Those watches are making their way to local markets late this summer and in early fall. They then will be setting wrist trends around the world. Here we take a close-up look at the must-have watches from each of these brands.
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This year marked the first year of Baselworld that the Swatch Group brands were not in attendance. Their absence was notable, but they are not the first group to have walked away from the fair.
With exhibition space being costly, and the brands having to share time and attention with hundreds of others, many are looking at new alternatives. Thus far, the most effective way of showcasing new products is the “summit.”
This year, the Swatch Group implemented its Time to Move summit. The company brought select journalists from around the world to Switzerland for a total immersion in its brands. Over the course of three days, we visited five factories.
German brand Glashütte Original took space in a Geneva hotel and recreated its quality control and testing facilities. If you can’t bring the editors to Germany, bring Germany to the editors.
At each brand, we were immersed in a particular specialty, ranging from guilloche at Breguet, to métiers d’ arts at Jaquet Droz and more. Best of all: we got the first look at each brand’s newest watches for the year. Here, I highlight a top choice from each brand.
In the following article, I’ll be exploring each of Swatch Groups most exciting release announcements to be launched this autumn!
1. Blancpain’s Barakuda Goes Deep
This year, the focus at Blancpain is all about recreating vintage watches that have inspired us throughout the decades. There are incredible new pilot watches and dive watches — making picking the top piece difficult.
Because of its rich history in diving, the new Fifty Fathoms Barakuda offers a great wow factor. By taking a deep dive (pardon the pun) into those first military and civilian dive watches, Blancpain developed a very literal recreation of a late 1960’s piece.
Blancpain’s first Fifty Fathoms watch was launched in 1953 and met the requirements of Frogmen from a host of global military corps.
Later, the brand’s civilian dive watches became known for their two-tone hour markers and white fluorescent hands. They also boasted a date at 3:00.
The new Fifty Fathoms Barakuda picks up some of those original codes. Created in a limited edition of just 500 pieces, it features a black dial with large red and tan hour markers coated with Super-LumiNova®. The pencil hands are white lacquered with tan inlays.
Recalling the original, the new watch also showcases a date display at 3:00 on the dial. The black bezel is unidirectional and protected by a domed sapphire insert.
Powering the watch is the1151 self-winding movement with twin barrels and 210 components. It offers 100 hours of power reserve. The 40mm steel case is water resistant to 300 meters
2. Breguet Reinterprets Its Classique Tourbillon Squelette
Known as the father of the tourbillon, Abraham-Louis Breguet set a precedence for this brand hundreds of years ago. Essentially, a tourbillon is an escapement that compensates for errors in timekeeping due to the effects of gravity on the wrist. For Breguet, the tourbillon is king.
This year the brand reinterprets the tourbillon, offering the Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Squelette 5395. A work of technical and aesthetic mastery, the watch is powered by the brand’s high-frequency (4 Hz) 581 mechanical caliber.
The architecture of the movement has been totally reworked in order to offer incredibly high skeletonization. The brand’s master watchmakers have removed almost 50% of the metal from the movement. This is no easy feat, as each component must retain its strength and rigidity.
Additionally the movement is an extra-thin caliber. It measures just three millimeters in thickness. To achieve this, the oscillator is a periphery rotor to save space and offer a better view. Thanks to the box-like sapphire crystal, the wearer gets a nearly see-through look of this work of art.
The tourbillon is also redesigned and the carriage is crafted in titanium. Every one of the components is carefully and meticulously hand finished. The 41mm watch is offered in a rose gold case with a gray movement, or in a platinum case with a rose gold movement.
3. Glashütte Original Showcases SeaQ 1969
German watch brand Glashütte Original this year spreads its reach and unveils an all-new fifth collection. The “Spezialist” is devoted to instruments for navigation on land, at sea and in the air. The premier model is a new diver’s watch: SeaQ.
Within the series, there are several versions: SeaQ 1969, SeaQ, and SeaQ Panoramic Date version. The SeaQ 1969 is the standout, and is based on a model from 50 years ago.
The limited edition SeaQ 1969 watch — like the historic piece – has an inscription on the black dial and shows the number of jewels in the watch. Also like the original, it features green hands and the old radium shade of beige for the numerals and indexes.
The SeaQ line is ISO tested and meets German and international quality standards. It boasts a unidirectional click ceramic bezel, Super-LumiNova triangle marking and more.
