Keeping watch on the upcoming SIHH
In January, when most of the world is actualising (or attempting to actualise) New Year resolutions or hibernating from the winter, the world of watches is gearing up for SIHH. The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie 2016 will start January 18, running to January 22 in Geneva, Switzerland. This year’s SIHH promises to be the biggest and the best, with the number of exhibitors increasing to 24, including the Carré de Horlogers space which will showcase nine artisan-creators and independent horology workshops. What does this year’s SIHH have in store? Here’s a preview of some timepieces that will debut at the show.
Baume et Mercier
The latest addition to the Clifton series will be the Clifton Chronograph Complete Calendar, an alliterative wonder described as ‘winning combination of elegant design and watchmaking expertise’. The Clifton series is inspired by the Golden Fifties models, enshrined at the Baume et Mercier museum, and the new timepiece is no different. A black alligator strap clasps a timepiece that is powered by the Valjoux 7751 calibre movement. Clean, elegant and uncluttered, the Complete Calendar is stark white, accented by blued steel hands that are a signature of the series.
Baume & Mercier
Duality is key to Cartier’s Panthères et Colbri timepiece. A high-jewellery piece where the time-telling function is deputised to aesthetics, the themes of this piece are power (the omnipresent Cartier panther in white gold set with 270 diamonds, black lacquer spots and an emerald eye) and the delicate (the hummingbird, in pink gold). Beneath the adult panther, a newborn (also in pink gold) appears when the winding-crown is pressed. The ascending hummingbird is more than just an excuse for animation; it also shows the remaining power reserve of a high-jewellery piece powered by the new 9915 MC calibre movement.
The year 2016 will be the 85th anniversary of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso and to mark the milestone, the Swiss Grand Maison is updating the line. The Reverso line is remarkably versatile family, spanning individuals of high complications, dual time-zone watches and astonishing examples of decorations and engravings; this year, the house distils the Reverso down to its elemental hallmarks of class and style. First up, the Classic Reverso watches are available in three sizes – small, medium and large. The dual time zone Classic Duo has a new version, in pink gold or stainless steel, while the Classic Duetto also gets a new edition. In the Reverso Tribute line, there’s a new Reverso Tribute Duo and the beautiful new Reverso Tribute Calendar. A little something for every taste bud, Reverso-style.
While it is winter in the northern hemisphere, the tropics remain, well, tropical; full of lush, vibrant colour all year round. Inspired by the hues of Mexico, the Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique watch uses a mother-of-pearl dial as a canvas for graphic designer Laetitia Bianchi’s miniature painting. Using the patterns of a Hermès silk scarf as a basis, each stroke is meticulously painted in 20 layers, which is then fired in an oven at 90°C to dry, resulting in an exploding tapestry of floral and faunal imagery that is limited to a six numbered pieces. The ultra-thin Manufacture Hermès H1950 movement powers the heart of the timepiece, held by an alligator strap – not in a traditional black, but in a verdant green.
The decade of the 1940s was where the world unshackled itself from the previous century and forged a new path. The world was reshaped, by the war, by the United Nations. Christian Dior introduced the New Look, a silhouette that reverberates until today. It was a time of independence, a time of modernity. The Radiomir1940 3 Days Automatic Acciaio harkens back to this time of classic lines and style, updated to the contemporary with deft touches – the automatic P.4000 movement, the tungsten off-centred oscillating weight that enables the calibre to be only 3.95mm thick and the pristine white dial, graphically emphasising the large black figures and the small seconds dial characteristic of Panerai watches of the 1940s.
Women and watches are a natural fit; women watches and Roger Dubuis, doubly so. To be introduced at SIHH 2016 are two new members of the Velvet pageantry – the flamboyant Blossom Velvet Pink and the refined Velvet Secret Heart. The former, which will also be available in blue, is a coquettish timepiece of assorted pink grand feu enamel floral motifs, ringed and studded with diamonds. The latter veers to the side of sophisticated restraint, with a halo of 48 brilliant-cut diamonds surrounding the sapphire blue dial with the characteristic Velvet Roman numeral sunburst motif. The RD821B calibre powered the Velvet Secret Heart, while the R821 makes the Blossom Velvet Pink tick.
The new RM 67-01 Automatic Extra Flat looks tough. Like an armoured vehicle given watch form. It also, as intuitively suggested by its name, extra flat. The Grade 5 titanium automatic CRMA6 movement at the heart of this piece is of only 3.6mm thickness, yet this slim tonneau body displays a curious sense of visual depth, courtesy of skeletisation and the layered bezel. Thin it might be, but it is perceptibly brawny to the eye. This infrangible effect is characteristic of Richard Mille watches, but here it is given a touch of sophistication with the solid metal numerals mounted to rigid titanium rails, surrounded by a stark bezel that appears almost riveted.
Heritage is the theme of Vacheron Constantin’s new Métier d’Art Fabuleux Ornements collection, drawing from the rich cultural mines of ancient civilisations and fashioning them into four new timepieces. Ottoman architecture, Chinese embroidery, Indian manuscripts and French lacework were the primordial soup from which these rich creations were born. In the deft hands of ten master artisans, each of the four is a pinnacle of technique and technology. The ‘Indian manuscript’ uses grand feu champlevé enamelling and hand engraving. ‘Ottoman architecture’ is defined by hand chamfering on a white mother-of-pearl base. ‘French lacework’ represents a masterwork in translucent hand-guilloché grand feu enamelling. And ‘Chinese embroidery’ utilises the stone- cloisonné technique with jade.