Swiss Cartier Santos 100 Replica Watches Review


In my years reviewing Cartier timepieces, I’ve mostly chosen round watches. In fact, most people who buy replica watches choose ones with round cases. I say this because reviewing the swiss Cartier Santos 100 replica watch was a bit left-field for me. Nevertheless, it is a decision I am happy that I made because this is a timepiece with a huge amount of wrist-appeal once you actually put it on.

Some of the most iconic watches around have non-round cases, but these timepieces are admittedly rare. How many truly “iconic” square or rectangular replica watches are even out there? Truly, there are a scant few… and for whatever reason, most of them are produced by Cartier replica (with exceptions such as the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso and the Bell & Ross BR01). Cartier produces its large variety of Tank collection watches which have rectangular cases, but its only true square-shaped watches are in the Santos family that includes both the Santos-Dumont models, as well as the Cartier Santos 100 models, such as the one I am reviewing today.


One of the reasons that square watches typically don’t work on wrists is the inherent battle between the more organic curves on one’s wrist and the mathematical angularity of square watches. Put these things together, and you often have a result that is not harmonious. This is important to think about because it means that a square or rectangular watch that looks good in a picture, might not be as flattering when put on your wrist. Round fake watches tend to fare much better when it comes to the “on-the-wrist test.”


The above trend isn’t a rule, however, and the right square or rectangular watches can look fantastic. The Cartier Santos collection is among them, and why it works on the wrist is difficult to explain. Like many aesthetics that work well, the brain doesn’t always translate well what the eyes perceive. I’ve spent days looking at the Cartier Santos 100 on my wrist trying to consider “why this square watch works while others don’t?”


The “jumbo” looking size of the Cartier Santos 100 is deceptive, as the case (without the crown) is only 38mm wide. With the crown, the steel case is 41.3mm wide by 51.1m tall, and just 10.34mm thick. That means the Cartier Santos 100 works on a variety of wrists large or small, and also has a bold appearance that a lot of fake watch lovers are looking for. If you recall, back in 2012, we offered a light review of another model in this collection with the replica Cartier Santos 100 with the aDLC-coated black case. Really, the only difference is the colors and coating materials, and yet this more traditional-looking piece has a very different visual personality to it.


The base Cartier Santos 100 reference W20073X8 model is in all steel on a black strap, while this reference W20072X7 version comes on a brown alligator strap with an 18k yellow gold bezel. It also happens to be my favorite of the bunch. The bezel is easily the most distinctive element of the Santos 100 collection, and it is something you won’t see on the Santos-Dumont. Cartier has of course produced other smaller Santos models in the past with the “screwed-in” square bezel – a look that has carried over into so much of the brand’s jewelry collection such as the very popular LOVE bangle-style bracelets which appear to have screws around it… and that are actually secured to your wrist with a screw.


This “industrial look” with exposed screws is something which marks a lot of men’s replica watches and goes back to the very first wrist watch produced by Cartier Replica for men. The story goes that, in 1904, Louis Cartier was asked by his friend Alberto Santos-Dumont to create a timepiece he could wear while flying a plane. This was just one year after the Wright brothers succeeding in their seminal “first powered flight” in 1903 in Kitty Hawk North Carolina. Brazilian by origin, Santos-Dumont spent a lot of time in Europe as well and was among a handful of other aviation pioneers around the world experimenting with early flying machines. The process of flying back then was considerably more hands-on and dangerous than it is today. It goes without saying that it required two hands all the time, and looking at a pocket watch was really not an option. So like early divers’ watches, early aviation wrist replica watches were needed because pilots needed to use both hands while operating planes.


The square shape of the watch endured, and today continues its legacy in timepieces such as this. While the exposed screws should theoretically be “engineered out,” they have become a style and decorative element which I agree helps the overall composition of the watch feel more masculine, as well as help remind you that it is indeed a machine on the wrist as opposed to a mere style or status symbol.


