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Five Brands Staked Their Horological Claims in Geneva Too

Bulgari, Damiani, Philipp Plein, B Corp-certified ID Genève and newcomer SpaceOne were among the highlights of a week of group shows, private dinners and exclusive showcases.

Five Brands Staked Their Horological Claims in Geneva Too

The making of of the Bulgari Tadao Ando x Serpenti collection.

If the main hub for watchmaking during Geneva’s watch-centric week remained Palexpo, home to Watches and Wonders, there were no shortage of events reflecting the vibrancy of the industry.

The Haute Ecole d’Art et de Design (HEAD) hosted the “Time to Watches” group exhibition, which featured around 50 brands, while the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (or Watchmaking Academy of Independent Creators) showcased 20 signatures under the Masters of Horology banner including Philippe Dufour, Kari Voutilainen and Louis Vuitton Watch Prize inaugural winner Raúl Pagès.

Meanwhile, others opted to showcase in their factories, like F.P. Journe, or set up in the Beau-Rivage hotel, which has turned over the years into a hotbed of independent projects. Jewelers were showing off their horological creations, and those that did not also tapped into the moment to showcase selections of gems that could mesh with the precious direction also felt in timepieces.

Here, those that caught the eye of WWD.

Bulgari

The maze-like rooms at the top floor of Geneva’s Hotel President Wilson were bursting with excitement for Bulgari’s new record-breaking, 1.70mm-thick Octo Finissimo Ultra COSC, the thinnest mechanical watch resistant to shocks and magnetic fields, as well as the thinnest COSC-certified chronometer.

Yet amid some new configurations for its signature Octo Finissimo Tourbillon and Octo Roma collections, another range stole the spotlight.

In a first for the Roman jeweler and watchmaker, the Serpenti Tubogas collection got an artistic makeover by famed Japanese architect Tadao Ando, who had previously collaborated with the house in 2020 and 2021 for the Octo Finissimo range.

Conceived as an homage to the passing of seasons, four new limited-edition Serpenti watches were reimagined with colored marquetry dials of green aventurine, tiger’s eye, and white and pink mother-of-pearl. The snake head-shaped case is crowned by a row of diamonds on each side.

Five Brands Staked Their Horological Claims in Geneva Too

The Bulgari Tadao Ando x Serpenti collection.

“I aim to integrate the various forces at play, to restore the unity of architecture with nature,” Ando said in a statement provided by Bulgari. 

Each of the four pieces will be released timed with their respective season. Summer’s green aventurine version comes with a mixed media yellow gold and steel Tubogas bracelet, while autumn, with a tiger’s eye dial, features a rose gold bracelet and pink rubellite stone on the crown. The white mother-of-pearl’s wintry edition has a steel case and bracelet, while spring, dropping next year, mounts the pink mother-of-pearl dial on a steel and rose gold bracelet.

For diehard Serpenti Tubogas fans, Bulgari is also releasing 20 special boxes that include the four timepieces as an ensemble.

Damiani

In the year of its centenary and on the heels of unveiling an exhibition in Milan titled “Damiani 100 x 100 Italiani,” which runs through April 28, high jeweler Damiani is increasingly looking to enhance its reputation in the high watchmaking sphere.

Playing by the rulebook of a fine jewelry brand, the Italian company decamped to Geneva, harnessing its “Mimosa” lineup for new bejeweled quartz movement timepieces, which come in a range of colorways and are embellished with diamonds.

Five Brands Staked Their Horological Claims in Geneva Too

A Damiani Mimosa timepiece.

The house described the line’s design ethos as “apparent chaos” for the seemingly haphazard placement of gemstones. A new 32mm timepiece featuring a soleillé dial in green, blue, red, gray or brown, among other colors, boasts 3.44 carats of diamonds arranged in two rows around the bezel to create a blossom-like pattern, while a sister version adds a diamond pavé dial to the equation for a total of 4.03 carats.

ID Genève

“A watch as secure as a Swiss passport,” said cofounder and chief executive officer Nicolas Freudiger of the Elements collection he teased in private appointments. “In 2024, we are wondering how to lower our digital footprint.”

