SIHH 2017 has come to a close and the Executive Editor takes time out over the weekend to ponder his Top 5 SIHH 2017 picks. Overall, prices have trended down to more manageable but still not completely accessible levels; that said, this new development has made several brands more interesting from an accessibility standpoint and this group of Top 5 SIHH 2017 picks is the Executive Editor’s selection of his favourite watches from the watch fair.
My Top 5 SIHH 2017 Picks
1. Parmigiani Bugatti Aerolithe Flyback Chronograph
Inspired by Jean Bugatti’s design: the Bugatti Aerolithe, a car created in 1935 from magnesium alloy, the namesake Bugatti Aerolite Flyback Chronograph incorporates racing elements into its titanium frame. That said, the black textured Clous de Paris dial with hobnail pattern is what attracted me first. Punctuated by accent signature red and blue of Bugatti – red and blue. Then next, it’s the lug design inspired by the dorsal seam of the Bugatti Aerolite herself while the accompanying leather strap is embossed with the pattern of Bugatti’s car seats much like the dial is. In terms of aesthetics, the Bugatti Aerolite Flyback Chronograph is thoroughly cohesive and keeps a strong connection thematically while being driven by Parmigiani’s manufacture calibre PF335. But what really seals the deal for the 41mm timepiece is the price – CHF 22,900.
2. Girard Perregaux Neo Bridges
Combine a classic 19th century complication with Girard Perregaux’s signature bridges while applying modern aesthetics to the watch and you get the Neo-Bridges automatic titanium. For most collectors, a brand’s provenance and history expressed in a watch is the key to attraction; the Neo-Bridges automatic titanium picks up the architectural cues of Constant Girard, creator of the Esmeralda pocket watch that won first prize at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1889, updates it with a modern flourish and new GP08400 self-winding movement bearing a visible front side micro-rotor and balance wheel and you have the recipe for a thoroughly emotive timepiece. Girard Perregaux Neo-Bridges automatic titanium price – CHF24,400
3. Lange 1 Moon Phase
The Lange 1 calibre first introduced in 2015 gets an update, making it the 20th calibre of A. Lange & Sohne. Driving the Lange 1 Moon Phase, the calibre returns the same operating characteristics like the twin mainspring barrel providing 72 hours power reserve, escapement with cam-poised balance and free-sprung Lange hairspring with one clever difference – new Day/Night indicator behind the moonphase, making it extremely practical.
A separate solid-gold moon operates in the fore where a “celestial disc” of solid gold makes a complete revolution every 24 hours, representing dawn, day, dusk and twilight hours through different blue hues. As night approaches, a dark sky with laser cut stars forms the backdrop of the moonphase – an ingenious improvement which allows for easier date setting without damaging the date complication. Lange 1 Moon Phase price €39,500
4. Montblanc Rally Timer 100 Limited Edition
Stopwatch, desk clock and rally timer for the car dashboard, Montblanc Rally Timer 100 Limited Edition is probably one of the most versatile timepieces to debut at SIHH 2017. Warning though, it’s a fairly authentic reproduction of the original vintage pocket watch (sans bull’s head pushers) but equipped with the beautiful and GPHG winning chronograph Minerva calibreMB M16.29, which features a column wheel, horizontal coupling, and a power reserve of 50 hours, itself inspired by a movement developed in the 1930s.
How is so much versatility possible? Well, the SIHH 2017 Montblanc Rally Timer 100 Limited Edition has a specially designed case back which allows two hinged lugs to hide flush. When you need it as a wrist chronograph, you simply extend the lugs and slip on the specially designed leather strap. Put your hands on the steering wheel and if the dial face seems awkward to read, you can rotate the Rally Timer 100 a full 360 to suit any viewing angle. The 50 mm watch in brushed titanium wears light despite its size and is limited to 100 pieces. Montblanc Rally Timer 100 price €38,000 – another real bargain.
5. money no object pick: Vacheron Constantin Celestia
The Reference 57260 pocket watch was a bespoke pocket watch created in collaboration with one of Vacheron Constantin’s biggest collectors and it was a pretty much a “holy sh@#” timepiece. By the numbers, it sold for an estimated USD10 million for 57 complications. 2,826 individual components, 8 years of research and development and 3 watchmakers (2 of them are brothers) BUT it was nigh unwearable. It was the kind of thing you kept in your safe or on permanent display in your palatial museum. Then, for SIHH 2017 Vacheron Constantin launched the very wearable Les Cabinotiers Celestia.
Comparatively, it is the sum of 5 years of development, 23 horological complications, 514 components and the work of 1 dedicated master-watchmaker; most importantly, your conversation watch was something you could talk about OUTSIDE the home without a security detail. The Vacheron Constantin Celestia takes my breath away by virtue of its ability to reckon the wonders of galaxy and define them in engineering terms (with front and back dials) and give me astrological read outs and computation of time as defined by each celestial interaction and movement in a context of time and space; combining display of civil, solar and sidereal times via three separate gear trains. In a word, sublime.