The Boldest Innovations from Watches & Wonders 2024

by Barbara Wilson

From reverse time-telling mechanisms to a unique fusion of haute horlogerie, perfumery, and couture, Watches & Wonders 2024 unveiled some of the most innovative and daring ideas in the watchmaking world.


The Annual Showcase

Every year, the global watchmaking industry converges at the Palexpo convention center in Geneva for Watches & Wonders. This event attracts nearly every major brand, many of which hail from Switzerland, the heart of the watchmaking trade. This gathering is a pivotal moment for the industry, where even the smallest innovations can have significant ripple effects.


Historically, the fair was an exclusive industry event. However, interest in watches has surged among both casual enthusiasts and connoisseurs. Reflecting this trend, Watches & Wonders was open to the public for the second year in a row. Brands have embraced the need for spectacle and surprise to captivate a broader audience.


This year, several novel designs stood out for their boldness. While not intended for the mainstream market, these creations showcase the passion and creativity driving the watchmaking industry.


Cartier’s Reverse Time

Cartier’s Santos, the first modern wristwatch created in 1904, is an icon with a storied history. The brand’s latest creation, the Santos-Dumont Rewind, is a testament to Cartier’s ability to blend tradition with innovation.

This exquisite platinum-cased watch features a ruby cabochon-set crown and a carnelian dial. However, its most intriguing feature is the Roman numerals arranged in reverse, with the apple-shaped hands moving backward to keep time. The Santos-Dumont Rewind is powered by the calibre 230 MC, a modified version of Cartier’s slim, manual-winding movements. The caseback bears the signature of Alberto Santos-Dumont, engraved in mirrored reverse.

Vacheron Constantin’s Perfume Watch

Vacheron Constantin introduced the world’s first perfume watch, the Pleats of Time. This concept timepiece is a collaboration between the brand, haute couture designer Yin Yiqing, and master perfumer Dominique Ropion.

The embroidered strap houses pebbly capsules filled with fragrance, designed to release scent in response to the wearer’s movements and body heat. Ropion’s perfume features a blend of mineral and marine notes, with honeysuckle, immortelle, citrus, olibanum, myrrh, and opoponax. Yin envisioned the ephemeral scent as a way to embrace the passage of time and remain open to wonder.

The Pleats of Time watch is a modified Égérie, featuring a pleated lilac mother-of-pearl dial, 92 diamonds set into the bezel, and a moonphase subdial with pink gold moons and mother-of-pearl clouds.

Van Cleef & Arpels’ Automaton Clocks

Van Cleef & Arpels, known for its elegant jewellery, also has a passion for automaton table clocks. This year, the maison unveiled two new designs.

The first, Apparition des Baies, features a tropical bouquet of precious metals and gemstones. An orb at the top reveals a bird of white gold, diamonds, and sapphires, which flaps its wings and rises into the air when activated.

The second automaton, Bouton d’Or, showcases a fairy queen holding court. The gold fairy twirls in flight, with plique-à-jour enamel wings and a briolette sapphire. The automaton’s branches open to reveal a colorful stage with lacquered flowers and precious gems.

Piaget’s Ultra-Thin Marvel

Piaget continues to push the boundaries of ultra-thin watchmaking with the Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon. This watch is just two millimeters thin, including a flying tourbillon complication.

To maintain a respectable 40-hour power reserve, Piaget redesigned the mechanics, integrating them into the cobalt PVD-treated case. New machines were developed to fabricate the minuscule parts, and traditional pins were replaced by ball bearings to facilitate movement.


Watches & Wonders 2024 highlighted the audacious spirit of the watchmaking industry. From Cartier’s playful take on time to Vacheron Constantin’s fusion of scents and timepieces, and Van Cleef & Arpels’ enchanting automatons, the event showcased the creativity and innovation driving the world of horlogerie.


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