It's been a couple of weeks since the Salon Internationale de la Haute Horlogerie
concluded, amid terrible snowstorms in Europe that had journalists stranded all over Europe. However, we managed to make it over to Geneva and pore our way through all the timepieces that are on exhibition this year. Here are some top highlights from the fair. The fair came as Switzerland announced record exports of over CHF 20 billion. This year, more than 13,000 guests attended the fair. SIHH will take on an interesting twist as the organisers of the fair re-introduce Watches and Wonders, an exhibition of timepieces and jewelleries that will be held in September this year in Hong Kong. The first edition of Watches and Wonders took place in Beijing in 2004; the intention is for Asia to host a broader group of interested parties to view the high jewellery and watchmaking pieces from the various brands under the SIHH. Watch out for more information on Watches and Wonders later this year.
1. A. Lange & Sohne
Lange announced a number of new timepieces this year including the Grand Lange 1 Lumen, which is reminiscent of the Zeitwerk's design with a semi-transparent dial design that reveals the operation of the oversized date display, as well as the decoration on the movement. But the focus of its presentation was the 1815 collection and high complications were clearly on its mind. Lange set out to prove its capacity to create fine watchmaking using traditional and classic watchmaking materials. The result are the 1815 Up/Down, Split Perpetual Calendar and the Grande Complication, though we'll keep the latter to be revealed in more thorough detail in our watch supplement
later this year. The Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar and Grande Complication are particularly fascinating due to the efforts of the gents at Lange to keep movement components down to a minimum and Tony de Haas explains that he's kept the power consumption in each complication to a minimum such that the rattrapante and perpetual calendar can run simultaneously at midnight during the changing of the year, and still keep excellent time.
As usual, the French jeweller and Swiss watchmaker continues to impress with its Fine Watchmaking Collection
, though 2013 also sees the introduction of its first industrially produced in-house chronograph timepiece, the MC 1904-CH movement. That may sound like a smaller achievement that it appears to be. But Watchmaker of the Year 2012 Ms Carole Forestier-Kasapi continues to wow audiences with spectacle, and the Cartier Mysterious Flying Tourbillon is another impressive creation. Inspired by Cartier's famed history in the mystery clocks, the Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Flying Tourbillon is in fact a double tourbillon, the first being completely visible and revolving at once a minute, the second invisible as part of the setting and revolving at once per five minutes. There's a simplier model, the Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Time, and even here, Forestier has opted to use real hands rather than drawn on sapphire crystal.
Busy showing off its patronage of the arts, Montblanc had at its booth several art pieces by participants of its arts campaign that evoked the Montblanc star in various ways. But the highlight of the fair was its Rising Hours timepiece as well as the unique one-off high watchmaking timepieces from the Minerva Institut, headed by Mr Demetrio Cabbidu. The latter included dials made in mother-of-pearl, decked with diamonds on the bezel and more. The Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec Rising Hours timepiece was however an ingenious timepiece, that indicates day and date with digital hours and regulator-style minutes. Creating a special wheel design that is part cam and part wheel, Montblanc introduced a watch that indicated the transition from day to night that takes place only during a single hour, twice a day.
4. Baume & Mercier
Clifton is the name that's on Baume & Mercier's mind this year, and the American name is a continuation of Baume's seaside-inspired advertising campaign which focuses on significant moments in life. Clifton is very classically inspired, and it recalls a Baume & Mercier timepiece from the 1950s, which Alexandre Peraldi updated to modern dimensions (i.e. made it bigger and bolder). For those with keen eye for details and a love of the vintage, the Clifton will be a lovely timepiece to pick up this year. More on that to come, but Baume has outfitted the flagship timepiece with a La Joux-Perret movement, and faithfully retained the watch's original looks.
5. Ralph Lauren
Ralph Lauren only made private presentations to its selected guests this year, but one watch that impressed us at the booth was the Safari Tourbillon, housed in the Sporting line, and based on the design of the Safari timepiece last year, with an incredibly attractive pricing. Powered by a micro-rotor powered tourbillon movement with a blackened bridge crafted by the LV-owned La Fabrique du Temps exclusively for Ralph Lauren, the watch comes in a gun-metal finish and has that inimitable sportswear style the American label is so known for, paired with a dark brown alligator leather strap with a vintage treatment. Not only is it surprising that Ralph Lauren is introducing a tourbillon timepiece only four years after its establishment of the watch atelier, it's also impressive that the watch is priced highly competitively, at ~USD55,000 for the watch.