The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Geneva is an internationally important meeting place for the watchmaking industry and the in-house exhibition of the Richemont Group. 35 prestigious brands will be showcasing their products at the Geneva event, including both their own and independent brands. The guests invited to the event are mainly professionals who will be convinced by the new products, trends and developments of the new year. Every year, the new publications of the art of watchmaking range from chronographs and pilot’s watches to pocket and world time watches. Thus, there is always something for everyone and the fine salon is always a varied highlight at the highest level.
This year’s Geneva Watch Salon stands out
The SIHH is one of the world’s most important events for luxury watches. This is why it is so important to present the new range of the manufactories in the best possible way in the elegant, exclusive ambience of the salon and to inform connoisseurs about the future of craftsmanship. Until 17 January, 18 well-known old hands and 17 small, younger brands presented their assortment for the New Year for four days. One thing is certain: competence and variety were represented to the highest degree. This year, however, the last time the Geneva Watch Salon was held was in January. In 2020, like Baselworld, it will be moved to April or May – a small farewell. In the following, we will tell you all the highlights and top topics of conversation of the SIHH 2019 – the last of its kind.
This is the trend
Like every year, there are new trends again this year, of which one should know in any case. Also in 2019 blue watches will be announced. These have now become so established that there is even a thorough exchange of views on various shades. Bronze shades have also secured a place in the assortment of many manufacturers. These are often complemented by green dials – a daring combination that, however, does not go down well with everyone. Printed or flat dials are hardly in demand anymore. Numbers are at least applied and the sheet has more than one level. Opened plates are faceted, glasses have exceptionally curved surfaces. In addition, the choice of materials calls for fusions: “Ceratanium” by IWC is just one of many combinations created with the aim of making the timepieces even more robust. In addition, retro design remains in vogue, which can also be found on every corner under the name “Vintage” or “Heritage”. Respected cult pieces from earlier times are currently being reissued in all possible colour and size versions – but of course with calibres and materials according to modern standards.
Cartier was the star of the show
With the new Santos 2019 model, Cartier is focusing on traditions that go back over 100 years. The “Santos de Cartier” was one of the first pilot’s watches in the world and was designed by Louis Francois Alfred, the son of the company founder, and the famous aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont. The new “Santos de Cartier Chronographe” of the French luxury brand now impresses with its extra slim design and easy handling.
The built-in caliber 1904-CH MC is also a true showpiece of the finest watchmaking artistry. In addition, the bracelet can easily be replaced with press studs. With the patented “QuickSwitch” mechanism hidden in the case, the wearer can effortlessly switch between rubber, leather or steel versions. In addition, the patented “SmartLink” system allows the length of metal bracelets to be adjusted without additional tools – a clever move for fanzos. Another topic of discussion was the “Panthère de Cartier Mini”. The icon of the 80s still enjoys great popularity today and has now been launched as an elegant mini version. A screwed dial, supple gold links, soft edges and the prominent octagonal winding crown – the Panthère as the connoisseur appreciates it.
The faithful replica in a new format is convincing because all the proportions have been perfectly translated. Ideal for delicate wrists and for combination with other pieces of jewellery. For ladies, the well-known “Baignoire” was also reissued this year. The wristwatch appeared as early as 1910, but for the new model it was based on the design of the 1958 variant. Catherine Deneuve, Jeanne Moreau and Romy Schneider were already fans of this elegant watch. The oval case with narrow bracelet and Roman numerals on a silvery matte background gives the watch a noble, modern look. The sister of this timepiece is less discreet in comparison: the elongated bezel of the “Baignoire Allongée” is adorned with pink gold lace. The extravagant case is combined with an alligator leather strap. For extra drama, the model is also available with a diamond-studded dial and even with a complete diamond casing.
Further highlights of the top brands
A. Lange & Söhne
A. Lange & Söhne is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the “Zeitwerk” this year. On this occasion, the first mechanical wristwatch of the manufactory with a precisely jumping digital display was reissued: The 2019 “Zeitwerk Date” is the first model in the series to also display the calendar day. It can be read on the new, exposed date ring, which was perfectly matched to the design of the watch.
The glass is printed with red numbers from 1 to 31, perfectly matching the white gold case and grey dial. The movement has been made even more complicated so that the timepiece can be easily adjusted with two correction push-pieces: the new calibre has a total of 516 parts.
