The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), the first big watch fair of the year, opens its doors tomorrow in Geneva, Switzerland, and for those who read the preview piece I wrote last week, you’ll know there’s a lot riding on the event being a success. There will be great new watches as well as terrible new watches and it is guaranteed that Instagram will be flooded with pictures from the fair, with brands these days being less snooty about the interweb – if anything they’ve gone the other way and become beholden to any Tom, Dick and Harry who claims to have a blog. In all the noise, it’s tough to pick out the winners but all of that is to come. This week, we’ll have a look at three pre-SIHH pieces that some will love, others will hate but which are anything but boring.

Three watches to look forward to in 2017

We’ll start with the HYT Skull Axl Rose, which will more than likely end up in the “hate” pile as, let’s face it, Mr Rose is quite hard to love, so perhaps it wasn’t the smartest collaboration. However, never let it be said that I don’t give things a chance, so here we are, a timepiece that’s eye-catching (like Rose) and, technologically speaking, quite nifty (unlike Rose). The looks are pure rock ’n’ roll, or rather what a product designer will come up when his brief is “make it rock ’n’ rollish”, ergo, there’s a skull. But, I’ve got to admit, I do like the purple colour scheme and the use of Damascus steel – the stuff they use for fancy swords – all of which is unusual. The nifty bit is the time indicator – a liquid-filled glass tube that frames the skull. The case is sized at 51mm and Rose’s signature adorns the back. The strap is also quite something, being more of a leather wristband with great stitch detailing. Limited to 25 pieces, the HYT Skull Axl Rose is priced at a princely HK$769,000.

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Next we have something markedly less rock ’n’ rollish, the Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary Collection. Now why did this ostensibly plain watch catch my eye? Well, firstly, because it’s the king of ultra-thin watches. Lots of brands now do ultra-thin watches, but where Piaget leads everyone else follows and the latest edition to the Altiplano – featuring a movement that’s 2.1mm thick and a case that’s sub-10mm – is no exception. One can hardly feel it on the wrist but Piaget makes sure this Altiplano is noticed with a midnight-blue dial, which is the other reason this watch wins my approval. Features-wise there’s not much to shout about but this is a dress watch so that is to be expected. Piaget has also been smart enough to create two versions, one at the on-trend 38mm (limited to 460 pieces) and the other at 43mm (360 pieces). Prices for the watch will be released soon.

Three affordable watches for those feeling the post-holiday pinch

Finally, we have another gem from Girard-Perregaux, one of the world’s great watch brands but also one that is continually undermined by terrible management and a lack of love from distant corporate owners. At this SIHH, Girard-Perregaux will introduce the WW.TC to its 1966 collection, a welcome echo from the brand’s glorious archive. WW.TC stands for “world wide time control” and alludes to the two-crown set-up to adjust the world-time indicator. The watch has a beautiful 1960s and 70s design and is clean despite the busy nature of the dial. The steel case measures 40mm and inside is a GP03300-0022/0027 movement. There are a variety of versions available and prices for the WW.TC vary depending on the case material and strap. The steel version with bracelet featured here is priced at HK$99,100.