Using a patented nanoengraving technology usually used for bank notes and government-issued IDs resulted in unique holographic dials. But rather than just ensuring traceability and authenticity without CO2 emissions — no cloud-powered data storage here — the designs inspired by the four elements and humanity are a reminder of our place within a living ecosystem that needs to be preserved at all costs.

And that’s what ID Genève is all about. The four-year-old company, which has been working toward zero impact in its product and operations, has been using solar steel (with a carbon footprint 165 times smaller than regular steel), straps made from wine residue or tree waste from London parks and seaweed packaging that can dissolve in water within hours.

With an average price of 4,500 Swiss francs, the brand has been growing steadily since it was crowdfunded in late 2020, selling 600 watches last year and targeting 1,000 pieces in 2024.

The fledgling watchmaker was awarded B Corp status in October 2023 and raised a $2 million seed round that famously included Leonardo DiCaprio among its investors.

Philipp Plein

Upon his second effort, Philipp Plein sounded both more determined and more focused than a year ago when he took over a suite at the Fairmont Hotel to unveil his venture in the high watchmaking universe.

“Last year this was a small experiment, which played very well for us,” the designer and entrepreneur said. “We are really competing with other big brand names, which have a lot of history and tradition. And of course, we are [bursting into] this industry….Selling such a luxury item, you need to talk a lot, you need to explain a lot, you need to educate a lot, yourself and your people,” he said, adding that the new category has brought in customers unfamiliar with the brand’s fashion proposition.

Unveiling the new collection at a recently opened pop-up shop facing Lake Geneva, Plein pulled out the brand’s first tourbillon, dubbed Crypto King Flying Tourbillon, and mounting a bespoke manual winding, flying coaxial tourbillon Landeron caliber exposed via the skeletonized dial.

Five Brands Staked Their Horological Claims in Geneva Too

The Philipp Plein Crypto King Flying Tourbillon

The case bearing a distinctive hexagonal pattern comes in four color combinations, including fiery red and clear white, black and white, black and orange, as well as in black carbon version accented with 18-karat rose gold screws, side cage and crown.

The loud and complication-rich design is complemented by the Crypto King Hexagon tonneau-shaped watch featuring the hexagon pattern throughout, including at the center of the dial framing the brand’s double P logo, and a Swiss-made automatic movement visible from the open caseback.

SpaceOne

For SpaceOne cofounders Guillaume Laidet and Théo Auffret, presenting their second subscription timepiece at the Beau-Rivage hotel in Geneva was something of a moonshot — and that’s not a play on its complication featuring the sun, earth and moon orbiting each other.

Just under a year earlier, the French horological start-up had raised $1 million on Kickstarter for their first watch, under the moniker “Argon SpaceOne,” when a trademark infringement complaint saw their initial launch abruptly aborted, with backers refunded and astronomical bills.

“It was quite the comedown,” said 37-year-old Laidet, who is also CEO and co-owner of independent watch brand Nivada Grenchen.

Long story short, after a frightening passage solved by changing the name to SpaceOne, their initial futuristic design took flight once more as they raised the funds a second time. A new French watchmaking label was born.

Five Brands Staked Their Horological Claims in Geneva Too

The SpaceOne Tellurium’s complication is an automatic heliocentric tellurium, which features the sun, earth and moon orbiting each other.

Fast-forward a few months and for the second one, “Guillaume arrived saying he wanted ‘planets, planets,’ and I had a model tellurium in the workshop,” recalled Paris-based watchmaker Auffret, who won the F.P. Journe young talent competition at 2018’s SIHH.

While the SpaceOne Tellurium owes its sleek outline to the work of Olivier Gamiette, who designs vehicles at Peugeot, and houses Auffret’s automatic “heliocentric tellurium” movement that sees the trio of celestial bodies move to indicate the date, the watch is priced at a mere 2,990 euros.

Although the preorder runs until May 5, more than two-thirds of the initial 300-strong run for the Tellurium have sold, with 100-plus pieces going before the watch was even revealed.