At the beginning of every New Year, all eyes of the watch world are on Switzerland as new watches are introduced. The SIHH, which features the Richemont brands and some invited guests, was held first, this year from January 16 – 20, and BaselWorld followed, starting on March 7, in Basel, on the complete other end of Switzerland.
Between these two shows, and the variety of other brands showing at the same times, there are thousands of new watches introduced. It’s impossible to truly recap all that was new and different, so what follows is a “highlights package,” the best of the new offerings. The general trend of the new introductions was traditional, classical and elegant – the continuation of what we have been seeing for the last year or so. Thin is still in, as are more modestly-sized watches.
Uniqueness and innovation weren’t missing here, though, as brands rolled out finely-crafted artistic timepieces, poetic watches and infinitely complex creations.
Every company exhibiting at SIHH had something special and unexpected to offer. Here are just some examples:
Cartier had a host of new introductions, but the watches that stood out included the Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon, a complete new Tank family (Tank Anglaise) and a whimsical watch with a rotating Panther rotor, surprisingly on the dial side (Promenade d’une Panthere).
A. Lange & Sohne introduced the spectacularly complicated but elegantly simple-to-read Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar. At Baume & Mercier, the Capeland 10065 Chronograph really caught people’s eye – classic, traditional, but in breathtaking blue.
One of the most surprising watches was the new GMT from Greubel Forsey, which gives us a whole new dimension of telling time around the world.
Ralph Lauren expanded the Sporting Chronograph line with the Safari, a great looking yet rough and ready treatment of an already classic watch.
For the 40th anniversary of the Royal Oak, Audemars Piguet introduced the Extra Thin Royal Oak, with a number of variations and complications.
Speaking of complications, Van Cleef & Arpels expanded their Poetic Complications offering with a new beautiful pair, showing a man and a woman gazing across the city of Paris towards each other, showcasing Van Cleef’s know-how in Metier d’Art.
Staying in the arts, Vacheron Constantin unveiled its newest Metier d’Art timepieces, Les Univers Infinis in four different limited edition executions, using engraving, enamel, guilloche and stone setting .
IWC introduced the very masculine and very attractive Big Pilots Watch Top Gun Miramar, while Montblanc offered up the elegant and surprisingly technical Rieussec Open HomeTime.
In the Parmigiani Fleurier booth, the center of attention went to Le Dragon Clock, handmade by more than 100 different artisans, retailing for $3.5 million dollars.
Thin is still in at Piaget, where the Altiplano Skeleton Ultra-Thin model was introduced, the world’s thinnest skeleton watch and the world’s thinner skeleton watch movement. On or off the wrist, the watch really looks fantastic.
The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre Spherotourbillon was one of the true highlights of the SIHH, an incredibly beautiful timepiece, its elegance belying its complexity. This tourbillon is the first one where the second can be zeroed without stopping the tourbillon itself, a feat of high watchmaking never before accomplished. The Sphero part of the tourbillon refers to the fact that the tourbillon doesn’t turn in a circle, but rather in a different path that makes watching the tourbillon movement even more fascinating. The offset time display allows more room to show off this great tourbillon though the sapphire front and back of the watch.
The width and breadth of product on offer at BaselWorld this year was truly incredible. Here are some of the trends we spotted:
Thin and classical continued to rule the day – take a look at the new Graff SlimStar and the Chopard Classic Manufactum (featuring an in-house movement). Hermes introduced its new in-house movement as well, the Caliber H1837 (named after the year Hermes was founded), and debuted it in a new Dressage line, which is very classical and traditional. Tissot introduced several classic models and Longines, celebrating its 130th anniversary, showed off its St. Imier collection, named after the village in which the company was founded. Even Corum got into the act, with smaller and thinner versions of its iconic Admiral’s Cup timepieces.
Vintage is still in – several companies offered cool new watches that offered updated vintage designs (Alpina, Bell & Ross, TAG Heuer, Vulcain and more) and, in some cases, refurbished vintage movements, led by Zenith’s new Montre d’Aeronef Type 20, using the famous Zenith 5011K movement from the 1960s.
In celebration of its 120th anniversary, Hamilton has reinterpreted its marine chronometer (made famous during World War II) in a special limited edition – the timepiece comes in a chronometer box, and doubles as an innovative table clock as well as a wristwatch.
With this being the Chinese Year of the Dragon, it’s natural that a Chinese-themed watch would turn heads, and that’s exactly what the new Traditional Chinese Calendar from Blancpain did. The hours, minutes and Gregorian calendar we are comfortable with share the dial with the main indications of the Chinese calendar: traditional double-hour indication, day, month with indication of leap months, signs of the zodiac, as well as the five elements and the 10 celestial stems. The phases of the moon are also displayed and mean more, given the link between the lunar cycle and traditional Chinese lunar calendar.
In sports watches, there were several great new introductions, notably the Perrelet Turbine Diver, the Graham London Chronofighter Oversize ProDive and the Hanhart Pioneer Stealth 1882.
Some of the very unique watches presented at BaselWorld, proving that innovation isn’t dead, including Harry Winston’s Opus 12, created in association with Emmanuel Bouchet; DeBethune’s DB25 Ninth Mayan Underworld and the DB25 s Jewellery; the Devon Tread 2; the HYT H1 (the first watch with a liquid display); Louis Moinet’s Treasures of the World; and finally the Christophe Claret X-Treme-1, which features hour and minute indications controlled by magnets. Very cool indeed.
2012 has started with some remarkable product introductions and the watch companies are by no means done yet. Rather than introduce everything during the first part of the year, many watch companies have wised up and are holding back some new watches to release throughout the year.
We can’t wait to see what the rest of 2012 holds.