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Raluca Michailov, owner and editor-in-chief of Lifetime Magazine, shares her opinion about the novelties unveiled at the Digital Watches and Wonders fair.

I was sad when Watches & Wonders got cancelled. I was sad when Baselworld got cancelled. I was sad when the Breitling, Chopard and Seiko presentations got cancelled. I was sad when Time to Move got cancelled. I was very sad when Baselworld fell prey to its own arrogant and greedy ways and, most likely, got cancelled for good.

A lot of watch-related sadness this year.

But then Watches & Wonders somehow managed to turn things around a little bit and talked all the exhibiting brands into releasing their novelties online, with digital talks and presentations.

So I perked up a little bit. And then I perked up some more, when I saw the watches. They are, mostly, good, solid, inspired pieces and I hope they will sell. And I hope that the brands will learn something and will do things differently. Because many things need to be done differently if we still want to have a watch industry in the next 25 years.

But now is not the time for criticism. Now is the time to say something about some watches that I really liked.

So I give you my top 3 watches. For now. I am sure that, as I look more in-depth at all the launches, I will find more watches to like.

So this is to be continued.

1. Vacheron Constantin

No secret I’ve been in love with this brand for some 20 years. Some of their models I really don’t like. I mean one. You know which one. But I absolutely like or even love all the rest. This year, I really like their Singing Birds series from the Cabinotiers department. Absolutely lovely design and sound and mechanics. Vacheron Constantin thru and thru. Just like the Overseas perpetual calendar ultra-thin which I would be willing to pay in instalments for the rest of my life, just to get my hands on one. I absolutely love the rubber strap version, but also the LA-vibe full-gold version.

2. Cartier

I have long been a critic of Cartier’s foray into sci-fi looking highly complicated watches, which, in my opinion, had nothing to do with the brand’s DNA. And, also, I have to say, sometimes they looked really rough, unfinished, unrefined. For the past two or three years, I have had the joy of seeing them return to their elegant, classical-looking pieces, which are always a joy to behold. This year – the Tank Asymetrique, which I absolutely love, in all its twisted, off-centred, slightly dishevelled splendour. And, also, the Pasha, a beautiful unisex collection, that retains much of the original model’s features. I love the double crown (two sapphires, one hidden, one in plain view) and I hope that people will stop mistaking it for the Ballon Bleu. This is a forever watch, an inspired investment for such times.

3. Panerai

There was some talk before and right after the departure of the legendary Mr Angelo Bonati that the brand will slip into oblivion. And perhaps last year’s collection did not help, with all its forced “lifestyle” hype. I am glad to see a more balanced collection this year and I must say I really like the Luminor Marina Fibratech with its rough, uneven look. This is a watch fit for a modern explorer and now, since we all want to get away from the city and live in nature, perhaps it’s the right time for such a watch. I also like Panerai’s homage to Super-Luminova, liberally used for the crown, the crown lever and around the dial.

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