The 25th Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie which took place from January 19th to 23rd 2015 at Palexpo, Geneva has ended on a positive note despite the announcement by the Swiss National Bank that it would detach its currency exchange rate from the Euro. This instantly hiked up the value of the Swiss franc and made watch products abroad 20 per cent more expensive. The economic cloud, which seemed to match Geneva’s sky, however could not dampen the excitement of watch enthusiasts to explore the new collections by the 16 exhibiting brands grouped under the Richemont umbrella. Aviamost’s Fady Boustany brings a firsthand account of the exciting novelties launched at the prestigious event…
An exclusive, invitation-only gathering, SIHH 2015 recorded a similar level of attendance as previous editions. Reserved for trade visitors from the media and distribution, it welcomed 14,500 guests from around the globe (+4% on 2014) 1,200 of whom were journalists.
Five exhibitors, five days and 4,500 square metres paved the way for the SIHH in 1991, a bold venture which brought together a handful of prestigious Maisons whose values were those of Fine Watchmaking. Over the years, the event has put Geneva firmly at the centre of the world watchmaking map.
“From what were indeed modest beginnings, the SIHH quickly grew,” recalls Fabienne Lupo, managing director of the SIHH. “Some Maisons have left while others have joined a sgroups have formed within the sector, now firmly established in the halls at Palexpo the SIHH is undoubtedly a highlight of the horological calendar.”
For this 25th edition, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, which organises the event, chose a more pragmatic approach. Initiation to watchmaking workshops invited visitors to take apart then reassemble a mechanical watch movement. There is an ongoing fascination with this world of the infinitely small, and this new angle on horological culture kept all its promises. The next edition of SIHH will take place from January 18th to 22nd 2016 at Palexpo.
The collected knowledge of centuries, decades of experience, years of development and hundreds of hours of dedicated labor culminate in a masterpiece of utmost precision and immaculate perfection. The SIHH is also a prelude to the trends taking shape. First of all, gold is back, and not just the “safe” white gold — rose gold, yellow gold and two-tone watches were aplenty. Watches are getting smaller again, with a few exceptions, and there seems to be a return to classic designs — not just “heritage” inspired, but design codes that have stood the test of time. Here are some of our favorite novelties by the 16 exhibiting maisons at SIHH 2015.
It was sheer firepower at legendary Parisian brand Cartier’s pavilion where dozens of High Jewellery watches, each more spectacular and sparkling than the other were showcased. But let’s start with its most complex creation the platinum Rotonde de Cartier Grande Complication watch - an incredible feat of watchmaking it consists of 578 components, took 5 years of development, 15 weeks of production at the Manufacture, 10 weeks of decorating and finishing and 5 weeks of assembly. The 5.49 mm self-winding mechanical movement caliber 9406 MC brings together three Fine Watchmaking complications: a perpetual calendar, a minute repeater and a flying tourbillon.
Its new version of the Astrotourbillon concept, the Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon Skeleton, lays bare the workings of its unusual rotating tourbillon mechanism, suspending it in the skeletonized movement. Another complicated watch, the Rotonde de Cartier Reversed Tourbillon, features an unconventional flying tourbillon displayed on a minimalist, sunburst-guilloché dial with an off-center hours and minutes display.
Cartier’s famous Panthère was in the spotlight this year, but appears for the first time in a pack, in the Rêves de Panthères watch surrounded by a fabulous pavé-diamond set disc and driven by the self-winding calibre 9916 MC. In it, the sun and the moon take turns indicating the time, appearing and disappearing in an alternating astral display, a magical spectacle observed by the three panthers, perhaps hopeful of a better future.
The Cartier Aten secret watch is set with 470 brilliant-cut diamonds and 50 baguette-cut diamonds. Styled as a cuff bracelet, the shape imitates that of a crescent kokoshnik, the traditional Russian headdress that Cartier interpreted in gemstone tiaras in the 1900s.
Walking into A. Lange Sohne’s booth at SIHH this year, visitors were greeted by an imposing 12-foot-high rendition of this year’s prize novelty from Glashuette: the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater. It combines a chiming mechanism with jumping displays for the hours and minutes. The simple, legible dial belies the complexities of its movement.
The Lange 1, the brand’s first and best known watch and a modern classic, now has a brand new motor, the L121.1, with an internally produced hairspring. This movement happens to be Lange’s 50th in-house calibre and coincides with the 200th birthday of the company’s founder, F.A. Lange himself. It also unveiled three new models in its elegant, understated Saxonia collection. The new-generation versions of the Saxonia, Saxonia Automatic, and Saxonia Dual Time all feature subtly redesigned dials, with two models also sporting new case dimensions and presenting enhanced legibility.
