Our top 10 watches from SIHH 2017
Five achievable wristwatches and five that will make your head spin.Neil Churchill January 22, 2017
SIHH – Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie – is one of the biggest and most respected watch fairs in the industry.
It takes place every January in Geneva and it’s an opportunity for watch brands – mainly those of the Richemont group and a few independents – to unveil their latest models, which are often years in the making.
In reality much of the noise from SIHH each year is about the more extravagant, extremely expensive and limited edition timepieces, rather than those you actually have a chance of seeing in store and putting on your wrist. So our list below is a mix of both: five you could actually see yourself wearing, followed by five that will make your head spin. It's time to pay off that credit card.
The five achievables
Cartier Drive Extra Flat
A line of watches that stopped traffic when they were unveiled at last year’s SIHH, this year Cartier has taken the time-only model from its Drive collection and made it even better. The cushion-shaped case is 1mm smaller now at 39mm, and impressively thin at 6.6mm. Actually, it’s not thin, it’s as the name suggests; flat.
There’s still no date, it still has the big roman numerals and it somehow still treads the line between sporty and dressy, though this one will definitely fit under your tux sleeve better. Available in white gold (200 pieces limited run) for $16,700 and rose gold (unlimited) for $15,600.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ceramic
AP had so many new models at this year’s SIHH it’s hard to pick just one. Actually, it’s not that hard, because none of them are as cool as the new Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in full ceramic. (Although the alligator strap chronograph did run it close so we’ve included a pic.)
The known and loved RO Perpetual has been reworked in a full ceramic case and strap. To give you an idea of how impressive that is, it takes 30 hours to develop a single new case and strap, compared to six hours on the normal steel bracelet. As a result the watch is un-scratchable and resistant to thermal shocks and high temperature. Price is $85,000.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date
There were many anniversary edition releases at SIHH, this being JLC’s 25th anniversary of the Master Control collection. All three of the models – pics included – were pretty stunning and highly achievable. The Chronograph looks great with all the blue on the sub dials and tachymetre, and the Geographic has a clever second timezone complication. But for its elegance and modern details, the Master Control Date is our pick.
The classic two-tone sector dial with its brushed silver effect is all about the little details. Spot the sector markings at 3, 6, 9 and 12 going in rather than out so as not to interfere with the numbers, the blue date on a white disc and the skeleton hands. Made of stainless steel and measuring 39mm across, the price is $5,700.
Piaget Altiplano 40mm
Few brands if any make ultra thin dress watches like Piaget, and few of Piaget’s collections do it like the Altiplano. Marking its 60th anniversary, the Altiplano is back in a 40mm case with a brushed grey dial that’s designed to change tones in the light.
It uses a new in-house movement by Piaget, the 1203P, which powers time and date. All cased in white gold, this is a wonderful example of using classic style in a new watch.
Montblanc 1858 Automatic Dual Time
Montblanc had a few new watches at SIHH, but it’s the 1858 Automatic Dual Time that we’d opt for. Using a two-tone look of steel and bronze, the watch has a vintage traveller feel to it and wouldn’t look out of place on safari. Its black dial has military nods, while it’s lume – that’s the glow substance on the hands and numbers – has a vintage look, like the radioactive tritium lume of old.
The Dual Time does what it says on the tin – a second skeleton hour hand tracks a second time zone and can be hidden behind the main hour hand when not in use. It also has a date window and day/night indicator, and measures 44mm across. Price is approximately $5,375.
And the head-spinning five
MB&F HM7 Aquapod
Inspired by a jellyfish, the HM7 Aquapod is as expected as it is surprising; MB&F’s Horological Machine timepieces are never normal, and yet this one feels different from all the crazy that has gone before. Made up of 303 components, the Aquapod surprisingly uses a diver’s bezel – an element not normally found on an MB&F watch. However, unsurprisingly it’s not placed in the normal position, instead acting as a gravitational ring around the entire watch.
What else? It’s big, measuring almost 54mm across and 21mm high. It glows in the dark. It Is the brand’s first water-resistant watch, to 50m. There will be two lines: 33 pieces in grade 5 titanium priced at $97,000 and 66 pieces in red gold at $117,000.
Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication
There’s so much happening on this watch you could never fully appreciate it all without it being strapped to your wrist. And even then for a good while. This is Vacheron Constantin’s most complicated watch to date, and it offers the following: indication of the length of each day and night as well as a moonphase indicator; it shows what Zodiac sign the sun is in as well as the Equinoxes and Solstices; a full perpetual calendar with leap year indication; a Mareoscope, which shows the relationship of the Sun, Moon and tides; a star chart showing the position of the Milky Way, the location of the celestial equator and plane of the ecliptic; and more.
All of that is housed in a 45mm white gold case, priced at $1 million.
Richard Mille 50-03 Tourbillon Split Seconds Chrono Ultralight McLaren F1
If there was a prize for longest watch name at SIHH, Richard Mille probably would have won it for this, but then the eponymous brand would win it most years. The 50-03 Ultralight (that’s much easier) is the lightest split seconds chronograph ever made, and as the name suggests it’s been produced for its F1 partner McLaren, recognising the 10-year relationship the two signed last year.
As a result of its motorsport pedigree, the watch has a torque indicator as well as its split-second chronograph, and its case is made from Graph TPT – a new type of proprietary composite made by injecting a graphene resin into carbon fibre. The result is a watch that weighs just 40 grams and measures 44.5mm x 49.65mm across, and 16mm in height. Limited to 75 pieces, the Ultralight’s price is $980,000.
A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Annual Calendar
The sad news at SIHH this year was the death of A. Lange & Söhne’s honorary chairman, Walter Lange. Fitting though was the brand’s unveiling of the 1815 annual calendar; the personification of the perfect annual calendar wrapped up in Lange’s emblematic class. The 3, 6 and 9 o’clock subdials show the date, day, month, small seconds and moon phase.
The 40mm case comes in either white or pink gold, and blue hands come as standard. Price is around $40,000.
IWC Da Vinci Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph
One of the first unveilings of the week was the Retrograde Chronograph from IWC’s revamped Da Vinci collection, and it set the tone for what was to come at SIHH 2017; extravagant looking complications and heritage acknowledgments. The retrograde date has a barcode style, and the flying tourbillon is fitted with a stop-seconds feature that allows to-the-second time setting.
The red gold case comes on a Santoni made leather strap, giving you extra bragging rights. It’s sizeable too, measuring 44mm across and 17mm thick. Priced at $103,000.