Watches & Wonders returned in April 2024 with a flurry of activity from the world's biggest watch brands, laying out the roadmap for this year's most important releases. 

In many ways, you can expect much of the same from your favourite names in horology – whether that's Rolex and Patek Philippe, or Vacheron Constantin and Cartier – including a bevy of fresh new dials, a rebooted collection here and there, and maybe the odd surprise along the way.

One thing is for sure, though, every watch fan worth their salt has their eyes peeled for the best in show. 

This year is not quite as exuberant as 2023's Kermit the Frog and emoji-inspired frivolity, but if things feel less fun, that's because the abiding trend of 2024 appears to be consolidation and refinement – two facets that mean your next watch might just be the best yet.  

Here are our standouts…

Patek Philippe

World Time Ref 5330G

The World Time Ref 5330G isn’t a new model in the strictest sense – it comes hot on the heels of a limited-edition model 5330G unveiled at last year's Tokyo Grand Exhibition – but it is the first reference to make its way into general production, and it's a real beauty.

Originally invented by Swiss watchmaker Louis Cottier in 1931, the world time complication has become a signature of Patek Philippe’s over the years. The ability to select from 24 different time zones on the same watch is, of course, an exceptionally handy travel tool, but Patek has transformed this practical complication into an exhibition for some of its finest craftsmanship and knowhow.

This latest reference is a case in point: Patek has managed to incorporate an ingenious date indication into the 5330G’s dial, without even slightly inhibiting the display.

On first view, the red tip highlighting the date appears to be suspended in midair, but is in fact affixed to a transparent glass hand that stretches out from the centre of the dial.

But the really clever innovation is that the patented date display is synchronised with the local time, which means that it automatically adjusts backwards and forwards as the wearer navigates different time zones.

In other words, should you find yourself flying from Tokyo (GMT+9) in the morning to Hawaii (GMT-10), with just a few pushes your watch will not only let you know the time, but that you have travelled back a day in the calendar.

More than its functionality, the 5330G is also a knockout in the looks department. It features a cool blue-grey opaline dial with an engraved ‘carbon’ pattern at its centre, and comes on a quite striking denim-style calfskin strap, which dresses down the watch into something that could almost be deemed smart casual – quite appropriate as a travel companion, I suppose.

Patek has made the world time complication its own over the years, but its latest iteration proves that it still has a thing or two up its sleeve.

A Lange & Söhne

Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold “Lumen”

It’s been 25 years since A Lange & Söhne introduced the Datograph to the world. As the name suggests, it combines two powerhouse complications, an outsize date and a flyback chronograph. At the time, fellow watchmakers were floored by its intricate movement architecture and elegant complication – and to this day it represents one of the finest examples of a chronograph you’ll find anywhere. Now, the Datograph is back in a brand-new guise featuring all the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect from the definitive Saxon brand.

This stunner combines a flyback chronograph with a precise jumping minute counter, a perpetual calendar and a tourbillon with a stop-seconds mechanism.

It shares its DNA with a 2016 Perpetual Tourbillon model, but this year’s 50-piece limited edition features several eye-catching novelties.

For one, the Datograph is dressed in the Lange-exclusive Honeygold proprietary metal for the first time, but even more exciting is the fact that it comes with the watchmaker’s unique “Lumen” treatment – a semi-transparent smoky sapphire dial showcasing the inner workings of the movement, with layers of SuperLuminova coating applied to several of the watch’s main disks for optimal low-light viewing.

It’s the most complicated “Lumen” model so far and also the most expensive (around €620k, thanks for asking), but boy is it a showstopper. Just don’t call it a skeleton watch: this is Lange pulling back the curtain to reveal just a little of its magic.


Perpetual 1908

In the melee of last year’s audacious Rolex releases – looking at you, Day Date “Emoji” Puzzle Dial – it would be fair to say that the launch of the Perpetual 1908 collection wasn’t greeted with the fanfare that it perhaps deserved.

After all, this is an entirely new collection, the first since the launch of the Sky-Dweller in 2012, and sees the Crown flex slightly different muscles to its typical tool watch sweet spot. I, for one, came out of Watches & Wonders delighted to see Rolex tackle a traditional dress watch, but it seemed that many of my esteemed colleagues were much more excited to discuss the virtues of the Oyster Perpetual “Celebration Dial” or the RLX titanium encased Yacht-Master.