Yet another exciting minute repeater is Audemars Piguet’s new Royal Oak Concept “Acoustic Research” a unique prototype piece that is the result of an eight-year program to develop the “perfect” minute repeater sound volume. The renowned brand partnered with the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), a Swiss organization dedicated to the study of acoustics. Water-resistant to a relatively modest 20 meters, the manually wound watch has a 36-hour power reserve.
Audemars Piguet also surprised women with its Diamond Punk watch, with a hidden dial with a slider door and a body covered in 7848 diamonds and more diamonds on the dial. The clean-cut geometrics of a cuff bracelet, is expertly engineered as a piece unique of 56 dazzling pyramid facets. Beneath a secret sliding cover, the cool beauty of the dial is revealed: set with a further 300 diamonds. Incidentally, one of the five watches worn by the host of the Oscars 2015 awards, Neil Patrick Harris was Audemars Piguet’s 15400OR in 18k pink gold with a black dial.
Baume & Mercier launched three new watch references, two are new automatic models in its Art Deco-inspired, rectangular-cased Hamptons collection which marks its 20th anniversary in 2015 while the third is a new complication in the brand’s recently launched Clifton family.
Its Hamptons collection offers two new references in steel, have off-white dials, date windows at 6 o’clock, and sword-shaped hands that are a hallmark of the collection. A thin, subtly tapered profile follows the curve of the wrist and makes for an easy fit under the cuff of a dress shirt. There is also a sapphire window in the caseback that offers a view of the movement.
Baume & Mercier’s Clifton collection draws its design inspiration from a 1950s vintage model, in 2013 and has since added both a complete calendar and a chronograph. Its newest evolution includes a pair of practical complications, a big date and power-reserve display.
IWC Schaffhausen and around 800 prominent guests gathered to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the legendary Portugieser watch family at the SIHH 2015. Guests and brand ambassadors who attended the gala evening included movie stars Emily Blunt, Christoph Waltz, Zhou Xun, sports personalities such as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg and supermodels Karolina Kurkova and Adriana Lima. The theme of the event was “Journey to the Stars” and the entire evening was devoted to the secrets of measuring time and the complex mechanism of IWC’s prestigious Portugieser watch family.
Beijing’s Red Poppy Ladies Percussion, have enjoyed international fame since their appearance at the Olympic Games. For the IWC event, the artists were transported into the arena by black-clad “time agents” on Segways, where they proceeded to give a scintillatingly choreographed performance that reproduced the heartbeat of a watch movement.
IWC’s new models include the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition “75th Anniversary”, the Annual Calendar, which shows the month, date and day in three separate, semicircular windows at “12 o’clock”, and the Portugieser Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde which combines the magic of a floating tourbillon with the logic of a date hand that jumps back to its starting position and the power of a 7-day in-house calibre.
Incidentally, Best Actor nominee Bradley Cooper shone at the Oscars red carpet with an IWC Portugieser Automatic in Rose Gold with Ardoise Dial.
For its sixth year at the SIHH Greubel Forsey, a brand known for its ambitious, innovative multi-tourbillon watches, launched three new creations: the GMT Black a new execution of the succinctly named Greubel Forsey GMT, the brand’s singular take on the world-time watch which now sports a new blackened titanium case; the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision housed in a particularly sophisticated case that exemplifies classic elegance with the tourbillon appearing on the back of the timepiece taking its place under the sapphire crystal dome: and last but not least, the GMT 5N Movement featuring a contrast between the rich rosé tone of the 5N finish of its main plate and bridges against its 950 platinum case. It highlights the universal time display represented by 24 major cities, each one located in a different time zone and comes in 22 pieces.
The Florentine brand Panerai focuses on the Submersible derivatives in its collection this year with versions in titanium and a new material called CarbotechTM. This is a fusion of single-ply carbon fibre and layers of the high-end polymer PEEK (Polyether Ether Ketone), which binds the composite material, making it even stronger and more durable. Its new limited edition Mare Nostrum model features the brand’s OP XXV calibre, which is based on the Minerva 1322 base.
The Radiomir Equation du Temps is one of two new models featuring a new linear new equation of time indication. It also debuts the 44 mm Luminor 1950 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Ceramica housing the P.9100 manufacture chronograph movement with a high-tech matte-black case fashioned from synthetic ceramic based on zirconium oxide. The flyback function offered by the P.9100 caliber instantly zeroes the chronograph hands and restarts them with the push of a single button.
