orbital Convex System display.
Cartier Metiers D’Art Crash Tigree Metamorphoses
We didn’t cover the Crash in our original, on-the-ground Cartier reporting because, to be honest, you can only cover so many novelties at once in such a fast-paced event. But the audacity of this year’s model is something from which we simply could not look away.
Cartier has taken the unmistakable shape of the Crash and dressed it up in an elaborate enameled case and dial. The maison’s artisans have used the technique to create a range of colors as rich and deep as the precious gemstones used in its famous “tutti frutti” jewelry. Granted, it’s not the easiest watch to read, but it is one of the most enticing W&W releases.