It’s Watches and Wonders time, and this year the annual horology and jewelry jamboree was held “digitally” in Geneva from April 7-13, with the “physical” show in Shanghai immediately afterward, from April 14-18. Watch fans, collectors and nerds logged on to catch the latest releases and find out what’s in and what’s out. “What will X release this year?” “Should I have waited and not bought Y?” “Oh my God, I really want that!” Who knew watches could generate such anxiety?
For example, normal people with real concerns don’t (and if we are being honest, shouldn’t) care if Rolex re-introduces the 36mm model of the historic Explorer, which the famous Swiss brand upgraded to 39mm in 2010. Who cares? Right? Well, the purists for whom the Explorer should always be 36mm, and who saw the upgrade as pandering to the bigger is better crowd, really do care and are genuinely very excited by this unexpected return to basics. Personally, I’m beside myself!
Ok, stop yawning! We watch people have to obsess over something. There are 36 brands in Geneva, but I have limited space to bang on about them all. Right onto my favorite picks for this year’s show. First off is IWC’s seriously butch, sand-colored “Mojave Desert” pilot chrono, part of its Top Gun range, which while its DNA in the United States is sure to be a big seller in the GCC, as will Ditto Rolex’s new Daytona, with an equally macho meteorite dial in three different shades of gold.
Piaget has launched a new range of ultra-thins, skeletons and high-jewelry watches, some of which cost as much as one bedroom flat in Dubai, and Rolex has released an eye-catching Datejust with a tropical palm motif dial. In a similar vein, Oris has gone completely bonkers by pimping up its Divers 56 range, creating “Cotton Candy,” three bronze models with must-have green, blue and pink dials. All are catnip for the discerning Arab market, the perfect second (or third) watch for the significant other who appreciates the little gestures in life or, more likely, needs serious appeasing.
We haven’t forgotten the really big guns, and Patek Philippe, arguably the biggest off-the-shelf gun of them all, has announced two new members of its sought-after Nautilus line: the Time Travel and a “basic” model with a green dial. The iconic blue version is highly coveted from Beirut to Abu Dhabi. Bulgari is another MENA region favorite, and while I’m not normally a huge fan, if anyone gave me one of its limited-edition Octo Finissimo Tadao Ando, possibly the most extraordinary beautiful watch I have seen in a long time, I’d beak down and weep with joy. As they say, tempus fugit!