Eight of the best luxury watches on show at SIHH 2018 in Geneva, from Cartier to Piaget
Audemars Piguet’s Ladies’ Royal Oak Concept, IWC’s Tribute to Pallweber pocketwatch, and the indestructible RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough by Richard Mille were among the highlights at leading luxury watch fair
Along with the Baselworld fair in March, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) is one of the most important events of the international watchmaking calendar.
Each January, journalists, retailers and leading collectors converge on Geneva to spend five days appraising the latest innovations and novelties that brands from the Richemont Luxury group and a selection of top independent watchmakers will be releasing over the coming year.
By day, the Palexpo exhibition centre in Geneva plays host to a relentless schedule of brand showcases, while by night, glamorous, celebrity-filled events take place across the city. Here, we bring you some of the highlights of this year’s selection.
While plenty of million-dollar masterpieces are presented annually at SIHH, connoisseurs are often most impressed by simpler, more accessible offerings. Universally respected Swiss manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre is particularly successful in winning over the minimalists.
Last year, the brand’s classically elegant Master Control Date had tasteful collectors salivating. In 2018, it was the time-only Polaris Automatic – the most affordable item from Jaeger-LeCoultre’s mid-century inspired Polaris series – that won legions of fans with its clean, vintage lines.
Since its launch in 1972, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak has been a favourite of gentlemen the world over, worn by the likes of Britain’s Prince Michael of Kent and King Juan Carlos I of Spain.
However, the Royal Oak range also offers much of interest to ladies. In 2018, pieces including a 37mm Double Balance Wheel Openworked Royal Oak in “frosted” white gold (a finish developed in collaboration with Florentine jeweller Carolina Bucci), and the first Royal Oak Concept models for women – flying tourbillon timepieces set with baguette- or brilliant-cut diamonds – will surely catch many an affluent female’s eye.
IWC delivered a novelty in the form of the Tribute to Pallweber line, the highlight of its 150th anniversary collection of limited editions.
Inspired by pocket watches IWC produced for a short period in the late 19th century, these mechanical timepieces display time digitally, and are available in a choice of stainless steel, platinum and red-gold wristwatches, or as a guilloche-engraved rose-gold pocket watch. All feature white lacquered dials, apart from the steel edition, which presents a beautiful blue countenance.
Maximilian Büsser can always be relied upon to surprise and delight, and the latest creation he and his friends have dreamt up certainly meets those stellar expectations. MoonMachine 2 is a collaboration with Finnish watchmaker Stepan Sarpaneva.
Jeweller who makes vintage-style cufflinks from Hong Kong coins adds new themes to extend his market beyond expats
A “remix” of MB&F’s Horological Machine N°8, it’s the first ever projected moonphase timepiece, using an optical prism to reflect a digital reading of the time alongside an intricate waxing/waning moon-man, painstakingly crafted by Sarpaneva and his team. Available in three case variants (titanium and rose gold, black titanium, and standard titanium), just 12 will be created of each.
Richard Mille is in the habit of throwing his watches across a room to demonstrate their hardiness. His latest, however, could confidently be attacked with a hammer.
Developed in partnership with the Argentine polo champion whose name it bears, the RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough has been built to withstand the high-impact rigours of the sport.
Encased in robust carbon TPT, with shatter-resistant laminated sapphire crystal, it’s a near-indestructible horological marvel. With a price tag not far off a million US dollars, it might well be described as the king of watches.
Last year, Cartier received rave reviews for its revitalised Panthere wristwatch. For 2018, the Parisian jeweller presents new iterations of the elegant, dainty ladies’ timepiece featuring double- or triple-loop bracelets that coil gracefully around the wrist and embrace the current trend for adornment “stacking”.
Men, meanwhile, will be enamoured of another “throwback” beauty from the brand – the steel and yellow-gold Santos, reminiscent of the late 1970s, when Cartier first introduced watches blending steel with precious metals.
Marketed as “watches for heroes” – worn by Italian commandos during the second world war – many would-be buyers of timepieces from this brand have been frightened off by their heroic sizing.
This year, Panerai has solved that problem and opened up a whole new market by offering its smallest and slimmest watches ever, in the form of the 38mm case-sized Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic.
With perfect proportions for either male or female wearers, and a handsome nautical aesthetic, the stainless steel iteration with ivory dial, sky-blue numerals and matching saffiano leather strap is especially appealing.
Piaget is renowned for its mastery of ultra-thin movements and specialisation in super-slim timepieces.
With the astoundingly svelte, 2mm-thin Altiplano Ultimate Concept – a one-off whose principles will be applied to full production timepieces in future – the manufacturer reclaims the record for the world’s thinnest hand-wound mechanical wristwatch.
Its incredible thinness, equal to that of an American 5c nickel coin, is achieved by the total integration of the case and movement. With innovations such as this on show, the pickings at SIHH 2018 were anything but slim.