A week after the close of SIHH 2019 we take a look at a few of the most interesting debuts from the major exhibitors.
While the majority of new watches we saw last week in Geneva emphasized novel dial work, moderate sizes and contemporary designs, several stood out for their technical chops.
More watchmakers this year, within the main group of SIHH exhibitors, showed new perpetual calendars and watches with interesting, even novel, moonphase displays. We also saw a flurry of green and blue dials, and many of the latter were often re-introduced with a wholly new style of finishing that seemed to change the look of familiar watches.
Both Jaeger-LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin, for example, sent entire collections back to their dial-making artisans for refinishing - mostly with terrific results. In a similar vein, A. Lange & Söhne’s Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon looks positively sexy with its new pink gold dial. Parmigiani Fleurier, IWC, Girard-Perregaux, Bovet and Panerai showed impressive new dial techniques and case materials.
Indeed, much of the novelty at SIHH 2019 lay in the technical development of interesting dials, whether blue, enamel, engraved, skeletonized, meteorite – or confectionary (as is the case with Richard Mille’s impressive, if unusual, Bonbon collection.) As a result, fewer pure technical novelties appeared within the halls this year.
But there were numerous exceptions, notably Vacheron Constantin’s slew of Les Cabinotiers complications and, mostly, its much-discussed Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar. The groundbreaking design boasts a patent-pending system that lets the wearer switch between high-frequency Active mode (5Hz) and low-frequency Standby mode (1.2Hz). Using the Standby mode allows the possibility of extending the watch’s power reserve up to an astounding sixty-five days.
Roger Dubuis scored four patents for its new Excalibur One-Off, a 47mm ceramic-and-carbon-cased watch with caliber RD106, a 90° V-Shape double flying tourbillon. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s latest multi-axis tourbillon, the impressive Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel, features a Westminster carillon minute repeater that replicates the chime of Big Ben in London, with a silence-reduction mechanism.
Audemars Piguet, in case you missed it, launched Code 11.59, a wide-ranging new collection that signaled its deep technical know-how in both case making and movement engineering. The launch includes six new calibers, three of which are totally new: an integrated column wheel chronograph with flyback function, an automatic caliber with seconds and date indication, and an automatic flying tourbillon. The collection’s historically rooted dial designs took some flak online, but a few observers amended their first impressions following some time spent with the actual watches.
Below we show you several particularly notable new SIHH 2019 debuts as seen at the larger watchmakers. We’ll have more about the debuts seen at the smaller, generally independent watchmakers that comprise the show’s Carré des Horlogers in upcoming posts, plus additional news about the many watchmakers that exhibit nearby the SIHH during the event.
1858 Split Second Chronograph
My glee at seeing the new, green-dialed examples of the Montblanc 1858 collection (including the Geosphere, Automatic Chronograph and Automatic) was only amplified by the introduction of this black-dialed model, a beautiful bronze-cased update of a vintage Minerva design.
The so-called ‘Collector Piece’ of the 1858 line, the 44mm watch is a monopusher chronograph powered by the slow-beat MB M16.31, an awe-inspiring caliber that, when viewed from the back of this watch, will inspire just as many sighs as the vintage-tinged dial. Price: $31,000.
Somewhat hidden behind the interest in this brand’s ‘entry level’ Freak (The Freak X, priced starting at $21,000) and the newest Ulysse Nardin erotic watch collection, this contemporary 42mm open work design is far more impressive on the wrist than in pictures.
Most notable is the model cased with Carbonium Gold, Ulysse Nardin’s mix carbon and gold, which makes for a lightweight watch set with a surprisingly fine skeleton design. Price: Starting at $17, 500; $21,000 for the Carbonium Gold model.
Toric Retrograde Perpetual Calendar
Parmigiani Fleurier tweaked the case and crown proportions on this model just slightly this year. The watch retains the full range in calendar indications amid a new and richly detailed slate-colored dial made with hand-engraved guilloché meant to recall the structure of a pinecone. Within it we see a semi-circular retrograde date, day and month, moon phase on aventurine disc and semi-skeletonized javelin-shaped hands. Parmigiani Fleurier also debuted a version with an interesting and much simpler white-grained dial. The 42.5mm red gold watch is powered by the in-house Caliber P333. Price: $63,100 (white dial) and $64,100 (slate guilloche dial).
Santos De Cartier Chronograph
With last year’s solid Santos collection update focusing on three-hand models with date, a Santos chronograph was not unexpected this year. The results are equally compelling as Cartier retains the classic Santos case silhouette by smartly placing the chronograph start/stop pusher on the left. The crown functions as the reset pusher. Cartier has engineered its own caliber (1904-CH MC) to now include a superior column-wheel chronograph with vertical clutch.
As always, Cartier offers a broad selection of case options, including steel with a black ADLC bezel, steel and gold (my favorite, pictured) and solid rose gold. Each is offered with a leather or rubber strap and bracelet options (including a new deployant design), all with Cartier’s patented QuickSwitch system that makes changing between straps and bracelets a simple task. Starting price: $8,950.
Usually working with a larger canvas, Greubel Forsey needed to carefully consider each micron of dial and movement space when realizing this new watch. At 39.6mm in diameter, the white gold case (the watchmaker’s smallest to date) does perfectly display the unusual (for this brand) tourbillon-free basics: hours and minutes, small seconds and power reserve. The latter displays the remaining power in the two-barrel system that will operate for 72 hours on a full wind.
As usual, proportion is just one challenge that Greubel Forsey masters here, with the ultimate frosted, mirror-polished and blued steel finishes all vying for the viewer’s attention. A high-domed sapphire crystal framed by a thin white gold bezel ensures that the large balance, with its ultra-polished bridge, is prominently displayed. The watch is stunning in the metal, and certainly one of the show’s highlight debuts. Price: 195,000 Swiss francs. For the more extravagant, Greubel Forsey has also made a version with 9.5 carats of diamonds set into the bezel, case, lugs and crown.
Arceau L’heure de la Lune
Hermès almost annually debuts a watch that approaches timekeeping from a distinctive angle. Calling 2019 ‘Year of the Dream,’ Hermès continues this streak in beautiful form with this 43mm white gold watch, which we first introduced here. The watch simultaneously displays moon phases in an untraditional manner with the northern hemisphere at the bottom and southern hemisphere above, while also showing the time and date.
Both displays rotate, retaining their orientation, around either a meteorite or aventurine dial, each day revealing another sliver of the artistic mother-of-pearl moons. The Manufacture Hermès H1837 movement, assisted by a moonphase module made for Hermès, powers the displays. Each version will be made in a series of 100 watches, each priced at $25,500.
Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel
The 39mm white gold Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel, a 100-piece limited edition with a blue dial, highlights two artisanal crafts: guilloché and enameling. On the wrist, the undulating dial treatment is a wonder to behold as it pleasingly plays with the light. Note the new design of the hour-markers, which are longer and split into two at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock.
The watch is one of a trio of white-gold watches that Jaeger-LeCoultre treated with this labor-intensive blue dial. Inside is Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 925, an automatic mechanical movement with a 70-hour power reserve. Price: $35,800.
Code 11.59 Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon
Just one model of a wide-ranging (and much-discussed) new unisex collection, this watch’s gold dial is covered with blue or black Grand Feu enamel. For the first time Audemars Piguet combines an automatic movement with a central rotor and a flying tourbillon. As with all the watches in the new collection, this 41mm watch rides the wrist exceptionally well and exhibits its dial to perfection thanks to the unusual double-curved sapphire crystal. Price: 129,000 Swiss francs.