Anecdotally, I’ve heard it mentioned that the austere dial, inspired by a 1931 reference, left some wearers cold. It’s undoubtedly on the minimalist side of the coin, but perhaps it compared unfavourably in a year dominated by brightly coloured dials and material innovation.

Whether warranted or not, it appears that Rolex has been paying attention to its detractors as its latest addition to the Perpetual 1908 collection sees the introduction of a rice-grain guilloché pattern engraved into an icy blue dial – naturally matched with 950 platinum. Just in case this weren’t sufficient, there’s a different pattern outside the minute track for additional aesthetic intrigue.

In all, it’s a very pretty looking thing, glint and glistening in the faux-light of the Rolex booth, but no doubt even more striking in the sunlight. Regardless, it feels like Rolex has struck upon a firm direction upon which to build the Perpetual 1908 collection: Rolex meets traditional watches meets classic watchmaking techniques.

With that in mind, I’ll add my one pedantic little quibble: I’d love to see Rolex going the whole hog with some hand guilloche, rather than relying on machine engraving.

Under that gorgeous dial, you can expect to find the Calibre 7140 movement, which boasts Rolex’s typical ‘Superlative Chronometer’ status. Each watch undergoes a series of special final controls, conducted by the watchmaker in its own laboratories, to ensure every timepiece meets the Rolex criteria for precision (−2/+2 seconds per day), power reserve (66 hours), and waterproofness.

For good measure, you can see the movement through the sapphire caseback – one of the only watches in the catalogue to feature one – and is topped by a 22ct gold oscillating weight. This might be an atypical Rolex, but it’s typical in its attention to detail.

Grand Seiko

Birch Bark Titanium Hi-Beat SLGW003

There is no name in the mainstream watch space who can compete with Grand Seiko’s magnificent dials; it’s reason alone to invest in the brand. But the new ‘Birch Bark’, featuring a horizontal wood-like pattern not too dissimilar to the wildly popular ‘White Birch’ model released in 2021, is much more than just a pretty face. In fact, it’s unique among Grand Seiko’s modern references in that it features the watchmaker’s first hand-wound high-beat movement in more than 50 years.

Created and assembled at Studio Shizukuishi, Grand Seiko’s boutique mechanical watch facility in the Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan, the Calibre 9SA4 boasts all the performance features of the other movements in the 9S lineup, with the addition of the pleasing tactile click of the winding crown that powers the watch. In other words, it’s the perfect confluence of traditional and modern watchmaking.

Chief among its notable features is the Dual Impulse Escapement at the heart of the Calibre 9SA4, which is more efficient than a traditional watch escapement, alongside two barrels that altogether supply enough power to allow for ten beats per second while also delivering an 80-hour power  reserve.

For an added bonus, this is also the only current production piece outside of the high complication (and high price tag…) Kodo to be finished in brand’s proprietary Brilliant Hard Titanium, which features a brighter finish than stainless steel despite titanium usually being more muted in presentation, and comes with increased corrosion resistance and a lighter weight.

During my visit to Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi in 2023, I met with movement designer Hisashi Fujieda who talked about his focus not only on precision watchmaking, but also the pursuit of uniqueness. Yet again, it appears that Grand Seiko has found the answer.

Vacheron Constantin

Patrimony Retrograde Moonphase

Vacheron Constantin’s Patrimony collection is so timeless that you’d be forgiven for thinking it has been around forever, but in fact these minimalist dress watches were launched in 2004. To celebrate turning 20 years old, the collection has been revamped with a new core range, including two manual-wind time-only pieces in precious metal featuring a new 39mm case size (a hair smaller than previous), and a charming 41mm model with a retrograde date and moonphase complication.

The retrograde date is such a pleasant complication, the blue date hand sweeping across the top of the dial before jumping back to the start at the first of the month. It’s an elegant solution that comes with the added benefit of leaving additional real estate elsewhere on the dial – which Vacheron has utilised to include a moonphase display.

This being Vacheron, the precision of its moonphase complication accounts for the idiosyncratic nature of the lunar cycle – taking exactly 29 days, 12 hours, and 45 minutes to complete – and means that the display requires a single manual correction once every 122 years. It’s also worth noting the lovely shade of blue that Vacheron has used for its night sky; a little lighter than the average moonphase and all the better for it.

