Timeline: The Adventurous Best

Posted June 22, 2023 in Watches & Jewelry by Ashleigh King

The astounding unveilings of the watch world’s premiere conclave, Geneva’s Watches and Wonders 2023, are barely in the rear-view mirrors of global watch aficionados. Navigator takes a look at some “best in show” debuts with an eye decidedly focused on waves, adventure, innovation, design and overall visual impact.

1. Rolex Yacht-Master 42

Top down view of a black and silver watch face in front of the sea

Rolex rarely debuts a drastically new watch-construction approach without indicating an enduringly faithful commitment to that newness. Although the Crown did show a limited-run titanium version of its ultra-dive-pro Deepsea Challenge timepiece last year in Geneva, the brand indicated an all-in attitude towards titanium with none other than the tried-and-tested Yacht-Master 42. However, Rolex’s special grade 5 RLX titanium takes the notoriously lightweight and durable material to another level. We expect considerable heft from a Rolex, but this 42mm, 100-gram Yacht-Master floats onto the wrist. RLX titanium can take both brushed satin finishing and polishing, so the overall appearance is sophisticated and attractive without taking away the distinctive color and relatively matte appearance of the material. It’s not trying to be a lightweight alternative to steel. The pivot to titanium has also opened up some attractive new design cues, like the black raised numerals on the black ceramic bezel insert. But, in every other respect, this watch is unmistakable as a seafaring sport watch.


2. Ulysse Nardin Freak ONE

The original Ulysse Nardin Freak debuted in 2001 and presented a fascinating, how-does-it-work, kinetic art marvel for watch fans worldwide. Jump to today, and the redesigned Freak ONE is an unmitigated showstopper. Still employing its unique loaded-up carousel minute hand that contains every element of the movement and rotates on its own axis and bold under-riding hour hand design, the new execution, while still undeniably “watch-y” (albeit, to us, the redesigned carousel minute arm looks a lot like an anchor; perhaps an ode to the watchmaker’s relationship with maritime chronometry). Expect the unique grinder automatic engine — with a 72-hour power reserve — to drive the visual spectacle playing out above the dial and provide a crown-less beating heart for the Freak ONE. The next-gen techno feeling is bolstered by a bold 44mm black DLC-coated titanium case and 5N rose gold bezel construction that ups the sophistication factor but still offers a tough wrist presence. The new Freak ONE’s design may open up more and more variants for the artful timepiece down that road. Keep an eye on the Freak.


3. Richard Mille RM 07-04 Automatic Sport

Richard Mille RM 07-04 Automatic Sport watch on a black background

While watchmaker Richard Mille is no longer exhibiting at the Watches and Wonders event, its introduction just prior to the show of the colorful RM 07-04 Automatic Sport spoke volumes. One could easily view the chromatic play on the models as a unisex appeal to women who appreciate fine watchmaking, especially considering the world-class female athletes the brand has brought on as spokeswomen. But this example, in a burgee-recalling blue-and-orange colorway, is not only the most maritime, it is also the most gender-neutral. A cutting-edge quartz TPT (a lightweight fusion of quartz, not carbon, fibers) tonneau case contains a very artful skeletonized CRMA8 automatic caliber movement with unrivaled levels of shock resistance. No matter whose wrist the 07-04 Automatic Sport rides on, it is designed for active individuals to the extreme.


4. Chopard L.U.C 1963 Heritage Chronograph

The storied jewelry and watch Maison revealed an impressive new version of its automotive-aligned Mille Miglia timepiece at the Geneva show. However, it is this deep green, vintage-inspired 42mm steel, manual-wind Chopard L.U.C 1963 Heritage Chronograph that caught our eye. This wrist instrument is jam-packed with that authentic gravitas-meets-cutting-edge mix that collectors love. While a hand-wound chronograph may hold some chic throwback appeal, the COSC-certified 03.07-L movement that powers this timepiece carries some special modern construction approaches and an exceptional level of finish that have earned it the Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark. But it’s the shimmering steel case and lugs, mushroom chrono pushers, prominent crown, tricompax subdial array, modernist indices, and simple, stylish brown leather/green back/single notch stitch strap that presents a wrist look that is simply dashing and always appropriate.



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