The A to Z of the 2017 SIHH: A. Lange & Soehne, Audemars Piguet, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Girard-Perregeaux
While we were at the first big watchmaking event of the year, we decided to bring to you a new type of content called the A to Z of the 2017 SIHH and cover all the main participants in addition to the dedicated video reports already published.
The goal is really to take along as if you were there with us during this intense watch week and we’ll go over the main novelties presented by brands in an alphabetical order. We will therefore not talk about every single watch presented, but try to condense what was the most interesting, spectacular and newsworthy.
A. Lange & Soehne
The German brand has been quite productive and came with 7 novelties, which can be seen here, but here we will focus on the star of the show for them, the Tourbograph perpetual “Pour le mérite”. This timepiece is simply a full demonstration of the fine know-how of the brand, both in terms of technicality and their very own aesthetics.
On the dial face, at six o’clock, you will find a pretty large opening, which not only let’s you enjoy the tourbillon, but also part of the gears of this highly complex movement. In a certain way, the tourbillon’s main characteristic is its very impressive and hard to accomplish black polished bridge. This gives extra volume and depth to this 16.5mm thick watch, a rather normal size as this caliber also holds an integrated perpetual calendar, a split second chronograph and naturally the signature "fusée-chaine" mechanism, something shared with all the “Pour le mérite” watches of the brand.
This is really a timepiece for collectors, it’s limited to 50 pieces and it will take the brand about 5 years to produce and deliver!
But this SIHH also marked a sad moment for the brand, as Walter Lange, the original family member and resuscitator of the brand in 1990 sadly passed away back in Germany on the second day of the show, at a very respectable age of 92. Until very recently, he was still rather involved and you could always see him on the stand for instance and participating at collectors events. German watchmaking as we know it today owes a lot to him.
The brand for the Vallée de Joux sparked quite a lot of attention with the presentation of their first non-metallic Royal Oak with the introduction of a full black ceramic Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar. We had already seen ceramic being used in the Off-Shore collection, but it’s the first time the entire watch is made out of ceramic, strap included.
This watch simply looks cool with its grey slate dial and we really hope they will also produce it in more “affordable” versions than a QP, affordable being relative of course.
Still in the Royal Oak collection, AP put forward the Frost Gold collection and it was the first time we got to see the 4 different versions of this watch as it comes in a yellow or white gold case, 33mm or 37mm and looks super elegant and sparkly without having diamonds set all over them!
In the Royal Oak Chronograph family, the brand presented new bi-color dial versions and in the Off-Shore Diver collection, they came with a 3-hand version with some funky colors seen on the inner rotating bezel and matching rubber strap.
But if we’re talking funky, well let’s go all the way, as AP presented the third piece in their High Jewellery collection with the Diamond Outrage. Over the last 2 years, we had previously seen the Diamond Punk and the Diamond Fury, the bar had already been set quite high, but this new piece is just incredibly spectacular with its stalactites made out of more than 10’000 set stones.
There are two versions; a diamond one and blue sapphire one and naturally you still have a small watch secretly hidden behind them and here it’s the really craft and the audacity that we are saluting .
Baume & Mercier
A few years ago, the brand introduced a new collection called Clifton playing with vintage codes, looked quite nice, but this year they came with a more accessible version, the Clifton Club.
Cartier is undergoing a serious redefinition of its watchmaking strategy and under the impulsion of its new CEO, Mr. Vigneron, the brand is gently abandoning its ambition of being recognized as a fine watchmaking house, but instead is pushing harder on the recognized design dimension of the house.
Last year, they successfully introduced the Drive collection, a nice, elegant and more affordable watch and this year they added two new references with an extra-thin manual wound rose gold version, as well as a gold and steel case moon-phase version. It’s the first time the brand introduces this feature not associated with another complication, which is a smart way to maintain prices to decent levels.
But the big launch for Cartier is the reintroduction of the Panthère collection, a collection first introduced in the early 80’s. The models presented take the exact same size and design features as the original version, as well as its characteristics comfortable metal bracelet. This watch is now waterproof and comes in two different sizes in gold, and steel, it can be gem set and there’s also a limited bi-color black lacquered version, so a total of 17 references.
Despite this, Cartier still presented some watches from it fine watchmaking department but watches that have a more distinct link to the history of the brand when it created in the early 20th century some rather fascinating clocks with their hidden mechanism; les pendules mystérieuses. Something Cartier showcased in a dedicated exhibition during the SIHH in 2011.
They introduced for instance a spectacular Rotonde double tourbillon mysterieux, which also holds a minute repeater complication, so still quite a demonstration of technical savoir-faire here. And in the same groove, Cartier presented another mysterious watch, but with a highly skeletonized movement, another distinctive design feature of the brand.
So not going in every direction any longer it seems, but refocusing on who Cartier is and this leads us to another very legitimate dimension of the house when it comes to jewellery and jewelry timepieces, as there were plenty examples of this on display. But legitimacy also when it comes to fine crafts and we got to see, for instance, a flamed gold dial watch changing color depending how you hold the watch. These fine crafts is certainly something the brand will continue to produce and explore in the future.
2017 marked the return of one of the original founders of the SIHH and Girard-Perregaux came with a rather simple message as they are reintroducing the Laureato, which had been a signature collection for the brand before being stopped a few years ago.
This new collection comes as a full family of products in 4 sizes with 2 different automatic movements, but also a quartz version in a 34mm case, as well as a tourbillon version coming in titanium cases with a bi-color bridge of the tourbillon
Another distinctive design feature of the brand is naturally the 3 golden bridges, seen in the La Esmeralda, both the historical watch and the one that won last year’s GPHG in the tourbillon category, but this year they came with a simpler version called the Neo-Bridge. It is the first time that such a watch is not equipped with a tourbillon, but instead a 3 Hz variable inertia balance wheel. It comes in a 45mm titanium case and of course its pricing is much lower starting at 24’000 Swiss Francs
Girard-Perregaux also reintroduced the WW.tc, the worldtimer function watch, but this time encased in the 1966 collection of the brand.