The invitation-only Watches & Wonders, which was formerly called Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, or SIHH, showcases designs from a handful of leading independent brands in addition to the big watchmakers from the Richemont stable: A Lange & Söhne, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc, Panerai, Piaget, Roger Dubuis, Vacheron Constantin and Van Cleef & Arpels.
Among the Richemont brands, Cartier always puts on one of the most impressive showings at the fair, and this year continued to do so in its temporary digital incarnation when it debuted a new women’s collection under the moniker Maillon de Cartier. ‘Maillon’ is French for link, a reference to the twisted chain links that are the signature of this range, which blur the line between a dainty watch and a chunky bracelet.
Another timepiece with a unique angle, the Piaget Limelight Gala, was first launched at last year’s fair. For 2020, Piaget—synonymous with svelte, jet-set glamour—presents a new bejewelled beauty, the Limelight Gala Precious Sapphire Gradient. Encased in white gold with a blue grand-feu enamel and white-gold dial, borne on a hand-engraved white-gold bracelet with a sixties-style ‘Décor Palace’ finish (as is the dial), the piece is embellished with a spiral of exquisitely colour-graded, brilliant-cut diamonds and sapphires.
Looking for something a little more restrained (not to mention affordable), but with a fair share of shimmer? Consider Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new vino-red lacquered, sunray guilloché dial Reverso One, its seminal art deco case embellished with 21 diamonds.
Among the independent Watches & Wonders exhibitors, Hermès has very literally hammered out a new guise for its ever-popular nautical-inspired Cape Cod model, the Martelée. A French word meaning ‘struck, shaped or forged with a hammer’, Martelée refers to the age-old jeweller’s technique used to give the watch’s steel case and lacquered dial their unique, artfully battered pewter-like texture.
Such a stellar timepiece might serve as a poignant reminder of this period in history (dark, but not without its points of light) during better years to come.