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SIHH 2019: Highlights and Watchmaking Trends

By T: The New York Times Style Magazine Singapore

 
Shades of Blue

Having gained momentum since last year, the blue-faced watch trend, as SIHH’s leading crop of names reinstated, isn’t going anywhere. At Vacheron Constantin, the Patrimony collection saw a striking “majestic blue” shade seep into its dials, from its classic hour-minute reference to its retrograde day-date model. Pictured here is the Genevan brand’s self-winding 40mm Patrimony watch. Its see-through caseback frames the 196 components of its Calibre 2460 Q6, including a 22-karat gold oscillating weight. While its alligator strap, of which is also as majestically blue as its dial, alludes to the ’50s time-transcending aesthetic codes.

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Shades of Blue

Baume et Mercier’s Clifton Baumatic line first made its wave-making entry last year, debuting a new silicon technology, a technical firepower packed under the hood of this chronometer wristwatch mode. This year, the self-winding model undergoes a blue-to-black gradated sunburst dial update, monikered the Cardan Bleu (French for “blue dial”). Housed in a 40mm steel case, it’s offset with a white minute track, rhodium-plated hands and a discreet white crosshair. Two versions are available: One comes mounted on an interchangeable black alligator leather strap; the other, on a five-row steel bracelet secured with a triple folding clasp.

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Shades of Blue

Meanwhile, Swiss watchmaker Girard-Perregaux explores the trending colour in other ways. Presenting an evolution of its predominant line, Laureato, dubbed the Laureato Absolute, the broader-sized model also arrives in the watchmaking world’s first carbon glass material. 100 times stiffer than steel, its one-of-a-kind properties ensure airtightness without needing a container. Here, the glass fibres are defined with blue glass detailing.

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The New Lines

Audemars Piguet heralds into the new year with Code 11.59, the watchmaker’s rendition of a classic timepiece. The entirely new line is named so to encapsulate that last moment that brinks on a new day. Introducing six models, Code 11.59 is the flagship range of round watches for the brand, replacing the discontinued Jules Audemars range. Its design is structured like a sandwich: Between the round bezel and back sits its octagonal middlecase. In contrast, the screws for the strap are hexagonal in form. Code 11.59’s inaugural time-only model and chronograph are both powered by three new in-house movements.

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The New Lines

Hermès unveiled the Galop d'Hermès timepiece, designed by Ini Archibong, a Switzerland-based Nigerian American designer. The line was born of his inquisitive observations of equestrian tacks — the horse stirrup, to be exact — at the Conservatoire des créations Hermès. A witty nod to the brand’s equestrian roots, its unique case is a finely-tuned riff on the stirrup silhouette, while the numbers on the dial are especially designed to give an impression of movement and perspective. “The material I work with is light. I create shapes to catch the light,” Archibong said of his creation. “I have learned to design aerodynamic shapes and futuristic lines that use surfaces in order to explore light effects.”

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Bling Updates

Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new Dazzling Rendez-Vous Night & Day timepiece features a reworked moon phase, a new griffe setting technique and two rows of two different-sized, brilliant-cut diamonds along the bezel, circling its mother-of-pearl dial. Available in white or pink gold with alligator leather straps in blue or taupe, this Rendez-Vous iteration is a time-telling jewellery for the modern women.

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Bling Updates

The Piaget Limelight Gala now comes in a black alligator strap, festooned with three times more diamonds set on its asymmetric bezel curves than its antecedent. The new open-worked gem-setting technique allows the incorporation of bigger stones, and in a way that it appears they are seamlessly strung together, rather than set in gold.

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Bling Updates

At Parmigiani Fleurier, the year’s edition of the ultra-thin Tonda 1950 range ushers in a motley of stone-set brilliance. Although it’s crystal clear that it’s the rainbow bezel and its vibrant spectrum of baguette-cut gemstones — 21 sapphires, three rubies, six tsavorites and six amethysts — that sit front and centre.

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Vintage Tool Watches

One of IWC’s 2019 novelty stand-outs included the Top Gun pilot watch in its Mojave Desert edition. Built in ceratanium — the house’s brand new groundbreaking material, based on titanium alloy and melds the advantages of titanium and ceramic — its case exudes the warmth of sand, which extends to its hands and textile strap.

