The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH)takes place in Geneva this month, and the five-day premier event officially kicks off the year for watch lovers. Each January I look forward to seeing what the world’s most renowned watchmakers will unveil here.
The 2017 season at Palexpo features the major players in the luxury watchmaking industry, with most forming part of theRichemont Group, such as Cartier, IWC, and Piaget – all long-standing participants.
Last year, however, the Salon added a twist – the Carré des Horlogers section, showcasing fresh new design talent, and independent watchmakers.
Building on the success, this year they are adding five more, including Grönefeld, MCT – Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps, Ressence, RJ – Romain Jerome and Speake-Marin. The creations that debut at this event will set the trend for the year to come.
My selection of new watches that deserve to be included here range from the quirky (and slightly revealing) to the astronomically complex.
An age-old timekeeping tradition takes center stage in UlysseNardin’s latest creation – the art of Jacquemart. Usually found on old clock towers, it’s a bell-striker – or an automaton that strikes on the hour, or half hour.
In this case, the mechanism isn’t a dwarf with a hammer, but is rather in the form of a miniature artwork, depicting a peacock (on the left), which modestly conceals the dancer’s voluptuous curves – only to reveal all when the bell strikes.
It’s a playful celebration of watchmaking style, and teasingly provocative. But don’t let that fool you into thinking the watchmakers created it as a gimmick – the superb self-winding Caliber UN-610 powers the mechanism, and besides Rolex, UlysseNardin is the only watchmaker to offer a 5-year warranty on all its watches.
According to the creators, each dancer takes around 50 to 90 hours to complete, and only 28 examples of the Hourstriker Pin-Up will be made.
Jaeger - LeCoultreGeophysic Tourbillon Universal Time
Jaeger-LeCoultre is unveiling a new addition to the Geophysics collection – the Tourbillon Universal Time.(For the uninitiated, a tourbillon aims to counter the effects of gravity by mounting the escapement and balance wheel in a rotating cage. This makes the watch more accurate.)The guilloche styling is a nod to the original timepieces produced for a short time in 1958 and the vintage-inspired classic has an “H” shaped “gyrolab” balance-equipped tourbillon.
It’s a mechanically complex watch, housed in a titanium case, which measures 43.5mm in diameter.
Production is limited to 100 pieces.
Girard Perregaux ww.tc
If you’re wondering what the “ww.tc” in the name stands for, it’s World Wide Time Control, and considering that world timers often have some of the busiest and most complex dials, this one is refreshingly simple.
The design is meant to make you think of a vintage pocket watch, but more importantly, it is one of the simplest, cleanest world-timers I’ve seen for a while.
Compared to some of the earlier “sportier” watches from this manufacturer, this one stands in a class of its own in terms of the shear functionality and wearability.
Vacheron Constantin Les CabinotiersCelestia
This watch from Vacheron Constantin is something special. No simplicity here, this is a Grand Complication – with no less than 23 functions, besides telling the time.
The full title is the Les CabinotiersCelestiaAstronomical Grand Complication 3600, and it matches the complexity of the watch itself.
According to the makers, it took five years to develop and build the new Caliber 3600 movement. And it was worth the wait.
It’s the most complicated watch to be unveiled at SIHH, and the astronomical complications are a sight to behold. For such a complex timepiece it’s remarkable compact, only 45mm wide and 13.6mm thick.
The 23 complications include a moon phase, a sunrise/sunset complication, an indication of the length of the day and night, and a sector showing the current Sun sign in the Zodiac, as well as the Equinoxes and Solstices. There’s also a beautiful sky chart on the back of the watch, made of two separate sapphire discs.
It’s one-of-a-kind, and the price tag is set around $1 million.