Life at the PalExpo for Watches and Wonders Geneva begins at Rolex and Patek Philippe, even without the right appointment. We kick off day 2 at Patek Philippe, with a series of chiming watches, including new versions of our favourite, the Grandmaster Chime. One is a fully gem-set wonder, Ref. 6300/403G-001 that is destined for only the boldest and most prosperous of wrists (or perhaps just one), while the other is the first two-tone version of their model ever, Ref. 6300GR-001. Patek Philippe drew our attention in particular to Ref.5316/50P-001, which is the perpetual calendar with minute repeater, now for the first time with a sapphire crystal dial. Like all the chiming watches, this one was only in the showcase, but it seems the manufacture is quite proud of it, given that they made special points about the gold appliqués that are set on top of the crystal, which reveals the intricacies of the perpetual calendar module. The bulk of our time was spent eyeing Ref.5224R-001, which a new travel time piece, but this time sans pushers because everything is controlled via the crown.
Reversing time by 24 hours, we return to Zenith where the highlight is also a calendar mechanism that is also awesomely put together in a way that does not call attention to itself. The distinguishing feature of the new Big Date Flyback Chrono with double date disc window is really how the watch feels to operate and to wear. The pushers have been configured here to deliver very precise amounts of pressure to activate the chronograph functions, making everything feel as smooth as ceramic ball bearings, or silk if that analogy makes more sense to you. The watchmakers have paid a lot of attention to making the use of the pushers a real pleasure., while also working to reduce shocks to the movement that are typically associated with the flyback function. We were doubly impressed by the date display, which also employs a new instantaneous change system that the brand showed us works in less than 0.03 seconds; the movement can also be adjusted quickly without fear of the calendar tens and units discs running amok. There is more to say here, but we must move on to Grand Seiko, where yet another chronograph is on the up.
Helpfully named the Tentagraph, the watch is of course known by its reference number, SLGC001, as is normal for Grand Seiko. It is recognisable by its tri-compact layout, pretty standard for this sort of complication. In all other ways, the Tentagraph is completely different, being one of only a handful of chronographs in the world regulated by something other than the Swiss lever escapement. Here it is the dual impulse escapement you might recall from a couple of years ago, and most notably in calibre 9SA5, which is now implemented in the chronograph calibre 9SC5; we understand that this is a chronograph module added to 9SA5. The Tentagraph is actually the first chronograph from Grand Seiko and this is a magnificent start; the name Tentagraph is indicative of the 36,000vph beat rate.
High-beat movements are not on the cards for Rolex this year, but the brand has revealed its most exciting slate of watches in years, with the Perpetual 1908 being a clear winner for us, and the exhibition caseback on the Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona clearly breaking the Internet. Apparently, we will need to discuss finishing at Rolex for the first time since this writer’s own Prince 5443. Indeed, there are tonnes of little developments and major ones at the world’s most important luxury watch brand and we will not get to them all in this post. Well, something to look forward to then, but do note here that the calibre 7140 powering the 1908 is entirely new, and features the first use of both the Syloxi hairspring and the Chronergy escapement.
Read about our Watches and Wonders 2023 Day 1 Highlights here.
For more watch reads, click here.