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Vintage Tool Watches

Dedicated to the Seven Summit challenge — which rallies the world’s best climbers to tackle the highest peaks on all seven of the globe’s continents — the vintage appeal of Montblanc’s 1858 collection is complimented in forest green through the limited edition Geosphere timepiece in a nod to the esprit of the great outdoors. Powered by the automatic MB 29.25 Calibre, it displays a date at three o’clock and a second time zone at nine o’clock. Animated globes at 12 and six o’clock represent the Northern and Southern Hemispheres with a 24-hour scale and day-night indication. The 42mm case, water-resistant to 100 metre, is in polished and satin bronze with a bi-directional bronze bezel with green ceramic insert marked with the four main compass points — a timepiece made with the adventurous globetrotter in mind.

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The Micros

To put it simply, this edition of the Balencier Contemporain, at 39.6mm, is Greubel Forsey’s smallest timepiece yet to fit the independent watchmaker’s exclusive oversized balance-wheel system.

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The Micros

At Cartier, both the beloved Panthere de Cartier and Santos Dumont were downsized, with the mini Panthere reintroduced in a size that’s comparable to the dimensions of the Love or the Just un Clou bracelets.

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The Thematics

Keeping things light-hearted, the Richard Mille booth at SIHH turned into a witty confectionary with its delightful Bonbon collection. Spanning 10 timepieces that are based on three of the watchmaker’s signature models like the classic RM 07-03, they come adorned with familiar sweet delights, from multicoloured miniature gummies to lollipop-reminiscent dials.

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The Thematics

Ulysse Nardin’s running X collection is the Swiss house’s risqué alternative for its intrepid acolytes. As its moniker suggests, the X is a representation of a chromosome, a generation, a crossing point, a promising destination on a treasure map — it denotes any unknown, unspecified or variable factor. But pushing further into uncharted territory is the Freak X, a timepiece with no dials nor hands, laying bare of the watchmaker’s technical prowess. Albeit its tighter sizing — 43mm instead of 45mm — it’s easier to read and operate. Its central bridge acts as an unlikely minute hand while its wheels indicates the hours. And without a dial, the beating of its signature ultra-light silicium balance wheel boldly takes centre stage.

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The Anniversary Homage

On 24 October 1994, A. Lange & Söhne’s founder, Walter Lange and his partner Günter Blümlen presented their first four new-era wristwatches at the Dresden Palace. One of them was the Lange 1. Since then, the award-winning model has continued to stay at the forefront of A. Lange & Söhne’s horology inventions. Its asymmetric dial arrangements triggered discussions, and its technical facets — from its outsize date to its twin mainspring barrel — were innovations that were enthusiastically received. This year, in tribute to its 25th anniversary, the Dresden watchmaker releases a limited edition of the Lange 1 in a white gold iteration, with only 250 of its kind available the world over. Aptly monikered the Lange 1 25th Anniversary, its telling feature is the engraved hinged cuvette, moulded in solid white gold, and an illustrious relief engraving of its birth site, the Dresden Palace, on its back.

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The Experiential

This year, Panerai delves deep into the ocean for its latest collaborative watch line, the Submersible. In partnership with Prada’s Luna Rossa, a small batch of watches are designed in parallel to the latest in high-end sailing technology. Pictured here, the Luna Rossa Challenger Submersible is a 47mm dive watch formed from the Carbotech material — a tough but light substance — as a nod to the carbon fiber hull of Luna Rossa’s AC75b ship. Its grey sailcloth dial adheres to the timepiece’s monochromatic facade, save for minimal dashes of red accents, and adds yet another nautical touch.

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The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, better known as SIHH, which ran its course in Geneva last week, was the watch fair’s final appearance in January. It was announced that 2020 would see it collaborating with Baselworld, tying both watch fairs with a back-to-back schedule slated for late April and early May, in a bid to strengthen their lineup. Still, this year’s edition of SIHH gathered 18 of Switzerland’s finest watchmakers — a large crop from the stable of luxury group Richemont — along with 17 independent names.

Once again, the horology fair’s renowned splicing of age-old craft and forward-thinking technology brought forward a battle of supremacy. New ideas and collections posited headlining wares where the latest innovations were applied. Groundbreaking materials were introduced: Girard-Perregaux with the world’s first carbon glass case; IWC with a substance that toes the line of titanium and ceramic. Extremes in sizing were explored, with downsized classics becoming a full-fledged trend of its own. Cartier presented the minis to its Panthere de Cartier and Santos Dumont silhouettes, while independent watchmaker Greubel Forsey showcased its most minuscule technical design yet.

From the current trailblazers of the blue dial trend to the cohort of entirely new lines, above, click through T’s definitive round-up of the 28th edition of SIHH.

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