The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie is the world’s most exclusive watch show. Held in Geneva, Switzerland every winter for the past 22 years, it is an “invite only” show that I was fortunate enough to attend this past January. I was able to view virtually every new piece from all 18 exhibiting luxury watch brands: Audemars Piguet, A. Lange & Sohne, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Girard-Perregaux, Greubel Forsey, Jaeger-LeCoultre, JeanRichard, Montblanc, Panerai, Parmigiani Fleurier, Richard Mille, Roger Dubuis, Vacheron Constantin and Van Cleef & Arpels.
Audemars Piguet celebrated the 40th anniversary of their iconic Royal Oak. The most popular piece was the updated Royal Oak Jumbo throwback. The new dial and original 39 mm diameter case looks great; if you want a Royal Oak, for five grand less, the new 41 mm Royal Oak is an excellent choice as well.
Cartier’s big men’s introduction this year was the Tank Anglaise. This archival model is very masculine and fits perfectly with the design codes of Cartier. Cartier also introduced their first minute-repeater; it also features a tourbillon and the hammers and gongs are prominently displayed on the dial side with an internal fly wheel – awesome. This is one of those pieces you have to watch in action to fully appreciate.
Girard-Perregaux’s three bridges Laureato tourbillon, their classic 1966 3-hand and chronograph collections all stood out to me. My favorite GP introduction for 2012, though, is the 38 mm vintage-inspired 1966 3-hand model. Like their sister brand JeanRichard, this is Girard-Perregaux’s final SIHH, a sad fact considering they were one of the founding members 22 years ago. They’ll be at Baselworld 2013, just in time for the opening of the bigger and better Basel fair grounds.
Panerai’s new Tuttonero Ceramic GMT (PAN 438) comes with a ceramic bracelet and is powered by a black galvanized version of the P.9001 in-house movement. Very nice.
Jaeger-LeCoutre introduced a new masterpiece in the Spherotourbillon, an updated Master Thin collection, multiple new Reversos and the all new Deep Sea Vintage Chrono. The Spherotourbillon was the tourbillon everyone was talking about at Jaeger, but don’t forget the stunning Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin Tourbillon (pictured below).
Vacheron Constantin introduced some interesting models this year; their first round tourbillon is the one that impressed me most. From the Maltese cross tourbillon cage, fully polished case and massive 14-day power-reserve – this piece is Vacheron Constantin at its best.
A. Lange & Sohne redesigned the Datograph and the Grande Lange 1 (pictured above), they introduced the new Lange 1 Worldtime with a luminous dial and the all new Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual. It is hard to go wrong with Lange, but if I had to pick one, it would be the exquisite Lange 1 Perpetual Tourbillon.
The Ralph Lauren RL 67 Safari Sporting was especially attractive due in part to its unique semi-gloss gunmetal finish. Moreover, the RL 67 is powered by a Jaeger-LeCoultre manufacture column-wheel chronograph, and comes in either 39 mm or 45 mm case sizes, for under $10k – not bad.
Tourbillon specialist, Gruebel Forsey, impressed with everyone their insanely cool GMT Tourbillon. It was, however, the less talked about Contemporain that I liked best. Much more simple and wearable, while still exhibiting the technical mastery that GF is known for.
Parmigiani Fleurier introduced a number of cool pieces this year, but none as significant as the Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Speciale Edition in my opinion. Featuring an ultra-thin polished titanium case with an ultra thin manufacture movement, and an exquisite LIGA skeletonized dial and a vintage-eqsue 39 mm diameter – this piece was my favorite from the Fleurier based watchmaker.
Baume & Mercier’s most distinctive new collection was not something introduced at SIHH, instead it was a collection introduced in the summer of 2011 – the Hamptons collection. IWC introduced a number of new Pilot and Top Gun themed models, including an impressive new in-house caliber. Piaget’s Altiplano Skeleton is unbelievably thin, in fact it is the thinnest skeleton watch in the world. The pictures do not do it justice, it looks great in-person and on the wrist.
Montblanc’s new high-frequency chronograph, the TimeWriter II Bi-Frequence 1000, is a significant milestone in chronometry, and mesmerizing to watch. But it is the Montblanc Nicolas Riessuce Chrono GMT that I wish I could have taken home with me.
Van Cleef & Arpels revealed a very special haute horology timepiece with a retrograde time indication, 5-minute repeater and constant force escapement.