Chinese Collectors Reveal Top Picks From Watches And Wonders 2023

The latest iteration of the luxury watch industry’s biggest trade event, Watches and Wonders, saw the mighty Patek Philippe, Rolex, LVMH, and Richemont watch brands launch a myriad of novelties in Geneva last week. With pandemic lockdowns lifted worldwide, the watch fair saw double the number of attendees compared to last year, along with celebrity brand ambassadors including Julia Roberts and Roger Federer descend on the Swiss city. 

While over 40 brands participated in the official watch fair hosted in Geneva’s large Palexpo grounds, few of the popular and independent brands, such as Bulgari and Jacob & Co., chose to host their pop-up exhibits at luxury hotels outside of Palexpo, making the watch week in Geneva busier than ever before. 

With hundreds of great watches launched, picking the best of the lot was no easy task. That’s why we sought out watch collectors and watch industry experts to ask them for their favorite models. Here are some of the top drops from Geneva according to collectors and market experts from mainland China and Hong Kong — two watch markets that make up the world’s largest importer of Swiss watches, according to Fondation de La Haute Horlogerie (FHH) 2022 figures.

Rolex’s Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36 is inspired by a jigsaw puzzle. Photo: Rolex

Daniel Sum: Watch collector and Shanghai Watch Gang co-founder. Sum is also the China consultant for Phillips Watches auction house. 

“My top picks from Watches and Wonders fair are the Rolex Daytona collection, Rolex Day Date Jigsaw and Patek Philippe 5261R Aquanaut Luce. The Rolex Day Date Jigsaw is a completely new concept. Instantly recognizable and almost in a category of its own. I believe this watch is very forward-thinking in how we regard watches as an accessory. It is a lifestyle piece, artistic and completely within trend. Coming from one of the strongest brands within the whole industry and being a unique concept within one of its most popular lines, plus being instantly recognizable, make this piece a sure win for the brand.

“My own taste in watches doesn’t lie in modern watches, but I believe all three of these watches will prove most popular with Chinese collectors. The economy faces some tough times ahead and collectors will be drawn to the security of big brands and those watch models that retain a high value in the secondary market.”

The new IWC Ingenieur features the aesthetic codes of Gérald Genta’s iconic Ingenieur SL from the 1970s and the bracelet a 21st century sports watch. Photo: IWC

Johnathan Chan: Co-founder of Hong Kong-based watch club, The Horology Club.

“While other brands continue to produce good collectibles, I expect demand to be strong for all the Rolex and Patek Phillippe releases among Chinese collectors because right now these are still considered by many to be the two brands with the most prestigious brand equity. I believe that is one of the most important considerations for collectors in China.

“My top picks from Geneva will have to be Cartier Tank Normale, A Lange and Sohne Odysseus Chronograph and, of course, the IWC Ingenieur. 

“With the hype surrounding Gerald Genta sports watches, it would have been easy for IWC to just reissue the Ingenieur without too much effort. However, it’s clear they’ve taken their time with it to really nail the new edition. IWC has made detail-oriented improvements to make sure that the watch is a true evolution. From the checkered dial to the functional screws on the bezel; from redesigning the middle link of the bracelet to including a new modern case material — Titanium. IWC has done a smashing job with the reissue. It makes this offering one of the strongest releases this year.” 

The Cartier Tank Normale most closely resembles the original Tank design from 1917. Photo: Cartier

Yan Yin Lai: A woman watch collector from Hong Kong with a collection ranging from Rolex DateJusts, Cartier Santos to independent watch brands such as FP Journe and Ressence.

“There is a return of the sautoir (long-necklace) watches this year — Chanel, Piaget, and Jaeger-LeCoultre have all released beautiful new takes on their sautoirs. The trend for ladies watches seems to be a take on jewels to be worn with function and I’m sure they will be a big hit with the Chinese ladies.

“For me, the Cartier Tank Normale, Ressence Type 8 Sage Green and Chanel Premier Robot are the winners. I am loving the Interstellar theme for 2023 from Chanel. The robot on the Premier watch is cute and quirky at the same time. I love the velvet rubber strap, too. On the other hand, Cartier Tank Normale is a classic. I have been hunting for 1970s vintage Cartiers lately and it’s very refreshing to see such a classic reiteration of the Tank watch.”

The FP Journe FFP features a sculpted hand made of titanium. Photo: FP Journe

Andy Zhang, Shanghai-based CEO of The WatchBox, China. He is also an avid watch collector and the co-founder of Lange Nation, a social media community dedicated to A Lange and Sohne watches.

“My top watches are A Lange and Sohne Odysseus Chrono, Patek Philippe Grand Complication 5316/50P and the FP Journe FFP (Francis Ford Coppola). Lange Odysseus is the brand’s first automatic steel chronograph and very well executed in terms of the overall design. 

“As for the FP Journe, it is a brand that has become one of the few ‘chosen ones’ for collectors, globally. Also, in an auction market, every time there is a rare Journe up for sale, it always fetches a premium price. It is a brand with huge demand, yet it never stops innovating dials and movements. For me, FFP, I think along with Richard Mille 66, are the coolest hand-posture themed high-end timepieces on the planet. My top three would be in significantly high demand among high-end watch collectors in China. However, we all know that all of these pieces are only reserved for the VVIPs.”

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Chronograph draws inspiration from the first Reverso Chronograph of 1996. Photo: Jaeger-LeCoultre

Helbert Tsang: Watch collector from Hong Kong, whose collection includes products from independent brands such as MB&F and Urwerk, and revered classics such as Cartier Baignoire Allongee and Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso 1931.

“My top vote goes to the Rolex Oyster Perpetual ‘Celebration’ dial, Cartier Baignoire Allongee Metier d’Art and Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Chronograph. The Cartier Baignoire Allongee is one of my favorite models from Cartier so it was such a pleasant surprise to see them release a Metier d’Art version of the watch. One might assume Metier d’Art watches mainly target female collectors, but last year’s Metier d’Art Crash Tigrée demonstrated that these types of watches are popular among all collectors.”



Hard Luxury