With just under 50 manufacturers displaying their new releases in whimsically designed booths, Watches and Wonders turns Geneva’s Palexpo into a miniature city of horological intrigue.
When the C + T Team attended the show, we saw the good, we saw the mediocre, we saw the expected, and we also saw the bad. But we also saw the sublime – pieces that made us forget about the bad altogether, and pieces that either took us by surprise in-the-metal or simply delivered perfectly on the promise of their press photos. Some of these choices are a bit obvious, some divisive, and others unexpected, but these are the top 10 watches the C + T Team saw at Watches and Wonders 2023.
The Cartier Tank Normale – This watch was without-a-doubt the piece that captured the lion’s share of buzz at Watches and Wonders 2023. An elegant, but bold take on a rare and important piece from Cartier’s archive, from the proportions to the fine details and finishing, everyone we interacted with at the show seemed to really love the Tank Normale. From the perspective of C + T’s COO, Tyler Vanes, “With the Tank Normale, Cartier gave enthusiasts exactly what they wanted.”
The Tudor Black Bay 54 – This one should be unsurprising to anyone that’s followed Craft + Tailored for any period of time, but Tudor producing a modern day version of the venerable “Small Crown” Sub in a 37mm case is a huge, huge win for vintage enthusiasts looking for modern reliability. C + T CEO, Cameron Barr, says of the Black Bay 54 “You see early Rolex Submariner and early Tudor Submariner lineage in a really direct way. The elements they pulled from Tudor’s past really uplifts the 54’s design.”
The Rolex “Celebration” Dial Oyster Perpetual – The “Celebration” dial Oyster Perpetual was a watch that certainly divided opinion, but the majority of the C + T Team fell in love with its playful and colorful dial when seen in-person. For Tyler’s money, the “Celebration” dial OP “succeeds for me in that it’s not taking itself too seriously, and I think it’s cool to see the Rolex design house, which is usually super strict and stays in its box, breaking free and having some fun. That’s a big deal.”
The Updated Rolex Daytona – The many updates to Rolex’s halo sports watch may seem small on paper, but they add up to make a much more refined watch in-person. This piece feels slimmed, honed, and just a bit more classic relative to its direct predecessor. We still think the Crown could’ve done more to celebrate this unbearably important watch’s 60th anniversary, but we’ll gladly take the updates.
The Rolex Yacht-Master in Titanium – This was a surprisingly special piece, and one that we think has been unfairly lost in the noise surrounding Rolex releases like the horrendous “Puzzle” dial Day-Date. Rendering the Yacht-Master in titanium delivers this watch from an oddity in the modern Rolex line to a proper modern sports watch that we think blends Rolex’s DNA as a innovator, and melds the brand’s classic and modern aesthetics brilliantly. Now if we could only scale that case size down a bit from 42mm.
The IWC Ingenieur Reissue – It feels like everyone has had Genta fever for a number of years now and the big news from IWC this year was the release of a model that pays homage to the ‘70s Ingenieur SL, a Genta design that in many ways completed his great trio of integrated bracelet works – alongside the AP Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus. The Ingenieur certainly has its own personality and is in many ways has the most accessible aesthetic of the trio, and the reissue’s finishing and design tweaks are truly fabulous in-the-metal.
The Cartier Tank Louis Cartier “Brick” Dial – You’d be forgiven for missing this piece amid the fuss being made over the Tank Normale, but the Tank Louis Cartier with the “Brick” dial (as we’re calling it) was an absolute stunner in-person. C + T Senior Editor, David Von Bader, says of the watch “It represented the rare occasion when a watch dial can be patterned and bold, but not childish or overtly goofy. Pure class from Cartier per usual.
The Tag-Heuer Carrera Reissue – Rolex wasn’t the only marque to celebrate the 60th anniversary of an iconic chronograph this year, but when Tag-Heuer decides to pay homage to a legendary piece from its past, they really know how to speak to the enthusiast market by packing in as much of the original’s spirit into a modern iteration as possible. For the 60th anniversary of the Carrera, Tag-Heuer released a modern take on the beloved ref. 2447SN; slightly larger at 39mm, but with plenty of vintage appeal, this watch is a masterclass in how to do modern reissues.
The Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date – This watch is everything we love about modern Vacheron. Beyond the fabulous complications, it’s really just a stunner to look at. There’s something very, very special about the way that salmon dial looks within this watch’s platinum case, the way the blue text works against that lustrous salmon color, and in a world where most modern watch brands can’t seem to get their typeface game, the understated and elegant fonts used on this watch’s dial feel like an unexpected success.
The Trilobe Nuit Fantastique with Dune-colored Dial – We’re big fans of Trilobe here at C + T and we appreciate this brand’s unexpected take on watchmaking deeply. Every single watch that Trilobe brought to Watches and Wonders felt like a unique marvel, but we were all particularly taken by the Nuit Fantastique in the Dune colorway. It’s a striking watch, a piece that will undoubtedly light up eyes at the local watch hang, and makes innovative, painfully detail-focused, and truly magical independent watchmaking relatively affordable.
Trilobe Nuit Fantastique photo by Trilobe
Check out 'Reference Tracks' our Spotify playlist. We’ll take you through what’s been spinning on the black circle at the C + T offices.
Sign up for our newsletter to receive updates and exclusive offers