The dust over the recent SIHH 2016 has settled somewhat, and now are able to reflect on the week’s whirlwind events and unveiling of novelties. Our writers Robin and Chester have made their picks, so has our intrepid News Editor Nick. It now falls on the Editor to make his picks. He was in Geneva all week. He had hands-on time with the watches, and spent time talking to the watchmakers and CEOs. In this Editor’s Choice, he has taken the additional license to increase his selection to 8 of his favorites. Here they are, presented alphabetically by brand.
The week has indeed been very hectic. I saw hundreds of watches, photographed them, listened to the presentations, discussed the technicalities with the watchmakers and talked with the brand CEOs. Overall, there were nothing which is horologically impressive. Perhaps the Parmigiani Fleurier’s new Senfine Concept escapement might be the odd new tech. But it is not yet a watch, only an interesting escapement system which when driven by a standard gear train, will run for 45 days, instead of the usual 45 hours.
But there were many watches which were beautiful. Some exceptionally so. And to distill this to a few watches is difficult task. And I have elected to expand from the 5 that the team have each chosen to 8. Each will be accompanied by a detailed, hands-on analytical review to be published later, although for one of them – the Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter, our full review is already published.
So without further ado, let’s begin.
A Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Jumping Seconds
Lange always have interesting treasures in store each SIHH, and this year, its no different. They announced no less than 6 novelties. Many of them potential picks as Best of the Show, and indeed one my colleagues have already picked the Grande Lange 1 Moon Phase Lumen. And yet many others may be attracted to the complicated charms of the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon. But my pick is for the watchmaker’s watch – a technical tour de force only understood by the few who matter, cased in an absolutely teutonic case, and a dial design which is practical and useful rather than embellished with beauty. I pick the Richard Lange Jumping Seconds.
Admittedly, I am fascinated by the seconds morte watches. In the Richard Lange Jumping Seconds, the dial design is a study in form follows function. A similar layout is already seen in the Richard Lange Tourbillon Pour le Mérite introduced in 2010. But the big subdial is now dedicated to show the jumping seconds hand. The seconds hand jumps precisely in exact steps every second. And Lange has incorporated a zero reset system which returns the seconds hand to zero when the crown is pulled into the time setting position.
As usual for Lange, the movement is highly technical, and the jumping seconds is achieved by means of a one second remontoir. And of course, beautifully finished. But I get ahead of myself. A full review of this masterpiece will be published soon.
Greubel Forsey Double Balancier à Différentiel Constant
For many the highlight from Greubel Forsey might have been the Signature 1. After all, it redefines the entry level to the world of Greubel Forsey at CHF150,000 for the steel version. And indeed this is the first time GF is making steel watches in a series production. They have previously made a few piece uniques on request by their retailer Marcus Watches. But I am far more attracted to the more complicated Double Balancier à Différentiel Constant.
Imagine the Dufour Duality, but with the balance wheels now tilted at an angle. Instead of a differential to equalize the power delivery to both balances which is flat, the GF features one which is spherical. The dial is cut open to reveal this speherical differential, and is not only technically challenging, but visually arresting. Mesmerizing.
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Le Petit Prince”
IWC relaunched their entire Pilot collection this SIHH. Nothing horologically novel, but definitely many beautiful pieces. The IWC Pilot’s Watch Mk XVIII will certainly find many fans. But also with its following of fans is the “Le Petit Prince” series, with the beautiful and very attractive blue dial of the series. My pick is the Annual Calendar Edition.
This version features the in-house manufactured movement, the IWC Caliber 52850 first used in the Portugieser Annual Calendar. In the “Le Petit Prince” version, it carries a special rotor carrying a drawing by Antoine Saint-Exupéry which depicts the Little Prince standing on his planet. Nice touch.
