SIHH is slightly different this year. There’s a new layout, albeit slightly, and there’s also more independent labels presenting at the Carre des Horlogers. And even though the first day of the fair seems quiet, money appears to be changing hands very briskly. We found plenty to be impressed with the first day of the fair. Here’s our list of favourites on day 1.
OK, first of all, the use of virtual reality headsets to present their new timepieces demonstrates an appreciation by Audemars Piguet of the significance of new technology in reaching out to a new consumer. Yellow gold is the centre of attention for the watch brand this year. 1977 was the first year the Royal Oak was presented in yellow gold, and given that it’s 40 years next year, the brand decided to pre-empt us by producing a complete Royak Oak range in yellow gold.
The outstanding piece, apart from the Royal Oak Supersonnerie, is the Double Balance Wheel, which has two hairsprings and balance wheels sharing one axis and pallet and forks, resulting in an increase in precision of up to 30 per cent. That’s impressive. Not only that, Giulio Papi explains the complexity of creating a double balance wheel system that does what is demanded of it.
First of all, we were shocked, surprised to see a familiar face at the booth: Davide Cerrato, formerly of Tudor, joined the brand as its watch division head 1st December.
The dapper gent presented the refreshed 4810 collection and also the 1858 series. This year marks the 110th anniversary of Montblanc, and it’s set to commemorate the instrument that founded the brand, along with the spirit of travel that started the brand in the first place.
Our biased selves remain loyally admiring of the 1858 Chronograph and the Manual Small Seconds. But the 4810 Orbis Terrarum is another incredibly stunning and practical world timer, executed with a hand painted dial. It’s definitely one of the most handsome we’ve seen in sometime. A limited edition stopwatch timepiece bearing half-hour time zones and daylight savings time adjustments is also available for sale, at an excellent price.
It’s a year of the Pilot’s line by IWC, and they’ve segmented the entire collection into Classics, Spitfire, Heritage, Top Gun/Miramar and the new 36mm series. On the dial, the ‘6’ and ‘9’ numerals are back and select models are also shrink in size. We are particularly impressed with the Santoni calf straps and the new Timezoner Chronograph, which has a patented time zone adjustment done by simply turning the bezel clockwise or anti-clockwise.
There’s also the lovely Petit Prince series, along with the regular Saint-Exupery special editions. Our favourite has to be the annual calendar edition with the little Prince on the rotor.
There’s plenty more to see, and we’ll present other watches from IWC later, but these are definitely our two favourites, both in style and operation.
Michel Parmigiani celebrates 20 years of the brand’s founding this year, and the winning piece is the Tonda Chronor Anniversaire, a rattrapante chronograph with a large date, gold movement and a 5 Hz movement, the only split-seconds chronograph in the world running at this speed.
What really made our minds blown was the Senfine escapement, designed by Vaucher for Parmigiani, that has a completely new engineering method for the escapement and thus offers radically reduced power needs. In fact, according to Vaucher, watch movement energy levels last 500% longer compared with in the past. We’re no longer talking about power reserves in days but in months. Senfine is still prototyped for now, but we hear something concrete will appear next year. Sign us up.