Discover the newest watch fair in horology, Geneva Watch Days, showcasing a selection of leading brands with Editor-in-Chief, Scarlett Baker who embarked on her first experience in the watch industry, getting to grips exactly how brands are targeting the younger generation.
You don’t have to be fully acquainted with the world of watchmaking to know that, much like the fashion industry traditionally occupies the lands of Milan and Paris, Geneva is the heart of it. Much like my acquaintance with the euphoria and chaos of fashion week, my first experience of Geneva Watch Days, a fashion week of sorts for the watchmaking world provided an intimate up-close relationship with collections for the new season. Except, rather than view these new and pioneering iterations from a far, parading along a catwalk, you can hold these neat pinnacles of modernity in your very own hands.
Entering the world of horology as a novice, Geneva Watch Days, a decentralized and self-managed multibrand watch to discover the latest novelties brings together an audience of makers and consumers alike from across the globe to celebrate the union between heritage and avant-garde. Prior to my introduction to this world, my perception of a watch was based purely on aesthetic value, and admittedly, with little thought for the story of this mechanical vessels. But through small-scale events like Geneva Watch Days, playing host to around 20 brands that are reflecting the values of the future, the precedence of ecological commitment and the artistry behind this enigmatic industry.
It comes a no surprise that the way in which a new pair of eyes, unaccustomed to the nuances of watchmaking, view a timepiece in a drastically different manner tho the afficiondos. But through these immersive events that remind us how quintessial touch and tangibility are to the society of watchmaking, I was able to witness just how much these objects we place on our wrists are more than an aesthetic statement, but carriers of history, mindblowing precision and more importantly, a tale of human magnificence.
As I walked across the titular Swiss city and met with collectors, exhibitors, first-time enthusiasts and watchmakers alike, through the eyes of a newbie, explore the new wave of wristwatches that are striving to make this often exclusive and misunderstood industry a place for the next generation to inhabit as their own and bring change to what it really means in the modern age to own a watch.
Epitomising new-school watchmaking, Bomberg is staging a rebellion by combining Swiss engineering with provocative models that capture the spirit of subversive consumers looking to break the mould of tradition. Titled the BB-01 Automatic Cure the BullDog, the revolutionary model features 100% natural CBD leaves in the watch dial and US-sourced hemp in the strap.
Fusing the cannabis compound with traditional mechanical structure – the world’s first ever watch containing 100% natural CBD with 0% THC – Bomberg makes a case for thinking outside of the watch to create something unexpected. The antithesis of understated, the 43-mm diameter case offers a bold statement, while underpinned with a more philanthropic purpose, nodding towards the restorative effects of CBD as medicinal treatment. Turning time, and turning heads.
The most surprising concept you quickly learn in the watchmaking industry is that wearing a watch isn’t as simple as telling time anymore. Rather, it’s about telling it in different ways. Meet Urwerk, designed by watchamker Felix Baumgartner and artist Martin Frei, offering alternative solutions to temporality, where time is no longer perceived as a simple rotating circle.
Drawing on what they love most, the world of sci-fi with numerous jibes to Star Wars and Star Trek, the duo pitch themselves as advocates for monitoring time in more idiosyncratic ways, no longer as a linear concept. Take a round watchface for instance. You can wind to the past, and fast forward to the future, with each and every minute and hour in constant display. At Urwerk, it’s all about the present day, perceived through their ‘jumping hour’ technique, with only one hour in view, and a hand that flips between 0-60.
At Urwerk, making a watch isn’t simply about producing new models that improve upon the past. It’s about totally reconstructing the physical composition of what we know and what we call a wristwatch.
With the forecast that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, there’s no time like the present. We’re conditioned into associating luxury and waste as two separate binaries, reluctant to view them in unison. Which is why at Oris, the Swiss manufacturers launched the Oris Aquis Date Upcycle, a unique watch using waste PET plastics to create a one-of-a kind dial. By compressing scraps of rubbish, no two watch face is the same, with alternative hues from model to model.
It comes as Oris announced their promise to deliver a full sustainability report in 2022, showcasing their ecological commitment to better an industry that has been slow to embrace the need for change. In doing so, Oris sets the tone for a new meaning of waste, that combined with the dexterous engineering of Swiss manufacturers, means the production of a high-quality object with a long shelf life. So what does this mean for the next generation of watch buyers? Well, it means you can find exclusivity and an eco-friendly conscience all in the staggering space of 41.5 and 36.5mm. A tiny canvas, but a large scope for the future of greener watchmaking.
H. MOSER & CIE.
While the future of streetwear might be up for debate, with its contemporary lord and master, Virgil Abloh, calling the end, the cultural phenomenon brought with it the by-product of logomania where brand idenity almost superceding the purpose and the value of the object.
But not for H. Moser & Cie. Building watch models based on the pocketwatch, producing a vintage-inspired range, what sets the brand apart from the noise of its competitors is their subtlety. Offering understated luxury, the brand, founded in 1828, offers a more adroit approach for their minimalist design. With all movements made in house, the emphasis is placed on doing things at a high quality rather than boasting their identity. Etched in a transparent engraving sits the brand logo – which can onl be viewed in certain light – an evolution from their earlier concept models with no branding at all, their trademark is ironically the lack of branding. It’s about the simple semantics of doing something simple, and doing it well.
From the art of unembellishment to the opposite end of the spectrum, Greubel Forsey marks a space for extroverted and action-packed watches that make you question just exatly how so much delicate engineering fits inside the case of a watch. Pitched as sculptors of time, Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey delight in preserving the more antiquated modes of watchmaking, such as hand-finishing, into the present day to produce kaleidoscopic models. Arbiters of fusing heritage with futurism, Greubel Forsey transcends the borders of ergomics, striving to create complicated movements and testing the limits of human endeavor to consistently to discover unknown territory.
From miniature globes that indicate a second time zone – all the while indicating which side of the world is at day and which side is night through shadowing (!) – to quadruple tourbillons (that’s effectively four mini rotating machines to make time as a accurate as possible), a watch by Greubel Forsey might tell you the time of today, but they’re already thinking about tomorrow.