If I could have my way I’d currently be in Geneva at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie. The SIHH is where brands premiere their latest watches, the result of often years of intensive research. For those of you unfamiliar with the french word ‘haute’ it means high level and they’re not mucking about with that definition at SIHH, it literally is 16 of the world’s best brands showcasing their best timepieces. Naturally when you hear the phrase ‘the world’s best brands, showcasing their best timepieces’ you think of outrageous prices and you’d be correct in doing so because at SIHH $100,000 is a fart. When Vacheron Constantin combine the words ‘openworked and tourbillon’ and Richard Mille is unveiling entirely new materials in his updated Rafa Nadal RM35-01 you’re looking at prices north of $300k and $500k respectively.
I understand these watches are completely inaccessible however SIHH is an event for the purists, a chance for watch lovers to share their passion and marvel at the finest horological innovation in the world. Here’s a few of my favourites of which you might see a common theme, one that seemed to be carried throughout the show this year – openworked and skeleton designs. For more in-depth descriptions of these may I suggest Hodinkee.
This year AP released six versions of the new Royal Oak Offshore, two in pink gold, four in steel. I’ve always found the Offshore a tad overzealous so I’ve chosen to let you research them for yourselves. As a long time fan of AP’s thin (Jumbo) models what I did love this year was the 39mm Royal Oak Openworked Extra-Thin in Rose Gold. Don’t expect much change from $100,000.
Vacheron Constantin continued their domination with the release of a new series of openworked and skeleton timepieces. The Métiers d’Art collection features intricately decorated movements, all of which are done by hand and as you can expect – unbelievable price tags. The time and level of consideration it takes to achieve the perfect balance between airy aesthetic appeal and optimal functionality is what impresses with this range.
Richard Mille unveiled a handful of watches this year, all costing more than your first house. With the Rafa hitting the court tonight I thought I’d pull out his new RM35-01 as the highlight. Richard Mille has always fascinated me, any watch lover will agree that his work has truly revolutionised the industry, pushing the boundaries in material choice and weight. People laugh when they see Rafa on the court in a watch, little do they know it weighs 19 grams. This piece below utilises a NTPT carbon case (invented by Richard Mille) and a hand wound movement that weighs an astonishing 4 grams.
Cartier’s Rotonde de Cartier tourbillon Chronograph watch has further cemented the brand as a serious contender in the world of haute horology. This elegant piece features the manual wind caliber 9438 MC which has an 8-day power-reserve with column-wheel chronograph transmission and small seconds hand on the tourbillon bridge. A real gentleman’s offering.
Scandal. I’ve included a Montblanc. Now I always said that aside from Cartier you should stick to brands that make watches, not a brand that makes clothes or accessories and dabbles in watches. It is however exciting to see the brand aspiring to better things with the recent appointment of ex Jaeger-LeCoultre CEO Jerome Lambert to the helm. This year Montblanc’s new Meisterstück Heritage Collection impressed everyone, not just their watches but their prices, which included the release of the world’s most accessible perpetual calendar for $12,800 US. The pick for me however was the Heritage Pulsograph seen below.
Looking beyond the name that only the man who named it can pronounce, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre à Quantième Lunaire is a thing of beauty – one that is even more beautiful in the flesh. Those that are familiar with the former Duomètre à Quantième will know that watching it in action is quite fascinating as the jumping foudroyante seconds hand works to display elapsed time with 1/6th of a second accuracy.
A. Lange & Söhne continues to strengthen its place as one of the most desirable brands in the world with their updated 1815 series. They released a selection of astounding pieces but I’ve decided to pull out the cheapest one (sub $30,000). This entry-level 1815 comes in a revised 38.5mm and features the brand’s manual wind Lange caliber L051.1, sure to make it an instant classic.