GENEVA - At the end of the day, it is all about one-upmanship.
Like all watch fairs, the week-long Watches & Wonders 2022 - which ended in Geneva on April 5- saw exhibiting brands going all out to see who could come up with the most technically superb, good-looking or revolutionary timepieces.
It is a circus, but one which is exciting and heady for watch fans and journalists because of the avalanche of novelties unveiled.
Last week, The Straits Times highlighted several exciting new watches from the fair. Here are more.
Patek Philippe 5326G-001
It is hard not to fall in love with a watch so good-looking, well-built and practical.
In the 5326G-001, Patek Philippe has combined two superb complications: the travel time and the annual calendar. Although the watchmaker is famous for its consummate mastery of both, it has never paired them together, until now.
This makes it a fabulous watch to have when you are travelling. Thanks to the specially developed Caliber 31-260 PS QA LU FUS 24H - which boasts eight patents - telling both local and home time, the day, date and month is a cinch, but the user-friendliness actually involved seriously intricate engineering. What is more amazing is the watch needs to be adjusted once a year if kept wound.
The head-turning 41mm watch comes in a new Calatrava-type 18K white-gold case rimmed with a Clous de Paris hobnail guilloched pattern. The vintage-style dial has a mesmerising grainy texture which reminds one of vintage cameras.
This new reference is teamed with two interchangeable straps: one in beige calfskin with a nubuck finish and the other in black calfskin with an embossed fabric motif and beige top-stitching.
It is priced at $101,300.
Tag Heuer Carrera Plasma
Chances are, you will never get to see this watch. Tag Heuer chief executive officer Frederic Arnault reportedly said that "more than one, but less than a dozen, will be made".
One can understand why. At 350,000 Swiss francs (S$510,000), it is the watchmaker's most expensive timepiece to date. It is also a showcase of the brand's mastery of chemical vapour deposition technology, which allows it to experiment with carbon and diamond designs as well as cutting-edge light effects.
The 44mm watch boasts an extremely light case fashioned from sandblasted black anodised aluminium, a black ceramic polished bezel and a beautifully textured "polycrystalline diamond dial" blasted with fine ground diamond powder.
The diamond fest does not end there. Besides the dial, 48 dazzlers have been set into the case totalling a whopping 4.8 carats. Then there is the crown, crafted from a 2.5-carat piece of diamond. Only laboratory-grown diamonds are used because the shape of naturally occurring diamonds cannot be controlled.
The heart ticking inside this beauty is the in-house Heuer 02 chronograph calibre, which comes with an oscillating weight in the shape of the Tag Heuer shield as well as a 65-hour power reserve.
Tudor Black Bay Pro
No longer known as Rolex's less glamorous sister, Tudor has been buffing its credentials in recent years with a slew of solidly crafted and handsome timepieces.
Unveiled at this year's Watches & Wonders is the Black Bay Pro, a piece which takes its cue from the original Rolex Explorer II (ref. 1655), produced for about 15 years from 1971. Although not a hit during its lifetime, that watch is now sought after among serious collectors.
Like the 1655, the Black Bay Pro has a 39mm steel case, a black dial, an orange-yellow GMT hand and a retro-looking 24-hour fixed bezel.
This old-school charm is accentuated with distinctive design traits that have made the Black Bay series wildly popular - including the snowflake hands, domed dial, screw-down crown and water resistance of 200m.
Its movement is the impressive new in-house MT5652 calibre, in which the date display is paired with the local time hand. When setting the time and passing midnight in retrograde, it instantly jumps to the previous day.
Another cool feature is a T-Fit clasp which allows for an adjustment of up to 8mm either way.
There is a choice of three straps - steel bracelet, hybrid fabric and rubber strap, and a black fabric strap with a yellow stripe and a pin buckle.
Prices range from $5,090 to $5,520.
Hublot Square Bang Unico
It is hip to be square, so sings American musician Huey Lewis. For the first time in its history, Hublot is exploring and adding this new shape to its arsenal of round, barrel-shaped and MP (Master Pieces, which boasts unique shapes) timepieces.
Square watches are no walk in the park for several reasons, one of which is that mechanical movements have wheels as basic components. Placing these round parts in a square case can be tricky.
It is also hard to make square watches watertight, although Hublot guarantees water resistance to 100m with this new creation.
A unique iteration of the brand's iconic Big Bang Unico, the 42mm Square Bang Unico comes in five models fashioned from different materials - titanium, black ceramic, King Gold, and titanium or King Gold blend with a black ceramic bezel.
They are fitted with the Hub1280 Unico Manufacture movement, an automatic flyback column wheel chronograph with more than 350 components. Its intricacy, including the movement suspension, can be admired through the sapphire crystal dial.
Each model comes with a black rubber strap and a folding clasp in the same material as the case. It also boasts the "One Click" fastening system which makes changing the strap easy-peasy.
Prices range from $32,300 to $60,300. The All Black model ($36,700) is limited edition, with only 250 pieces available.
Hermes Arceau Les folies du ciel
This is a whimsical colourful watch designed to make you smile.
Another iteration of the French maison's iconic Arceau watch, by artist-designer Henri d'Origny in 1978, it showcases the brand's superb metiers d'art (art and craft).
The timepiece is inspired by the playful Les folies du ciel scarf created by famous Hermes artist Loic Dubigeon in 1984, and a homage to the early days of aviation when men dreamt of conquering the skies with airships and hot-air balloons.
Combining painting, engraving and animation, the watch has a mother-of-pearl dial with two billowing hot-air balloons rendered in pastel green and pink.
The two balloons are attached to an airship shaped like a bird. Another hand-painted animated balloon at 12 o'clock cleverly spins on its axis in tandem with the wearer's wrist movements.
The dream-like tableaux is encased in a 38mm white-gold casing.
Priced at $100,100, the watch - driven by a Manufacture Hermes movement - is limited to just 24 pieces.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Calibre 948
Jaeger-LeCoultre has released a range of highly complex astronomy timepieces this year.
Among them is the Master Grand Tradition Grand Caliber 948, the first time the watchmaker has married an orbital tourbillon with a world timer.
The exceptional movement is complemented with the skills of artisans from its Metiers Rares atelier.
The striking dial is made up of several parts and has a map of the world which appears to float on a domed skeleton structure formed by the longitudes and latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.
The domed map and the city ring mimic the rotation of the Earth on its axis, moving to make a complete 360-degree revolution in 24 hours.
Boasting intensive hand-painting and enamelling work, each dial is a miniature work of art and requires 70 hours of patient labour.
The 43mm Master Grande Tradition case - comprising more than 80 parts - is fashioned from white gold, with a sapphire caseback that allows you to marvel at the stunning calibre 948 and its rotor.
Limited to just 20 pieces, it is priced at €200,000 (S$296,000).