Going back to the appeal of the Cartier Santos 100 case, when you put it on, you realize just how curved it is. The thick lugs gracefully arch down creating a shape that allows the case to sit comfortably on the wrist but also adds some of the necessary curvature to give the Cartier Santos 100 that “organic” look which combines harmoniously with your wrist. Moreover, even though the case is square, pretty much everything has rounded edges, from the case itself to the bezel. Sharp angles are there, but they are fewer and more deliberate than the curves. In fact, part of the genius of the design is in creating a very rounded square case and having most of the true angles appear on the dial.


Cartier also has the steel Cartier Santos 100 case brushed (very well, I might add) with attractive, polished, beveled edges along the sides of the case that look fantastic. The gold bezel is all polished, and I appreciate that it is yellow versus rose gold. The most angles you’ll find on the case are in the geometric seven-sided crown which has a large blue spinel crystal cabochon in it (Cartier used to use sapphire but typically prefers spinel these days, as it is easier to industrialize and offers the same look). Replica Cartier is very skilled at making deceptively simple cases which excel due to careful visual refinements and select details which work together to make something that works very well. This is an apex of fine European luxury replica watches design because of its subtle nuances and timeless appeal.


Also notice the simple good looks of the trademark Cartier-style dial. Totally symmetrical with only the time (and no date), the light silver dial is the epitome of a fake Cartier watch with its black Roman numeral hour markers and sword-style lumed hands. Such dials work well in Cartier’s Tank replica watches, but presented as a square in a square case, I think this design looks its best. Yes, the dial is simple, but it is also rather legible and very graceful. When you really want to celebrate conservatism that works and isn’t boring, you can opt to put on a Cartier Santos 100.


Yes, inherently the Cartier Santos 100 is a simple timepiece with few gimmicks. Seasoned watch lovers may yawn at the lack of technical excitement, but that isn’t what the Cartier Santos 100 is all about. This is one of Cartier’s replica watches for “everyone” (who can afford it), and it makes up for its lack of having a special movement or features with solid good looks that are beautiful. Oh, and with 100 meters of water resistance, you could also categorize the timepiece as a “real sports watch.”


I hope that in the future Cartier may decide to slip in an in-house made movement, which I think for a lot of collectors will increase the value proposition, as this isn’t an entry-level-priced timepiece. For now, the Cartier Santos 100 has a base Swiss ETA 2892 automatic movement which does the job of being reliable and telling time decently.


Cartier uses a seamless strap attachment system which means there are no gaps between the case and the strap – which is nice. The comfortable leather strap has difficult-to-see stitching (which I prefer) and a butterfly-style deployant clasp. The clasp itself is cool-looking with a design meant to suggest the look of the bezel with its steel and 18k yellow gold construction and two visible screws. Moreover, the clasp is as well finished as the case, with additional detailing such as angle beveling. As I tend to do, I will mention that while the adjustment system allows you to carefully choose the length of each side of the strap allowing for a very precise fit, it is not designed to allow you to adjust the size of the strap very often. So initial sizing is a bit of a pain, but once you size the strap, it looks very nice on the wrist.


On the wrist, the Cartier Santos 100 sells itself and is overall a beautiful and easy-to-live-with timepiece. If I had more bad things to say about it, I would. But for what it is, this is a great watch, even though I would consider it pricey. It will not be the most complicated watch in your collection, but that isn’t where the appeal is. People enjoy watches like the Cartier Santos 100 for its classic design and versatile wearing appeal. It succeeds in being a classic that is both well-made and unique enough to serve a distinct role in your watch collection.

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Point/Counterpoint: Are Vintage Replica Watches Worth It?


Welcome to Point/Counterpoint, a new buyWatchesTop column where two of our resident horological aficionados duke it out over a point of contention. Today, we’ve got Ariel Adams and James Stacey who will spar over the value of buying a vintage replica watch. Ariel says forget it when it comes to vintage, while James sees merit in the adage “old is gold.”

The vintage-inspired replica Omega Speedmaster ’57 next to its “ancestor.

James Stacey: While, perhaps daunting to someone new to the mechanical watch hobby, the vintage watch market remains some of the strongest value available to today’s collectors. Thanks to the trend towards “vintage-inspired” new swiss replica watches combined with the relatively slow pace of the Swiss watch industry, vintage pieces can look as modern (or as dated) as you prefer. Much like the styling, most of the underlying technology is not only similar and just as effective as today’s movements, but can often be found for a fraction of the cost.

