As with the years before, I looked forward to this year’s edition of Watches and Wonders. I looked forward to the buzz, the week-long immersion in top-shelf horology, the close cooperation with Fratello team members, and, of course, being reunited with several colleagues from the industry. Beforehand, expectations on what the brands should present weren’t hotter than lukewarm. During the last year, it became clear that the watch industry seems to sail in challenging weather. Nevertheless, Watches and Wonders didn’t disappoint me, even without a real show-stopper.

After the show made clear that the industry is indeed holding back, news on the worrying market situation continues to reach us in various ways. The CEOs of the two most influential players at the Watches and Wonders show, Rolex and Patek Philippe, were quick to confirm that the watch industry is in bad weather but that this does not affect them. It is mainly the players in the middle and low areas who suffer. Although Rolex’s Jean-Frédéric Dufour explained that watches should not be treated as a commodity, it’s interesting to see that especially brands like Patek and Rolex are in favor of money-chasing men in dark blue suits with well-ironed white shirts still holding on to their ties. I’m curious to see who will ultimately be affected by the current market situation.

Grand Seiko CEO

My favorite Watches and Wonders 2024 releases

So much for my loosely explained view of the watch industry; I don’t think we should be all too negative. For instance, I’m glad that, among many others, Cartier, the third-largest player in this Watches and Wonders game, doesn’t participate in these political outings. What does worry me, however, are the out-of-proportion price increases throughout the industry in the last few years. This situation may very well have caused me not to pull out my wallet for any of the watches presented at this year’s show. Could it be why more people have turned their backs on the watch industry? Still, I had my show favorites, of course, so what were they?

Grand Seiko Evolution 9 SLGW003 in titanium

I won’t put my choices in any specific order other than how I saw them at Watches and Wonders. I’ll start with the Grand Seiko Evolution 9 SLGW003. I love hand-winding watches without a date, so it’s no surprise that this watch was one of my favorites. Of course, it doesn’t mean I like all hand-winding watches without a date, so why did this Grand Seiko release make it to my list?

There are two reasons. Evolving the 44GS case design into the E9 was a delicate operation. However, looking at the E9 now shows that it was a necessary move. The 44GS was good, but the E9 shows an even more balanced design that is less bulky and more elegant. Still, it’s substantial enough to have that touch of sportiness.


The other reason is the enormous leap that Grand Seiko made with this hand-winding caliber. Compared to the brand’s last one, the 9S64, the new 9SA4 movement in the SLGW003 wins in all areas. The accuracy for normal usage went from +10/-1 to +8/-1 seconds a day. Although the beat rate increased from eight to 10 beats per second, the power reserve rose from 72 to 80 hours using twin barrels. Last but not least, the new 9SA4 movement sports Grand Seiko’s Dual Impulse Escapement. The price of the SLGW003 in the latest E9 design using the new 9SA4 caliber is somewhat of an unfortunate side issue. At €11,700, it’s double what we were used to.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Monotourbillon in titanium

According to the brand, “Roger Dubuis celebrates the tourbillon in all its forms” this year. Four tourbillon models were presented, and my vote is for the least extravagant one, the Excalibur Titanium Monotourbillon. The other three new tourbillon models were more spectacular, both technically and design-wise. Specifically, the Orbis in Machina represents the brand’s knowledge of bold and modern engineering, while the art of tradition is shown from the back. The Sunrise Double Tourbillon and Monotourbillon Dragon fight for attention through exuberant design in both color and sculptures.

Roger Dubuis

I am not a fan of too much going on in a watch, and that’s probably why the Excalibur Monotourbillon Titanium drew the most attention from me. Don’t get me wrong; with its skeletonized design, it isn’t a boring watch by any means. I’m sure this might sound ridiculous, but this watch somehow radiates tranquility or minimalism compared to the other models. As Roger Dubuis explains it, “Minimalist yet charismatic, this ergonomic watch is a flawless example of ‘less being more.'”

The 194 parts necessary to build the DBEX1112 are produced using 16 hand-finishing techniques. Roger Dubuis will create 28 pieces of this watch; if I’m not mistaken, each will cost € 163,500.

Rolex 1908

Rolex 1908 in platinum

I want to be short about my third choice, as I think it’s a bit sad. Mind you, it’s a beautiful watch with an elegant 39mm platinum case and a spectacular blue rice-grain guilloché dial. It even has a display back to reveal the automatic Rolex caliber 7140. Not even the list price of €31,500 is weird in this league. But I think it’s a bit sad that Rolex cannot attract my interest with a watch in its major league — sports watches.

Even this 1908 isn’t anything new. It’s a known watch made of another material with a different dial color. But at least it’s an attractive watch; it wouldn’t necessarily have to be a Rolex for me. In the brand’s sports league, Rolex in 2024 only presents gold watches that shouldn’t exist in gold, bezel color variations only visible at a second glance, and flashy watches made even flashier by using stones or mother-of-pearl dials. This is the perfect example of sitting still while being shaved.

Jacob and Co

Jacob & Co. Astronomia Regulator

As a bonus, I want to mention Jacob & Co., not only in general but first and foremost for the brand’s technical and design creativity and courage. True, Jacob & Co. didn’t present anything at the actual Watches and Wonders show, but the brand did invite us to witness the presentation of the new Astronomia Regulator in Geneva’s Four Seasons hotel the evening before the show started. I’ve often ignored Jacob & Co. simply because I thought its extravagant designs were not my cup of tea. Even now, I might not be the kind of person who’d wear a Billionaire III. However, during the presentation, I learned about a different aspect of the brand.

Four Seasons Hotel

That aspect concerns the technical performance and, even more, the creativity of Jacob & Co. The stone setting, the construction of the watches, and the design of their movements deserve more credit than a glance at the extravagant exterior and price tag. If the climate in the watch industry today doesn’t influence one brand, it’s probably Jacob & Co., and it shows. The Astronomia Regulator is a perfect example of putting creativity into a 19th-century Régulateur construction. In a world first, the movement, which rotates clockwise, makes one complete turn in 60 seconds. Rotating on top of the movement are separate hour and minute displays. The ring-shaped seconds dial also rotates in one minute but counterclockwise. With the Astronomia Regulator, Jacob & Co. transforms a watchmaking classic into one of its creative masterpieces.

Jacob Arabo

Final words on Fratello’s Watches and Wonders 2024 favorites

As far as I know, this article will be the last in our Favorite Watches and Wonders 2024 Releases series. So, who of our editors had it right with their favorites in your book, and what do you think of mine? Please leave your thoughts and comments below; it’s your last chance on this topic.