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Watches And Wonders 2023 Wrap-Up: The Battle Of Sizes And Hidden Gems

THM Desk
29 Apr 2023 |
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The world of independent watchmaking is the most interesting part of the field of horology. It's the most interesting and varied part of this business and hobby. It's about people, not companies, and not about announcements, but the most essential thing is typically the expertise of the craftsperson. Today, independent watchmaking is all about a more complete approach to horology, which brings skilled watchmakers and artisans to the forefront.

And as our panelists indulged in sharing their opinions on the launches, the conversation moved to discuss the new Hautlence release!

Johnny: I love it! Hautlence is a sibling of the brand Moser. They’re quite playful with their timepieces. If you look at the HL Sphere, the revolving hour indicator is just awesome! I still can’t figure out how they did it. From off-beat concepts like retrograde minutes and case designs, they’re absolutely amazing. For a long time, they were not at the forefront, but now, they’re back.


Karishma: Yes, Hautlence was one of the reasons I started taking the watches and the business of watches seriously. While they had a different approach earlier, I do like what they’re doing now. They are slowly moving in the direction of what the DNA of Hautlence is. From the architecture of the watches and the lume of the Black Magic to Vagabonds, they’re doing a great job. They have been given some sort of freedom to move out of the Moser shadow and their prices have also gone up.

Nikolaus: One thing that’s actually surprising to me is given the big TV screen, it’s very wearable even for smaller wrists. When I visited Hautlence in Geneva last year, I didn’t expect the watch to feel so good on the wrist. But, I like what they’re doing.

Let’s jump into the most spoken brand at Watches And Wonders 2023 - Vacheron Constantin.

Elizabeth: I love it! The smaller-sized Overseas was just genius. Christian Selmoni explained to me that he realized many women will be wearing it, but when they made this size of 35mm, they were actually creating a vintage size. 25 years ago, that was the only size that sold. But that’s not the case today because, at the Watches And Wonders booth, they saw many men who would also wear this timepiece.

Vacheron Constantin

Dillon: Vacheron Constantin had such a phenomenal year with the re-issue of the 222. So, when you compare it to last year, it is very difficult to beat. But with their new launches, they could carry it forward. I wasn’t really a fan of the Overseas Retrograde earlier, but the smaller-sized in steel is just the perfect watch to have.

The Battle Of Sizes

But talking about smaller watches, aren’t many brands moving in this direction? The Tag Heuer Carrera was downsized from 42mm to 39mm, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas was downsized from 41mm to 35mm, and Tudor Black Bay 54 also saw that change. Is the era coming back?

Nikolaus: Yes, definitely this is a new era. From what I saw at Patek Philippe and ladies' watches, what really caught my eye was the Calatrava with the purple dial. That dial was mesmerizing and the diamonds were an added bonus. Even the Aquanaut 5261 Annual Calendar was stunning; it looks much better in the flesh than in photos. It’s a good thing to see two trends - smaller watches and bigger watches.

patek 2023 NOVELTIES (9)

Punit: In fact, at a touch and feel session at Patek Philippe, the person there was explaining to me that there are more men standing here who want this timepiece than women. Women had fewer choices when it comes to this brand, but they had to put the message out there that the Aquanauts are also for women.

Karishma: We did see brands doing many sleeker, cleaner, and smaller timepieces. In fact, even Grand Seiko did some stunning dress watches that were also quite sleek and made noise at the show. From their Tentagraph to the Majestic White Birch timepiece, it was an exquisite finish on the dial. I think it’s one of those brands that is still quite underrated.

Elizabeth: Yes, as a brand they are so underrated but since the past few years they’ve come out with some really good pieces. Also, the Majestic White Birch timepiece was really eye-catching.

Punit: Even when you look at the Tentagraph, it’s an amazing product. Robust, easy to wear, and checks all the boxes for a nice chronograph. But highly underrated. People are not picking up the Grand Seiko timepiece when it comes to chronographs.


Elizabeth: Maybe, because this is the first mechanical chronograph. The Spring-Drive chronographs aren’t much appreciated in Europe or America as it is in Japan. People are still unsure of what exactly is a spring drive. It’s an amazing hybrid technology.

And now, just to add the cherry to the cake, the panelists discussed the brand that launched 97 novelties this year - Cartier!

Dillon: In my opinion, they stole the show!

Punit: The micro-rotor Santos Dumont was an amazing piece. The piece with the stone numerals was also something that really stood out to me. The setting on the high-jewelry timepieces was incredible. The diamonds are always shimmering and moving but when you invert the watch, they stop moving.

Karishma: What I really like was the feel of the Privé Tank Normale on my wrist. The way that solid gold timepiece sat on my wrist, I was sold. The Santos Dumont with a brand-new caliber was amazing.

Cartier opus


Which watch at Watches And Wonders 2023 or even outside of the show was under the radar of the media?

Elizabeth: Maybe the Bovet Virtuoso XI. It was so far away from the expo that not many got to see it, but from whatever I saw, it stunned me.

Johnny: For me, it would definitely be the French brand Trilobe. They brought a whole new interpretation of time display. They’re a very interesting young brand but I was smitten with the timepieces I saw. These are accessible watches and beautifully executed. Also, I love Laurent Ferrier.

Watches and Wonders 2023

Karishma: I think one of the watches I really liked was the Zenith Pilot Big Date. That went completely unnoticed. The rate at which that date moved so smoothly got completely overlooked with the work Zenith does. It was being compared to other Pilot watches but was definitely a stand out for me.

 Zenith Pilot Big Date

Punit: I think the Ludo Secret Collection by Van Cleef & Arpels was under the radar. The setting of the watch is such that through physics, it opens up and you can see the time on the dial and then it closes back again when you leave it and the watch turns into a bracelet. This is what understated luxury means.

And on that note, it’s a wrap to Watches And Wonders 2023. See you next year!