No, you won’t get a carbon-cased tribute to advanced materials and lab-like production, but if steel or gold is good enough for your wrist, the vintage market is hard to overlook.

With homework, you can get a good deal on a replica watch like the Rolex Datejust if you buy vintage.

If you’re new to watch collecting, do some research and always buy the seller. Your patience is an investment in developing your taste, identifying “too good to be true” scenarios, and refining the available candidates at a given budget. This entire hobby is based on marketing and the charm of a well-made watch, minimize the former and you have more resources for the latter.

The Tudor Heritage Chrono Blue has a retro look but all the convenience and reliability of a new replica watch.

Ariel Adams: In my personal opinion, watch buyers today are, for the most part, better off buying new replica watches if they plan on wearing them regularly. The best analogy for me are cars. Sure, there is a nostalgic charm in buying an old American muscle car, but what are they like to drive? How reliable are they? In addition to lacking a lot of modern conveniences, it can be impossible to determine their mechanical condition. Watches are the same way: there can be a lot of emotional connection to a vintage replica watch, but how practical are they for daily wear and as reliable tools?

If you just see a timepiece as a fashion accessory, then get a vintage timepiece and don’t bother winding it. If you are in it for the utilitarian aspect or if you want maximum durability, a modern timepiece will serve you much better. Sure, you can pay less for a vintage timepiece but what is the actual wearing experience going to be over a five year period? I bet that most watch lovers still have a few modern timepieces laying around as well that they inevitably continue to wear.

Richard Paige explored the popular vintage car/vintage replica watch analogy using Cadillacs and Rolex as subjects.

James: While I would agree that the allure of a vintage car may be similar to that of a vintage replica watch, the difference in experience between a vintage car versus a new car is not equal to the difference between a vintage replica watch and a new watch.

Cars are vastly complicated objects, and while I would applaud anyone who attempts to daily drive a vintage car, daily wear of a vintage replica watch is not an especially tough task. Any watch will require service at some point, and most fake watches will not cost a fortune to service, especially when it’s a cost you’ll likely only incur every five to ten years. Any competent watchmaker will be able to service the wide majority of simple vintage movements, and if you’ve invested in something a bit more special, specialized care is to be expected (and that should be a known quality if you did your research before buying).

Chances are vintage replica Omega Speedmasters have made it through more than what you can throw at them. Like going to the moon.

Yes, the watch may lack some modern conveniences, like a quick set date or sapphire crystal, but the very idea of tool watches was solidified in the ’60s with replica watches like the Rolex Submariner and Omega Speedmaster. While I don’t doubt that modern technologies can produce a tougher watch, how tough does your watch really need to be? If it was good enough for SEALAB and NASA, it’s not going to break a sweat with the demands of my day-to-day.

If you do your research and rely on a professional for service, the vintage experience is similar to that of buying new, but you get the added charm and nostalgia of a vintage piece as well as the thrill of the hunt.

Pre-owned Cartier Tank replica watches maintain the same appeal that has made this watch a legend since the early 1900s.

Ariel: Wouldn’t you agree, however, that the appeal of vintage for many people is in the presumption that they cost a lot less? Dedicated collectors might be willing to put up with some of the complexities of buying and restoring/repairing old replica watches, but I think too many lay consumers are attracted by the romance of vintage only to be disappointed with the actual experience when it comes to cost versus reward. In my opinion, most consumers who don’t want to buy brand new would be just as well served with a pre-owned modern watch where they get a better price along with a newer product.


The enthusiast community will often take the most difficult approach in order to get something rare and special, but isn’t it wise to inform novices that a lot of skill and patience is required when it comes to buying vintage replica watches? I just think that the term “vintage” is sexy right now, and when it comes down to it, most people want a modern watch that is less than 10 years old. At least the original brands will be willing to service them and the movements should still be good. Do you think most consumers are even aware that brands often have policies where they utterly refuse to service watches which are 25-30 years old?


James: I would agree, in part, that it comes down to the watch and the collector. While the pre-owned market offers a considerable value on modern replica watches, I don’t think it detracts from the value proposition or specialized appeal of a vintage replica watch.

