A to Z of the 2017 SIHH: Parmigiani Fleurier, Piaget, Richard Mille, Ulysse Nardin, Vacheron Constantin, Van Cleef & Arpels
Welcome back to the third and last episode of this year's A to Z of the 2017 SIHH.
The brand from the Val de Travers introduced the Toric Chronometre, a very classic and refined 3-hand watch, with a large date window at 6 o’clock. This watch comes with an automatic movement in two different case finishing; one in white gold, the other in red gold. This is a tribute to the very first watch Michel Parmigiani designed and produced at the origin of the brand some 20 years ago.
The next watch presented is a steel version of their very well balanced Tonda 1950. For this new version, the brand made it so slightly larger, as it comes in a 40mm case, instead of the 39mm of the previous gold versions.
Parmiginai also introduced a new Tonda 1950 Meteorite but for the first time we see a white finishing for this meteorite dial, something they managed to pull off with a new type of treatment. This watch comes in a titanium case and there are also a blue and a black meteorite version.
The brand enjoys a long partnership with Bugatti and as 2016 marked the launch of the Chiron car, Parmigiani has now come up with the Bugatti Aerolithe Performance timepiece where you will be able to see the incredible speed performance of the car on the tachymeter scale of this flyback chronograph.
And finally, they introduced an Ovale Pentographe, the timepiece with the magical folding hands following the ovale shape of the case as it’s running, but here the novelty is that the movement is made out of gold. If you want to know more about this watch and it very original hour and minute hand display, we invite you to check the special report we published a little while ago about it.
2017 marks the 60th anniversary of a very iconic watch for them: the Altiplano. They didn’t go too crazy for this celebration, but instead introduced a few rather elegant limited editions playing with colors and material.
As a quick reminder this watch’s main characteristic is its ultra thin dimension and when it came out in 1957, the thickness of the original 9P manual winding movement was set at only 2mm and 2.4mm for the 12P automatic version introduced in 196. This “ultra plat” dimension of their watches really represents an important part of the brand’s identity.
This year’s focus was set on the RM50-03, the lightest split second chronograph ever made weighing only 40 grams, strap included, and only 7 grams for the movement alone and we dedicated a full report on this.
This performance has been achieved by the extensive use of carbon and titanium, but also with the introduction of a new material called graphene or Graph TPT in the Richard Mille vocabulary. This material is also used by McLaren in their F1 cars, making the partnership between Richard Mille and the sport car manufacturer a very tangible one. And for information, the discovery of this graphene material simply got the scientific team from Manchester University the Nobel Prize of Physics!
It was the brand’s first participation at the SIHH and when it comes to technique and innovation, well there is a lot to be said about Ulysse Nardin.
They have been pioneers in many different fields of horology and some 10 years ago, they introduced the Innovision with 10 incredible innovations, 8 of which are found in today’s watches of the brand. So this year, they presented the Innovision II, again 10 crazy innovations and we seriously hope we’ll have the opportunity to do a special video report on this, because it simply deserves it.
URWERK are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year and they are the ones that triggered this independent watchmaking scene that we love so much. As a celebration piece, they introduced the UR-T8, combining much of their identity in one timepiece, an upgraded satellite hour indicator mechanism, plus a very original reversing system, but again full report to be seen here.
We will focus on one single timepiece presented by the brand, because what a timepiece!
Following the development of the most complicated watch ever manufactured, the Ref. 57’260 and its crazy 57 complications, Vacheron took some of that know-how and introduced an incredible timepiece called the Cabinotier Astronomica Grande Complication.
With that many complications and therefore indications, it’s a two-sided watch to hold all of them and remain legible. This watch features a perpetual calendar with practical sunset-sunrise indicators found at 6 o’clock. It also holds a clever tide indicator at 11 o’clock, but what we liked the best concerns the equation of time, something generally quite complicated to read and understand. Here what they’ve done is they added a special gold minute hand that shows you in “real time” the actual sun time. You have a regular minute hand that gives time as we’re used to, meaning with equal and linear increments, but this special hand will either precede or be in front of this regular minute hand depending on the date and you will therefore be able to view and grasp very simply the variation of solar time!
This is a unique timepiece, reason why it is in the Cabinotier collection where they only do one offs and one last thing, it holds 6 barrels giving this watch 21-days of power reserve, quite impressive.
Van Cleef & Arpels
And finally let’s talk about Van Cleef & Arpels who got us used to some rather poetic timepieces over the years and again they did not deceive us with probably one of the nicest and interesting watch on display at this edition of the SIHH.
This watch is the Lady Arpels Papillon Automate and we know that the brand likes butterflies and other nice little insects and this time they actually brought to life a charming little butterfly inside this watch.
You will find a small hour and minute indication at 2 o’clock, but it’s the animation, which is really quite something. But before going over about it, let's just add that it’s also and naturally a fine display of artistic craftsmanship with for instance something not yet seen with this curbed "plique-à-jour" enamel giving a further sense of 3D within the dial.
So let’s now talk about the real fun stuff, because this butterfly flaps its wing, but it does so erratically throughout the hour and that’s really the nice touch to this automata watch. It doesn’t do so every 5 minutes, but erratically 19 times per hour, how cool is that!
In addition to that, the wearer can activate this function whenever she wants (yes, this is a feminine piece) by pressing a push button, but the cool part doesn’t stop there. This watch holds two barrels, one for the time and one for the automata. Ok, everything still pretty straight forward, but depending on the wearer’s activity, meaning if you’re moving a lot, then the automata will perform its little trick more often than the 19 times mentioned before and up to 40-50 time per hour! It will do so because it has more energy charging up the barrel, but despite this, the flaps of the wings will remain constant and not become crazy because it’s all fueled up.
And the last nice thing, this automata function works a little bit like a power reserve indicator, meaning that when energy is real low, than the butterfly will flap less times than the 19 times and if you wind up your watch, the butterfly will constantly flap during this operation and will stop when it’s fully charged. This watch is a numbered edition, so not limited and part of the collection.
And to end up with Van Cleef, they presented a much bigger automata, the Automate Fee Ondine, with its wonderful animated fairy and waterlily sitting on undulating water. This is an incredible object showcasing so many different crafts and it’s just a pure pleasure to look at. Years in the making, but the result is spectacular, poetic, wonderful!!! And yes, it also gives time with this cute love bug, naturally well gem set as you can imagine!