The Caliber 39-11 automatic movement powers the SeaQ 1969. It is crafted in steel and measures 39.5mm in diameter. Glashütte Original sells the watch with two straps: embossed rubber, nylon mesh.
Just 69 numbered pieces will be made. Engraved on the baseplate: the limited edition number, the trident maritime symbol, the brand’s logo and 20 waves to indicate 20 bars of water resistance.
4. Harry Winston Histoire de Tourbillon 10
It’s the wrap-up of an era. This year Harry Winston announces the final watch in its Histoire de Tourbillon series. That series has been dedicated to elevating the concept of the tourbillon- regularly releasing new technology and more daring pieces.
Now, the last of the coveted series, Histoire de Tourbillon 10, makes it debut. Being Harry Winston, the brand has to end the line with a bang. The new piece is a world’s first.
Histoire de Tourbillon 10 is the first watch to be equipped with four individual tourbillons. Each of those tourbillon escapements is arranged on the dial side, visible to the wearer.
Connected by three differentials, the tourbillons each rotate once every 36 seconds. This yields strong chronometry in all positions on the wrist.
In total, the HW4702 manual wind movement (made with assistance from Greubel Forsey) consists of a massive 673 parts. The sapphire dial boasts a hollow circle for the hour markers.
The watch features a box-like sapphire crystal for better viewing of the tourbillons. Just 10 pieces will be made – in either white gold or rose gold. There is also one unique piece made of Winstonium, a special alloy.
5. Jaquet Droz Works Its Magic
While the new Jaquet Droz Magic Lotus Automaton may look feminine – it is a larger watch perfect for a man’s wrist. Of course, women may want to don this masterpiece, as well.
In the 18th century, Pierre Jaquet-Droz was a master at creating automatons. He built life-size figures that could sit at a desk and write. He built singing bird automaton clocks. In short, he wowed the world back then with his creations – many of which are in a museum in Switzerland today.
Now, the brand continues in those footsteps, releasing an automaton Métiers d’Arts watch that will surprise and delight everyone. Emulating a Zen garden, the watch boasts an artistic dial that is an ode to life and the seasons.
The lower dial depicts a pond and boasts swimming Koi in it. There is an animated lotus flower, as well. In order to underscore the season, the lotus flower changes. During spring it has gold petals on it. In summer it is in full bloom. Finally, fall features the petals slipping into the water and in winter a seedpod begins anew at 6:00.
One can activate the animation of the lotus flower and fish with the push of a button. The animation continues for more than four minutes.
A dragonfly acts as the power reserve indication. When the power reserve is out, it rests on a leaf. The mechanical movement of this watch consists of 500 meticulously finished parts.
6. Omega Goes To The Moon and Back: Apollo 11 50th Anniversary
With this year being the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, Omega introduces new Speedmaster watches.
There are several pieces in the introduction that pay homage to the astronauts in the NASA program and to the historic first steps on the moon. One version is more accessible thanks to pricing and quantities, but it is the Moonshine gold model that stands out.
For this 50th Anniversary Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 watch, Omega developed an all-new alloy called Moonshine® that is lighter and a little less brash than 18-karat yellow gold. The point: to emulate the lighter shades of the moon at night.
This watch is an updated replica of the one given to the astronauts in the NASA space program in the fall of 1969. Following the landing on the moon, there was a dinner where Omega gifted the watches.
The new Master Chronograph recalls the aluminum burgundy bezel of the original but is made of high-tech ceramic. The tachymeter scale markings on the bezel are created using Omega’s proprietary Ceragold™. Additionally, an updated movement, the manual wind Master Chronometer Caliber 3861, powers it.
The caseback is sapphire for viewing of the movement and is engraved with the “1969-2019” years, and a small map of America plate. Just 1,014 pieces will be made – emulating the original.
Now that you have read about the latest announcements from the 2019 Swatch Group Summit, check out some more of our watch resources:
"SBeing immersed in the full experience of a brand – visiting its workshops, talking to its designers and watchmakers, and going hands-on with the watches – is an incomparable experience. It is an eye-opener and a game changer. Let the summits continue."
Roberta Naas is a veteran watch and jewelry journalist who began her career in the early 1980’s, and was the first female watch journalist in the United States. She is the editor and founder of the authoritative watch blog, www.ATimelyPerspective.com, has written six books on watches, writes for numerous consumer publications -- and always brings forth in her work the essence of what makes watches tick.