The first watch exhibition of 2015 indicates that even the simplest timepieces are rising to complex new heights.
Greubel Forsey’s QP à Équation watch (price on request) combines the tourbillon with the perpetual calendar and an equation of time mechanism. Les Bijoux, 306 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, 561-361-2311
The sale of timepieces in 2014 is estimated to have been nearly $40 billion globally, with watches from Switzerland accounting for more than half of that sum. That may well be why the world’s first watch exhibition of 2015, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in January, was the place to be.
More than 12,000 watch retailers and specialty press descended on Geneva for the SIHH show to witness 16 top luxury brands unveil their newest creations. These watches, many that were years in the making, will arrive in the US market beginning this summer and will set the trends for the year to come and beyond. Making a strong appearance on the scene were skeletonized watches, astronomically inspired pieces, and high complications such as tourbillons— watches that have an added escapement to compensate for the errors in timing due to the effects of gravity when the wrist is in certain positions.
Also making important statements at the more affordable price range are creative new chronographs and both annual calendars (which need a date adjustment once a year at the end of February) and perpetual calendars (which are generally perfect timekeepers until the year 2100, when we skip a scheduled leap year).
Garnering particular attention this year is the category of skeletonized watches, which are created by carving away much of the metal from the movement so the wearer can view the beauty of the elaborate gears and wheels. A watchmaker can spend countless hours whittling away as much as 70 percent of the metal, but must do so in a way that preserves the strength of the piece. Additionally, these tiny components are usually engraved, resulting in a breathtaking work of art and precision. Brands such as Cartier, Roger Dubuis, and Parmigiani Fleurier take the lead this year with elaborate new pieces. In fact, Cartier has unveiled the Crash Skeleton, a watch whose movement had to be reconfigured to fit inside the unusually shaped Dali-inspired case.
LEFT TO RIGHT: 1. To build the Cartier Crash Skeleton ($62,000), the entire movement had to be reconfigured and then meticulously carved away to be visible. Miami Design District, 151 NE 40th St., 305-864-8793 2. Piaget again set world records with its Altiplano Chronograph ($29,000) as the thinnest hand-wound chronograph movement and watch. Miami Design District, 140 NE 39th St., 305-908-4050 3. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Duomètre Sphérotourbillon Moon watch (price on request) is all about astronomy. It combines moon-phase indication with a double-carriage tourbillon escapement. Aventura Mall, 19575 Biscayne Blvd., 305-521-0600
In the realm of tourbillons, some brands are combining the complex tourbillon escapement with other useful functions such as chronographs and perpetual calendars. Montblanc, for instance, debuted the Heritage ExoTourbillon in a special tribute Vasco da Gama edition. Named for the famed explorer who navigated by the Southern Cross in the 1500s to connect Europe with Asia, the stunning version features an aventurine dial complete with the stars of the Southern Cross in the design. This watch incorporates yet another key trend seen this year: astronomically inspired watches.
The heavens and astronomy movement is one that Jaeger-LeCoultre blends in its new Duomètre Sphérotourbillon Moon watch, which combines moon-phase indication and a seemingly free-floating tourbillon escapement. Similarly, Greubel Forsey focuses on astronomy with its seventh invention watch: QP à Équation, which masterfully combines tourbillon, perpetual calendar, and equation of time mechanisms (which offers the difference between real time and solar time), complete with season display. These luxury watches are true statement makers in 2015.
In the world of chronograph advancements, Piaget’s new Altiplano Chronograph sets two world records in the ultrathin field: The hand-wound flyback movement (caliber 883P) measures 4.65mm, and the finished watch measures just 8.24mm thick.
Other great new chronographs hail from brands such as Panerai, Ralph Lauren, and IWC. In fact, IWC has greatly expanded on its Portugieser collection of watches in honor of its 75th anniversary this year. In celebration, the brand showcases several new chronographs and calendar watches and introduces new in-house-made movements, including one for the Portugieser annual calendar.
Start your wish list; this is a year filled with great timepieces.