Swiss Precision: Geneva Watch Days allows Switzerland’s smaller names their day in the sun

Geneva Watch Days draws a plethora of independent manufactures to the city’s waterfront, where they shine alongside the bigger boys. The summer event acts as a platform for Swiss watchmaking and has been growing in stature since it was inaugurated in 2020 by eight prestigious brands. The number of participants has since mushroomed, and this year some 40 fine watchmakers took the opportunity to release new models or showcase their most eye-catching designs.

Take Breitling, which launched the new Navitimer 36 and 32 – two slender iterations, 36 mm and 32 mm respectively, to round out the Navitimer collection, and ideal for those who prefer a less weighty time machine on their wrists. Powered by the robust Breitling Calibre 17, the luxury models have mother-of-pearl dials studded with lab-grown diamonds and 18-carat red gold cases with cambered sapphire glass that is glare- proof on both sides. They can be worn with a seven- row traceable gold bracelet or an alligator leather strap. The 32mm version embraces the line’s first- ever powdery pink and light blue faces alongside the classic white. Using sustainable gold and diamonds vouches for the watchmaker’s integrity as well as its aesthetic credentials.

Bulgari’s watch collections combine Italian aesthetics with Swiss craftsmanship, as epitomised by novelties like the Octo Finissimo Carbon Gold Automatic and Octo Finissimo Carbon Gold Perpetual Calendar which were presented at the Geneva event. Their combination of anthracite high-tech carbon and pink gold makes them true standouts. At just 2.23 mm thick, the Automatic version sports the BVL 138 ultra-thin mechanical calibre movement, featuring a platinum miniature automatic disc with small seconds, a power reserve of 60 hours and waterproofing to a depth of 100 metres. Its forged carbon dial comes with gold-plated hands and hour makers. The more complex BVL 305 self-winding mechanical calibre of the Perpetual Calendar, meanwhile, is only slightly thicker at 2.75 mm and it likewise proudly shows a textured, anthracite carbon face with luxurious accents in rose gold.

Through its ultra-thin Octo Finissimo collection, Bulgari aims to create unique timepieces by employing techniques such as contrasting polishing or monochrome treatment on a variety of materials like stainless steel, gold and ceramics. Models are consistently striking with round bezels against octagonal surfaces.

Interestingly, and highlighting the significance attached to Geneva Watch Days, year-old brand Byrne released the Gyro Dial Zero in pink gold and its limited-edition set with diamonds. This updated version follows the original rotating-indices watch concept released at the same event last year, in which the dial changes every day on either the stroke of midnight or noon according to the whim of its wearer. This unique attribute occurs as the dial’s four cardinal indexes (at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock) pivot in a flash to reveal a different face. The rose gold-encased Zero offers a new stylish, pared-down beauty exposing the magnificent mechanism within.

By contrast, Girard-Perregaux, founded in 1791, is one of the oldest fine-watch manufactures still in operation and maintaining all the required horological skills in-house, it has more than 100 recorded patents. It displayed the Laureato Absolute Chronograph 8Tech, the latest model in an ultra-modern collection that uses the best solutions in materials technology. Formed of a carbon/titanium composite in octagonal parts via the 8Tech method, the case creates a random structural pattern. Indeed, the whole watch is made from a combination of differently shaped components and materials playfully juxtaposed together, with its splendid swirl decoration adding further interest. The GP03300-1058 automatic movement can be spied through a smoked sapphire-crystal caseback.

Russian watchmaker and inventor Konstantin Chaykin, known for his unique timepieces and artistic creations, auctioned a selection of his amazing monster-face watches and their accompanying sketches at the event. These included the Smilodon, which takes its inspiration from the prehistoric sabre-toothed tiger and boasts some unique functions; the limited-edition Joker Five, which features a distinctive day of the week indicator; and the prototype of his latest Wristmon, a jovial and optimistic-looking character.

Ulysse Nardin brought out the new Blast Free Wheel Marquetry, a watch which showcases the aesthetic qualities of silicon aside from its undoubted technical specifications. Ergonomically strong with pronounced geometric lines, the 45mm timepiece has an escapement wheel, anchor and balance spring in silicon and uses blades technology. Its ultra-glass box design reveals the avant-garde movement, with a flying tourbillon commanding attention at 6 o’clock. The white-gold case is satin- finished and polished and opened at back with sapphire glass. To top off the unconventional look of the piece, it comes with a distinctive blue matte and polished silicon marquetry dial. The backplate is matte silicon, too.

Another Geneva Watch Days highlight was the launch of two models by luxury watchmaker H. Moser & Cie: the minimalist Endeavour Centre Seconds Vantablack and the Endeavour Tourbillon Concept Vantablack. Composed of super-dark carbon nanostructures, which absorb 99.965% of light that hit them, the Vantablack dials can claim to have the effect of a black hole, sucking in all light in mesmerising contrast with their red-gold cases.

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