Not long now to SIHH, the watch fair grouping 16 brands, starting on 19 January in Geneva. It’s the first watch show of the year and so provides an indication of the latest trends. Some of the things that visitors will be wondering include the effects that the recent Swiss franc currency variation will have on the industry (it has survived worse crises in the past) and growth rate for 2015, but above all, they’ll be watching out for new movement, new complications, new watch designs and new ideas. To venture a guess, I would say that there could be some timepieces on an astronomical theme, rather like the Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Planétarium of the previous edition, reflecting the penchant for space travel as shown by the recent spate of films like Gravity and Interstellar. The previews by a few of the exhibiting brands provide a few indications.
IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar
IWC works by families, renewing a complete series of watches every year. 2015 is the turn of the Portuguese range, now renamed Portugieser, and the new Portugieser Annual Calendar has a lot of the family’s original DNA, with large case size (44.2 mm in diameter, 15.3 mm thick) enhanced by a narrow bezel that maximises dial size, reflecting the 1939 watch’s origins based on a pocket watch movement. It neatly slots in to the area between a basic date function and the super-complicated, super-expensive perpetual calendar.
The back of the watch reveals the large oscillating weight that provides power for the two barrels offering a 7-day power reserve. Read more about this watch here.
Rotonde de Cartier Reversed Tourbillon
The principal feature of this Cartier watch is the deeply-cut guilloché work on the white gold dial. The previous version of this watch, presented in 2012, had a similar design, but with large stylized Roman numerals instead of the guilloché. In this new piece, the dial is again asymmetric, with the guilloché not centred but radiating from the tourbillon, where the large C on the tourbillon bridge rotates and marks the seconds on a half-scale. The hour and minute hands are also off-centred, and the minutes scale and hour markers on the inside of the bezel are calibrated to match. Read more about the Rotonde de Cartier Reversed Tourbillon here.
Below, view through the sapphire caseback:
A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia
At SIHH 2015, A. Lange & Söhne will present three new versions of the Saxonia family, with new dial design. A comparison of the previous versions (2011) and the 2015 versions show that the changes are rather subtle, moving further towards Max Bill-type Bauhaus minimalism. In the photo below, the Saxonia Dual Time on the left has a dial diameter of 38.5 mm. The Saxonia at centre is 35 mm in diameter. All three have sapphire casebacks to highlight the superbly finished movements, and this has become another characteristic of A. Lange & Söhne: the minimalism of the dial is contrasted by the fantastically complex geometrical forms revealed when you turn the watch over. Read more about the new Saxonia models here.
Piaget Ultrathin GMT Chronograph
This watch has a dial with the classic Piaget Altiplano minimalist look, with continuous seconds on a subdial at 6 o’clock, a 30-minute subdial at 3 o’clock, and a 24-hour subdial at 9 o’clock for the second time zone. The new movement, the Calibre 883P, is the thinnest manual chronograph movement in the world at 4.65 mm, which gives the entire case a thickness of 8.24 mm, also a world record for manually-wound chronographs. The case is 41 mm in diameter, mounted on an alligator strap. It is available in two versions, pink gold, and white gold with 56 diamonds on the bezel. Read more about the Piaget Ultrathin GMT Chronograph here.
Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon
The Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon is a watch that was presented in 2010, with the in-house Calibre 9451 MC movement in which the tourbillon has an elongated carriage that enables the balance to rotate around the dial, once a minute. The balance bridge is in the form of an arrow and so becomes a seconds hand. At SIHH 2015, Cartier will present the skeletonized version of the Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon, a piece in which the movement is suspended from the giant XII and VI numerals, and displayed by the sapphire crystal glasses on front and back of the watch. The only other link between the movement and the case is the bar at 3 o’clock bearing the Cartier logo that conceals the pin from the crown. Read more about the Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon here.
Van Cleef & Arpels Cadenas
Cadenas is a chunky bracelet-watch. Like the Zip necklace, the design was probably inspired by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. This design dates to 1935, and the central block holding the timepiece itself, and the curved loop linking it to the bracelet, look very much like a sturdy padlock. Or a robust anchor chain – cadenas is Spanish for chains. At SIHH 2015, Van Cleef & Arpels will be presenting – along with other pieces – a new series of Cadenas jewellery watches. They have been updated with a greater visibility of the dial which now has hour indications, and an improved closing system with two small ceramic spheres that ensure a more secure buckle locking. The collection now comprises nine models, in white or yellow gold, some of which with pavé diamonds, one with pink sapphire, with alligator strap or flexible metal bracelet. The watch has a quartz movement. Read more about the Cadenas here.
Below, two of the new Cadenas models, with alligator strap (left), and Cadenas Bracelet Or (right) with mother-of-pearl dial:
Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum
The Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum is part of a new Montblanc family of watches, the Heritage Spirit collection. The watch shows the time at any one of the 24 time zones in the world, by means of an in-house time zone module added to the movement and driving a series of discs as well as the two hands. The dial is multi-level, with a view of the earth as seen from the North Pole, rotating above a blue disc representing the oceans. Read more about the Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum here.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Calendar Meteorite Dial
This watch has a slice of asteroid, about 4.6 billion years old, on the dial, giving it a unique macro-crystalline appearance. Inside, the 39 mm case contains the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 866, automatic, with 43 hours power reserve. The watch is a new version of the Master Calendar presented in 2013 which was in turn based on a 1945 model. Its functions are day and month in two windows just above the centre, moon phase and small seconds on a subdial at 6 o’clock, and date indicated by a blued crescent on a centre hand. It is available in steel and pink gold versions. Read more here.
Royal Oak Concept RD#1
This is a minute repeater, with exceptional sound quality developed by acoustic studies in cooperation with the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne. According to Audemars Piguet, it reaches a level of sound hitherto unheard in a watch, by using the principles of stringed musical instruments. The watch is a manually-wound chronograph with a tourbillon regulator, visible at six o’clock. The movement provides a 48 hour power reserve. The 44 mm case, the bezel and pushers are in titanium. Read more here.
Richard Mille RM 33-01
Richard Mille has presented an SIHH preview, the RM 33-01, an automatic with a round case housing a skeletonized movement, featuring an unusual treatment of the date ring. What looks like an abstract pattern at the edge of the dial resolves into a number arranged vertically, highlighted by a white-edged outline on the sapphire glass at about 7 o’clock. This date ring forms most of the peripheral part of the dial: at the centre, a few wheels of the movement can be seen, driving the two characteristic dauphine hour and minute hands, with a continuous seconds subdial at 6 o’clock. Read more here.