This year, 2020, was scheduled to be a landmark year for Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH). Last year, in October, it made headlines when it announced that its signature event, Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), would be rebranded as Watches & Wonders starting in 2020.
FHH also announced that it would split into two concurrent events: Watches & Wonders – The Salon and Watches & Wonders – In the City. The former, more along the lines of the traditional SIHH, but more open to the public at a higher fee. The latter would have been open to the public for free.
This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the event and therefore, one assumes, would have been quite a special occasion. However, this February, the global disruption caused by COVID-19 forced FHH to announce the cancellation of the twin events scheduled to run from April 25 to April 29.
In its place, on April 25 at noon CET, watchesandwonders.com was unveiled. It is a centralised portal where watch enthusiasts, retailers and journalists from around the world can come together in the virtual space to discover the finer details of the latest releases and connect directly with the 30 participating brands.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with the finest watchmaking brands in the world to bring the Watches & Wonders concept to life online at a time when our industry needs it the most,” states Fabienne Lupo, Chairwoman and Managing Director of FHH.
“This dynamic new platform will allow watch lovers everywhere to discover exciting new products, engage in enriching experiences, and connect directly with our participating brands in one place.” – Fabienne Lupo, Chairwoman and Managing Director, FHH
We have to be clear that the portal is not a one-off stand-in for this year’s cancelled event. It has been in the works for some time. The cancellation of the real-world Watches & Wonders events only expedited the unveiling of its virtual world counterpart. Henceforth, the new website will be a permanent component of the Watches & Wonders offerings, both complementing and interspersing its real-world counterpart.
In fact, the current release is just the first phase for the site. It has dedicated pages for each participating brand, where visitors can discover their newest timepieces. They can also view up-to-the-moment social media content and connect directly to the brands’ own sites and channels.
As part of the unveiling of watchesandwonders.com, the FHH organised a series of new product launch presentations, in which executives from participating brands showcased their novelties through 10-minute streaming videos. These are now permanently accessible on the site.
A. Lange & Söhne presented a video titled “Our debuts: sporty elegance & inimitable sound.” It features Anthony de Haas, the brand’s Director of Product Development, who introduces and delves into the finer points of his two debutants: the Odysseus in white gold and the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater in white gold.
Vacheron Constantin‘s parade is lead by a one-of-a-king from Les Cabinotiers – the Grand Complication Split-Seconds Chronograph ‘Tempo’ Watch. The dual-dial watch has the exceptional calibre 2756 inside, comprising an astonishing 1,163 individual parts and offering no less than 24 complications. Joining the parade is an Overseas Perpetual Ultra-Thin in pink gold with a blue dial, two new FiftySix models in rose gold, and a Traditionnelle gets the Tourbillon and Chronograph combination.
Panerai is celebrating the 70th anniversary of Luminor, its tritium-based luminous material. To mark the occasion, six new Luminor Marinas have been unveiled. Some boasting an impressive 70-year guarantee. Fibratech, an all-new material crafted from mineral fibres, and DMLS, a new titanium case crafted using the brand’s Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) technology also make their debut. Panerai also celebrates its partnership with the Luna Rossa Sailing Team with a new Titanium Luminor GMT.
Piaget unveiled the thinnest ever hand-wound watch, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept at just 2mm. Meanwhile, Roger Dubuis‘ solo debutant – Excalibur Diabolus in Machina Unique – is all about complexity with a minute repeater, flying tourbillon, function indicator and chiming indicator.
IWC updates a single line of watches every year. This year its the turn of the Portugieser, with a total of 30 new models. Among them are smaller 40mm Automatics, two Perpetual Calendars, two Yacht Club designs, a Chronograph and two Tourbillon models.
Cartier has thirteen debutants: three Santos-Dumont models, a new Pasha De Cartier with four new features, a new Maillon de Cartier in yellow gold, six Privé Tank Asymétrique moedls and two stunning Métiers d’Art pieces.
Hermès debuted two: the Slim d’Hermès model gets a GMT variant in blue, while the visuvally stunning Arceau L’heure de la Lune gets a Black Sahara meteorite dial with inlaid mother-of-pearl moons.
Jaeger-LeCoultre offers five new models in the brand’s Master Control collection, along with a new Master Grande Tradition and Reverso. Laurent Ferrier offers its first steel bracelet for the Grand Sport Tourbillon.
Montblanc also has two new models in icy blue: a limited-edition of the 1858 Split-Second Chronograph along with an 1858 Geosphere Blue in titanium for the first time.
FHH is also curating a broad range of expert and educational content for the Watches & Wonders website, in collaboration with the participating brands, members of its Cultural Council and other opinion leaders. These contents include product analysis, trend forecasts, technological innovation and in-depth explorations of design, artistry and craft, as well as business talks and commentary from industry notables.