The latest trends from SIHH, the pinnacle event of the haute horlogerie calendar.
Each brand’s exhibit is an artistic installation, using intrigue and dramatic lighting to lure the eyes of passersby towards the wrist-ready stars of the show. Cocktail fundraisers, a grand opening ceremony and a sleek and intimate interviewing area all create a buzz of exclusivity, seeing CEOs of the most revered watch manufacturing companies mingle with retailers, journalists and buyers.
Welcome to the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie; a trade event unlike any other. In this, its 25th anniversary year, it drew 12,500 esteemed guests to Geneva, representing 1500 points of sale and showcasing 16 of the most lauded maisons of the industry, from A (A. Lange & Sohne) to V (Vacheron Constantin).
A watch that carries the Poinçon de Genève, the most coveted quality seal, is of such high calibre that it generally requires 30 to 40 per cent more manufacturing time than most. To wear this seal is an honour, and Roger Dubuis is the only brand to ensure that 100 per cent of its pieces are marked as such. This means that when they deem this to be the Year of the Astral Skeleton, you’ll be inclined agree. This year they displayed an entire range of Excalibur models, each with inner functions brought to the forefront of the design. Among the range is the special design Excalibur Creative Skeleton Brocéliande, a ladies’ timepiece with a 42mm skeletonised flying tourbillon in pink gold controlling its movement. Intertwined like vines upon the dial is an ivy motif, set with 349 dazzling diamonds. It consolidates the increasingly popular notion that ornate gems need not be to the detriment of function.
Classic is always in style
A clean watch face and leather strap never goes out of vogue, but the mechanics behind them are ever advancing. In 2015 numerous brands paid homage to classical styles, straying from the ‘exuberant is best’ ethos of previous years. Piaget unveiled its Altiplano Chronograph ahead of the September debut. At 4.65mm, its ultra-thin movements make it the world’s thinnest hand-wound flyback chronograph; its gear finger only .06mm.
Also accolading tradition was Baume & Mercier’s redesign of its iconic Classima range. In line with the brand’s aesthetic, the range encompasses simple watch faces, alligator straps and clean-cut steel bracelets. The Classima Men Steel Automatic, for instance, is immediately timelesss, with its self-winding movement visible through its sapphire crystal back.
To stay ahead of the ball, watchmakers painstakingly test the endurance of new materials and assembly methods, and a watch that manages to be both tough and pleasantly lightweight will always go far. For Panerai, the material of the moment is carbotech, made via a process of compressing thin sheets of carbon fibre with polyether ether ketone. It has been used to develop the brand’s latest in its popular range of divers’ watches, with the matte-black finish of the men’s Luminor Submersible 1950 slightly unique in each piece. Inside it hums along on a P.9000 calibre, rounded off with a three-day power reserve.
Rise of the feminine
Roger Dubuis’ Skeleton Brocéliande was not the only one to denote a flourishing era for ladies’ watches. Audemars Piguet has leant its off-side Millenary oval shape to a women’s model, and Jaeger-LeCoultre – frequently praised for its delicate styles – displayed pieces from its exclusively-feminine Rendez-Vous line. The Rendez-Vous Moon, a unique creation upon a satin strap, incorporates a moon phase indicator that is accurate to one day every 972 years.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Moon Price $67,000
Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 Carbotech™ 3 Days Automatic POA
Baume & Mercier Classima 10215 Price $3150
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Creative Skeleton Brocéliande Price $390,000