Five Of The Best New Releases From Watches & Wonders 2024

A look back at a week in Geneva.

Five Of The Best New Releases From Watches & Wonders 2024

The Swiss watchmaking establishment have once again put on an excellent show with Watches & Wonders 2024, and now that the Palexpo has closed its doors, it’s time for us to look back at some of the standout releases from the upcoming season.

IWC’s Perpetual Portugieser

IWC had a very solid 2024, reminding the world that the Portugieser had plenty of elegance and style to make up for the brand’s macho pilot pieces. The new collection, which featured updated cases and tweaked design language, was centred around three new dial treatments, Horizon Blue, Obsidian and Dune, all vivid and richly lacquered.

One of IWC’s complicated highlights has always been the perpetual calendar, and the new Portugieser Perpetual Calendars don’t disappoint. At 44.4mm, these watches have plenty of presence, especially the striking black and gold number, which has the sort of restrained assuredness you want from a top-tier Swiss timepiece.

A new day for Grand Seiko’s Kodo

The Japanese brand continues to inspire and delight this year with its Evo 9 design language and natural inspiration, but one watch in the latest batch of releases lacked the brand’s typically outstanding dial work. In fact, the Kodo Constant Force Tourbillon lacks a dial altogether.

First released in 2022, the Kodo is a work such accomplished technicity that the brand decided to expose every element for appreciation. This year, Grand Seiko showed us a different side of Kodo, one dedicated to daylight. Platinum and titanium elements are hand-polished for maximum brightness. The result is blindingly beautiful.

Rolex goes formal

Rolex continued its reputation for being as unknowable as it is unpredictable, as people the much predicted ‘Coke’ bezel GMT-Master II didn’t eventuate (though the monochrome grey and black bezel is a very solid substitute).

One watch no one saw coming was the platinum-cased 1908 with an ice blue ‘rice-grain’ guilloché dial, a dial engraving technique the brand hasn’t used in decades. This 39mm watch on a fine leather strap is as classical a watch Rolex has made in a long time, and a definite shift in gears from the brand’s typically sporty offerings.

Piaget slims down

Image: Piaget

Over the last decade, a handful of brands have been reluctantly trading the crown of ‘world’s thinnest’ watch back and forth. Watches & Wonders 2024 saw Piaget show off the Piaget Altiplano Concept Tourbillon, which measured in at an impossibly svelte 2mm, blowing the previous champion’s 3.95mm thickness out of the water.

Watchmaking on this minute scale already feels closer to magic than engineering, but adding in a tourbillon almost defies belief. The constantly whirling escapement is widely regarded as one of watchmaking’s most challenging complications. To put one in a watch slightly thicker than a credit card is astonishing.

Cartier goes backwards

The winner of 2024’s out-of-the-box award has to go to Cartier and the Santos-Dumont Rewind. This limited edition platinum Santos-Dumont is already remarkable, thanks to the red stone Carnelian dial — but the big party trick is that it runs backwards.

Yep. Look again at that dial, and you’ll see that the hands and numerals run counterclockwise. An ingenious, charming idea that is the sort of high-end whimsy that only Cartier can pull off.