After eying hundreds of wristwatches at last week’s SIHH in Geneva, I’ve chosen a few favorites from among the dozens of particularly impressive debuts. But before we get into the particulars, let’s look at some general 2018 trends and tendencies that became clear at SIHH.
Relative Affordability: When Vacheron Constantin and Cartier emphasize their new steel watches, it’s clear that luxury watch makers recognize the need to offer many more ‘affordable’ collections. Montblanc and Baume & Mercier of course led the way with broader sets of below-$6,000 offerings, but it is now clear that prices are moderating in comparison to previous years.
Changeability: Several brands debuted easy-to-change bracelet and strap sets, echoing what Vacheron Constantin started several years ago with its Overseas re-boot. Cartier, Panerai and Roger Dubuis were most impressive in this regard.
Colors: Green and lighter shades of blue were the most evident dial and strap color trends, with Montblanc, Roger Dubuis, Panerai, Richard Mille, IWC, Hermes and Piaget showing models with these now-fresh hues.
Ceramics: While not new as a watch material, ceramic continues to gain favor with a few more of the higher-end watchmakers at SIHH this year. Girard-Perregaux debuted an impressive all-ceramic Laureato collection while Montblanc’s Timewalker flaunts its sporty ceramic bezels. In addition, Richard Mille says that its new RM 07-01 Gem-Set Black Ceramic is the first ceramic timepiece directly set with diamonds.
Ready-to-Wear at SIHH 2018
These 2018 debuts stand out as watches I’d place on my wrist immediately and enjoy wearing. While not always the most ‘important’ debuts of show, or the focus of any particular brand’s commercial push for 2018, these watches each saw wrist time last week at SIHH. Unfortunately, none made the trip home with me. Note that these pieces are all from the larger brands exhibiting at SIHH. We’ll consider what we saw from the independents in a future post.
A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin
This new solid silver dial coated with a layer of blue goldstone and copper oxide crystals is even more impressive on the wrist than in pictures. With the technically proficient Triple Split in the spotlight, A. Lange & Söhne’s debuts were as strong as ever this year. Saxonia was for me a standout, and if this blue dial weren’t available, I’d gladly replace it with any of the new Saxonia Moonphase models.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked
Now smaller and better suited to my slim wrist, this watch and its Caliber 3132 is a sexy skeleton with a difference. The watch incorporates two balance wheels and two hairsprings assembled on the same axis¬ – a technical feat as impressive as the unusual hammered white gold finish of my favorite new version.
Baume & Mercier Baumatic
The 40mm Baume & Mercier Clifton 5 Days Chronometer, (http://www.iwmagazine.com/featured-news/20180112/baume-and-mercier-debuts-automatic-chronometer-movement/) one of five models housing the new Baumatic BM12-1975A caliber, was among the most-noted debuts at SIHH 2018, and for good reason. It’s got a very long (five-day) power reserve, COSC precision (-4/+6 seconds/day), a silicon hairspring, anchor and escape wheel--and no service needed for 5 years. Prices will start at $2,950.
Cartier Drive Extra Flat
While the excellent new Santos re-boot is Cartier’s focus this year, I remain wowed by the Drive Extra Flat, which we saw last year in white gold and rose gold. Soon to be made in steel (and at $5,600) the Drive Extra Flat is even more exciting. Perfect under any cuff, this manual-winder oozes class and confidence. It’s also available in yellow gold ($15,400).
Hermès Carré H
Now slightly larger (38mm by 38mm) this smart design now offers a micro-bead-blasted steel case with a manufacture Hermès/Vaucher automatic movement. The new dial adds fun to any the wrist, matching the playful Hermès SIHH stand, which offered visitors hand-cranked time-themed diversions.
Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph
While I was left in awe when gazing at the smoky green Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Limited Edition 100, with its stunning Minerva chronograph caliber visible from the back, any model from this considerably more affordable 1858 Automatic Chronograph collection (at $4,300 to $5,000) is a practical (and happy) choice.
Panerai Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic Oro Rosso
Any of the new 38mm Panerai Due models would wrap around my wrist beautifully. This sandwich black dial version feels the most classic of the new Due debuts, and with an unusual FU good luck symbol on the back, I’m in. However, with only 300 being made, I better get my order in quickly.
Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa Chronor
Parmigiani Fleurier re-introduces its Kalpa collection in style with the Kalpa Chronor. This smart re-design impressed me with subtler curves and its solid-gold, self-winding, integrated column-wheel chronograph movement—with a 65-hour power reserve.
Vacheron Constantin FiftySix Complete Calendar
The FiftySix collection re-imagines Vacheron Constantin’s reference 6073, which was one of the first watches from the Manufacture to be equipped with a self-winding movement (Calibre 1019/1), said to be particularly reliable. This FiftySix Complete Calendar Steel ($21,600) is just one of three FiftySix models that drew much attention at SIHH this year, and rightfully so. Still not in the ‘affordable’ price range for most collectors, the FiftySix Self-Winding Steel is a three hand-model with a ValFleurier-sourced movement that at $11,700 is now one of Vacheron Constantin’s least costly models --for those ready to leap into buying a new piece from one of Switzerland’s finest manufacturers.
IWC Da Vinci Automatic Edition “150 Years”
An eye-catching yet simple 40.4mm dress watch with a small seconds display at 6 o’clock, this is the first model to be powered by the new IWC-manufactured 82200 Caliber. It’s not flashy at all, yet its blue lacquered dial and rhodium-plated hands look just right to me. The watch is available in a limited edition of 500 watches.