Piaget watches have long been renowned for their elegant thinness, and the brand has set numerous watch-world thinness records with its releases of recent years. The new Piaget Altiplano Chronograph sets another one, for world’s thinnest hand-wound flyback chronograph. It actually sets two new slimness records, both for the movement (just 4.65 mm thick) and the case (a wafer-like 8.24 mm). The brand has created 25 in-house movements that it considers “ultra-thin,” with 14 of them holding world records in their category. This latest is Caliber 883P, based on Piaget’s 880P, the thinnest automatic movement on the market. Piaget also managed to equip the movement with a 50-hour power reserve, a small seconds display, and a dual-time indication.
Piaget’s Art & Excellence collection, a celebration of one of the brand’s emblems, the rose – the queen of flowers, took centre stage unfurling a stunning collection of Altiplano watches, showcasing precious artisanal skills Micro-Pointillism Embroidery Grand Feu Enamel and Hard Stone Marquetry. Piaget’s Altiplano 38mm in white gold with a black dial was incidentally Oscar host Patrick Harris’s choice at the event.
Saying it with a flower is Richard Mille with its fantastic Tourbillon Fleur, a boldly feminine watch. The magnolia was chosen for its delicate appearance which stands in sharp contrast to its strong organic structure and resilience in tough environments. The flower does not just open, the entire flying tourbillon with its stone set stamen actually moves upwards 1mm when fully opened, copying the natural motion of the flower’s arching upwards of its stamen to increase its chances of pollination. It surrounds a flying tourbillon escapement with five delicate, hand created and colored petals. Working either in passing, or on demand using the pusher at 9 o’clock, it opens and closes with rhythmic regularity.
The brand also introduces the new RM 33-01, powered by the skeletonized RMXP3 caliber with the added convenience of a date display.
Roger Dubuis is celebrating its self-declared ‘Year of the Skeleton’ with a charismatic line-up of Excalibur models. With its Technical Skeleton models, under the code name Excalibur Spider, the brand takes things to the next level by also skeletonising the case and even the hands and flange of these timepieces. It offers a new generation of skeleton movements with its Excalibur Automatic Skeleton models: the first of their kind with the micro-rotor and featuring the inimitable ‘star’ signature.
Poetry meets the epic in it Excalibur Brocéliande, a high-tech jewel where the skeleton-work skills entwines with the brand’s instinct for fascinating and original jewellery-inspired creations just like ivy leaves do in nature. It powerfully yet delicately evokes the way in which the foliage of this evergreen plant subtly coils around its host in a symbiotic and almost fusional relationship: decorative jewellery elements are cleverly entwined with the skeleton flying tourbillon movement and the dial, to the point where they become indistinguishable from each other.
At SIHH 2015, Parmigiani Fleurier has brought out a new skeletonized ultra-thin watch: the Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Squelette. It gives a clear view of the new PF 705 movement. Just 2.6 mm thick and 30 mm in diameter, it has a 42-hour power reserve and beats at 21,600 vph. Moderately sized at 39 mm it can be worn by men and women and comes in rose gold or white gold. It has alligator leather strap by Hermès which has a working relationship with Parmigiani.
It debuted two more limited-edition pieces celebrating its 10th anniversary with luxury carmaker Bugatti — the Bugatti Victoire and the Bugatti Revelation. The Swiss watchmaker released the Bugatti Mythe watch — the first of three editions created to commemorate the partnership — in August 2014.
The design of the Bugatti Revelation is based the design of the Bugatti Veyron’s front grille, comprising tightly-packed diamonds forming a honeycomb structure, while the Bugatti Victoire motif is formed of concentric Vs that evoke the skid marks left on the track by a racing car on a track. The Bugatti Mythe’s watch-face, meanwhile, was inspired by the Art Deco-style Type 57 grille, paired with a black Hermès calf skin strap. The trio conveys the notions of speed and power that have defined Bugatti cars since the company was founded and represent the confluence of industry and craftsmanship in the automotive world.
Captivating is a word that aptly describes the night sky over the Vallée de Joux, this secret hollow nestling in the Swiss Jura that gave birth to the Maison Jaeger-LeCoultre. So this was the year of heavenly inspiration at Jaeger-LeCoultre, which unveils several highly technical timepieces, as well as some superb blends of beauty and brawn. For instance, for women, the brand releases the alluring Rendez-Vous Moon watch. As the day turns to night, it beautifully tracks the new moon, waxing gibbons, quarters, crescents and full moon with lunar precision. Its watchmakers built a new automatic movement that is so precise that the moon phase deviates by just one day every 972 years. Its Duomètre Sphérotourbillon Moon is equipped with a moon-phase display which when properly adjusted is designed to remain accurate for a full 3,887 years.
