What to expect at Watches & Wonders 2024

Everything you need to know about the watch world’s biggest week.

The general public will be able to explore the Palexpo halls for three days this year (All photos: Watches & Wonders)

It is that time of the year again. The horological industry’s pre-eminent trade show is back, and bigger than ever.

From April 9 to 15, aficionados, collectors, journalists and retailers from the world over will permeate the whole of Geneva, Switzerland, for Watches & Wonders (W&W) 2024. It is a dizzying affair each year, and the months leading up to it are often accompanied by a pulsating excitement that beats restlessly until the entire horological cognoscenti is reunited at the heart of luxury watchmaking.

The anticipation reaches fever pitch moments before the doors open on the first day and about 20 minutes thereafter is when Rolex’s new timepieces will begin flooding social media. The watchmaker’s nuclear bomb drop always sets the tone for the fair. Is it plotting another cheeky trick up its sleeve though? Last year’s emoji and bubble watches still seem like a fever dream to most. But for what it is worth, the previews are promising. The Piaget Polo 79 is most notable, evoking the same sort of admiration as with the Vacheron Constantin 222, which was arguably the watch of 2022. Will we see a steel counterpart of these vintage-inspired yellow gold tickers in April? Fingers crossed.

What is for certain, though, is that there is much to see. A record number of 54 maisons will exhibit at the Palexpo Convention Centre this year. Richemont’s stalwarts, including Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC Schaffhausen and A. Lange & Söhne, will reprise their positions alongside other big players such as Patek Philippe, Chanel and Grand Seiko.


Approximately 43,000 unique visitors attended Watches & Wonders last year

Seven new brands will make their debut on the W&W stage, namely ArtyA, Bremont, Eberhard & Co, Gerald Charles, Nomos Glashütte, Norqain and Raymond Weil. Fans of H Moser & Cie will be glad to know that the independent brand is making its return to the fair after last year’s hiatus. But the same cannot be said for Charles Zuber and Rebellion, both of which have dropped out of the line-up. The latter has pulled the brakes on its watchmaking division to focus more on its Swiss racing team, so there probably won’t be any surprise Ronaldinho visits. But other ambassadors such as Roger Federer (Rolex), David Beckham (Tudor) and Julia Roberts (Chopard) may pop by again.

Formerly known as Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie or SIHH, the fair has always been somewhat of a closed shop reserved only for the who’s who in the industry. But the velvet red ropes were unhooked for the first time last year, allowing the general public to explore the horological treasure trove for two days. The crowd imbued the halls with a newfound excitement, energy and hype, which goes to show that deviation of practice can be a good thing. Building on that momentum, W&W is opening up a third day to the public this time round.

Those who purchased tickets will get more bang for their buck this year. They will be able to sign up for product presentations in small groups to see the novelties up close and personal and join in on exclusive guided tours led by watchmaking experts.


A surprise guest star will take the main stage at the Nocturne concert on April 11

Over the weekend, participants can attend watchmaking lectures at the Auditorium or explore the Lab, where students from the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne, one of Switzerland’s leading universities for art and design, will present their projects on microtechnology, materials and design. Not to be missed is Luc Debraine’s striking Timekeepers exhibition. The former director of the Swiss Camera Museum in Vevey will present a series of photos featuring watches and clocks frozen in time.

A series of activations and workshops will be held simultaneously in downtown Geneva. The free In The City programme will debut its new Watchmaking Village on the Pont de la Machine in the middle of Rhône river. Here, visitors can take a behind-the-scenes look at the watchmaking, microtechnology and finishing professions as well as enquire about education and training in this field. Bring the kids along as there will be workshops for them too. Children can craft their own wooden sundial, learn how to assemble and dismantle a clock and build their own clepsydra (water clock).

At the same time, the watch boutiques around the city will host unique activities and experiences. Head to Chanel for a preview of its Couture O’Clock Watch capsule collection, Hermès to catch an artistic dance performance or Patek Philippe to view its Rare Handcrafts 2024 collection. The celebration culminates with a big party and concert, with food trucks lining by the lake in Rues-Basses on April 11. A surprise guest star will take the main stage at the Nocturne concert at 8.30pm, W&W teased, but the street performers and DJs will assuredly be entertaining the public all evening.


This article first appeared on Apr 1, 2024 in The Edge Malaysia.

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