The main concerns when servicing a movement do not vary wildly by the age of the movement being serviced. Provided parts are available and that the watch in question is an everyday sort of piece, you likely don’t have to rely on the original manufacturer for service and general upkeep.

Though more than $125, vintage Hamilton replica watches can offer a lot of personality for not a lot of money.

The current story surrounding vintage replica watches tends to focus on the extreme examples, steel Pateks, crispy Newmans, and Evil Ninas, and while those are impressive, drool-worthy icons of the hobby, they are a microcosm of perceived value within a niche marketplace. They’re trophies, not examples of what the average enthusiast would wear day to day.

Considering the forum-favorite concept of “bang for your buck,” a clean vintage watch is going to be very hard to beat. Vintage replica watches can be found at nearly any price point, and (in most cases) they have bottomed out in terms of depreciation.

Rolex, Visuel pour la presse, Collection Daytona
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona from 1965.

Thanks to a combination of eBay, buying and selling forums, and vintage re-sellers, it’s entirely possible to find a great watch (likely from a recognizable and successful brand) in ready-to-wear condition for under $1,000. If you’re concerned about service and upkeep, speak with a watchmaker before buying, and try to buy something that was recently serviced so you can wear it for a few years before it needs any TLC.

Buying a reputable vintage replica watch probably won’t be as easy as this.

Ariel: The main message I think people can take away from what you just advocated is that it is possible to have a positive experience with vintage replica watches, but you need to do your homework and search a lot. I agree; for vintage to be a good experience, you need to become a mini-expert in a lot of little things ranging from where to buy replica watches and what they should cost to determining condition and quality. What you are describing is an enthusiast’s sport and not something I can easily recommend to the lay person who just wants a few nice and reliable watches to wear on a daily basis. Just because you can have a good experience with vintage, that is certainly no indication that you will. It’s a pleasurable hobby for those looking to spend the time, but that doesn’t represent everyone.

A cool vintage replica Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso advertisement from the mid-1900s.

Along those lines, I feel that vintage watch buying and collecting should really be its own category alongside buying new replica watches. It shouldn’t be a “new or vintage” conversation, but rather a conversation of how people can incorporate vintage replica watches into an otherwise healthy passion for timepieces. For instance, are there one or two models that anyone can blanket recommend and if purchased as a vintage watch will lead to a positive experience? No, because condition and mileage may vary.

With that said, there are isolated examples here and there which are nicely restored, good-condition vintage timepieces that make for solid and relatively reliably daily wears – but those items come and go and aren’t the type of thing I feel exist in enough quantity that watch lovers should be tirelessly waiting to find one versus buying something newer that, in most instances, requires less homework and risk.

Don Draper’s replica watches on Mad Men lend a coolness that’s hard to replicate new.

James: I don’t think that getting into vintage replica watches needs to be seen as some sort of part time job, or even an all consuming facet of the hobby. If you’re too busy to learn about something you find interesting, even on a casual level, there’s no possible way you’re still reading this. The cash vs. time conundrum can be applied to the vintage market too, just take your stacks of cash to Christie’s or Antiquorum. The point isn’t just that a vintage replica watch might be cheap (which is not an accurate generalization), it’s that they offer value proposition different from that of a new watch – a distinct appeal.

The truth is, if you’re calculating the value of your time over simply enjoying an almost entirely unnecessary fascination with tiny outdated mechanical objects, then I can’t possibly persuade you to see the light. Just bookmark this page and check back after you retire.

Old or new? Well, this actually is brand new for 2015, as the replica Longines Heritage Diver was inspired by a 1967 model from the brand.

While I would agree that the uninitiated should stick to new watches if they want the best chance at a fuss-free experience, I think that most people who would call themselves a watch enthusiast will flirt with the idea of a picking up a vintage replica watch. It’s like a rite of passage among watch nerds. If you’re a layman, I encourage you to find the deep end and just jump in. This isn’t a cheap hobby, but Google has made it much, much more approachable, and the learning is largely free.

No, there aren’t any two models that anyone can recommend, but if you stick with serviced examples from well respected sources, your chances of a positive experience are very high, if not partially guaranteed (by sellers offering a review period with the possibility of return). Despite being vastly similar, new watches and vintage replica watches have a different appeal, and I think the romantic notion of “the hunt” is stronger with vintage pieces.

