A to Z of the 2017 SIHH: Greubel Forsey, Hautlence, HYT, IWC, Jaeger, MB&F, Montblanc, Panerai
Welcome to the second episode of our A to Z of the 2017 SIHH with Greubel Forsey, HYT, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, MB&F, Montblanc and Panerai.
Greubel Forsey introduced quite a timepiece this year with a true masterpiece with the Grande Sonnerie, for sure one the stars of this 2017 edition.
It’s the brand’s first chiming watch and they definitely didn’t take any shortcuts in developing this watch. More than 11 years of development was necessary to come up with what is at the very top of mechanical watchmaking art as this watch chimes on the passage of each quarter of the hour, the Grande Sonnerie function, or only at the passage of the hour, the Petite Sonnerie, or it can be put in silence mode. But one can also use it as a “regular” minute repeater by pushing the button on the crown to listen to what time it is to the minute.
Click here for the full report on this timepiece and the interview of Mr. Stephen Forsey, as well as some other variations of existing models and also the end of the asymmetric Tourbillon 24 secondes caliber with a special historic edition.
Hautlence's claim is to have a rebel spirit, remember their tag line and their design partnership with Eric Cantona for instance. Well they took this a step higher by coming to the SIHH without any novelties to present, but are reserving this to Baselworld later on this year.
The brand came with a rather daring pocket watch combining two signature features of the brand; the skull shaped fluidic hour indicator, plus their very original mechanical light display mechanism. If you want to know all about it, please check the full report dedicated to them.
This year, the brand's main focus was set on the total redesign of the Da Vinci collection, as it wants to push forward timepieces geared towards women.
None the less, IWC also came with a nice looking Perpetual Calendar Chronograph with a grey-slate dial and 43 mm steel case. This watch comes with a new movement beating at 4 Hz with a flyback chronograph function. One originality is that the way you keep track of the chrono time is with a dedicated sub-dial found at 12 o’clock with hour and minute hands.
The focus was set on the Rendez-Vous collection, the only collection solely dedicated to women as women account for 45% of overall sales as we were told. The interesting piece was the Sonatina, which presents a rather playful trick as you can place a star shaped indicator on the time you desire and your watch will emit a small chiming sound on the passage of that actual hour.
In the Hybris Artistica, we saw a couple of very nice timepieces built around the idea of playing with time, as you don’t have hands to indicate the time. Instead you have the tourbillon rotating around the dial in 12 hours and this is what indicates the hour. Regarding the minutes, you have small and discrete pointer that rotates on a disk around the dial.
Let’s quickly go over MB&F’s quite crazy novelty, the HM7 Aquapod, because here again you will find a detailed report about this super original tourbillon timepiece and if we go by the many comments made, this watch has definitely marked some spirits.
To be very honest, we simply don’t really understand this brand, apart if the objective is to offer affordable versions of watches found in the other brands of the Richemont Group. If this is the goal, then it is fine, but the brand also has ambition to be recognized as a fine watchmaking brand and this get’s us confused.
For instance, this year they emphasized on the Time Walker collection, a sport collection with products starting around the 2’000 Euro mark. But then they show us this crazy chronograph capable of measuring the 1/1’000 of a second! This is remarkable technical achievement for sure and we had seen previous versions of this incredible mechanism with Montblanc, but why having a 175’000 Euro watch when your goal is to sell accessible mechanical watches? Are you going to buy cheap H&M, Gap, Uniqlo tee-shirts because these brands would have a 10’000 dollar version. And vice versa, would you buy this 10K tee-shirt if you knew that the brand is selling inexpensive apparel? For instance Dolce Gabana stopped its very accessible line, because they know it’s damaging the reputation and perception of the brand as a luxury player.
But let’s talk about some other products, because Montblanc acquired some years ago the Minerva brand with its extraordinary know-how and wonderful movements, seen for instance with the Rally Timer watch with its start-stop button at 12 o’clock, but more specifically in the 1858 collection.
You have a simple but very nice bi-color automatic watch, another dual time with day-night indication, but most importantly with a really beautiful limited 44mm bronze case model, the Chronograph Tachymeter with its mono-pusher chronograph and very “vintagy” feel to it. They have gone a bit further in terms of full harmony by coloring the bridges and main plate to match the case and the champagne dial with the original vintage Montblanc logo is really nice.
For us, this Chronograph Tachymeter limited to 100 pieces and priced at 27’000 Euros is seriously one of the nicest watch seen at the SIHH.
The Italian brand presented 5 new watches in the Submersible collection, plus some interesting and innovative materials used both for case and movement manufacturing.
Panerai also informed us about their new partnership with the America’s Cup. Not only will they produce the official watch, a rather simple steel Luminor with a bit of added blue and red color, but also the official watches of two participating teams; 3 versions for Oracle USA and 1 watch for the Japanese team Soft Bank. All Luminor models, nothing too special, but a nice souvenir for the fans of the Cup and/or these sailing outfits.
But let’s now go over the two main novelties presented by Panerai, both of them bringing a sense of extra innovation in their collection and both of them linked with the science of materials and tribology.
The first one comes in the Submersible collection and is called the BMG. Its main new radical feature is that this watch’s case is made from liquid metal. This is something we’ve already heard of with some other brands, for instance Omega and how they produce some of their bezels. Liquid metal presents a whole new manufacturing process and instead of machining metal, you can now inject this special alloy in various shaped molds at some very well kept secret temperatures. It’s still quite experimental, but Panerai have now mastered the process enabling them to come with this new case which is more robust, lighter than steel and stronger than titanium. This for sure represents a very interesting path when it comes to manufacturing some parts of your watch, as it reduces production time. We know that Rolex is currently investigating this as well.
The second innovation comes in a watch called the LAB-Id and there the goal was to produce a timepiece not needing any lubrication. Any watch movement need lubrication, just like your car’s engine, but we know that these lubricant vary with temperature changes and simple degrade with time, they dry out. So this ultimate goal of having a watch without any lubricant has been the fantasy of many R&D departments of many brands for quite some time and we’ve seen some experimental projects here and there, but no one has really found the solution.
Well Panerai now claim that they’ve achieved this with this LAB-Id and they feel confident enough to offer a 50-year guarantee for the 50 limited timepieces it will produce.
They reached this objective by an extensive use of new carbon materials and special alloy and quite incredibly enough, this movement only holds 4 jewels. The next step for them is no jewels at all as the materials used are self-lubricated using their very particular tribology properties.
This watch is as black as it can get, the case is made of carbotech and the dial is made out of carbon nano-tube that sucks in the light, reason why they had to place the brand’s logo directly on the sapphire glass in order to see it.
So, 50 pieces, 50 year warranty and therefore a very logical 50’000 Euro price tag.