Like countless large-scale events, this year’s Watches & Wonders fair fell prey to the novel coronavirus. Its cancellation necessitated the virtual unveiling of novelties that would’ve otherwise been revealed IRL in April at Geneva’s cavernous Palexpo centre. But the news this year is still a big deal, even when delivered online: horology historically has been viewed as quite a male-focused affair, but many of the most attractive new releases were in the realm of women’s watchmaking.
The invitation-only Watches & Wonders, which was formerly called Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, or SIHH, showcases designs from a handful of leading independent brands in addition to the big watchmakers from the Richemont stable: A Lange & Söhne, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc, Panerai, Piaget, Roger Dubuis, Vacheron Constantin and Van Cleef & Arpels.
Among the Richemont brands, Cartier always puts on one of the most impressive showings at the fair, and this year continued to do so in its temporary digital incarnation when it debuted a new women’s collection under the moniker Maillon de Cartier. ‘Maillon’ is French for link, a reference to the twisted chain links that are the signature of this range, which blur the line between dainty watch and chunky bracelet.
Other outstanding feminine releases from Cartier included a 35mm-cased iteration of the classic Pasha, harking back to the original incarnation of this model, developed in 1985 by watch design legend Gérald Genta (the man responsible for the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Patek Philippe Nautilus); and an array of new perspectives on the iconic off-kilter Tank Asymétrique. These include limited editions in platinum, pink and yellow gold, with skeletonised variants where the watch’s movement is laid bare. Traditionally a men’s watch (I’d love one myself), the elegant Tank Asymétrique will look equally stunning on a woman’s wrist.
Another timepiece with a unique angle, the Piaget Limelight Gala, was first launched at last year’s fair. For 2020, Piaget—synonymous with svelte, jet-set glamour—presents a new bejewelled beauty, the Limelight Gala Precious Sapphire Gradient. Encased in white gold with a blue grand-feu enamel and white-gold dial, borne on a hand-engraved white-gold bracelet with a sixties-style ‘Décor Palace’ finish (as is the dial), the piece is embellished with a spiral of exquisitely colour-graded, brilliant-cut diamonds and sapphires.