The watchmaker has plumped for a warm sunburst silver-toned dial with pink gold indices and pearl minute track, alongside a contrasting olive green strap. It oozes all of that vintage 1950s minimalism that the Patrimony does so well with a slightly fresher look.


Duometre Chronograph Moon

The Duometre collection is something of an unsung hero in Jaeger-LeCoultre’s ranks. Sure, it doesn’t have the iconic silhouette or history of the Reverso, nor the everyday practicality of the Master Control, but it showcases the kind of compelling horological ingenuity that has given the Swiss brand the unofficial title of ‘watchmaker’s watchmaker’.

First invented by the brand in 2007, the patented Duometre mechanism solves a problem that had been bugging Jaeger-LeCoultre for years. Simply put, high complication watches all suffer from a degree of timekeeping issues due to the fact they draw power from the same mainspring barrel that feeds the escapement. In other words, activating a chronograph, a calendar or a minute repeater function, disrupts the regular energy supply required for the watch to keep time as precisely as possible and also drains the power reserve.

The patented Duometre circumvents this issue by isolating the timekeeping and complication functions from one another by utilising two separate barrels and two independent gear trains, and then integrating them into a single calibre and escapement. It’s a mighty clever piece of problem solving.

Sixteen years after its initial release, Jaeger-LeCoultre has returned with two brand-new Duometre models for 2024, with the Chronograph Moon being our pick of the bunch. Featuring the new calibre 391, it combines a chronograph, moonphase, day-night indicator, and flying seconds complications all in the confines of the 42.5mm x 14.2mm timepiece. The latter complication, also known as the seconde foudroyante, runs when the chronograph is engaged and allows for a reading accurate to an impressive 1/6th of a second.

The two barrels, each boasting a power reserve of 50 hours, are wound in a novel manner – turn the crown one way to wind one, or the reverse to wind the other – and include a ratchet system that engages to prevent over-winding.

The case itself that houses the new movement has been redesigned. It’s larger than previous renditions by 0.5mm, the increase in size aided by curved lugs that are shaped to comfortably fit any wrist, but it features a charming neo-vintage design inspired by the savonette pocket watches that Jaeger-LeCoultre used to make in the 19th century. In French, a savonette is a small disc of soap, and the smooth rounded contours work particularly well on this model.

The Duometre’s idiosyncratic three-counter layout is busy but far from illegible. On the left you have the timekeeping function alongside the day-night indicator; on the right, you’ll find the 60-minute and 12-hour counters of the chronograph, as well as the moonphase; and sitting above 6 o’clock you’ll find the flying seconds indicator, flanked on either side by two cut-outs that reveal both the movement and the two separate power reserve indicators. The chronograph seconds and seconds hands sweep across the dial from the centre. It’s undoubtedly a lot of information, but therein lies the beauty of the Duometre’s mechanism – and when I say beauty, I mean flip this bad boy over and drool over the high-level of finishing Jaeger-LeCoultre has applied to every facet of the calibre.

There are two references to choose from, including a rose gold variation with an opaline dial, but for a hefty premium I’d be inclined to plump for the platinum iteration that’s complemented by a warm copper dial. If we’re going all out here, let’s go the whole hog.

Roger Dubuis

Orbis in Machina

I’m going to start at the finish: this is my favourite Roger Dubuis release in years.

For me, it exudes that certain spark of irreverence, a cheeky sense of subversive haute horlogerie reminiscent of the late Roger Dubuis’ own approach to watchmaking, which has perhaps been missing from some of the brand’s more bombastic pieces in previous years. When the team revealed the Orbis in Machina to me in the brand’s booth at Watches & Wonders, I giggled like a teenager that had just been handed his first nudey mag – it’s just so darn fun. OK, it’s not silly fun, but it boasts the kind of horological flamboyance that gets people like me excited. All credit to Gregory Bruttin, RD’s strategic product director, who seems to be going from strength to strength with every new release at the moment.

