SIHH: Show Business

The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie returns next week. This year there’ll be 17 exhibiting brands, some of which have already teased news of their 2017 collections. Here’s our preview of the ones to watch


In the luxury watch world, the start of a new year can only mean one thing: Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie. Next week, the 27th edition of SIHH returns to Geneva, and for the retailers and journalists lucky enough to be invited from around the world, the annual luxury watch fair will be a barometer for emerging trends in the wider industry over the next 12 months.


What do we know so far? Well, this year seven new brands are joining the fold, including Ulysse Nardin, and on the last day the salon will be throwing open its doors to the public for the first time. As has become the norm, a handful of the brands represented have already teased news of their upcoming collections ahead of the fair. Here are the watches we’ll be keeping an eye out for – at SIHH and into 2017 beyond. We’ll also be broadcasting live from the salon on social media so you can be among the first to know about the latest launches – scroll down to find out more.


Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Moon Phase and Retrograde Date


First out of the gate with news of its 2017 collection was Vacheron Constantin, which announced two timepieces: the Traditionelle Tourbillon Minute Repeater and the Patrimony Moon Phase and Retrograde Date.


For the Patrimony Moonphase and Retrograde Date, Vacheron Constantin has created the new Calibre 2460 R31L self-winding movement, which powers retrograde date and moon-phase complications. Despite appearances, this is a very user-friendly watch, as all the indications, including the moon-phase display, can be adjusted from the crown. In the first position, the movement can be hand-wound; in the second, clockwise rotation sets the retrograde date while anti-clockwise sets the moon-phase; and in the third position, the time can be set. Vacheron Constantin has also calibrated the moon-phase to the exact age of the moon, meaning the display at 6 o’clock requires a one-day correction just once every 122 years. At 12 o’clock, the retrograde date arc is a useful and elegant complication, where a central hand moves forward from 1 to 31 until the month is completed. The Patrimony Moon Phase and Retrograde Date comes in either 18-carat pink gold or white gold, with either a pink or white gold lunar disk corresponding to the case metal.




Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold


Audemars Piguet’s first Royal Oak made for women marks its 40th anniversary this year, and to celebrate the Le Brassus brand has turned to Italian jewellery designer Carolina Bucci to create four anniversary timepieces with a sparkling frosted gold finish.


Gérald Genta first designed the iconic Royal Oak in 1972 – and four years later Jacqueline Dimier reimagined the design for ladies with the 29mm Ref 8638. This year’s Royal Oak Frosted Gold has been created in two sizes – a 33mm quartz model or a 37mm automatic version – each of which comes in a limited-edition shimmering white or pink gold. To create the shimmering ‘frosted’ finish, Bucci applied a special Florentine technique (Florence is her hometown and the location of her workshops) to the Royal Oak’s unique polished and brushed case and bracelet, based on an ancient gold-hammering practice. To do so, she used a special diamond-tipped tool, gradually chipping away at the surface by hand until she had achieved a diamond-like sparkle. It took seven attempts to perfect the finish. Our verdict? The Frosted Gold is a beautiful ladies’ collection befitting of the Royal Oak’s cult status.



Baume & Mercier Clifton GMT Power Reserve


‘Light in the Blue Sky’ is the premise from Baume & Mercier this year – and at the forefront of its new collection is the blue-dialled Clifton GMT Power Reserve. The Clifton is based on an archive design from the 1950s, and it ticks all the boxes for an everyday Swiss mechanical watch: contemporary, stylish, versatile and beautifully made.


Baume & Mercier takes great pride in its haute horlogerie roots, which is why it continues to add high-end complications to its enduring Clifton collection. In 2017, it has added a dual time indicator, creating the ideal wrist companion for the seasoned traveller. The new 43mm steel Clifton GMT Power Reserve has a deep blue dial with an exquisite sun-satin finish. Design-wise, the brand has gone for subtle but effective: the lugs are beautifully curved, and the open dial is balanced with a half moon-shaped GMT function at 12 o’clock and power reserve indicator at 6 o’clock, each highlighted with striking red accents. Inside ticks the automatic Soprod 9035 calibre with its circular-grained finished plate and bridges, blued steel screws and oscillating weight decorated with ‘Côtes de Genève’, all visible through a sapphire crystal case back. At £3,100, we think you’ll be getting a lot of bang for your buck.



Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary Collection


When it comes to elegant, ultra-thin watches, arguably the first brand that springs to mind is Piaget. In 1957, the brand revolutionised the watchmaking world with the launch of its ultra-thin 9P manual-winding movement. At just 2mm thick, the 9P was universally lauded for its slim, handsome profile as well as its accurate performance and reliability. Then, in 1960, came Piaget’s 12P, this time an ultra-thin self-winding movement that was still just 2.3mm thick. Things didn’t stop there, and in recent years Piaget has cemented its reputation with other record-breaking watches, including the world’s thinnest watch (at the time of its introduction), the Piaget Altiplano 900P with its 3.65mm case, and thinnest chronograph, the Piaget Altiplano Chronograph Flyback, which housed a 4.65mm thick movement.


This year, Piaget is dedicating itself to the 60th anniversary of the Altiplano with a limited-edition collection for ladies and gents. So far, the brand has unveiled two 18-carat white gold models, the Altiplano Self-Winding 43mm and the Altiplano Manual-Winding 38mm. Both models pick up on historical Piaget design traits, such as a sunburst dial in a deep shade of blue, applied white gold hour markers and slim baton hands. The self-winding model houses Piaget’s Calibre 1200P, which measures a mere 2.35mm thick, while inside the hand-wound model beats Calibre 430P (2.1mm thick). We can’t wait to see both in the flesh next week.



IWC Da Vinci Automatic 36


Every year, the Schaffhausen brand refreshes one of its core collections, and this year it’s the turn of its lesser-known Da Vinci collection. To give us a little taster of what’s in store, IWC has already unveiled three new models from the 2017 Da Vinci range, including this IWC Da Vinci Automatic 36.


To understand the new models, let’s cast our mind back to the first Da Vinci watch, which was launched in 1969, and housed the Beta 21 movement in a hexagonal case. In 1985, the brand picked up the Da Vinci again with the launch of a collection featuring classic round cases with stepped lines, based on a Leonardo Da Vinci architectural sketch. The Da Vinci was the vehicle for the world’s first perpetual calendar mechanism in which every indication could be set using the crown.


The Da Vinci has had updates over the years, but this year’s new collection for both men and women is perhaps the bravest yet. The 2017 models unveiled so far have inherited the 1985 Da Vinci DNA, which is evident in their round grooved cases. At the lower end of the price spectrum is the Da Vinci Automatic 36, which is aimed at ladies. There’ll be four versions of the Automatic 36: 18-carat gold with diamonds, and three models in stainless steel (including one with a diamond-set bezel), all with a range of colourful leather straps.