JLC Reverso Tribute Duo
Again I picked the less obvious. While I am fascinated by the JLC Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon. I remain amazed at how they managed to reduce the size by 30% from the original JLC Reverso Gyrotourbillon 2, eliminated the tourbillon cage, and make it go much faster. Amazing. But its the return to the basics that attracted me to this JLC Reverso Tribute Duo. Simple. Classic. Elegant. Beautiful. Timeless.
Available only in Stainless Steel. Recommended retail is S$17,600.
Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Blue
I reviewed this Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter here. As mentioned, although this is a SIHH novelty, I managed to “steal” this watch from the visiting CEO Jérôme Lambert’s wrist when he visited Singapore a few weeks before SIHH, and managed a photoshoot and time to examine the watch. Read my review and discover that I came away most amazed. Not only is the price very attractive, but on its own, the watch is magnificent.
The design is classic Minerva. The movement is a joy to behold. The design and layout as well as the execution and finishing is top drawer. Read my full review here, and interact with us by giving your own score.
Panerai PAM 578 Lo Scienziato Luminor 1950 Tourbillon GMT Titanio
Although not a new movement, the Panerai PAM 578 Lo Scienziato‘s movement the P.2005/T was first seen in the Panerai PAM 276 in 2007, and more recently in the Panerai Radiomir PAM 5581940 Tourbillon. A magnificent movement where the tourbillon cage rotates at an axis which is perpendicular to the balance. But the main attraction for my pick is not the movement, but the very special case. In particular how it is manufactured.
When handled, the PAM 578 is particularly light. Indeed the case is titanium, but its more than meets the eye. The case is manufactured in a special process like 3D printing, but which uses a technology called Direct Metal Laser Sintering: this process builds up a 3D object layer by layer by means of a fibre optic laser using powdered titanium. The successive layers – each one only 0.02 mm thick – merge together and become completely solid, creating forms which would be impossible to achieve using traditional working methods, lower in weight and with a perfectly uniform, even appearance. Remarkable. And very interesting use of advanced technology.
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire
My next pick is from Parmigiani Fleurier, who returns to its technical roots with a beautiful, and magnificent split second chronograph called the Tonda Chronor Anniversaire to celebrate the 20th year since its founding.
It is not frequent that a new chronograph movement is designed from ground up, and even more rare is the occasion to welcome a new split seconds chronograph. Indeed, a classical column wheel chronograph is one of the more complicated movements to be manufactured. Many watchmakers say that a chronograph is more complicated than a tourbillon, and a split second chronograph is several levels of difficulty that of a regular one. The value of a well design, classical chronograph is somewhat diminished because it is one of the most useful of complications and one of the first to be truly industrialized and its entry price lowered. This was achieved by the ubiquitious Valjoux 7750 and Lemania 5100 movements of the late 1990s. Though these are highly robust and reliable, these are not precise instruments, and lacks the classical column wheel, and the beauty inherent within.
So it is indeed quite an achievement that Parmigiani announced the PF 361, a brand new split seconds chronograph, crafted in gold, and magnificent (we will keep you in a bit more suspense, and reveal the movement in our full review later). My pick is the rose gold version with the grand feu enamel blue dial, but we did not manage to photograph that watch during the show, and present you with this photograph of the rose gold version with a white grand feu enamel dial.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V
And we come to Vacheron Constantin. The entire Overseas range have been revamped. No less than 5 new models announced, with 3 of which will bear new in-house manufactured movements. My pick from the range is the Overseas Chronograph 5500V, in stainless steel case and the magnificent laquered blue dial.
For me, everything feels right about this watch. The size, the dial, the visual excitement it evokes within, the beautifully designed and executed chronograph movement. Even the special touches like the quarter turn to unlock/lock the chronograph pushers, and the very clever system to allow quick changes of the bracelet and straps (bracelet, croc strap and rubber strap included).
It has not been easy to make this selection. But here it is. Done. I think I am satisfied with my picks. Tell me if you agree or if you think I have missed something.
From tomorrow, we will begin our detailed exploration and analysis of each of these watches, starting with the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph, in reverse alphabetical order. Stay tuned.