So what are we looking at then? The Orbis in Machina (what a name!) is a series of concentric circles radiating out from the centralised one-minute flying tourbillon. Think of it as the seconds, minutes and hours orbiting around the monotourbillon, hence the orbis name, and it begins to make sense: you have the seconds hand affixed to the tourbillon cage itself, then there’s a rotating disc for the minutes and an outer disc for the hours. It takes a little bit of time to get used to reading the display, but it’s pleasingly neat, in an avant garde sort of way.

There are loads of lovely details to enjoy here: the Poinçon de Genève stamp hiding on a movement bridge just to the left of the crown, the little ‘W’ or ‘S’ mode indicator highlighting whether the crown is primed for winding or setting (a novel feature in its own right), and the crown-shaped crown. But the real majesty is to be found when you flip the watch over to take a look at the movement through the exhibition caseback.

Gosh, it’s pretty. In marvellous contrast to the steampunk-like futurism of the dial itself, the movement is a sumptuous throwback to old-school horology at its finest. The gleaming decorated movement architecture is dominated by the large golden median wheel, which drives the pinion of the centrally mounted tourbillon, with an equally vast mainspring barrel (supplying 72 hours of power reserve) positioned beneath and to the right. It’s strikingly executed.

The previously mentioned Poinçon de Genève, or Geneva Seal, is a certificate awarded to only the very best decorated watches, and its position on both sides of the Orbis in Machina watch is testament to Roger Dubuis’ pride in how carefully the watch has been finished. The razor-sharp bevelling, the see-your-face-in-it mirror polishing, the distinctive Côtes de Genève patterning, every conceivable part has been meticulously decorated.

Yes, the watch is a brutish 45mm x 14.4mm on the wrist. Yes, it’s £191,500 and limited to 88 pieces. But there’s great joy to be found in this watch: the very best of contemporary and classic watchmaking somehow, improbably, bundled into one extravagant piece.

Parmigiani Fleurier 

Toric Petite Seconde

Parmigiani Fleurier continues to go from strength to strength following the arrival of CEO Guido Terreni in January 2021. The brand has reinvented itself as a modern expression of elegant classical watchmaking and it’s paying off: last year represented the best ever return for the brand, established in 1996, with revenue up five-times since 2020.

The relaunch of the oh-so gorgeous Toric Petite Second is typical of the new-look brand. The collection, a favourite of His Majesty King Charles III, is the latest to see its innate classicism brought up to date, and the results speak for themselves; it’s sumptuous, understated luxury at its very best.

Founder Michel Parmigiani, who is still a guiding hand in the design process, specified that the Toric should be an exhibition in gold and platinum. The case is 18ct gold, the gold-plated dial is brushed with gold to create a pleasing grainy texture, and even the movement is gold (a rare sight in the modern era outside of the artisanal offering of FP Journe). But it’s the little touches that elevate this watch into the stratosphere. The convex, pie pan-style dial that creates depth, the line of applied gold framing the small seconds subdial and the minute track, and of course the coin-edged bezel that has been a feature of the Toric collection from its advent.

This is to say nothing of the platinum offering, with one of the finest shades of green on show at this year’s Watches & Wonders, nor the mastery of the micro-rotor movement you’ll enjoy if you flip the watch over – the pin buckle strap has been specifically chosen over a folding clasp so you can stare lovingly into the sapphire case back unencumbered.

There are plenty of watches that shout louder at this year’s show, but few that speak with such pointed intent. Hats off, Parmigiani.


Black Bay 58 GMT

You don’t need me to tell you the Black Bay has been the backbone of Tudor’s meteoric rise since it was first introduced in 2012, but it shows no sign of slowing down creatively with the launch of the Black Bay 58 GMT. Fans have been begging for a GMT complication in the BB58 lineup for years – Tudor’s smaller, more vintage-leaning model that joined the lineup six years ago – and the watchmaker has finally delivered in compelling fashion.

The big story here is the inclusion of the METAS-certified Master Chronometer MT5450-U movement at the heart of the watch. Last year’s grand opening of Tudor’s state-of-the-art manufacture in Le Locle has brought with it an ambitious commitment to upgrading its collections to include the Master Chronometer certification – this model is merely the next step on that journey. Carried out by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology, who have a designated floor at Tudor’s new manufacture, the process examines build quality and movement function through a series of gruelling tests to guarantee a timepiece can handle the rigours of everyday life on the wrist.

