Watches and Wonders roundup (part 1 of 4)

The watch industry is celebrating 2024 with a rich multitude of timekeeping marvels. Origins and anniversaries have been a major theme, though vintage flair and nostalgia aren’t the only factors defining watches. This year’s best new models prove the centuries-old industry is still experimenting and continuing to push bold, fresh and forward-looking ideas. Stephenie Gee reports

A. Lange & Söhne

This is the year of the Datograph. First introduced in 1999, A. Lange & Söhne’s flagship chronograph turns a quarter-century old this year and the Glashütte-based watchmaker
is marking the occasion with a pair of limited editions. The Datograph Up/Down is now available in 18k white gold with a deep blue dial, which contrasts crisply with the rhodié-coloured subdials and luminous hands and baton hour markers. The watch is powered by the in-house mechanical hand-wound calibre L951.6, which comprises 451 parts, and is assembled twice and meticulously finished in typical Lange fashion.

But it’s the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold “Lumen” that really stands out. The sixth in
the Lumen series and only the second in Honeygold (the brand’s proprietary gold alloy), the watch case measures 41.5mm in diameter, its warm glow complementing the smoked sapphire crystal dial that subtly exposes the inner workings of its movement. The day, date, month and chronograph subdials are coated in a luminous pigment so intense that it casts light onto the minute and tachymeter scales as well. The movement is arguably even more visually impressive than the dial, and flipping the watch over reveals an unobstructed view of the L952.4 manufacture calibre, which sits on full display through the sapphire window in the case back, ticking at 18,000 semi-oscillations per hour. The Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold “Lumen” is limited to 50 watches and the Datograph Up/Down to 125.

Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet took as an opportunity the opening of their new AP House in Milan to unveil its 2024 novelties, which include captivating additions to its iconic Royal Oak family that play with new colours, materials, mechanics and displays; and seven new Code 11.59s all in 18k pink gold to celebrate the line’s five-year anniversary.

Leading the lineup is none other than John Mayer’s new QP. Serving as the swansong to AP’s Calibre 5134, the 200-piece 41mm Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar is fashioned from 18k white gold and houses a deep blue textured dial the brand calls “Crystal Sky”. Aside from the new dial pattern, Mayer added other subtle modifications such as replacing the customary red “31” on the date indication with a white one that’s smaller and stepped. He also opted for a light blue week indicator with the idea it could fade from view until the rare occasion it’s needed.

Also worth a mention is the new Royal Oak Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon Open worked in 41mm, which marks the debut of sand gold, an innovative 18k gold alloy imbued with captivating light reflections. After all, it’s not often you see a new suffix at the end of a reference for a new material. In order to achieve this sandy hue, silver was removed from the gold mix and replaced with palladium.

Baume & Mercier

After celebrating its 50th anniversary last year, the Geneva-based watchmaker continues the evolution of its iconic Riviera line with an array of new models that cover a gamut of striking colours, materials and features, while paying homage to one of the many facets of the sea resort that gave rise to it.

Evocative of the azure tones and mineral solidity of the region, the Riviera Acier-Titane is equipped with a dodecagonal sandblasted steel case and a striking smoky blue wave motif dial. Encased in a 39mm pink gold case with a black smoked sapphire dial, the Riviera Gold captures the transition from day to night. The Riviera Squelette stands on its own with a black openworked dial inspired by the streamlined architecture of the modern villas on the Riviera, revealing the skeletonised automatic-winding Sellita AMT2500 movement within. The Riviera Tideograph presents an unusual complication that lends function to its name – a tide indicator.

Baume & Mercier has expanded the scope of its other product families, too, like the Classima, Clifton and Hampton. Of note are the two new editions of the Clifton Baumatic Moon Phase, finished with gorgeous vignette blue or grey dials combined with either rhodium-plated or gilded dial furniture, and powered by the in-house Baumatic calibre.

Bell & Ross

For the first time, Bell & Ross is introducing black ceramic to its treasured BR 05 collection with three new time-only models. Because black makes objects appear smaller, Bell & Ross creative director and co- founder Bruno Belamich decided to up the case diameter from 40mm to 41mm to maintain their powerful presence.

Permanent additions, the BR 05 Black Ceramic and the BR 05 Skeleton Black Ceramic boast a combination of satin-finishing and polishing. The former presents a shiny black sunburst dial, while the latter features a tinted transparent dial. Limited to 500 pieces, the BR 05 Skeleton Black Lum Ceramic’s semi-transparent dial is crafted from black smoked sapphire crystal, adorned with skeletonised hands and applied indices treated with green-emitting Super-LumiNova C5.

