The review of the SIHH 2018 watch fair

SIHH 2018, Montblanc

An overview of the year’s first gathering of watchmaking world

It’s been four months since SIHH 2018 and we’ve gotten down to studying the watches in detail. In a year where most brands have trimmed their new collections and scaled down on launches, it’s business as usual for Vacheron Constantin, as the manufacture released novelties across the entire spectrum. At this year’s SIHH, collections that got people talking are FiftySix, completely new-to-market, and Metiers d’Art Les Aerostiers.

Ulysse Nardin’s first batch of novelties after new CEO, Patrick Pruniaux, who hails from Apple Watch and Tag Heuer came on board, include the new Freak, a stunning watch and concept, although the others need more convincing to appreciate.

The Diver Deep Dive Hammerhead Shark is neither a connoisseurs’ piece nor one that would appeal to professional divers because of the oversized design, which is impractical, and the unimaginative use of the hammerhead shark motif. The Minute Repeater Classic Voyeur is an even more polarising timepiece – love it or hate it – while Classico Jade will not get a thumbs up from women today. Looking at this piece, you might think it’s still SIHH 2008.

It’s never easy for a watch brand to pander to the collectors without alienating the average guy. The reverse is also true. For several years, Panerai has been accused of going too commercial and for releasing too many limited-edition models. These sentiments are still making their rounds in the market, and the brand’s 2018 novelties would only reinforce them – but in a good way.

Following the 2016 release of Luminor Due, Panerai has gone big on this collection, offering a wide selection along with stylish interchangeable straps that will appeal to men and women. Yes, for the first time, women and their smaller wrists are openly welcome to wear a Panerai designed to accommodate them. Considering that Panerai never had a real stake in the women’s segment, this is an epic next step for the brand.

Girard-Perregaux has been trying its utmost to relaunch Laureato, which should have been more successful given the current vintage design trend. But the fact that its octagonal bezel and clous de Paris dial reminds watch buyers so much of another horological icon is a double-edged sword that the company needs to wield very carefully.

This year’s massive Laureato collection will be a litmus test of the watch’s popularity among watch buyers. The pieces offer a little bit of everything that’s proven to sell well today: high-tech ceramic, contrasting subdial chronographs and blue dials.

Seeing the novelties by Parmigiani Fleurier is like taking a breath of cool fresh air. As an independent watch company still helmed by its original founder, its watches are nothing if not original.

The facelifted Kalpa collection goes back to the roots of the brand defined by Michel Parmigiani in 2001. Among the four new references, it’s the Kalpa Chronor with its glorious full gold in-house manufactured shaped chronograph movement that is the most succinct reminder of the core values of traditional haute horlogerie. Exceptionally hand-finished with a hand-guilloched dial, it’s something you have to see in person.


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