Every January for the past couple of decades, Richemont Group brands like Cartier, Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, Van Cleef and Arpels, Richard Mille, and Jaeger-LeCoultre jointly host a watch fair in Geneva called the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève, or SIHH for short.
Over the years other brands, like Ulysse Nardin, MB&F, and H. Moser et Cie have joined in showcasing their new wares for 2017 to wholesalers, small retailers, and journalists. I toured the show this week, and these were the highlights.
Geophysic Tourbillon Universal Time
This watch from Jaeger-LeCoultre marks the first time a flying tourbillon complication has been included on a worldtimer, and the execution is elegant and feels perfectly natural. The blue portions of the dial, which represent the oceans, are hand-guilloch??d in a wave pattern and 26 global cities are marked on the outer ring. It's an automatic movement with a pink gold winding rotor and 48-hour power reserve.
RM 50-03 Tourbillon Split Seconds Chronograph Ultralight McLaren F1
Yes, the name is a mouthful. But there is a lot going on in this watch, which is the first release in a 10-year partnership with the racing brand McLaren. Made from carbon, titanium, and a material called graphene, it takes design cues from the McLaren racer, like the hollow pushers and the rubberised torque reducer on the crown. Richard Mille claims this is the lightest split-second tourbillon watch on the market (I held it, it is indeed very light).
Baume et Mercier
Clifton Club Shelby Cobra
This new version of Baume et Mercier's partnership with Shelby is a real looker. The flyback chronograph has a split colour dial and red contrast stitching on the strap, both meant to evoke the famous 1964 Shelby Cobra. (There's also a snakey nod to the car's name at the tail end of the chrono hand.) It will be available starting in April, and only 196 will be made.
LAB-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days
This watch is mostly cool because of the material it's made from, carbotech, which is created through a process of fusing many layers of carbon under high pressure. According to the brand, it's lighter and more stress resistant than titanium. The dial is made up of tiny black nanotubes, which absorb light and create the appearance of a black that is even darker than a normal black. (Although it's no Vantablack.) The numbers and hands are unique for Panerai, a brilliant blue Super-LumiNova. There will be only 50 made.
A. Lange & Söhne
Tourbograph Perpetual 'Pour Le Mérite'
This watch won't be on your wrist until fall, but you can order it now, and fans of this brand (with deep pockets) will certainly be lining up for it. Only 50 will be made.
In this image you can see the perpetual calendar functions, the large tourbillon, the rising moon and the day of the week. But what is harder to read until you hold the watch in your hands is the rattrapante chronograph hands, which can split the time. (Say you had two people racing. You could time both of them by stopping one of the hands when your first runner finishes and then the other when the second comes through.) The frozen hand can then catch up with its partner.
H. Moser et Cie
Swiss Alpine Jumping Chain
Using a movement created by sister brand Hautlence, H.Moser has updated their Swiss Alpine watch (the one that raised eyebrows for its similarity in case shape to the Apple Watch just over a year ago) to showcase more of the horology behind the dial. The jumping hours complication shows the time in roman numerals that rotate through the display window at top, above the retrograde minutes hand, and the organ on the left side of the watch rotates once an hour. The case is white gold, and 10 pieces will be made by the end of the year.
Bugatti Aerolithe Performance
There were a handful of car partnerships this year at SIHH, and the ongoing one between Bugatti and Parmigiani begot this handsome automatic watch this time around. There's a large tachymeter that is scaled to track the speed of a car (that's the one with the Bugatti logo on the tail end of it) plus a small tachymeter near 3 o'clock that is scaled to measure the speed of a human running. (I know this is a conundrum you often run into-having to time a speeding car and human at the same time.)
TimeWalker Chronograph 1000
Montblanc has been making huge strides in its watchmaking in recent years, both at the entry-level price points and with haute horlogerie. They even won a watch of the year award in 2016. This year the brand came out with the very handsome, sporty TimeWalker series, which will surely be popular with men who like to wear an athletic-looking watch with a suit.
A highlight of that collection is the limited edition TimeWalker Chronograph 1000, which is a chronograph that can mechanically measure time accurately to the 1000th of a second. (This is not the first time this has been done, but the first time I've ever been able to play with such a watch). Using a combination of the standard chronograph hand, the small subdials at six o'clock, and the red dial at 12 o'clock, you can put together the time to that extraordinary level of detail.
The movement is manually wound, and you can see the power reserve at three o'clock-it goes up to 45 minutes because after that, if the watch is not charged, the accuracy on the timekeeping decreases. There are two patents on the watch mechanism, which has 488 parts; only 18 will be made in titanium.
Check out the gallery above to see eight of the best watches from this year's SIHH.