Watches and Wonders 2024: New brands and an expanded public programme await watch lovers in Geneva

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Geneva will once again be at the centre of the watchmaking universe this week, as the 2024 edition of Watches and Wonders transforms the Swiss city into a watch lover’s wonderland.

The annual trade show is the biggest event of its kind for the Swiss watchmaking industry, and often the occasion for big-name brands to announce major new collections and timepieces.

Last year, record numbers of collectors, journalists and members of the public attended the show, as it opened its doors to the public for the first time.

The Watches and Wonders Geneva Foundation, which owns and operates the fair, said approximately 43,000 unique visitors attended the event over seven days – double the attendance in 2022.

Approximately 43,000 unique visitors attended last year’s event over seven days – double the attendance in 2022.

After that resounding success, the salon decided to expand its public programme even further for this edition. Watches and Wonders 2024 will open its doors to the general public for three days – up from two last year– from 13 to 15 April.

As part of the public programme, a brand new LAB is being inaugurated at Geneva’s Palexpo, where schools, start-ups and exhibiting brands will present their vision for tomorrow’s watchmaking world. Students from Swiss art and design school ECAL will present more than a dozen projects for the occasion.

Watches and Wonders’ “In the City” programme offers free watchmaking-related activities in downtown Geneva.

The “In the City” programme offers free concerts in downtown Geneva during Watches and Wonders.

This year will also see the return of the “In the City” events in downtown Geneva.

“We will also have a stronger presence across the city of Geneva, via organised talks, guided tours, activities for children and a watchmaking village,” said CEO of the Watches and Wonders Geneva Foundation Matthieu Humair.

“All these events will be free and open to all, as they aim to spur a sense of vocation towards watches, particularly among the younger generation.”

A more holistic approach to the luxury watch market

The expansion of Watches and Wonders’ public programme marks an evolution for the trade show – which is now in its fourth year – from an exclusive event for industry professionals to a city-wide celebration of the culture of watchmaking.

For the first time, the public will be able to attend product presentations led by brands to learn about the complex mechanics behind luxury timepieces. Many watchmakers have also planned exclusive events for this edition’s public days, like Italian maison Panerai.

This year the public will get up close and personal with luxury timepieces for three whole days at Watches & Wonders 2024.

Longtime Panerai ambassador and professional explorer Mike Horn will share his adventures with the public at the brand’s Watches and Wonders booth. Horn will also host a keynote in the Palexpo Auditorium on 13 April.

Panerai CEO Jean-Marc Pontrué told Euronews Culture it’s an opportunity to communicate the brand’s story in a new way: “We are committed to authentically conveying the ethos of adventure and performance that have characterised the brand from its origins, and what better way to do this through the words of a true and authentic explorer like Mike?”

Keynote speeches are open to the public in the Palexpo auditorium during the public programme of Watches and Wonders.

Panerai is one of the pioneers advocating for a more “holistic experience” for watch collectors that goes beyond buying a product. The brand runs its own “Panerai Xperiences Program” for buyers of its limited-edition Experience timepieces that’s seen clients train with professional sailors and US Navy Seals.

Other watchmakers that are organising exclusive events for Watches & Wonders include Swiss heritage brand Baume & Mercier, which is setting up a treasure hunt for the public at its stand. The lucky winner will take home a timepiece from the brand’s signature Riviera collection.

Bigger than ever, with smaller dials

This year, on top of high-end watchmaking giants like Rolex, Patek Philippe and Vacherin Constantin, eight new brands will be making their debut at Watches and Wonders – bringing the total number of exhibiting maisons to a record 54.

Newcomers include Bremont, Eberhard & Co, Gerald Charles, Norqain, Nomos and Raymond Weill. Swiss watchmaker ArtyA is also marking its debut at the fair by releasing a new timepiece called “Purity Stairway to Heaven,” which also celebrates the brand’s 15th anniversary.

ArtyA’s “Purity Stairway to Heaven” timepiece marks the brand’s debut at Watches and Wonders and its 15th anniversary.

ArtyA’s minimalist “Purity Stairway to Heaven” timepiece has a transparent dial that acts as a window to its complex mechanics.

The minimalist watch, part of ArtyA’s signature Purity range, has a smaller diameter and transparent dial that acts as a window to its complex mechanics. It sells for CHF 24,900 (€25,500).

ArtyA is known for its unconventional designs and innovative materials, like its colour-changing nano-Sapphire cases, which have a small but dedicated fanbase. It’s an example of the smaller forward-thinking watchmakers at Watches and Wonders that are propelling the industry forward – with innovative designs that still respect rigorous mechanical watchmaking traditions.

ArtyA is known for its unconventional designs featuring colour-changing nano-sapphire technology, like this “Curvy Purity Tourbillon NanoSaphir Emerald.”

As for trends to look out for at this year’s show, smaller watches – with a diameter 40 mm and under – have been increasingly popular over the past year, reflecting the growing influence of female collectors in the luxury watch market. This trend is predicted to continue in 2024, which means tinier timepieces will likely feature prominently Watches and Wonders.

2024 could be the year of the jewellery watch. Here, Chopard’s Happy Sport Rose de Caroline model, released in February.

The Happy Sport Rose de Caroline model has a 36 mm diameter and is made from ethical 18-carat rose gold.

In a similar vein, gender neutral styles have also been growing in popularity, as have jewellery watches by brands like Cartier, Piaget and Chopard. The industry seems to be breaking away from standard models and opening up to a larger variety of design possibilities.

It’s a welcome change, as the luxury industry – and watches in particular – find their footing following slowed growth in 2023.

Can’t make it to Geneva this year? Follow Euronews Culture’s coverage on the ground at the show with more updates on the latest releases and trends from the world of luxury Swiss watchmaking.

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