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Watches & Wonders Geneva - Icons Re-Imagined

Watches & Wonders Geneva Icons Re-Imagined

What happens when watch brands take to their iconic pieces in an effort to reinvent the past? Good things.

Even though this year’s first watch exhibition of the year – Watches and Wonders Geneva – took place digitally, there were still some exciting trends that emerged that will be gracing savvy  wrists beginning this summer.  One of the top trends revolves around modernizing iconic timepieces.  Proving that you can improve on a good thing, top brands from Watches & Wonders Geneva -- such as Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Montblanc -- celebrate legendary watches with updated renditions that have the collector world abuzz. 

To create these noteworthy blasts from the past, some watch brands totally re-enact the original – replicating many of the details including vintage logos but updating the movements. The more creative and daring brands go all out, though, and add contemporary touches such as colors, details and even added features that elevate the iconic watch to new heights. I would be hard-pressed to say which of this year’s reimagined heritage throwbacks are my favorite, but here are a few standouts.

Icons Re-Imagined

Pasha © Cartier

Cartier wowed the watch world with the unveiling of a host of updated versions of the beloved Pasha. This watch had almost a cult-like following when it was first introduced to the world in 1985. I can say that for certain because I was there  -- I had just become the first female American watch journalist when the Pasha made its debut. To say it was an immediate hit is an understatement. The watch embraced the times with its geometric square-within-a-circle design concept, complete with rays (bold lines) emanating from the center on angles. It was a statement of chic sophistication that was somehow sporty, as well. Over the years, the Pasha has been the watch of choice for many of the brand’s specialty pieces. But in the past years, it was out of the limelight. Until now. 

The new renditions of this all-time favorite are just as chic but take the traditional elements such as stylized numerals and angular accents to modern heights. There are high jewelry versions and there are open-worked models. Cartier even releases a complicated tourbillon Pasha.  Little details that make the watch even more desirable come in the form of a cabochon-jeweled crown cover that lifts to reveal a plaque for personalization, a transparent sapphire caseback and interchangeable straps. Naturally, the watches are equipped with the brand’s finest automatic movements and are sold in several sizes.

Icons Re-Imagined

Master Control Calendar © Jaeger-LeCoultre

Another brand that has worked magic this year with bringing its legends full-circle is Jaeger-LeCoultre.  The brand released new versions of its Master Control watches that are impressive leaps in style and function. It was in 1992 that the first Master Control watches made their debut. Here, again, I was already covering the industry when these watches were unveiled. First reactions solidified the fate of the collections. These were highly precise performance driven watches that offers sophisticated looks. The same is true now with the new Master Control Date and Calendar watches. (The brand also just released the Master Control Memovox Timer – but that’s a watch for another story.)

Perhaps most closely emulating the watches of the 1990’s, the Master Control Calendar is most likely going to stir the hearts of collectors – not just because this is a new heritage piece reinvented, but also because it is executed with exacting attention to detail. In truth, the design inspiration for the 40mm Master Control Calendar dates back to the 1950’s emblematic watches such as Memovox, Powermatic and Futurematic, as well as to the ‘90’s. The calendar offers a triple display with day, date and moonphase indication. Equipped with an updated movement with an enhanced power reserve of 70 hours, the watch undergoes the brand’s intense 1,000 hours testing.  It’s sloped lugs and double-finished  case and bezel, as well as the applied indexes, give the watch an urban chic appeal. It makes its debut this month. 

Icons Re-Imagined

1858 Split Second Chronograph © Montblanc

Montblanc also went above and beyond this year when reinterpreting its heritage pieces.  The brand paid so much attention to detail in each of its new releases that they are incredible value proposition watches – even at the high end. My personal favorite from the brand is the 1858 Split Second Chronograph inspired by a 1930’s watch and boasting a blue grand feu enamel dial and beige accents and telemeter scale.  The monopusher chronograph movement is an evolution of the MB M16.29 caliber that was originally inspired by the Minerva caliber. Minerva, located in Villeret, is now owned by Montblanc and the brand takes not only design inspiration from those historical roots, but also hand watchmaking prowess. 

Icons Re-Imagined

1858 Monopusher Chronograph Limited Edition 1858 © Montblanc

While the 1858 Split Second Chronograph may be my personal favorite, the fan favorite may well be the new 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Limited Edition with case elements made of a special bronze alloy and with hand-made NATO straps.  All of these new icons are designed for today’s generation – ensuring that what was once legendary remains legendary.  

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