Every year, in the midst of the Swiss winter, the best and the biggest of the watch industry get together in Geneva for the Annual Exhibition of Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). In this, its 28th edition, SIHH welcomed six new exhibitors: Hermès and the Carré des Horlogers, Armin Strom, Chronometry Ferdinand Berthoud, DeWitt, elegant by FP Journe and Romain Gauthier, bringing the number of exhibitors to 35, including 18 historic houses and 17 marks of the Carré des Horlogers.
In recent years, the watch industry suffered a world wide collapse in sales, sending alarm waves throughout both, the titans in the market and independent brands alike. From family owned Parmigiani to giant Richemont, everybody was wondering how to recover from the hit that sales were taking from different factors: slow global economy, rising inflation in Europe, and a sharp decrease in sales to the Chinese and the Russians. However the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported a growth in exports in the period January-November 2017 of nearly 3% and for 2018 it is expected to reach 5%.
This year’s exhibitors at SIHH seem to have focused on innovations on one hand, and on the other, the reinvention of iconic models which, having been a resounding success in the past, are expected to perform equally well in their 21st-century form. It is always difficult to pick favourites, but from everything we saw, innovations, variations of classics, new concepts there were a few time pieces that really caught our attention. We present them to you here, and invite you to choose your favourite and email us with your choice at firstname.lastname@example.org. One of you, watch lovers, will be invited to be our guest curator and select the watches that will be featured in our Spring-Summer issue. So without further ado, here are the contenders:
The Laureato 38 mm White Ceramic: the purest and most iconic watch by Girard-Perregaux with a twist. It features a bezel and crown in steel, sparkling with 56 brilliant-cut diamonds. Their respective sizes reflect each variation in the thickness of the octagonal bezel. The use of ceramics further accentuates the ergonomic qualities of the watch, and thanks to the use of ceramic, it is virtually scratchproof and hypoallergenic. A white rubber strap is also available. The bracelet, a natural extension of the case, distinguishes itself by its wide and entirely white ceramic satin-brushed H-shaped links as well as it’s domed and polished interlink elements. www.girard-perregaux.com
The brand new 40mm Fiftysix day-date: part of the new Fiftysix collection presented by Vacheron Constantin at SIHH, this watch pays homage to the iconic reference 6073, from 1956, which was inspired by the Maltese cross. It feels contemporary and cosmopolitan, yet retro-chic. That must be because of the many elements that the new Fiftysix has taken from its 1950s predecessor: the box type sapphire crystal rising well above the bezel, the self-winding movement with a new oscillating weight featuring the Maltese cross emblem and the sector-type dial featuring two subtle tones on its surface which capture the light in a way that adds depth and personality to this elegant and masculine watch. This particular model comes equipped with a stop-seconds device, the latter powers the day of the week indication appearing at 9 o’clock, the date at 3 o’clock and the power-reserve display at 6 o’clock. www.vacheron-constantin.com
Métiers d’Art Les Aérostiers: also by Vacheron Constantin. I never tire of the Metiers d’Arts collections. To me they represent the pinnacle of Vacheron Constantin’s sense of aesthetics… speckled with a bit of madness. As the other Métiers d’Art collections, Les Aérostiers combine the finest artistic crafts with the most sophisticated horological techniques. Splendid hand-engraved and micro-sculpted gold hot-air balloons hover against a translucent plique-à-jour enamel background, while time is displayed to the beat of Manufacture Calibre 2460 G4/1. Each of the 5 watches in the collection depicts, on its dial, one of the 5 hot-air balloon flights undertaken in France between 1783 and 1785. The challenge for the master engravers at the Maison, was to add volume to the original two-dimensional drawings, and interpreting their colours through finishing effects. Each hot-air balloon called for up to three weeks of craftsmanship in order to reproduce the entire range of subtle feature and ornamental details of the original works. The dials thus compose authentic miniature scenes graced with an extraordinary variety of motifs. www.vacheron-constantin.com
Kalparisma Nova Galaxy: Launched in 2008, the Kalparisma was Parmigiani’s first mechanical collection for women. In this, its 10th anniversary, the brand is celebrating with the Nova Galaxy, a very feminine watch with all the unusual attributes Parmigiani has accustomed us to. Firstly, the use of Aventurini glass in its dial (a glass discovered in Murano by accident in the 19th century), baptised “Galaxy” as a reminder of the sparkling constellations evoked by the material.
Likewise, the Nova Galaxy represents a star-scattered sky. The delta-shaped hands are skeletonised to better reveal the celestial display. The “Nova” star represents its small seconds at 6 o’clock, inspired by a pocket watch from the Sandoz collection that Michel Parmigiani restored in his workshop decades ago, on which reverse, a number of stars began to turn whenever the minute repeater was activated.
There are two models of this watch, differentiated by the case material and the stone-setting that adorns them. This one, in rose gold, matches the indices and Nova star. The sides of the case are set with 46 Top Wesselton diamonds for a total of ~0.84 carats. 50 pieces limited edition.
IWC Tribute Pallweber pocket watch “150 years”: This pocket watch with jumping numerals is part of the Jubilee collection, in celebration of the company’s 150th anniversary. Limited to 50 pieces, this is the first pocket watch from IWC with a digital hours and minutes display since the production of the historical Pallweber pocket watch which launched in 1884 and was discontinued in 1890. It shows the hours and minutes in digital format with large numerals on rotating discs and is housed in an 18-carat red gold case, decorated with elaborate guilloché work and worn on an 18-carat red gold chain. The pocket watch features a white dial with a lacquered finish and white display discs. Two windows in the spring cover reveal the hours and minutes, so the time can be read even when it is closed. The case also features a closed dust cover on the backside. The IWC-manufactured 94200 calibre advances the display discs by using a separate wheel train with a barrel of its own. The fact that the flow of power in the main wheel train operates independently guarantees precision and a 60-hour power reserve.
The New Hermès Cape Cod: First born in 1991 from Henri d’Origny’s out-of-the-box mindset. He had been asked to imagine a square watch, but he preferred rectangular ones. Cutting the iconic “Anchor Chain” motif in two he actually managed to combine both shapes. A square embedded in a rectangle, the Cape Cod watch is magnified by its double tour strap that gives the watch an additional touch of originality and boldness.
In its 2018 re-launch, the Cape Cod comes in different versions. This particular one features a rhodium-plated dial, polished to create a mirror-like effect and coated with a precious translucent lacquer. It is available in two versions – Large Model and Small Model – with a single or double tour Milanese mesh bracelet. uk.hermes.com