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Image: Chanel

It’s day 2 of Watches and Wonders Geneva 2022, and we go beyond mind-blowing today. Patek Philippe was so astonishing we had to take a second appointment, but that’s for later. We begin not with a watch but with extraordinary objects. That means Van Cleef & Arpels, and a time for magic, if not the time down to the precise second. The art and craft of watchmaking enables automatons such as the Fontaine Aux Oiseaux and the Reveries de Berylline, and of course the Planetarium Automaton. That last one is a massive work that scales the much-loved Midnight Planetarium up (to the tune of half a metre, no less).

When you see something like the Fontaine Aux Oiseaux, your faith in humanity will be restored. Words can’t capture what this creation means but we’ll link a video below. In fact, there are videos for all three automatons but you’ll be no wiser for watching them. On the other hand, you might feel better about the world we live in, and that’s no small feat. But that’s for another time, because now we do have to look at a few wristwatches. Like the Van Cleef & Arpels creations — including the Lady Arpels Heures Floral, which is much more than it appears to be — the other watches we looked at today are simply inspirational.

The watchmaking prowess of Chanel has achieved new heights with the J12 Diamond Tourbillon Calibre 5. While Chanel has flying Tourbillons in its collection, it now has one made completely in-house. The watch deserves a better introduction and we will try to do it justice later. It has specific particularities that make it entirely a Chanel beauty, albeit a complicated one. An interesting side note here is the matte ceramic in use, which appears both technically impressive and aesthetically promising to our eyes.

The wow-factor journey does not end there because we must discuss the Cartier Masse Mysterieuse, which Hodinkee’s Jack Forster calls wondrously strange. First of all, it is a mystery watch that shows all its tricks but conceals how it works. The entire movement is contained inside the oscillating mass, otherwise known as the rotor, and seems to be disconnected from the hands entirely. To understand this watch, you have to go back in time to 2011, and the magnificent Astroregulateur. I am particularly tickled here because I caught this origin when the Cartier presenter did not. Well, I am sometimes unintelligible so there is that…

Cartier Masse Mystérieuse
Image: Cartier

Completely intelligible is the Patek Philippe Ref. 5326G, a watch with something like eight patents hiding beneath the dial. It is an annual calendar with dual time zone function, but that explanation certainly does nothing for the wow factor. Okay, what makes this amazing is that it is virtually impossible to desynchronise the indications, whether you move the hands backwards or forwards. The main time setting function is accomplished with just one crown, although there are pushers for independent adjustment; we do not know why you would need them. Well, we kind of do know why but we want to run it by Patek Philippe again before we spill it.

Image: Patek Philippe

We’ll close with a fourth wall break. These kinds of stories are written on the fly, often in little 15 minute breaks on a phone, without so much as a press release to inform them. We do our best to refine them and check them, but there is a price to be paid for speed. We shall certainly return to some of the watches noted here in the weeks and months to come.

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