Small groups of watchmakers—including independents and big brands—are beginning to venture out after Covid-19 closed them for months, and watch lovers are finally getting a good sense of this year’s wrist trends.
At Watches & Wonders Shanghai, taking place Sept. 9-13, new timepieces have been showcased by a dozen Richemont Group luxury brands and a handful of small independent companies. The show is an offshoot of the larger Watches & Wonders Geneva expo, which took place earlier this year in a diminished, online format because of the pandemic.
W&W Shanghai takes place in person in a single, built-out exhibition hall as well as digitally, which has become the new normal. Many of the watches being released—from high-tech, high-mech to sporty chic and classically elegant—are already available in boutiques and online (another new normal for the brands).
Here is a look at a few of the most interesting watches unveiled at the show.
Purnell Escape II Carbon
Lovers of all things mechanical and high-tech are going to go crazy for the newest Escape II from independent maker Purnell—even if many watch aficionados won’t be familiar with the brand. The 48mm watch is crafted in forged carbon, which, at less than 20 grams for the case and just over 50 grams for the finished watch, is ultra-lightweight. Neon green accents showcase the two triple-axis “Spherion” tourbillons that are the fastest triple-axis tourbillons in the world. Each Spherion weighs less than 1 gram. The complex CP03 mechanical movement features 67 jewels (though one would be hard pressed to spot so many parts and jewels) and offers 32 hours of power reserve. The watch features a monobloc sapphire crystal that, like the case, takes incredible engineering expertise to make. Just 20 pieces will be made. Price: $470,000. purnellwatches.com.
Panerai Submersible Goldtech Orocarbo 44mm
Officine Panerai has always had a cultlike following of Paneristi who can’t get enough of the brand’s bold, highly functional watches and their cutting-edge materials. The new Submersible Goldtech Orocarbo 44mm watch is a prime example of its pioneering spirit. The new professional Submersible diving watch is crafted using a blend of two proprietary Panerai materials: Goldtech (a gold alloy with copper and platinum in it) for the case and Carbotech for the bezel and crown. Carbotech is a composite of carbon fiber sheets that are fused at controlled temperatures and high pressure. The material is strong, durable, and good-looking. Powered by the high-precision P900 caliber, it offers date and three days of power reserve and is water resistant to 300 meters. Price: $30,000. panerai.com.
A.Lange & Sohne 1815 Rattrapante Honey Gold
German watch brand A. Lange & Sohne regularly turns to its history for inspiration that generally leads to a visionary timepiece. This brand, which makes only a few thousand watches a year, is a Holy Grail brand for many collectors thanks to its impressive craftsmanship, meticulous hand finishing, and clean German aesthetics. The newest 1815 Rattrapante Honey Gold is no exception. Crafted in the brand’s proprietary Honey Gold, which offers a warmer tone than yellow gold, the 41.2mm 1815 Rattrapante boasts an all-new 365-part movement that enables timing of multiple events at once that all start at the same time but end at different times, such as in a race. The Rattrapante (or split-seconds) chronograph is one of the most complicated movements to build. The watch, created in a limited edition of just 100 pieces, is part of a tribute to F. A. Lange, who founded the company in the Saxony region of Germany in the early 19th century. Price: $134,100. alange-soehne.com.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Self-Winding
Putting a major emphasis on the spirit of travel, Vacheron Constantin went all out when it released its revived Overseas collection four years ago. It took the collector world by storm thanks to its hexagonal bezel and clean looks. This venerable brand continues to evolve the collection and this year, in response to customer requests, it released a 41mm 18-karat rose gold version a translucent hand-painted blue lacquered dial. The three-hands watch is powered by a manufacture-made movement and is water resistant to 150 feet. But what makes the watch so special is that it’s now offered with an interchangeable bracelet and is sold with three straps—the striking gold bracelet, a blue alligator hand-stitched strap, or a blue rubber strap—offering great versatility for business, evening, or casual weekend wear. Price: $46,200. vacheron-constantin.com.
Parmigiani Fleurier Tondagraph GT Rose Gold Blue
With gold a recurring and important theme in watches this year, Parmigiani Fleurier delivers with flying colors. It was just a few months ago that the brand unveiled its first-ever Tonda GT collection. The line takes after the brand’s coveted Tonda series of round watches but has a sporty element with added tool-like functions. The new Tondagraph GT Rose Gold Blue features an automatic column-wheel chronograph that is the first integrated chronograph in the GT series. It boasts a COSC-certified chronometer movement, caliber PF071, that is made entirely in-house and offers smooth operation of the stopwatch functions and greater accuracy because of its vertical clutch system. It beats at 5Hz, a rarity for chronographs, and is accurate to 1/10th of a second. Just 25 pieces will be made. Price: $65,500. parmigiani.com.
IWC Portugieser Chronograph
Bucking the gold trend, IWC Schaffhausen makes its own bold move at Watches & Wonders Shanghai, introducing the beloved Portugieser Chronograph with, for the first time in three decades and because of consumer demand, a stainless steel bracelet. The new version is created with a silver-plated dial with two chronograph totalizers balanced at 12:00 and 6:00, and with blue hands for a truly harmonious look. The mechanical column-wheel chronograph movement is visible via a sapphire case back, and the 41mm watch is water resistant 30 meters. IWC says the new steel bracelet will be an accessory for future Portugieser Chronographs. Price: $8,900. iwc.com.