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SIHH 2019: Chester's Armchair Picks
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Editor’s Choice: Top 5 watches from SIHH 2019

by Peter Chong on January 23, 2019
Watches

The show is over. Four days of hectic scrambling and rushing. We managed to publish 32 “Live from SIHH” articles direct from the Palexpo, and hope you enjoyed the raw, direct coverage. From the hundreds of novelties I saw in the show, here are my top 5.

The criteria for top 5 is rather strict. It is based on a mix of objective and subjective criteria. The objective is as follows:

  1. how novel is the idea behind the piece? If its been done before, how is this execution different from earlier ones?
  2. what is the horological significance?

And the subjective includes like the beauty of the aesthetics, as well as the emotional impact it had when I saw and handled the watch.

Of the literally hundreds that was handled, here they are:

Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar

Hands down, the most technical watch of the show. Vacheron shows that even a grand old maison can be innovative. The watch is special because it brings a level of convenience to the hand wound perpetual calendar. No longer does one need to wind the watch every so often to ensure that the calendar does not stop and require tedious resetting each time one needs to wear the watch. The Twin Beat solution is simple. Switch the watch over to the slow beat movement, and the power reserve is lengthened to 65 days. Over that period it would gain or lost 8-10 minutes (adjusted only for dial up position), but the calendar would remain correct. At which the user can, on demand, switch over the the fast beat movement, and the watch gains regular level accuracy in all positions.

The perpetual calendar features instaneously jumping for all indicators, and is very beautifully laid out and finished to boot. And at a price of CHF 175,000 before taxes, we think it is a rather reasonable ransom for a handsome piece of complicated horology.

A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Date

At first glance the Zeitwerk Date may seem to be just the addition of a pointer style date in dial circumference. While the date mechanism may not be novel, though instead of a jumping hand pointer, the date wheel is printed with hollowed out numerals, and a jumping disc below with one red section to the current date, while blanking out all others.

The movement is totally re-thought out. The date and hour displays have quick set feature, essential for a watch with a date. But classical Lange twists are also present: the Zeitwerk Date has an extended power reserve of 72 hours, up from 36 hours of the regular Zeitwerk, while being thinner (8.9mm) than the regular (9.3mm).

The traditional Lange level of finishing and attention to detail remains at an all time high, and this makes the Zeitwerk Date a great addition to the Zeitwerk family, appropriate to celebrate the line’s 10th Anniversary.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel

This one is an easy pick. The Jaeger-LeCoultre gyrotourbillon is one of the greatest masterpieces of the maison. And is the fifth rendition of this engineering and technical marvel. The gyrotourbillon in the Master Grande Tratdition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpetual is smaller than earlier editions, making it more wearable. But also incorporates a Westminster chiming minute repeater function. It also uses a constant force mechanism to ensure that minute hand jumps precisely and a more accurate minute repeater mechanism.

The sound of the watch is rather loud with the use of their proprietary trubuchet hammers striking on crystal gongs.

F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain Vertical

François-Paul Journe’s latest take on the tourbillon has resulted in an exquisite tourbillon which the tourbillon’s cage rotates perpendicular to the dial. He calls this the vertical tourbillon, and is designed so that the tourbillon’s functions remain constant whether the watch lies flat or is placed on its side, and the amplitude is subsequently the same, whether with a deployant clasp lying on the side or with an pin buckle lying flat. François-Paul further argues that this was the original intent of the tourbillon as designed by Breguet, as it sits in the pocket in the vertical position. It now is in the same position when placed crown up or dial up, the two most common positions.

Not the first of its kind, as Panerai has done this with its tourbillon in 2015, though the Panerai cage rotates on a different axis than the balance, the Journe’s cage has the same axis as the balance.

The vertical tourbillon with remontoir d’égalité and deadbeat second makes one revolution every 30 seconds. The aesthetics is consistent with modern Journes, and are exceptionally designed, laid out and finished.

Armin Strom Pure Resonance Vintage

The Armin Strom Resonance is certainly not a new watch, though it remains one of the only watches which uses the principle of a clutch spring forcing two independent balance wheels to beat in unison. We have covered various editions of this amazing movement earlier. Even the in the Pure line, where purity of the movement is reduced to a single time display, a single seconds hand and a simple dial.

But the new dial presented at SIHH 2019 is remarkable, and it just stole our hearts. The grand feu enamel dials are magnificent, particularly the simple one shown above in a watch which Armin Strom calls Pure Vintage. It incorporates hand engraved elements on the plates below the dials, and proudly displays the double balances as with the others in the series.

Concluding thoughts

Thus is the selection of the Chief Editor. While five is the intended number to force a tight selection. Many other watches impressed. From the F. Berthoud F1.1-2 Ouerve d’Or (Golden Masterpiece) with the impressive dial and discreet diamond set case side to the Greubel Forsey Contemporain Balancier which impressed because of the size (at 39.6mm diameter, it is the smallest GF watch ever, and retains all the signature elements). From the amazingly cheeky but well executed Moser Swiss Alp Concept Minute Repeater Tourbillon with no hands to the amazing marketing concept of Experiencial Watches of Panerai. The very commercial IWC offerings within the Pilot line this series is also impressive in its own way, with the highlight for me being the Le Petit Prince Constant Force Tourbillon. And the polarizing Audemars Piguet Code 11.59, which I feel deserves more love than the bad press it has got. To the incredible artisanal work that goes into the very playful Richard Mille Fruits and Candy collection.

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