The very first Rolex Replica Submariner, the ref. 6204. Your reaction to this image is a good test to determine if you’ve got the “obsessive vintage hunter” gene.

New watches may require you to save funds, place an order, and then wait while the watch makes its way to the retailer. Finding that perfect vintage piece may start with a photo that leads to untold hours on forums or, if you’re lucky, reading books. Eventually, once you know enough to separate the wheat from the chaff, it’s time to get serious. You start to call or write re-sellers, ping owners on instagram, and setup notifications on your phone for specific keywords. Then, one day, the stars align, and whether you win the auction or are simply the first to respond to a sales post, your grail has arrived. I’ve only had this experience with a couple of fake watches, but it made their addition to my collection a very personal and rewarding experience.

The Rolex Submariner of 1957, next to the latest version from 2012

Finally, I would agree that vintage replica watches shouldn’t come at the exclusion of modern watches, both have their merits. However, turning your back on the vintage market, especially as a watch enthusiast, will only serve to deprive you of one of the great experiences this hobby has to offer. So go buy some books and do a few hundred Google searches. Even if it takes years to pull the trigger, I’d wager that from start to finish, you had fun.

So, there you have it. The time, money, and potential disappointment of searching for a reputable vintage replica watch for the intangible reward of the collector’s satisfaction. Worth it?

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The Tone For The Luxury Replica Watches Timepiece Industry In Asia


Georges Kern, CEO of Schaffhausen, Switzerland-based IWC replica watches, stands up from our table to deliver a welcome speech for a room of guests invited to dinner after the first day of Watches & Wonders 2015 here in Hong Kong. Known for quick, sharp remarks, and a realistic vision of his company and the luxury replica watch space, Kern spares no time addressing what he feels are the primary things his colleagues should be thinking about in terms of Asia and the watch industry that has fared so well in the region, and yet now faces a new set of growth, sales, and economic challenges.


Kern promises that a brand like IWC is in it for the long run. He is refreshingly candid about the issues facing his business and that of his colleagues. China has been rapidly decreasing its spending on luxuries of all kinds replica watches included. The still-special region of Hong Kong as a result is suffering from a weak retail market once made gloriously robust by pools of Chinese mainlanders who came in with “suitcases full of cash,” looking for ways to offload cash into less easily “seized” assets or exotic European goods which promise to make them appear more successful, sophisticated, and of course, sexy.


Economic instability and a huge reduction in spending on “gifts” for and by political figures accounts for much of the reduction of spending on luxury goods that has plagued Hong Kong and China for the last couple of years. Mr. Kern assures everyone that not all is actually bad in China and that sales overall are still good. While there is a continuous deep level of appreciation for fine watch making in Chinese-speaking cultures, Kern advises skeptics to consider that the “China bubble” was never meant to last and that economic activity isn’t terribly depressed, but rather back to “normal.” Myself and colleagues nod our heads in agreement because despite the lack of flowery poetic assurances, Mr. Kern is absolutely right.


Where watch industry leaders like Mr. Kern succeed is not only in their acknowledgement of reality, but in their development of plans and strategies to adapt to it. The watch industry is sometimes painfully conservative in its application of ideals, acceptance of new concepts, and its approach to productivity. These qualities actually help the industry continue to produce many stunningly beautiful timepieces, but they don’t help the luxury replica watch industry survive in modern times. What does keep the industry going is the efforts of a handful of smart, charismatic men and women who protect the values of the watch industry while thinking outside of the box and adapting to a world which may love swiss replica watches, but does not actually need them.


Not needing, but rather wanting something is a hallmark characteristic what I define “luxury” to be. Timepieces must be desirable, but also cater to the needs and demands of consumers. The near-term success of the Asian watch market – just like that of the rest of the world – relies on the watch industry being there in a way that consumers want with products that they can’t help but demand. This, for me, is the tone which set the opening of Watches & Wonders 2015, and will guide brands in these complex markets now and into the future.

