By Stella Kirchner
The Watches and Wonders trade show in Geneva featured a vast selection of new releases, from the rebirth of the iconic Vacheron Constantin 222 to the first left-handed Rolex GMT-Master II. But it wasn’t just the industry’s biggest names that unveiled interesting innovations. With that in mind, Chrono24 has selected six novelties from lesser-known brands that caught our attention.
1. Czapek: An Antarctique for Smaller Wrists
If you’re a watch enthusiast who doesn’t just stick to models from big names in the watch world like Rolex and Patek Philippe, you may already be familiar with the Czapek Antarctique collection. Chrono24 author Jorg Weppelink has even recommended the Czapek Antarctique Terre Adélie as a timepiece with investment potential. However, that watch’s 40-mm diameter doesn’t suit every wrist. Thankfully, the brand just debuted a smaller, 38.5-mm version at Watches and Wonders 2022. “A lot of customers have been asking for smaller models lately,” confirmed Czapek CEO Xavier de Roquemaurel. “The trend seems to be moving to slightly reduced sizes.” The new Czapek Antarctique Passage de Drake S is available with a Glacier Blue or Salmon dial, both for a list price of $22,000. Keep in mind, however, that market prices for the larger version of this watch are already well above the MSRP. On Chrono24, they currently list for around $44,000.
In addition to these two new editions, Czapek also released a limited edition, the Frozen Star S. The dial of this watch is made from one of the rarest metals on Earth, osmium. It’s estimated that only one metric ton of this platinum group metal is mined each year, making it seven times less common than gold. The metal’s melting point is 5,491°F, meaning it is extremely difficult to work with. In return for the trouble, however, whoever wears this watch will be treated to an unmistakable glisten that ranges from a gray-blue to a near white tone. Czapek is selling this model, limited to just 38 pieces, for an official list price of $85,700.
H. Moser & Cie: An Invisible Timepiece and Stunning Enamel Work
Moser & Cie had their own materials innovation to present at W&W 2022. Have you ever heard of the material Vantablack®? It’s a carbon compound that reflects so little light that it takes on the deepest, darkest shade of black imaginable. The blackest of all blacks is said to absorb up to 99.965% of light. That’s not the only thing that makes this material so unique, however; it’s also extremely porous and can crumble at the slightest touch. Even though that means the Moser Streamliner “Blacker Than Black” is far from wearable (it was only on display for exhibition purposes), I must admit that no other watch at the fair surprised me as much as this one did. The mesmerizing timepiece was nearly lost against its black backdrop; so much so that I didn’t even notice it until I was standing next to the display case. It’s a shame, really, that the blackest watch in the world will only ever remain a piece of art.
Another eye-catcher, not only in the display case but also on the wrist, is Moser’s new Endeavour Centre Seconds Concept Lime Green with its glittering green dial. To create the unique dial effect, the manufacturer adds texture to a gold base dial and then applies colored pigment. The 40-mm, three-hand watch suits just about any wrist, and the gray leather strap provides nice contrast to the dazzling dial.
3. Arnold & Son: Diamond-Studded Women’s Watches With a Moon Phase
Arnold & Son likewise threw their hat into the ring of the materials game. Over one hundred diamonds adorn their new Perpetual Moon 38 Eclipse I, the brand’s first foray into the women’s watch category. This 38-mm moon phase watch is equipped with the manufacturer’s smallest caliber to date, which certainly pulls its weight. Wearers can observe the diamond moon changing its position based on the current moon phase through the window at 12 o’clock. At 8 o’clock, you’ll find a brilliant star motif made of diamonds (of course) and other precious stones. But Arnold & Son didn’t stop there, they also introduced a new, and no less opulent, moon phase watch for men. Since 2022 is the year of the tiger in the Chinese calendar, this watch features a majestic feline made of 18K rose gold prowling along the right side of its dial. Both watches are limited editions; the Perpetual Moon “Year of the Tiger” has a limited run of just eight pieces, and the Perpetual Moon Eclipse I of eighteen.
4. Rudis Sylva: An Innovative Movement
Materials weren’t the only thing making waves at Watches and Wonders 2022, there were also outstanding technologies on display. One such example was a movement from Rudis Sylva, a brand owned by former soccer player Jacky Epitaux. The movement features two interlocking balance wheels driven by a single escapement to eliminate the effects of gravity and increase accuracy. “No one believed this technique could work when we first modeled it on computers,” said Epitaux. Well, the timepieces that come delivered in old wooden watchmaker’s toolboxes prove otherwise. Every single watch is one-of-a-kind. According to Epitaux, “Every engraving and every detail of each and every watch is completed by hand.” When you take that into account, it’s not surprising that only around ten watches are produced each year.
5. Armin Strom: Rethinking the Date Complication
Armin Strom also offered technical innovations on one of the most popular but least varied complications of all: the date function. Unlike most timepieces that feature a date window, Armin Strom’s new release displays the date at the push of a button. This new patented complication is driven by a column wheel, which is usually found in chronographs. “I’m thrilled that we’ve rethought a popular complication and devised a playful and intriguing way to display the date,” said Claude Geisler, co-founder and master watchmaker at Armin Strom. The first edition of the new Orbit series is limited to just 25 examples and priced at 29,500 CHF (approx. $31,500).
6. Angelus: Celebrating a Chronograph Icon
While Watches and Wonders 2022 certainly offered its fair share of new models and complications, it also had a few homages to icons of years gone by up its sleeve. The best example of this is the expansion of the Chronodate series by brand Angelus. This well-known chronograph has been wowing watch lovers the world over for 80 years now. New models in red gold and titanium are powered by an automatic movement with a bicompax layout based on older versions of the watch. “The collection blends different Angelus styles,” explains David Apothéloz, head of product development for the Angelus at Arnold & Son. “We’ve combined the historical legacy of the Chronodate with more modern design elements.” The series has a limited run of 75 and will set you back 22,900 CHF (approx. $24,500) for the titanium version and 42,900 CHF (approx. $46,000) for the red gold watch.
Watches and Wonders 2022: More Than Rolex and Patek
So, what do you make of these novelties from the independents? Regardless of whether or not these models appeal to you, one thing is for sure: This year, true innovation tended to come from smaller, lesser-known brands as opposed to the industry’s biggest names. The indie brands have certainly proven how much expertise, quality workmanship, and creative thinking go into their models.