It also unveiled a watch that is literally from outer space – its classic 39mm Master Calendar watch – features a 100-million-year-old dial thanks to a single block of meteorite that was discovered in Sweden, originally hailing from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It offers - moon phases, month, date, day, small seconds counter, hours and minutes - on the dial with great elegance and legibility. It is equipped with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 866, an automatic movement with 305 different parts.
Tom Cross who won an Oscar for film editing ‘Whiplash’ chose the vintage-inspired Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra-Thin Tribute to Reverso 1931 as his on-stage companion.
Montblanc launched an entire new collection dedicated to the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, who discovered the southern ocean route to India from Europe. Its astonishingly beautiful 47mm 18k gold Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Geosphères Vasco da Gama is unique. It has a three-dimensional dial with two rotating globes displaying the time in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
The Vasco da Gama version of the Exo Tourbillon features an exquisite Aventurine dial and has the image of the Sao Gabriel – da Gama’s ship – etched on the sapphire caseback. The complex new Heritage Collection and limited edition Vasco da Gama pieces also mark the debut of three new movements, while its Bohème collection, with its self-winding calibre, date or perpetual calendar, welcomes women to fine watchmaking. The finely guilloché 60 or 90-facet or diamond paved dial serves as a backdrop to the race of the hours and the minutes.
Young and talented star Miles Teller, who was nominated for his breakthrough performance in the electrifying ‘Whiplash’ sported a beautiful Montblanc perpetual calendar watch at the event.
Ralph Lauren presented six new models in its Automotive collection at the show, continuing the use of rare hardwoods on the dial and bezel to emulate the Bugatti dashboard. Three of the new timepieces feature wooden bezels in amboyna burl, while three have elm burl wood on the dial. The highlight is the brand’s first skeletonised watch, the RL Automotive Skeleton, whose hand-wound calibre RL1967 is the first open-worked movement the brand has ever presented. Amboyna burl, which must be expertly cut and finished to expose its richly detailed swirling grain patterns, has a long history of use in luxury automotive interiors.
The new Ralph Lauren Automotive Chronograph is inspired by the instrument panel of Lauren’s legendary 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic, evoking the exotic aesthetic found in the cockpit of the car regarded as the finest gentleman’s sport coupe of all time. The dial has a handmade elm burl wood dial accent. Beneath the dial lies a refined caliber worthy of the Type 57 SC’s heritage - the self-winding caliber RL751A/1, the outcome of Ralph Lauren’s partnership with Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre. It beats at 28,800 vph and offers a 65-hour power reserve. The Côtes de Genève and perlage decoration is exclusive to Ralph Lauren.
In honor of 260 years of continuous production (the longest of any manufacturer), Vacheron Constantin has unveiled its new Harmony collection featuring a cushion shaped case and a design inspired by a yellow gold chronograph produced in 1928. The brand has also developed all new calibers for these watches, available in both pink and white gold, the dual time displays the second time zone at the four/five o’clock position and the watch is driven by the self-winding caliber 2460DT.
It enriches its Métiers d’Art collection with two new Mécaniques Gravées watches are distinguished by hand-engraved acanthus leaf motifs inspired by ancient jewellery and adorning two iconic movements from the Manufacture: Calibres 2260 and 4400. The hand-wound 14-day tourbillon is framed by a 41 mm-diameter round case in 950 platinum.
Its new collection of 12 unique crystal table clocks resembling luminous arches each equipped with a new Vacheron Constantin openworked Caliber 9260 movement comprising a constant-force mechanism and a 30-day power reserve.
Van Cleef & Arpels focused on Cadenas, the bracelet with a small quartz watch, a few one-off high jewellery pieces, and a few Poetic Complication watches with revolving dial. The one-off pieces were spectacular. The Carp Koï watch bracelet is in yellow gold set with 8,000 stones, diamonds, spessartite garnets, yellow sapphires, Paraíba-like tourmalines and black spinels, with a small quartz movement. The watch dial is in the fish’s mouth and is revealed by a light pressure somewhere on its head. Only one piece will be made. Its Abstraction watch has a separable bracelet, in three parts held together magnetically continuing the brand’s tradition of transformable jewellery pieces.
The new Poetic Complication watches have a very simple complication, a rotating pictorial dial with a period of 24 hours, so that the watch always looks different. There are two scenes, one with a ladybird - Lady Arpels Jour Nuit Coccinelle, and one with a bird of paradise - Lady Arpels Jour Nuit Oiseau de Paradis. They are numbered but not limited, with a 38 mm dial.
Its Enchanted Nature series, Charms watches have a bangle attached to the case and designs on three subjects linked to the language of flowers. For example, Espérance features buttercups (beauty), daffodils (true love’s desire) and chickweed (meeting).