A MATTER OF TIME
This year’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) presented an impressive mix of technical and aesthetic masterpieces—including a good number that won’t break the bank. Karishma Tulsidas highlights timepieces that were the talk of the town, th
GOLDEN RATIO IWC
Two years ago, IWC Schaffhausen defied its motto “Engineered for Men” by boldly wooing female collectors. Now it’s turning out a host of exquisite timepieces for ladies with the relaunch of the unisex Da Vinci family. Versatile enough to encase a host of complications such as the Perpetual Calendar Chronograph, and yet sophisticated enough to appeal to the modern woman, the Da Vinci is inherently elegant, with its recessed inner dial, slim hands, rounded crown, applied Arabic numerals and moveable lugs. The Automatic Moon Phase 36 features a gold-and-blue lunar display. On the back you’ll find the inspiration for this collection—the Flower of Life motif, a rendering that Leonardo da Vinci studied.
LIGHTEST EVER RICHARD MILLE
Stronger than diamond, more conductive than copper and more flexible than rubber, graphene is a “wonder material” mainly used in electronics, but Richard Mille is exploring its use. Graphene debuts in its latest collaboration with Mclaren-honda—the RM 50-03 Tourbillon Split Seconds Chronograph Ultralight Mclaren F1—in the form of Graph TPT. Formed from layers of graphene and TPT Carbon, it’s six times lighter than stainless steel and 200 times stronger. The RM 50-03 weighs a mere 40g, and the movement 7g. Though it has a tourbillon and a split-seconds chronograph, it can withstand shocks of 5,000g.
RACE TIME MONTBLANC
The Montblanc Timewalker Chronograph 1000 Limited Edition 18 can measure intervals to a thousandth of a second. It’s not an unprecedented record, but it’s a feat that can’t be scoffed at, especially when you consider the high level of mechanical mastery required to engineer a “simpler” chronograph that records times of a sixth of a second. Harking back to the heyday of motor racing, the Timewalker features a palette of black with red accents, while the power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock and the second indication at 6 o’clock reference old-school fuel gauges and dashboards. The black alligator strap comes with red perforations reminiscent of the driving gloves of yore.
RHYTHM AND ILLUSIONS CARTIER
Cartier’s signature Mysterious display appeared in the maison’s lexicon in 1912. It was inspired by 19th-century clockmaker Jean Eugène Robert-houdin’s mystery clocks, in which the hands appear to be floating in mid-air. The concept only appeared on a wristwatch in 2013, a feat of engineering that deepened Cartier’s watchmaking reputation. This year, the complication emerges again in the Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon, whose three barrels promise three-and-a-half days of autonomy. The timepiece captivates the imagination with its air of mystery, embodied by the Mysterious Double Tourbillon aperture and the dark Geneva Seal-finished components. This horological wonder, four-and-a-half years in the making, is limited to 50 pieces.
ALL a FLUTTER VAN Cleef & Arpels
If Van Cleef & Arpels had a spirit animal, it would be the butterfly, which perfectly embodies the whimsical and poetic nature of the maison. On the Lady Arpels Papillon Automate, the winged creature is seen fluttering in the outdoors, its wings flapping as you move your wrist. The wings can also be activated by the push button at 7 o’clock. This delightful performance is the result of a complex mechanism in which two crank wheels transfer energy to the wings. Since the wings require space to move, there is a gap between the dial and the sapphire crystal, creating a multidimensional display that highlights Van Cleef & Arpels’ artistic skills. The butterfly is rendered in plique-à-jour enamel, while the reeds are in champlevé and paillon enamel. The flowers are engraved on mother-of-pearl, while diamonds and multicoloured sapphires inject scintillating hues into the panorama.
WATCH FOR CHAMPIONS roger Dubuis
Roger Dubuis has used the rubber from the Pirelli tyres of the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix winner on its Excalibur Spider Pirelli watch. Of course, the rubber has to be worked on, as in its natural state it could singe your skin. It is combined with Rubbertech, and the inside of the strap has a tread imitating that of the Pirelli Cinturato tyre. The strap is finished with blue stitching, a reference to the colour of the tyres on the winning car at the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix. The eight collectors who manage to lay their hands on the Double Flying Tourbillon version will also be invited by Pirelli to a two-day VIP programme at a motorsport event.
IN FULL BLOOM JAEGER-LECOULTRE
Inventive and ingenious mechanisms are Jaegerlecoultre’s calling card, but its trimmings aren’t too shabby either. Under its revered Hybris Artistica banner, it combines its technical and aesthetic know-how with timepieces that blur the line between form and function. This year, the ladies version of the Mystérieuse takes the term “jewellery watch” to a whole new level. Recurring ivy motifs adorn the case and mother-of-pearl dial, their leaves snow-set with diamonds, a technique that covers the entire surface with precious stones so the metal cannot be seen. You will also notice there are no hands. The flying tourbillon doubles as the hour indicator, as it rotates around the dial every 12 hours, while a peripheral rotating flange studded with a ruby (pictured) or sapphire displays the minutes. There are only three Hybris Artistica Mystérieuse ladies timepieces, one white, one blue and one red.
EVERYDAY PANACHE GIRARD-PERREGAUX
When Girard-perregaux relaunched the Laureato collection last year with two limited edition pieces in tribute to the 1975 original, connoisseurs were excited—did this mean the collection was back for good? This year, Girard-perregaux marks the Laureato as a mainstay in its portfolio with a number of references spanning four sizes—34, 38, 42 and 45mm. The quartz-powered 34mm version suits women, while the 38mm piece suits both genders. Not many sporty chic timepieces look good with diamonds, but the Laureato pulls it off with panache, thanks in part to the curved edges of the eight-sided bezel.
