Every January the watchmaking world begins the new year with SIHH, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, an exhibition of upper-echelon watchmaking in Geneva wherein many manufacturers debut new designs to the industry. Smaller than Baselworld in March where Rolex and other heavy hitters display their new pieces, SIHH nonetheless sets the stage for the trends that will eventually become the obsession of watch collectors and enthusiasts worldwide.
As the 2018 edition of the exhibition gets underway, we present our preview of some of the best new designs unveiled by the likes of Lange & Söhne, Cartier, IWC, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet and more – in other words, some serious wrist candy, especially as these are mostly limited editions. And this year there are enough tourbillons and moon-phases to give even the snootiest collector something to salivate over, as independent watchmakers show they can handle grand complications with plenty of panache.
1. A. Lange & Söhne 1815
Kicking off our list is an homage piece to Lange founder’s grandson Walter Lange who relaunched and restored the brand to its halcyon grandeur in the 1990s. A man of great vision and taste, the 1815 dedicated to Walter is the embodiment of traditional elegance. Understated with a traditional Arabic numeral dial, it’s powered by the Lange’s newest in-house movement: the caliber L1924, a nod to Walter Lange’s birth year. Featuring a famed ultra-accurate “jumping seconds” hand, this extremely limited-edition piece faithfully preserves the precision of each and every tick thanks to a beautifully complex dance of gears, clutch and escapement.
Think of it as a controlled chaos beneath a still pond. Available in yellow, white and pink gold, there are 27 examples of the yellow and white gold options, and 90 of the pink. However, we think the real winner is the sole example in stainless steel paired with a stark black enameled dial encircled by a silver chapter ring. And if karma earns high marks on your list, all proceeds are reported to be going to charity. Price TBA.
2. Montblanc Timewalker Rally Timer Chronograph
A pick for the gentleman driver, Montblanc clocks in for pole position with its Timewalker Rally Timer Chronograph. Reminiscent of the dashboard timers in racing’s days of yore, the Rally Timer Chronograph can be strapped to the wrist or affixed to the dash of your track-eating supercar or cool classic. Unlike a traditional chronometer, its crown also functions as a single pusher at 12 o’clock for your sudden, one-handed timing needs. More notably, the orientation of the watch itself can be rotated 90 degrees to allow for readability at most any position depending on your driving style or seating configuration.
Each Timewalker Rally Timer Chronograph is rigorously tested in a 500-hour consecutive timing test and makes its roadworthy debut with a natty “reverse panda” dial. With a skeleton case to boot, the Timewalker chrono is a head-turner for just about anyone you don’t leave in your dust. Limited to a production of 100 pieces, you have the rare chance to own one of the most exciting pieces of SIHH 2018 for a reasonable $40,000.
3. IWC Constant-Force Tourbillon
With IWC celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, the famed watch house decided to go big. Very big. As in a 46mm, platinum-cased, constant-force tourbillon big. And the IWC Portugieser Constant-Force Tourbillon is definitely the perfect commemorative piece to mark the occasion. Packing all the goodies under one dial was no easy feat, hence the dimensions and the massive real estate taken up by the tourbillion escapement in the dial.
And with a constant-force complication pegged onto the hairspring to smooth out the varying tension as it releases, IWC’s Caliber 94085 powers an ultra-exacting timekeeping machine. To complete the opulent package, you also get a moonphase subdial and a traditional Portugieser register tracking its seven-day power reserve. Of course, all this come at the well-earned price of $253,000 and a fighting chance at one of the 15 pieces being produced by the watch house.
4. Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time
You’re on the run seven days out of the week, Juan Trippe style. Your terrain isn’t the pretty forested hills of the Adirondacks, but unmarked swaths of blue expanse as you leave contrails in your wake. For the traveling renaissance man, Vacheron Constantin, the prestigious brand founded in Geneva in 1755 and favored by the likes of Napoleon Bonaparte, King Edward VIII, and Harry Truman, introduces the impressive Overseas Dual Time.
Keeping track of two-time zones across its deep blue or silver dial (both options are available), the Dual Time includes date functions and a welcome AM/PM indicator for your local time. Slightly more compact because of its 41mm Tonneau inspired case, the Overseas Dual Time meets the compact but versatile requirement of your jet setting ways. Thanks to their proprietary strap-swapping system, a few-second pit stop affords you a wholly different look destined for the beachside, dinner setting or boardroom. The price of convenience is a welcome one, at $24,700, earning you a sporty package with three different looks.
5. Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Double Tourbillon
Doing as only Cartier can, the Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Double Tourbillon is the real eye-catcher, head-scratcher, and loupe-fetching piece on our ambitious list. A timepiece of the “mysterious clock” variety, the Double Tourbillon is a whopping 45mm, skeletonized, platinum masterpiece of haute horlogerie. At the center of its dial is the mystery itself, a tourbillon mechanism that appears to float and drift around the subdial on a sapphire wheel.
Ingenious doesn’t even begin to describe it, as this added feature cleverly earns itself a Double Tourbillon classification due to the complication. Breaking the hypnotic trance are the blued hands that pair nicely to the sapphire blue crown. At 30 pieces available worldwide Cartier’s Skeleton Mysterious is sure to be a SIHH darling and the piece we’ll be hungering to encounter in the metal. Alternatively, a cool $216,000 can make one eternally yours, inviting you to hours of careful study and admiration.
6. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph
25 years ago, Audemars Piguet rolled out the Royal Oak Offshore, turning the modestly proportioned luxury sports watch category on its head with a 42mm stunner – the watch that started it all. Now Audemars is commemorating the occasion with an exacting reissue of the same watch that kicked off the oversized watch trend. Of course, the new Royal Oak Offshore will come in a positively modest (by today’s standards) 42mm case size along with the model’s iconic blue tapisserie dial. Le Brassus even preserved the traditional rubber pushers on the original.
Overall, this is a handsome reissue of a modern classic and a welcome addition to the lineup at SIHH, reminding us that less mighty actually be more in 2018. And should you politely disagree with that last statement, a pink gold or stainless-steel Tourbillon also commemorates the occasion with an open dial arrangement and contemporary AP styling. More details of these very limited-edition executions will become available once the show itself in inaugurated – just be warned, only 50 pieces will be made available in each style.
7. Roger Dubuis Excalibur for Pirelli and Lamborghini
Roger Dubuis, no stranger to ultra-luxury watchmaking, deepens its creative relationship with Lamborghini and Pirelli with the latest incarnations of its pulse-racing Excalibur watch. Beginning with the Excalibur Aventador S in homage to Lamborghini’s top-end model, Dubuis embraced the alternative materials and composites that evoked supercar composition. For 2018, Dubuis upgrades the arrangement with hardware available in either pink gold or titanium for the bezel and crown.
As in previous models, the skeleton dial arrangement with its structural scaffolding is the dominant aesthetic backbone for the movement. Flickering under the sapphire crystal you will find two oscillating balance wheels that really give depth to its overall construction (rose gold model only). With minute variation between both styles, each Excalibur watch is a piece to be admired in its own context. At only eight examples per style, Dubuis’ latest offerings are among the most exclusive at SIHH 2018, and true wrist worthy objects of adoration. Price TBA.