After grilling SIHH in 2016, I’m pleased to say that SIHH 2019 delivered far and above my expectations, offering a sensational mix of Haute, achievable and scandalous horology. There was plenty to get excited about and just as much to get sassy about, with Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille (unfairly) copping the full brunt of social media. There were incredible watchmaking achievements debuted by Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, Greubel Forsey and Urwerk, while ladies watches made a notable splash and the entry level to swiss watches got a handful of compelling additions.
All in all the fair delivered a plethora of innovative, exciting and well-considered new releases as well as extensions of iconic and previously successful collections.
Amongst our Australian press group, there were a handful of releases we unanimously agreed on, while the beauty of others was left in the eye of the beholder. After an exhausting four days, I spent this week reflecting on the hundreds of watches I saw, and held, before compiling my list of best watches at SIHH 2019. Enjoy.
2019 was another step in the right direction for Montblanc, honing their tasteful aesthetic and doing so at a very approachable price point. Utilising the Minerva manufacturer and riding on its established name, they dropped a stunning Heritage Pulsograph with a big price tag however it was the entry-level Heritage GMT with the same Salmon coloured dial as the Monopusher that reeled me in. Available in white or with the salmon dial on a leather or mesh strap, it is the perfect mix of contemporary elegance and hits the market at a very tasty €2700.
Despite focusing an entire presentation on their new CODE 11.59 release, it was the unmentioned Royal Oak Extra-Thin Jumbo in White Gold with Salmon dial that crowds flocked to. The combination of understated white gold and intriguing, pink ‘gold-tone’ Tapisserie won the hearts of everyone who saw it and even more so those who clasped it onto the wrist. For me, 39mm is the sweet spot for the Royal Oak – their 38mm Chrono release is too small for my taste. Limited to just 75 units and available in boutiques only, it is the AP for the ultimate connoisseur.
I loved the 2018 Cartier Santos release, as I did the extensions to the collection in 2019 and while they focused my attention throughout the brand presentation, it was the new entry point to the brand that I found myself longing for a week later. The pedigree for the price is virtually unbeatable and I applaud Cartier for their decision to go Quartz, and thus keep the price aggressive. An incredibly sophisticated watch worthy of any enthusiasts collection.
Lurking in the shadows of the complicated Cosmos, without the gaudiness of the Laureto Absolut, Girard Perregaux snuck in the 1966 “Earth to Sky Edition”, a contemporary iteration of their classic wristwatch. Limited to 149 pieces, the 1966 receives a black DLC coating and smoky blue dial giving the collection a previously unseen vibrancy, making it both unassuming and unusually appealing.
As a long time fan of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas, and the respect for those that choose to wear it over a Nautilus or Royal Oak, I was excited to see a handful of additions to the collection from the world oldest watch manufacturer. The ultra-thin Perpetual Calendar in pink gold was a beaut, but their choice to unveil a steel cased tourbillon, with a vivid blue dial, was nothing short of special, and at €90,000 – wow.
Hermes did absolutely everything right at SIHH 2019, executing each of their releases to perfection but my standout was the Galop d’Hermès, a new watch designed by Nigerian-American designer, Ini Archibong. With a compelling narrative and roots in the brand’s esteemed history, the Hermès Galop d’Hermès is an elegant, eloquent experiment in watchmaking that will very likely become an iconic shape.
As a long time fan of A. Lange & Sohne, I was enthralled with their entire SIHH 2019 presentation dropping just 5 horological delights. What the LANGE 1 means to the brand, and how little it has changed over time, cannot be overlooked and thus I couldn’t see past their tribute to it, 25 years on, complete with a stunning engraved case back paying homage to Walter Lange and Günter Blümlein.
IWC at SIHH 2019 was top notch. Both their space and their releases reminded me of why I was drawn to their brand so many years ago. Seeing the Spitfire Chrono in a 41mm case was revolutionary and a UTC, what a cracking addition to the lineup. However, it was the limited run TOP GUN ‘Mojave Desert’ Edition that was just too much fun to pass up. Constructed with sand coloured ceramic, it’s noticeably military themed but somehow remains unoffensive and utterly unique. I need one.
JLC offered a fantastic range of watches at SIHH this year. Yes, the enamel dial releases were beautiful, but as an unwavering fan of the Reverso, I kept reverting my gaze to the Tribute Small Seconds with sumptuous Burgundy dial with matching Casa Fagliano calf leather strap.
Laurent Ferrier Opaline Dial
Laurent Ferrier makes about 150 watches a year, total. The combination of passion, rarity and elegance have entranced me ever since I first got acquainted with the brand. At SIHH 2019 I finally managed to see one in the flesh and couldn’t have been more impressed. Their new creamy white opaline dial is a stunner and will run across their range of watches.
And finally, not quite a watch…
The MB&F Medusa Clock
The timekeeping device I was most intrigued with at SIHH 2019 wasn’t a watch, it was a clock. A collaboration between MB&F and clockmakers L’Epee, the Medusa clock features the type of innovation you’d only see on a six-figure watch, for just 25,000 CHF. Art meets watching making.
MAKE CLOCKS GREAT AGAIN.