After four days of looking through several brands’ upcoming timepiece releases, it’s safe to say that the watch world isn’t as terrified of the economy as many are predicting. Sure, you can expect that marketing will not be as loud and aggressive as before but it’s good to know that the research and development side of things isn’t slowing down. If anything, watch collectors and fans need to see brands take the high road and not produce gimmicky pieces for fast sales. Fingers crossed that the economy bounces back as soon as possible. In the meantime though, keep your mind off the bad with the good.
The first press conference Richard Mille ever had will be remembered for a long time, mainly because it was the first time journalists and collectors saw a watch that costs a quarter of a million dollars being chucked across the room by its creator. Today, we saw the world’s lightest mechanical chronograph, the new RM 50-03 Tourbillon Split Seconds Chronograph Ultralight McLaren F1, fly across the room too. Not likely to forget that anytime soon. Another point that we can’t forget is the ridiculous weight of the watch. It currently sits at a mere 40 grams with the strap and boasts a movement that’s only seven grams. The material is Richard Mille’s latest venture, Graph TPT. The composite takes the TPT Carbon that Mille has used in its timepieces before but incorporated graphene in the mix. The result? An ultra-light, ultra-resistant watch that’s pretty damned spectacular.
Making a return to the hallowed halls of Geneva this year is Girard-Perregaux. One of the first exhibitors in the early days of SIHH, it’s a good welcome home for the Kering Group-owned manufacture. 2016 was a great year for the brand. Under the leadership of Antonio Calce, Girard-Perrgaux has steered back on track, winning two awards at last year’s GPHG. This year, our favourite pick apart from the rebirth of the Laureato (if you’re looking for sports luxe that’s not on everyone’s wrist, this is the watch), our favourite pick has to be the brand new Neo Bridges timepiece. The iconic raised-bridged timepieces of GP have now been segmented into classic and contemporary and the Neo Bridges is the perfect contemporary piece. With two bridges, one for the balance wheel (NOT a tourbillon) and another for the hour and minute hands, it’s a first for GP. The dial layout is perhaps, one of the coolest we’ve seen this fair, thanks to the micro-rotor and mainspring barrel providing symmetry at the north of the case.
Parmigiani Fleurier might be one of the younger brands at SIHH but the expertise of its founder, Michael Parmigiani, goes far back. As a restorer of antique clocks and timepieces, his vision has driven the brand forward to a rather niche segment of the market. It’s a brand more for those in-the-know than not. This year, the brand has introduced a new stainless steel version of its classic Tonda 1950. The watch represents a new entry level into the men’s collection and a great way for newcomers into the watch world to test the waters of Parmigiani. At 40mm, the brand has tweaked the lug shape slightly for a more ergonomic feel to the watch that helps with comfort on the wrist.
The Royal Oak is a watch that is ridiculously easy to love. Its multi-faceted bezel, dial, bracelet are just a few of the many reasons why it’s become a grail for so many men (and women) across the world since its inception in 1972. Its Perpetual Calendar variant is even more sought after for the exclusivity it brings and the fact that the in-house calibre 5134 powering it is a beast. Now, take the detail that it is in the different polishes and finishings on the different sides and angles of the watch and bracelet, and imagine that in ceramic. Better yet, imagine black ceramic. Yes, a black ceramic Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar. A stealthy as hell, baller watch, really. The ceramic (bracelet too) is fully hand-finished to get that same contrast of light that the Royal Oak does so well and takes five times longer to complete than the steel version. It’s a bloody light watch, thats for sure but the ceramic also increases the piece’s temperature resistance and scratch resistance. The watch rounds out the materials that the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar is available in and we dare say that this might be the coolest so far.