Jean-Claude Biver, the former head of LVMH Watchmaking and CEO of TAG Heuer, describes January as a key month for watch launches, and attacked Baselworld and Watches and Wonders Geneva for taking place far too late in the year.
As if to underline the point, Hublot said that 50% of its 2020 novelties were unveiled at LVMH Watch Week, which took place in Dubai last week, and the aim is to have all of them hitting retail before the end of April, according to the company’s CEO Ricardo Guadalupe.
Zenith also introduced 20 watches out of 55 slated for launch this year at the January gathering, and CEO Julien Tornare matched the Hublot commitment to start delivering them to retailers in April. The remaining 35 new Zenith references will be shown for the first time in Basel where the likes of Rolex, Patek Philippe and Tudor will make their first announcements of the year.
TAG Heuer had flagged in advance of LVMH Watch Week that it would not be announcing any of its 2020 collections, although it did have a surprise limited edition Carrera to present in its 160th anniversary year.
Bulgari, which hosted the Watch Week at its Bulgari Hotel in Dubai, added to its Octo Finissimo family and added a tourbillon to its Serpenti Seduttori range.
Let’s take you through some of the highlights.
The best of Hublot
Hublot Big Bang Unico Integral
Hublot finally caved to the metal bracelet trend and produced it’s very first sports watch with an integrated metal strap. Watches like AP’s Royal Oak, Rolex Datejust and Patek Phillipe Nautilus are iconic because of their bracelets, so it makes sense for Hublot to have made one for its flagship Big Bang line. The Integral comes in an all-black ceramic satin-finish, and with black-plated titanium screws.
Hublot Big Bang MP-11 Red Magic
The main draw with Hublot’s Red Magic is the bright red ceramic case. It’s so hard to create that Hublot owns the patent for the material.
The dial features seven barrels which can hold a whopping 14 days of power after being manually-wound, while the number of days left in the power reserve count down on a wheel at the far left of the barrel system. The small dial is solid sapphire, with red hands to match the case.
The MP-11 is limited to just 100 pieces.
Hublot Classic Fusion Gold Crystal
The unique dial of Hublot’s new Gold Crystal range is exactly that – a 24-karat gold crystal created in Hublot’s mad-hat research and development lab. The dial – of which no two are alike – is created by heating gold until it basically becomes a gas.
Once the gas hits a cold surface, it collects in a crystallised form. Then Hublot wraps the dial in a ceramic case, further highlighting that striking gold dial.
Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Rainbow
Hublot’s larger-than-life rainbow watches always command attention, and this year the brand has chosen to adorn its rectangular Spirit collection with precious stones.
The case is made of Hublot’s own King Gold material, and the 42mm skeletonised dial features a ring of sapphires, rubies, topazes, tsavorites and amethysts around the bezel.
The best of Zenith
Half of the 20 new references launched by Zenith in Dubai were for ladies, with a fresh family of 36mm Defy Midnight watches taking centre stage.
Defy Midnight, priced at CHF 8,900 without a diamond-set bezel and CHF 10,900 with diamonds, is described as a versatile sporty-chic timepiece, thanks to the integrated steel bracelet style that has become so popular in men’s models.
The steel bracelet can be swapped out without tools for three colours of leather straps, which gives the collection more versatility.
Zenith has stated that all mechanical movements will be made in house, and the Defy Midnight is no exception, housing the Elite 670 SK automatic calibre.
The dial has uses the Zenith star prominently as part of its logo at 12 o’clock. Customers have the options of a graduated blue or grey dial using printed miniature stars to make it look like the night sky or a mother of pearl face.
Zenith Elite Classic
Zenith took some time away from its favourite Big Pilot range to concentrate on its classic Elite range for the year.
This updated collection stands out for its simplicity and refinement, along with the inclusion of rare materials (including one diamond-adorned model) and Moonphase complication.
The Zenith Elite comes with an 18-karat rose gold case, with gold-plated hands and hour markers.
Zenith Defy 21 Land Rover Edition
Continuing its partnership with British off-roader Land Rover, Zenith unwrapped a matte grey timepiece in honour of the Defender (which Land Rover is re-launching onto roads this year).
The watch boasts the brand’s El Primero movement, along with a 50-hour power reserve and a ceramic case.
Zenith Pilot Type 20 Rescue
Of course, Zenith were never going to completely ignore its flagship pilot line, and have updated the Type 20 with a stainless steel case and slate-grey sunray dial.
Its oversized Arabic numerals also come coated with Super-LumiNova, while the brand ‘Pilot’ has been printed on the dial in yellow – a recurring colour in the world of aviation.
The Best of Bulgari
Bulgari aimed its main announcement at its key target market of affluent female watch lovers in the form of a new Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon. It is a far cry from the days when women had to put up with smaller versions of men’s models, often housing quartz movements. Squeezing a tourbillon into the same sized case as the core Serpenti collection was a statement that everybody, regardless of gender, appreciates complex mechanical watchmaking.
Bulgari also brings a fine goldsmith and gemsetter’s eye to each watch, going so far as to give itself the title of “Jeweller of Time” in recent years.
Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon models come in rose gold or white gold with diamond pavé and a leather strap or white gold with diamond pavé and a full diamond bracelet.
In addition to the tourbillon models, Bulgari also added five other Serpenti Seduttori editions with newe snakeskin-like bracelets. One is adorned with diamonds and another has alternating links of rose or white gold and steel.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Steel
Bulgari’s super-slim Finissimo range continues to be a favourite among sports watch owners looking for something a tad more inventive than your bog-standard Royal Oak.
Bulgari is counting on that, producing an Octo Finissimo in lower-priced stainless steel.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Sandblasted Gold
In 2016, Bulgari set a world record for the thinnest ever minute repeater made in titanium. It’s chosen to update that record, coating the ultra-slim 3.12mm mechanical movement with sandblasted rose gold. It’s still an impeccable feat of technical engineering, complete with 42-hour power reserve and the ability to strike out the time by flicking the pusher at the 9 o’clock position.
The Best of TAG Heuer
TAG Heuer Carrera 160th Years Silver Limited Edition
Alright, so TAG Heuer didn’t properly unveil this at LVMH Watch Week – instead, it gave select journalists and creators a sneak peek at the watch, before properly launching it a few days after.
The new TAG has been created to honour both the first Heuer Carrera chronograph, as well as the company’s 160th anniversary. The brand has largely stayed true to its original aesthetic, including the monochromatic silver dial with sunburst pattern, and three chronograph counters.
Its size has been upgraded – from 36mm to 39mm – and the shape of the hands are bulkier to allow for SuperLuminova coating. It is now powered by TAG’s Calibre Heuer 02 movement, with a power reserve of 80-hours. It’s limited to just 1,860 pieces.