Combining materials and colours, the new BR 05 Chrono Grey Steel & Gold comes in a 42mm case machined from steel with an 18k rose gold bezel and central links. Inside, the BR-CAL.326 self-winding movement operates at 28,800 vibrations per hour, offering an impressive 60-hour power reserve.

Bell & Ross is also offering a core material upgrade to its ever- popular BR-X5, now realised in titanium for comfort and improved resilience. The dial packs in loads of details but remains exceptionally legible thanks to a generous amount of white luminescent coating and the proportionate layout of its myriad displays.


No birthday is complete without balloons. So, Breitling is celebrating 140 years with the Aerospace B70 Orbiter, a double anniversary release also marking the 25th anniversary of the first nonstop balloon flight around the world by the Breitling Orbiter 3 balloon. This milestone achievement, which took place on March 21, 1999, was a defining moment not only in aviation history but also in the annals of human exploration.

Attired in a 43mm titanium case, the reference features a bright orange dial that recalls the paint job for the original Orbiter 3 capsule and has a piece of the original balloon embedded within its case back. Unlike previous generations, the new Aerospace runs on the COSC-certified Breitling Manufacture Calibre B70, which offers an assortment of functions that include a 1/100th of a second chronograph, a countdown timer, second time zone, two alarms, lap timer and perpetual calendar.

An icon of aviation watch history and of Breitling watchmaking, the Navitimer collection also introduces new additions, including a limited-edition Navitimer B12 Chronograph 41 Cosmonaute with automatic winding and a red gold case; the three-hand Navitimer Automatic 41; and the Navitimer GMT 41, featuring an additional 24-hour scale and a date opening displayed at 6 o’clock.


The year 2024 marks 140 years and a new world record for Bvlgari. Measuring just 1.7mm in thickness, the Roman watchmaker’s newest imagining of the Octo Finissimo Ultra is the world’s thinnest mechanical watch and COSC chronometer to date, beating out Richard Mille’s 2022 efforts by a mere 0.05mm. Its slimness is achieved by doing away with the normal case and movement construction of a conventional watch. Instead, all 170 components that make up the manually wound BVL180 manufacture calibre are fixed directly onto the tungsten carbide case back. The octagonal case is made of sandblasted titanium and at 40mm in diameter, has a wide stance on the wrist. There are only 20 models made, each of which comes with a case that automatically sets and winds the watch.

For the brand’s 140th anniversary, the sketch dial makes a comeback. This time, the illustration reveals the movement’s back in lieu of the dial, as if you were admiring the watch through an open case back. The Octo Finissimo Automatic Sketch is released in a limited edition of 280 pieces in steel and 70 in
rose gold, while the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Sketch is limited to just 140 pieces.

On the more feminine side of the fence, the Serpenti Tubogas has for the first time been entrusted to an outside artist, famed Japanese architect Tadao Ando. This creative partnership consists of four limited-edition references, each infused with the essence of the seasons to capture the splendour of the natural world.


For Watches and Wonders 2024, Cartier leaned into its reputation as “the watchmaker of shapes” with an array of updates on its unique forms. The eighth opus in the Privé collection – the avenue through which Cartier explores models from its past – the 1912 Tortue is revived in two arresting executions.
First introduced in 1928 then famously commissioned in 1998 as part of Cartier’s now-discontinued CPCP line, the monopoussoir chronograph is reinterpreted in platinum or yellow gold with blued-steel apple-shaped hands, a hollowed-out central seconds hand and triangular motifs on the four corners of the dial. Both watches are driven by a movement just 4.3mm thick (the thinnest chronograph in the maison’s armoury), activated by the cabochon-topped crown. The collection is completed with a trio of Hours/Minutes models, one that is diamond-set.

Alongside the Dual Time, a large steel automatic capable of tracking dual time zones, the three-handed Santos de Cartier range expands with new colourways, most notably a delicious pair of chocolate browns. There’s a lot to like in the Santos-Dumont, too. There’s a colourful trilogy of pieces in green, blue and grey, with cases in platinum, rose gold and yellow gold, respectively. The green is especially coveted, as is the Santos- Dumont Rewind, a watch that, like the name suggests, runs backwards.

On the jewelled side, the new Reflection de Cartier earns its name from the two terminal points of this open bracelet. One is set with a dial, and the other is highly polished to offer a distortion-free reflection. Cartier also expanded its animal-inspired creations with tigers, zebras, crocodiles and, of course, panthers.

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