HOROLOGICAL DELICACY PIAGET
This year is the 60th anniversary of the Altiplano line and Piaget is celebrating with a bang. Hard stone dials of turquoise and opal honour the collection’s popularity in the 1970s, while the ultra-thin Tourbillon High Jewellery, featuring a 4.6mm movement, shows the watchmaker is relentless in its quest for slimness. The Double Jeu Lacework (pictured) is a decadent celebration of the diamond anniversary and showcases the brand’s expertise in jewellery-making. A hinged lid with a filigree gold pattern covers the mother-of-pearl dial, the pure white canvas peeking from under the skeletonised lid. Nine marquise-cut diamonds adorn the cover, while the bezel and lugs are lavishly accented with brilliant cuts.
BOLD AND BLACK PANERAI
Panerai’s LAB-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days comes with a 50-year guarantee. How can Panerai be so confident? Because it has replaced every single component with various iterations of carbon. The case is made from Carbotech, a proprietary material that reinforces very thin sheets of carbon fibre with the organic polymer PEEK, making it more resistant to knocks and corrosion. The dial has been reinforced with carbon nanotubes, a coating that absorbs light, making it look blacker. Crucial components have been replaced by carbon, and the main bridges and plates are made from a Tantalum based ceramic, thus making the watch immune to friction damage, eliminating the need for lubrication.
LOOKING TO THE SKIES VACHERON CONSTANTIN
Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600, or the Celestia, is one of two complicated pieces it introduced this year in its Cabinotiers line. It has 23 complications but is a scant 8.7mm thick—and that includes six barrels providing three weeks of autonomy. How did the brand manage to keep it so svelte? It took five years of development and the introduction of a Bioflex alloy for the barrel springs, enabling them to store more energy in less space. An astronomical timepiece, it reveals the time based on, first, the sun’s position in the sky, and second, the position of distant stars. Turn it over and you will be transported to the celestial skies with a rendering of the galaxy. Here, the sidereal indication features the constellation viewed from the northern hemisphere.
MAKING WAVES ULYSSE NARDIN
The Diver Chronograph Artemis Racing is the third watch out of the collaboration between Ulysse Nardin and sailing team Artemis Racing, the other two being the Marine Diver Artemis Racing and the Freak Wing. The timepiece features a unidirectional bezel, extra-large luminescent hands, and water resistance to 200 metres. The crown, pusher and case are all coated in rubber, making them easy for gloved hands to manipulate. The watch bears Artemis Racing elements, including the team logo on the dial and bracelet, and it’s adorned entirely in the team’s colours of navy blue with accents of yellow on the tachymeter scale, chronograph counters and hand. The whimsical addition of a relief of catamarans on the dial adds nautical panache.
STUNNINGLY COMPLICATED A LANGE & SÖHNE
A Lange & Söhne’s Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite” is a watchmaking tour de force. It contains 684 components, 206 of which are reserved for the perpetual calendar, which accounts for leap years and needs no correction until 2100. Its moon phase display is accurate for 122 years. The combination of a perpetual calendar with a rattrapante, or split-seconds, chronograph is rarely seen in timepieces. Despite the piece’s complexity, the dial is Teutonic in its practicality and sophistication. A regulatorstyle display for the perpetual calendar presents the moon phase and date at 12 o’clock, the months and leap year at 3 o’clock, and the day and 30min chronograph counter at 9 o’clock. At 6 o’clock, the oneminute tourbillon performs its dance. The watch is limited to 50 pieces in platinum.
LITHE TRIBUTE PARMIGIANI
When it comes to rare supercars, nothing quite beats the appeal of a Bugatti, but did you know there’s one even more exquisite than the Veyron? The Aérolithe was seen once, and once only, and remains an enigmatic reference in the carmaker’s history. Parmigiani Fleurier pays tribute to this car with the Bugatti Aérolithe Performance timepiece. The Aérolithe, designed by Jean Bugatti, was extremely light, thanks to a body made of Elektro, a combination of magnesium and aluminium. Parmigiani used titanium for the case, as it is one of the lightest and most durable materials today. The 41mm timepiece features the in-house PF335 chronograph movement with a fly back module, and offers 50 hours of autonomy.
20 AND COUNTING Audemars Piguet
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak has made countless breakthroughs, including being the first luxury timepiece in stainless steel. This year, the Royal Oak Chronograph celebrates its 20th anniversary with a special edition given an updated aesthetic and a range of metals, colours and finishings. The series offers various two-tone dials, with the brand’s signature Grande Tapisserie motif serving as the background for chronograph counters of contrasting hues. The pink-gold version comes with brown or blue dials with pink-gold counters; the stainless-steel versions come with black, white or blue dials with contrasting subdials. The new titanium and platinum reference highlights a grey dial and blue counters.
Hammer Time gruebel forsey
Why is the Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie such a special timepiece? In terms of numbers, it comprises 935 parts, 11 safety features and two patents, and it took the watchmakers 11 years to conceptualise and develop the movement. The Grande Sonnerie chimes out the hours and quarters. The user can also select a petite sonnerie mode, where only the full hours are chimed; or silent, with the chimes muted. The watch also has a minute repeater function. To intensify the acoustics, Greubel Forsey used cathedral gongs that circle the movement twice, thus producing a richer sound than singular gongs. The Tourbillon 24 Secondes is just the cherry on top of this impressive mechanical masterpiece, bringing the brand’s signature tourbillon movement at a 25-degree incline to the mix.