Our Zen Love (behind the camera), Ariel (right) and David Bredan (left) represented team Replica Watches UK at Watches & Wonders 2015

Watches & Wonders is a watch and jewelry trade show organized by the same people who each year put on the Geneva-based SIHH in January. Watches & Wonders began a few years ago as a leg into the East, offering both retailers as well as customers (and collectors) a more local event to attend that doesn’t require a flight to Switzerland. Only a few years old, Watches & Wonders is interesting and important enough that the FHH, the organizers of the event, have decided that international media should be there to report on their activity.


For Watches Blog, each time we travel to Asia, it becomes an illuminating journey. Hong Kong is the first place I ever traveled to where I felt less than alone in my love of replica watches. Stores and advertising dedicated to fine timepieces are literally everywhere. It’s a watch-crazy culture, and anyone who has ever felt a lack of interest from their peers when it comes to fine timepieces need only travel to this important Chinese city to fit in. Hong Kong is not just about people showing off massive amounts of wealth in timepieces, but rather a quickly developing market for true aficionados who love, collect, and admire timepieces in a way rivaled by few other places.


Hong Kong as a market actually sells around as many timepieces as the entire United States each year, and is in the top 10 locations where readers to Watches Blog come from. What people need to know about wearing a fake watch in Hong Kong is that, by nature, these are items that must say something about the wearer. There is almost no tolerance among the educated or successful for crappy timepieces. If you wear a watch it should be a good watch, and if you don’t wear a watch you should have a damn good excuse for why.


This means that people aren’t at all afraid to use their replica watches to show off a little. It is common for the average person to spend more money on a timepiece – per capita – than probably anywhere in the world. The pressure is so high that it is said Hong Kong locals actually consume a huge number of fake luxury goods (read about the most common fake watches and their stories here) just to keep up appearances at times. This is a place where your waiter has a nice (real) Rolex and your taxi driver might have a timepiece you are envious of. You can imagine that within such a context, wearing diamonds or other flashy embellishments is not at all frowned upon or even uncommon.


I say this because more than ever, here in Hong Kong, wearing a timepiece for men with diamonds seems to make a huge amount of sense. Back at home in the United States, you need to be a very special kind of person to wear a watch with diamonds. In fact, many dedicated watch lovers in America wouldn’t dream of dressing up a fine and complicated “horological mechanism” with precious stones. Yet here in Hong Kong, the world’s biggest watchmakers all take their most impressively complicated timepieces and add even more to them by decorating their cases and dials with diamonds and other precious stones.


“When in Rome,” right? I have to say that while I am here in Hong Kong, the idea of wearing diamonds seems imminently appealing in a way that I’ve never experienced elsewhere. You need to be in the culture a bit, but after a few days, it starts to seem like a very appropriate way to spend money. At the Cartier booth, we tried on the highly expensive and limited edition (of something like five pieces) Ballon Bleu Vibrating Diamonds completely set with diamonds all over the case and with a dial that has diamonds actually mounted on small springs. This causes the dial diamonds to move about in a fascinating way, clearly designed to add some additional sparkle and visual interest. You really can’t read the time, but this is one of the few timepieces where I really don’t care. Forget about the several hundred thousand dollar price of this timepiece for a moment, and consider the genuinely fun statement such a design offers to the wearer.


Diamonds are perhaps too closely associated with the taste preferences of the Asian watch market because they tend to overshadow some of the more “serious” reasons why we love timepieces. Watch lovers tend to think of a timepiece’s appeal as a function of their carefully made movements and refined design aesthetics. What they don’t always consider about the typical luxury replica watches buyer in Asia is that these same values apply. They just also want their finely made and complicated watches with diamonds and even more art.


Chinese consumers are huge fans of artistic and wealth density, and are aggregators of things that they find value in. Having a watch that is complicated is great. Having a watch that is refined is fantastic. Having a watch that conveys wealth and success is fortune. So why not look for complicated, refined, luxurious replica watches? That is how many of the Chinese tend to approach luxury timepieces, for better or worse. Not all of these “combined appeal” watches are successful, but at least you know why such timepieces exist and where their demand comes from.


