And to round up this year’s picks, the Chief Editor makes his top 3 picks from this year’s show.
Chief Editor’s Choice of the most impressive 3 watches of the W&W 2023 season
Another year. Another show. Though last year, I missed the show…lots of reasons, though the fear of COVID was not one of them, this is the 21st yearI am attending the show, the last one being 2019. The mood on the W&W floor was generally good, and we saw the crowds returning. As the first year I am attending since the enlarged show with Rolex, Patek and Chopard et al, in the new halls, the floor space has expanded considerably.
But on to the report. This top 3 choices are limited to the W&W exhibition in PalExpo, though I did manage to see a few of the independents at the IceBergues where the AHCI was showing and also some others who were showing at one of the hotels in Geneva. In no particular order, here are my top 3 from PalExpo:
A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus Chronograph
It had to come. The Odysseus Chronograph. An Odysseus which ticks all the boxes for me, except for one (price, but perhaps a bit more later). The original Odysseus was a fine watch, but one which never really did pull at my heart strings. Read my analysis of the launch models. Subsequent release of the gold model and the titanium edition was even further from gaining my affections than the first. But this new chronograph does the trick. Perhaps I am a chronograph fanatic. The original Datograph was indeed a fabulous watch, and in my opinion the best chronograph of the 20th century (it was released in 1999).
And with the Odysseus Chronograph, we see the return of the Lange twist. Here we see this in the masterful dual function of the chronograph pushers which double up to be the day and date correctors when the crown is pulled into position. In the normal crown position, the pushers operate the chronograph, and as expected, the feel is superb. In this position, water resistance remains at the specified 120m. Pull the crown, and the pushers now advances the day and date respectively. Of course, water resistance is reduced in the crown out position.
The other oft talked about feature of the chronograph – the multi revolution return of the seconds counter is a function of the way the reset hammer is operated on the heart cam of the coaxial minute counter rather than some masterful design. This action causes the minute counter to reset to zero directly from its stopped position. And the seconds counter, which is attached to the minute counter, will reverse the requisite number of turns to return to zero. Quite an interesting spectacle…not quite visible to the naked eye, but noticeable when the reset is done.
Overall a beautiful timepiece. The finishing is superb, as is expected from Lange. The only niggle remains the price. At an estimated price of EUR 139k (close to SGD 200k), it is frightfully expensive for a stainless steel sporty chronograph. The Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5990/1A is only SGD 91.400 and in addition to the flyback chronograph, it incorporates a dual timezone feature.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Chronograph
Mext. I hail the return of the complicated Reverso! As the owner of the Platinum 2, a Reverso with a tourbillon in a white gold movement set in a platinum case, I am a fan. The story is of course told on how the GT size came about. It was the late great Günter Blümlein (who, incidentally would have turned 80 this year had he not passed in 2001) who was in charge of JLC then, and he wanted to put complications into the Reverso case. Not possible! came the reply from the engineers and watch makers. To which he enquired as to the reason why. Too small, they said. He peered at them through his reading glasses, and said in the most dry German autocratic way possible…then make the case bigger. And they did. If I am not mistaken, some 12% enlargement, and the rest was history with the birth of the GT case in the 60eme series in 1991.
This year, JLC returns with the mechanical chronograph. First debuted in 1996 as part of the 60th anniversary celebration set as very a beautiful watch in pink gold. In the original release, the chronograph was shown on the reverse side, and while using the chrono, one could not see the time which was displayed only on the dial side. But in this latest rework, the time is now shown on both sides, with the chronograph mechanism and displays on the reverse side.
Handling the watch was a joy. Slightly larger then the original’s GT size, it wears very nicely, and chronograph actions were nice, smooth and positive. Movement finishing is excellent, allowing JLC to showcase its finnisage muscles very well.
Grand Seiko Tentagraph
Interesting new release from Grand Seiko, and shoring up their expertise in the mechanical movements. Previously, the chronograph was only available from Grand Seiko with a Spring Drive movement, though Seiko holds the record for the first automatic wristwatch chronograph ever, beating the Swiss way back in 1969. The SD chronograph is fabulous watch, which I own in my personal collection. But now their expertise is applied for a high end mechanical chronograph.
The Tentegraph is a new watch that has a movement with a frequency of ten beats per second, a power reserve of three days, and it is an automatic chronograph. Gone are the huge, screw down crowns of the GS SD Chronograph which was criticised by many.
The aesthetics are the typical Grand Seiko, with reference to the GS Code of Design and high end zaratsu finishing. The case is 43.2mm in titanium, and an excellent fit on my wrist. The chronograph operations have excellent feel.
It seems that this is a chronograph driven year. At least for me. Other interesting chronographs I saw were the Montblanc Secret Minerva Unveiled Timekeeper. The case is clean, sans pusher, and the chronograph activation is done via its bezel. Also the new Ref. 5924G, a Calatrava with the same movement as the Nautilus Ref. 5990. Equipped with dual timezone capability with a flyback chronograph – a combination of useful complications. Switching to non-chronographs, a watch which teased my heart strings is the Traditionnelle Tourbillon Retrograde Date Openface – the retrograde date movement is now applied to a dial which is open in the style of the Twin Beat. I also found the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar Ref. 5261R is also an intriguing proposition. Though in the Luce collection, which is normally targeted at the ladies, the new 5361 is sans jewels, and the proportions do fit my wrist quite nicely and I will be happy to rock it.
But I also saw some interesting independents. So perhaps more of those later. For now, that’s my pick from W&W. What would you have chosen?