It's the dawn of a new year, and the mood is ripe with anticipation. As far as upcoming watch releases, anything is possible, new color, unprecedented complication. The possibilities are endless. However, while Rolex could release a quartz watch or a high complication in 2024, it's unlikely. If history has taught us anything, it's that watch brands are a traditional and conservative bunch who happen to love celebrating anniversaries.
Based on this, we're confident that we'll see watches released this year that celebrate major milestones. Most of these releases will be centered around Watches & Wonders Geneva, the event which has, since the demise of Baselworld, come to the fore as the pre-eminent event on the global calendar. This year, W&W is a little later, starting April 9. What this means is that most major brands will keep their powder dry until this key moment, so the first quarter of the year should be pretty quiet.
In terms of what watches we expect to see debut at W&W, all eyes are on Patek Philippe and Rolex. While people will be eager to see the return of the steel Nautilus, it would make sense for the brand to hold out til 2026, 50 years after the now iconic model first debuted. Rolex is the other hotly debated player, and 2023 saw the brand pull out all the stops with a wide array of new collections and designs. But amid all the new additions announced last year, one model disappeared: the Milgauss. The most recent incarnation of this anti-magnetic 'scientist's' watch was released in 2007, meaning it had a 16-year run. However, the Milgauss first debuted back in the 1950s, seeing a lot of evolution early on — but the reference 6543 dates back to 1954, which means that 2024 is the 70th anniversary of this pioneering model. This nice round number, along with the disappearance of the older model, makes a Milgauss return in 2024 likely, but it might not make its appearance at Watches & Wonders. Last year, Rolex released a very special Daytona honoring the 100th anniversary of the iconic Le Mans track. This year, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, better known as CERN, also celebrates its 70th anniversary, so a special commemorative Milgauss launched to coincide with CERN's celebrations isn't out of the realms of possibility.
Another big milestone we expect to see celebrated this year is the 30th anniversary of A. Lange & Söhne's first collection. On October 24 in, 1994, the renewed German brand unveiled its first collection of four watches, which would see the brand become one of the most influential in modern watchmaking. These watches were the Lange 1, the Caberet, the Tourbillon' Pour le Mérite', and the Saxonia. It would be great to see a faithful recreation of these four seminal models in 2024, though the squared-off Caberet has been dropped from production, so that could be a bit of a challenge. For similar anniversary moments, Lange has opted to spread its celebratory models over the year, with Watches & Wonders one bookend, and the brand's important October 25 date, which was the date shown on that first collection of watches, though it's a big enough moment that all the core pieces might be held back until October.
Finally, one significant moment of 2024 was meant to occur in 2023: Only Watch. Drama and speculation cast a cloud over the long-running charity auction late last year, with Audemars Piguet announcing they were withdrawing and F.P. Journe declaring ongoing support. The auction has long been a key part of the brand's marketing calendar, allowing for a good news story and the soft launch of new model styles. At the moment, there's no real detail around the proposed new Only Watch date, but if it does go ahead, it's sure to be an unmissable event.
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