12 of The Best Watches From Geneva Watch Days 2023

In its fourth outing this year, the horology fair saw 39 brands showcase their latest creations in venues around Geneva.
by Lynette Koh

Photos: (Clockwise from top) Czapek, Bulgari, Greubel Forsey, and De Bethune

Started in September 2020 by eight watch brands — after the cancellation of Baselworld and Watches and Wonders because of the pandemic — Geneva Watch Days returned for the fourth time this year from August 29 to September 2.

In showcases held at various locations in Geneva, the event saw 39 brands showcase their latest releases, including some brand-new designs as well as updates with new case materials or sizes. Here are the ones that caught our eye.

1. Bulgari: Octo Finissimo watches in CarbonGold

Credit: Bulgari

Think of Bulgari’s ultra-thin, sculptural Octo Finissimo, and the case material that comes to mind is probably the range’s signature matte, sandblasted titanium. That said, the octagonal timepiece has also been crafted in a host of other materials, including platinum, gold, ceramic, stainless steel, and even marble (in the form of a unique piece for Only Watch 2023).

At Geneva Watch Days, the Roman luxury brand presented two of its Octo Finissimo watches in yet another material: The latest versions of the Octo Finissimo Automatic and the Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar feature carbon cases and gold accents, a combination that the brand dubs “CarbonGold”.

The 40mm cases of both models are made from lightweight carbon, while their crowns are rose gold with black-ceramic inserts. While the Perpetual Calendar’s hands and indexes are rose gold-plated, the Automatic’s are gold-coloured. In keeping with the colour theme, the self-winding movements feature gold-plated platinum micro-rotors as well as engraved, gold-coloured bridges.

2. Arnold & Son: DSTB 42

Credit: Arnold & Son

Introduced in 2014, Arnold & Son’s DSTB — which stands for Dial Side True Beat — watch now comes in a more compact form. Available in platinum or red gold, the reduced case size measures 42mm across instead of the previous 43.5mm.

The DSTB 42 is powered by a new, thinner self-winding movement with a power reserve of 55 hours. The timepiece otherwise retains its distinctive aesthetic, characterised by the true-beat mechanism on the dial. This escapement-like mechanism, which includes a trio of bridges, enables the DTSB’s seconds hand to jump from one second to another instead of moving multiple times per second like typical mechanical-watch seconds hands.

3. Corum: Concept Watch

Credit: Corum

In line with a heritage of distinctive design that includes unusual creations such as the domed-glass Bubble watch as well as the Golden Bridge timepieces with baguette-shaped movements, Corum now presents a Concept Watch with a brand-new design.

Housed in a 39.5mm case made of recycled titanium, the watch features a linearly arranged tourbillon movement that is supported by sapphire-crystal bridges and set against an aventurine base. The movement is visible through a vertical cut-out on the caseback, which is decorated with handwriting-style engravings detailing the watch’s functions.

4. De Bethune: DB28XP Kind of Blue

Credit: De Bethune

It was only a matter of time before De Bethune rendered its slim (just 8.5mm thick) DB28XP in its signature bright blue titanium, which is created by polishing and heating each component to oxidise the metal.

The new DB28XP Kind of Blue features the independent brand’s distinctive delta-shaped bridge, which sits atop a base decorated with concentric circles it terms “Microlight”. Another hallmark here is its “floating” lugs, which are mobile and allow the 43mm watch to sit comfortably on wrists of various sizes.

5. Czapek: Place Vendome Complicite

Credit: Czapek

One of the signature dial layouts of Czapek watches features two subdials at the 7.30 and 4.30 positions. In the brand’s Quai des Bergues and Place Vendome collections, these small counters have been used to display different types of information, including elapsed chronograph times, passing seconds, power reserve, or days of the week.

Czapek’s latest timepiece, however, employs this layout to a very technical end. Created in collaboration with watchmaker Bernhard Lederer, the Place Vendor Complicite features two balances at the 7.30 and 4.30 positions. Both regulators receive power from a single mainspring barrel via the differential at 12 o’clock. Used only by a handful of other brands, such as Philippe Dufour and MB&F, this twin regulator system is based on the concept that variations in rate, which can be caused by factors such as gravity, will be averaged out and lead to greater timekeeping accuracy.

This mechanism takes pride of place on the dial side, held in place by two sapphire-crystal bridges. Powered by the new in-house Calibre 8, the 41.8mm timepieces are available in two variations: Stardust, in white gold with a grey dial; and Harmony Blue, in rose gold with a blue dial.

6. Girard-Perregaux: Laureato Absolute Chronograph 8Tech

Credit: Girard-Perregaux

In recent years, we have been seeing different expressions of carbon cases, and now Girard-Perregaux updates its Absolute Chronograph in a new 44mm case made of a carbon-titanium composite. Characterised by irregular and subtly shimmery swirls, the ultra-light material is made using a process called 8Tech.

