Futurism is back at Watches and Wonders 2024

Futuristic watches are ready to beam us up as a sci-fi aesthetic comes to Watches and Wonders 2024

Futuristic watch, with green rectangular face, metal grille, and red strap
The Hautlence Retrovision ’47 watch, with green rectangular face, metal grille, and red strap
(Image credit: Courtesy of the brand)

At Watches and Wonders 2024, alongside classic designs from a multitude of major and independent watch brands, there is a leaning towards the thoroughly modern. Occasionally wildly outré wristwatches that don’t look like mid-1960s talismans are back with a vengeance – and we’re here for it.

Futuristic watches at Watches and Wonders 2024

Ulysse Nardin Freak S Nomad

black futuristic watch

(Image credit: Courtesy of the brand)

As a concept, the Freak S is over 20 years old. That doesn’t stop it from being a revolution compared to every other watch out there. The spacecraft vibes are strong in the new Nomad, its warm tones inspired by desert travels, and their carousel movement-as-minute hand is still baffling. But this time there is a deeper meaning, with a guilloché hour disc as the ‘dial’, forging a bond to the distant past. The beige CVD-gold-finished disc takes one craftsman 240 continuous movements and over three hours to cut. And the interwoven diamond shapes, a pattern that goes back to 19th-century pocket watches, serves as a thought-provoking background to the UN-251 movement, as always resembling an alien ship born in another galaxy.

Ulysse Nardin.com

De Bethune DB Kind of Grande Complication

Futuristic watch with visible workings and blue strap

(Image credit: Courtesy of the brand)

Futuristic blue watch

(Image credit: Courtesy of the brand)

Rocking the brand’s familiar yet still inspiringly mad case design, any De Bethune has a 10ft visibility if you’re in the know. And with its crown recessed at six o’clock and centre-pivoting lugs, it might just be what watches should look like in the future. Yet it displays a rich traditional flourish when it comes to every hand-finished titanium part, and you will surely become lost in some time-lapse loop-gazing into the jaw-dropping intense blue dial. With its appliqué gold stars and spherical moon phase, it competes for attention with the ultra-complex DB2529 calibre, which constitutes no fewer than 751 pieces including a 30in titanium tourbillon.


Hautlence Retrovision ’47

Green futuristic watch with red strap, seen on wrist

(Image credit: Courtesy of the brand)

This one had me torn – is it futurism, or retro-futurism, or a kind of colourful steam-punk creation? Who cares when it looks as fresh as this, with a charming back story to boot. At first glance, it looks like a watch from Thunderbirds, complete with a communicator speaker grille. Hautlence is a progenitor of mechanical futurism and will never release a round watch with three hands, trust us. The Retrovision ’47 was designed with the premise of Hautlence being established in the 1940s. A charmingly bonkers concept explaining the TV-like design, and it looks refreshingly like nothing else on the planet. The hand-painted cuboid case has an apple-green tinge and a Bakelite vibe, with a small off-set dial in brass and 2N red gold. It comes on a scintillatingly red strap, and if we told you there was a flying tourbillon under the speaker grille you might not be surprised.


Cartier Reflection de Cartier

Gold watch with watch face set inside ends of bangle

(Image credit: Courtesy of the brand)

Cartier just dropped one of the most enigmatic pieces of Watches and Wonders 2024, a square-profiled bangle of sorts. But in fact, it is also a watch, ensconced in the bangle end, reflected in the opposed polished god part. Inspiring, quirky and precious, with a quartz heart. This airy creation, standing out among a number of future-facing watch bracelets at the fair, is available in rose, yellow or white gold, with a few tempting gem-set versions that are rather breathtaking in their multi-coloured splendour.


Hublot Big Bang MP-11 Water Blue Sapphire 

blue, see-through watch

(Image credit: Courtesy of the brand)

Hublot never disappoints, taking sapphire craftsmanship to unseen levels with the new MP-11. Casting and machining man-made sapphire is one of the most difficult operations in the watch industry, but the brand doesn’t shy away from material challenges. The deceptively sweet tone of radiant blue suffuses the new MP-11 with light, while clear-framing the complexities within. It is a new and brand-exclusive sapphire tone, while the 14-day calibre is a mechanical piece of art. The manufacture movement has a skeleton aesthetic, with the massive power reserve powered by the engine-like seven spring barrels giving the case its characteristic hump.


Urwerk SpaceTime Blades

horological sculpture

(Image credit: Courtesy of the brand)

This is not a watch per se, rather an horological sculpture (also explored in our pick of offerings from independent watch brands ). The 1.7m human-height sculpture boasts 20kg of artisanal glow in the form of a vertical digital display. A glass dome – featuring the same thickness from base to rounded top – protects the SpaceTime Blade indications, eight vertically aligned and individually flame-shaped handmade Nixie bulbs. The metal base and top are solid bronze. The base represents an Urwerk crown, and the brass itself has been patinated and polished by hand. What do the eight Nixie bulb modules display? With a capacity of changing up to 500 times per second, they offers anything from mundane hours and minutes to a calendar, the Earth’s rotation in km, and its revolution around the sun. Quite.



Thor Svaboe is a seasoned writer on watches, contributing to several UK publications including Oracle Time and GQ while being one of the editors at online magazine Fratello. As the only Norwegian who doesn’t own a pair of skis, he hibernates through the winter months with a finger on the horological pulse, and a penchant for independent watchmaking.