Audemars Piguet’s stand was probably one of the most interesting this year: this year’s collection comprises three works and 13 models. The company from Le Brassus launched a stunning variety of new releases, ranging from three-hand models to pieces with complications such as a ringing mechanism. However, Audemars Piguet has long been known for its Royal Oak models. The first Royal Oak timepiece was developed in 1972 as the first luxury sports watch. Fans are still enthusiastic about the line and hot for new designs. The highlight of the Manufacture’s new releases at the SIHH was certainly the new Royal Oak variant with a smaller 38mm case and slimmer design – and the best thing about it: it is equally wearable for both sexes.
Or the new CODE 11.59 Series.
This year, IWC has decided to revise its pilot’s watches. Many classics were equipped with new high-tech cases. So they not only feature charm from the Second World War, but also noble beige zirconium oxide ceramics or precious matt black “Ceratanium”. The second is a term for ceramicized titanium, which is particularly light and resilient at the same time. The “Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Spitfire” with its attractive military look.
Or the “Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition Le Petit Prince” with its scratch-resistant hard gold case should definitely be taken a closer look.
This year the popular watchmakers from Le Sentier have launched the highly limited “Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon Enamel”. Only 50 of them were produced. The special timepiece is equipped with a new tourbillon and a date counter and comes in a completely new look. The completely reworked design convinces with its elegant case and the new Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre 978 does not neglect the technical refinement. The absolute icing on the cake of this watch: at six o’clock you can admire the spectacle of the Tourbillon through a small opening.
Two new models were presented by Montblanc at the same time and we were particularly taken with them. The first is the 1858 Geosphere in bronze with a khaki green dial and colour-coordinated “NATO” bracelets. These are even produced in a traditional weaving factory in France. The 1858 series is inspired by mountaineering and was dedicated to the “Seven Summits”, the highest mountains on each of the seven continents – and thus the greatest challenges for ambitious athletes. But the Geosphere is also suitable for water rats, because it is waterproof to a depth of 100 metres. The second timepiece is the “Heritage Monopusher Chronograph”, a true retro star.
Not only does it remind us of our noble historical relatives externally with the house’s old logo, the applied dot indexes and the three-minute division of the totalizer for counting the telephone charge units, but it is also a true retro star. Technically, it also skilfully continues the old traditions: with the push-button integrated into the crown, the stop hand can be operated here in a very old-fashioned way.
Panerai is currently focusing on légère elegance and pragmatism. The new Luna Rossa Challenger Submersible model is dedicated to cooperation with the America’s Cup, the oldest sports competition in the modern world. This will take place for the 36th time in 2019 and Panerai will be the official sponsor of Luna Rossa, the Challenger of Record team.
Under the direction of Massimiliano “Max” Sirena, the Luna Rossa Sailing Team will wear the new watch with 47mm case and dark grey sail dial. On the back, made of titanium, is the engraved Luna Rossa logo and profile of the America’s Cup.
Vacheron Constantin was founded in 1755, making it the world’s oldest watch manufactory to this day. This year, the company has managed to become the number 1 technological showpiece of the salon. The new “Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar” has two groups of escapements that can be easily switched between with a button. One provides precision on the moving arm of the wearer with a fast-swinging balance, while the other ensures reliable operation during rest periods for up to 65 days. For this noble, impressive watch with perpetual calendar, however, one must expect a price of 217,000 euros.
Ulysse Nardin has the X factor: the “Executive Skeleton Tourbillon” launched in 2016 is a combination of classic and ultra-modern elements, complemented by a sporty and drastically skeletonized dial. This was also the brand’s first attempt to establish itself in the highly competitive watch market and focus on a younger, hipper target group. The new “Skeleton X” variant is even more sporty and comes with a reworked tourbillon – and at just one-third the price of its predecessor. In addition, the case size has been reduced from 45mm to 42mm and lengthened for a more stylish look.
The special watch is available in various versions, with the edition with carbonium gold being particularly noteworthy. It has a 1mm larger case and is extremely light and functional due to the extraordinary material. Carbon is actually used for the production of wings and fuselages in aviation. The material is said to be particularly environmentally friendly as it is obtained from the remains of aviation. The carbon is mixed with gold, giving the Skeleton X a unique black-gold wave look. The design of the dial is also spectacular, as the rectangular bridge with the four arms forms the eponymous “X”. The famous Roman numerals in the new version have been reduced to just two in the III and IX watches. With the exception of the black titanium model, contrasting colours have also been used on the dial to improve legibility.
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