Unlike the COSC certification (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres) that you may have come across before, METAS examines fully assembled watches, not simply the movement, has stricter accuracy parameters, and also tests water resistance and anti-magnetism attributes for a more encompassing view of a watch’s capabilities. In other words, there’s no place to hide for a watch lacking performance, and the BB58 GMT steps up. The actual specs include a 4Hz movement with an accuracy of -2/+4 seconds and power reserve of 65 hours a day. Add to the mix a 200m water resistance and magnetic resistance to 15,000 gauss, and you’re looking at a heavy hitter.

Tudor has opted for a particularly rich shade of burgundy on its red-black ‘Coke’ 24-hour bezel (I’m not a fan of the obsession with naming colourways, but alas, some names stick) and has paired it with gilt-effect numerals and accents on the matte black dial for added vintage flair. It’s a lovely combination that looks absolutely fantastic in the metal. But, perhaps more importantly, wears fantastically well, too. This is because the brand has managed to squeeze that new MT5450-U movement into a case size that is only 0.9mm thicker than the standard BB58, 39mm case and 12.8mm in depth to be precise. Consider that both the Black Bay GMT and the Black Bay Pro are both a heftier 14.6mm thick and this achievement starts to look quietly impressive.

It’s been 12 years since the name Black Bay first entered watch collecting parlance, but Tudor continues to evolve its flagship collection that would make big brother Rolex proud. Coming in at £3,770 on a rubber strap, the BB58 GMT would have strong claims for being the best value watch under the £5k price point. Period.


25H Minute Repeater

Any fashion house brave enough to enter the high-end watch market finds themselves thrown into a long and bloody battle to be taken seriously. It would seem for a certain kind of vociferous watchmaker that credibility is earned through years of heritage rather than quality of product, but the truth is that while some may scoff at the notion that a pretender from the world of fashion could possibly understand the intricacies of haute horlogerie, the last decade has proven that a number of names are up to the task. Now, Gucci might not be the first brand you think of given this preface – and, sure, the Hermés and Chanel’s of this world have certainly gained more traction of late – but if this year’s novelties are anything to go by, you’re going to be hearing a lot more from the Italian giant in the years to come.

Gucci’s watch credentials are stronger than many of its fellow fashion labels, with a history of making watches dating back to the 1970s, but in 2020 the Florentine brand made a play for a new watchmaking journey that has seen upwards of 40 new references released in the intervening years, as well as the unveiling of the Gucci Watch Lab, a 9,000 sq m renovated workshop in Cortaillod, Switzerland, that houses 150 employees. Add into the mix the significant time and financial investment into property, machinery, R&D, and not least the skilled artisans to actually design and assemble the watches, and this isn’t a brand playing watchmaker for fun. This is a serious operation that has grown up in an impressive period of time.

The proof of its potential can now be seen in all its glory in the new 25H Minute Repeater, the undeniable star of its Watches & Wonders 2024 releases. I’ll admit to being absolutely floored when I first saw the timepiece. For a fashion house with ostensibly four years worth of development in high-end watchmaking to pull off arguably the single-most difficult complication to execute in the way that it has? That’s seriously impressive stuff. But perhaps even now I’m selling it short, because it doesn’t need any caveat, this is simply an exciting watch with a bold and unique design.

The genius of the 25H Minute Repeater is perhaps in what it doesn’t have as much as what it does. Gucci has dispensed with the need for a crown-operated minute repeater, instead utilising the bezel itself to activate the mechanism: simply rotate the bezel 30 degrees and you will activate the chime. It’s a novel and absolutely charming approach to this staunchly traditional complication. It’s also a very clever piece of horological problem solving.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. Atop the skeletonised dial, you will find a flying tourbillon topped with the Gucci motif and an abstract outer ring that encompasses Roman numerals at 12, three and nine, as well as a series of rather odd-looking shapes. As it transpires, this is far from a random pattern and instead is inspired by the visual representation of the hammer sound when it hits the gongs in the minute repeater, otherwise known as the study of cymatics. It’s all brilliantly bonkers – and, yet, crucially doesn’t compromise in the slightest when it comes to the watchmaking.

The traditionalists may not like it, but Gucci is firmly staking its claim for horological legitimacy, and it’s high time that the industry wakes up to what an excellent job the Italian label is doing in its early development.