While brands like Vacheron Constantin and Piaget are masters of offering ultra-low production classically designed art watches, brands like Richard Mille (the only non-Richemont Group company at Watches & Wonders so far) offer the same types of gloriously art-heavy timepieces but, in ultra-modern form. Million-dollar watches never looked so “million-dollar” as they do when they are designed for picky Asian consumers always looking to be wowed.


I should not, however, focus entirely on watches meant for the few. While luxury watch shows tend to focus on unique models with elaborate designs, the bread and butter of the watch industry is more high-volume products which are sold in quantity to consumers who may be able to spend only a few thousand dollars on a watch versus many times that. It would be easy to mistake a place like Watches & Wonders as a show for buyers who represent the 1% of the 1%, but that wouldn’t be entirely true. Even though such special customers are present en masse, Watches & Wonders is still about selling luxury replica watches to more than just a few people. Otherwise, having a big and expensive trade show wouldn’t be necessary. Brands could simply hold private meetings in a luxury hotel for a few days and call it a show. No, Watches & Wonders is about making a splash, because at the end of the day even today’s biggest watch makers are interested in selling $20,000-and-under watches to a larger portion of the population.


How is this audience being served at Watches & Wonders, and how (if at all) do the new products that were debuted at Watches & Wonders serve the regional audience in Asia? While Watches & Wonders is in Asia, it isn’t really about products made just for Asia. One timepiece, however, really epitomized what brands should be making to appeal to Hong Kong customers – and it came from Montblanc. In an 18k red gold 39mm wide case with diamonds on the bezel, and a few more on the dial as some of the hour markers, the Montblanc Meisterstuck Heritage Spirit Date Automatic ref. 112144 comes with a pretty reasonable price of $11,500. Without diamonds, the same watch is $7,700. On paper, this dress watch looks pretty nice with luxury appointments and price that is much less than a lot of the competition.


Why is this Montblanc Meisterstuck so emblematic of Watches & Wonders 2015? Because it combines value as well as the types of timepieces that have traditionally done so well in Chinese markets. Timepieces such as this might not be common, but it does show a genuine understanding from the most important big name watch brands of what is required to succeed in today’s market.


It is an Watches Blog tradition to recap major watch shows with top 10 lists and similar groupings of the products that we feel you as consumers should know about. The reason we aren’t doing one for Watches & Wonders is because the show – at least this year – was less about releasing copious amounts of new products, but rather about brands being able to assert themselves with specially made piece unique replica watches and low-production ultra-luxury pieces. These tend to make poor items of top 10 lists, namely because if you wanted one, they would probably be already sold.


So what we will do instead is take the next few months to spend more time on some of the top models we saw here at Watches & Wonders 2015, and to give some extra attention to those rare “volume fake watches” from the major brands which we look forward to seeing in stores soon. One of my favorites was the IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Day & Date (look for a hands-on article soon) which is actually the first Portofino model I’ve ever liked. I appreciate the interesting in-house movement, handsome size, and refined timeless looks. I also quite liked the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time that combines a world timer with a new movement that features a novel balance wheel system, as well as a “true seconds” (dead beat seconds) indicator hand.


Such mainstream men’s watch offerings at the show were, nevertheless, rare. We expect to see more new releases such as those at SIHH 2016 in January. I keep thinking about the incredibly beautiful “modern museum” creations from brands like Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, Piaget, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Roger Dubuis. These companies create the fantasy of what owning a luxury fake watch can be like for aspirational buyers, and satisfy the demanding needs of the top regional customers.


I continue to find the Chinese and neighboring watch markets to be among the most fascinating in the world not only because of their size but also because of their appetite. China has almost single-handedly spurred the watch industry to innovate in so many ways, both in terms of technical complexity and design, because the customers simply demand it. China keeps Switzerland on its toes – which, at the end of the day, is a special benefit of the relationship between the two countries.

For the time being, Hong Kong is still China’s most powerful and important gateway to the West. Hong Kong is an ideal setting to showcase European products for the Asian world in a consumer-friendly and exciting way. As stubborn and slow as Switzerland is sometimes as perceived by the rest, at least they understand that for their luxury business to keep relevant, they need to go where the customers are – and make a case for crafts, history, values, and aesthetics. This is exactly what Watches & Wonders is all about.

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