Carbon fibres are combined with titanium powder to form extremely thin layers, which are placed on top of each other in different orientations, forming stacks that are then cut into octagonal pieces. These pieces are placed in a mould, and treated with heat and high pressure. Finally, case components are milled from these blocks and finished by hand.

7. H. Moser & Cie: Endeavour watches in Vantablack

Credit: H. Moser

Continuing to make extreme minimalism its signature — no need for a logo or a brand on the dial — H. Moser releases a new pair of red-gold watches with Vantablack dials. The new Endeavour Tourbillon Concept and Endeavour Centre Seconds watches feature dials coated with Vantablack, an ultra-black material composed of carbon nanostructures and considered the darkest substance in the world.

In both watches, this inky hue is complemented by 40mm red-gold cases. The dial of the Endeavour Tourbillon Concept Vantablack is punctuated by a one-minute flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock.

8. Laurent Ferrier: Sport Auto 40

Credit: Laurent Farrier

Not just a master watchmaker but also a motoring enthusiast, Laurent Ferrier once placed third at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, along with driving partners and friends Francois Servanin (now also his business partner) and Francois Trisconi. The year was 1979 and the car driven by the team of amateur drivers was the Porsche 935 Turbo No. 40.

Taking inspiration from the colours of that car’s livery, the latest Sport Auto 40 has a green dial, fuchsia crosshairs and date-aperture outline, and orange-lumed white-gold indexes and hands. The self-winding watch comes in a 41.5mm titanium case with an integrated titanium bracelet.

9. Greubel Forsey: Convexe watches in carbon

Credit: Greubel Forsey

In July, ultra-premium brand Greubel Forsey launched two of its most popular Convexe sports models in titanium cases in smaller sizes: The Double Balancier Convexe and the Balancier Convexe S2 took on new diameters of 42.5mm (from 43.5mm) and 41.5mm (from 43.5mm), respectively. The Double Balancier Convexe is distinguished by dual 30-degree-inclined balance wheels linked by a differential; while the Balancier Convexe S2 features an outsized balance wheel, also inclined at 30 degrees.

A month later at Geneva Watch Days, the company updated these two timepieces yet again — this time in carbon cases, marking the first time Greubel Forsey is using carbon. The unusual and ergonomically curved form of the brand’s Curvexe cases made working with the high-tech material even more challenging.

In making carbon case components, heat and pressure are applied to stacks of thin layers of carbon to form shapes; it is this structure that also gives carbon cases their signature streaks. According to Greubel Forsey, while a regular case typically requires two tonnes of pressure per sq cm, creating its curved case required the application of 16 tonnes of pressure per sq cm.

There are two editions of each new model: The Double Balancier Convexe has dials with a vibrant green or black finish; while the Balancier Convexe S2 comes with a small seconds that is blue or black. Twenty-two pieces of each of these four references will be produced.

10. MB&F: HM9 Sapphire Vision

Credit: MB&F

When the HM9 was launched in 2018, MB&F founder Max Busser called its hand-wound engine “the most beautiful movement we’ve created to date”. Little wonder the brand created a sapphire crystal-cased version of the HM9 in 2021 in order to show it off. Named the HM9 Sapphire Vision, the model was released in four variants — with movements and dials in rose gold or in PVD-coated blue, purple, or black. Now those limited editions are joined by two new references: One featuring a white-gold frame and a PVD-coated blue engine; and the other, a yellow-gold frame and a PVD-coated green engine.

11. Ulysse Nardin: Blast Free Wheel Marquetry

Credit: Ulysse Nardin

With the launch of its iconic Freak watch in 2001, Ulysse Nardin became the first manufacture to present a wristwatch with a movement integrating silicon — a material that has since become widely adopted by several high-end brands. In the Blast Free Wheel Marquetry, Ulysse Nardin puts the material centre stage by decorating its dial with 103 slivers of silicon, made in two different thicknesses as well as finishes (matte or polished).

The 45mm white-gold watch is also accented by several components of the UN-176 movement, which have been placed on the dial — a signature of the brand’s Free Wheel models.

12. Urwerk: UR-100V Stardust

Credit: Urwerk

Since 2019, the UR-100 and UR-100V watches have been released in a variety of different case materials and colours by Urwerk. Following versions in titanium, steel, carbon, and gold, the brand now releases a diamond-covered edition it calls Stardust. Four hundred diamonds totalling 1.9 carats are snow-set on a 41mm-wide steel case to create what Urwerk co-founder Felix Baumgartner describes as “a setting reminiscent of the starry heavens”.

The self-winding UR 12.02 movement is visible through a caseback made of titanium and sapphire crystal.

This story originally published on The Peak Singapore.

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