Watchmakers start the year with a bang at Geneva’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie.
The year’s first major gathering of watch professionals, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), unfolded recently in Geneva, with six new brands making their debut and taking the total number of exhibitors to 35.
Looking at the innovations on display, it is clear that haute horlogerie is gearing up for an exciting year. We present 10 of the timepieces that caught our eye.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak RD#2
The 6.3mm Royal Oak RD#2 is the world’s thinnest self-winding perpetual calendar, and it took five years of development to bring the three-storey movement down to a single level that was also robust, ergonomic and efficient. The watch features a record-shattering 2.89mm central rotor and a perpetual calendar with day, date, astronomical moon, month, leap year, night and day indication, hours and minutes. The RD#2 is housed in a 950 platinum case, with glare-proofed sapphire crystal and RD#2 engraved on the caseback. The blue dial showcases Audemars Piguet’s signature “Grande Tapisserie” pattern, and the readability of the watch has been improved with expanded counters. AP adds that the 12 o’clock moon phase pays homage to the company’s first perpetual calendar wristwatch, which was released in 1955.
A. Lange & Söhne Triple Split
It is the only split-seconds chronograph in the world that can measure additive and comparative times for as long as twelve hours. Moreover, with a precisely jumping rattrapante minute counter and a continuous rattrapante hour counter, the Triple Split multiplies the measuring range of the rattrapante function by a factor of 24. A. Lange & Söhne points out that the watch covers a wide range of applications — for example, it can compare the times of two opponents in a race, or record the times of consecutively starting events, such as the outbound and return legs of a long-haul flight. It is available in a limited edition of 100 pieces.
DeWitt Academia Endless Drive
Tipping a hat to automotive mechanics, as is its wont, DeWitt’s Academia Endless Drive’s most striking feature is the “endless screw” that dominates the dial — its rotation creates a sense of perpetual motion, while serving “as an allegory for time itself”. DeWitt explains that the watch has two degrees of freedom — as the 59-hour power reserve decreases, the screw rotates, and when the barrel is wound, the screw slides on its longitudinal axis. The hours and minutes are displayed through two discs located at 9 and 3 o’clock that rotate around a fixed central piece. The Academia Endless Drive is powered by the 5050 automatic movement, developed, produced and assembled by hand. The 42.5mm round case aspires to create an interplay of contrasting effects, by using a combination 18-carat rose gold and black rubber, paired with a calfskin leather strap.
HYT takes the flow of time literally, launching a watch that indicates the passage of time with liquids and uses the mechanical movement as “the trigger to the fluid propulsion”. Here, fluidic hours are represented by the continuous movement of a coloured liquid in a circular capillary, while a cloche-like sapphire crystal offers an intriguing lateral view of time’s progress. The sense of fluidity is further conveyed through the shape of the watch. The H20 is available in two limited editions, each comprising 25 numbered pieces. One is encased in black and uses a bright green fluid, while the second option has a silver-coloured case and features deep blue liquid.
IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years”
IWC reminisces that the first Pallweber pocket watch was manufactured in 1884, and showed the hours and minutes in digital format with large numerals on rotating discs. These watches were discontinued in 1890, but, in its 150th anniversary year, the watchmaker takes a trip down memory lane and honours the Pallweber with a limited run of 50 pieces. The watch is housed in an 18-carat red gold case, elaborately decorated with guilloché work and worn on an 18-carat red gold chain. It features a white dial with a lacquered finish and white display discs. The small seconds hand is blued. Two windows in the spring cover reveal the hours and minutes, so the time can be read even when it is closed.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox
Jaeger-LeCoultre says the Polaris collection has taken the spirit of the Memovox Polaris watch from 1968 and applied it to “today’s man of action”. The new Polaris Memovox includes the special alarm function made famous by its predecessor from 50 years ago — its Calibre 956 features a striking mechanism with a gong, along with the central seconds and instant-jump date-change system. This caliber is a direct descendant of the first automatic alarm watch movement the brand created in the 1950s. The Polaris Memovox also sports the iconic three-crown design, and displays “vintage cues” on the dial through the use of vanilla Super-LumiNova and trapezoidal indices mixed with four Arabic numbers — with the triangle in the dial centre serving as the alarm indicator. It comes in a limited run of 1,000 pieces.
Montblanc Star Legacy Suspended Exo Tourbillon
Three years of development at Montblanc’s Villeret workshop has culminated in a tourbillon that has an oversized 14.5mm balance wheel suspended above the tourbillon cage, and held in place with a curved stainless-steel arm that mirrors the hour circle at 12 o’clock. The balance also rises 3.2mm above the silver-plated solid gold guilloché dial. Apart from looking good, this setup allowed the designers to shrink the tourbillon cage, making it more energy efficient and accurate. The watch is housed in a 44.8mm 18K red gold case and houses Mountblanc’s Calibre MB R230 automatic with column wheel chronograph mechanism, vertical coupling and twin barrels. It is available in a limited run of 58 pieces. An additional 28 pieces will feature a baguette diamond-set bezel.
Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept
Piaget celebrates the 60th anniversary of its iconic Altiplano collection with the Altiplano Ultimate Concept. It is not only the world’s thinnest mechanical hand-wound watch (only 2mm thick), but also an eloquent tribute to the historical Calibre 9P. Piaget notes it took four years of R&D and the implementation of unprecedented technical solutions to hit the 2mm target. The watch uses a new cobalt-based alloy that is ultra-rigid while being slender, the case doubles as the movement baseplate and every element of the calibre had to be redesigned. The watch is paired with an alligator leather and Kevlar strap that is just 1.1mm thick.
Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic
The Clifton Baumatic is Baume & Mercier’s most technically advanced watch to date, featuring not just a silicon balance spring — introduced last year in the Clifton Manual 1830 — but also a silicon escape wheel and lever with optimised geometry. The result is a self-winding movement that delivers an impressive 120-hour power reserve, while maintaining chronometer-grade accuracy. Moreover, the extensive use of silicon ensures that the watch is highly resistant to the effects of magnetism. B&M is pitching the Clifton Baumatic at urban professionals, while relying on a design that is understated and minimal — it features a cross-hair dial, lancet hands, small Arabic numerals at the end of the indices and a dotted minute track. The case is stainless steel, with sapphire crystals front and back.
Dedicated to Galileo Galilei, the L’Astonomo - Luminor 1950 Tourbillon Moon Phases Equation of Time GMT, is the first Panerai with moon phases indication and an innovative system that uses polarised crystal to display the date — only the numeral under the date window is clearly visible, while the rest of the date disk remains almost invisible, giving you an unhindered view of the skeletonised movement. The 50mm brushed titanium case also packs in a patented tourbillon regulator, sunset and sunrise indicator and equation of time. The L’Astronomo is made-to-order only, and customised to the location of the owner — this ensures the moon-phase indicator accurately represents the sky above the wearer.
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