The world’s best luxury watch brands pulled out all the stops at the 2019 edition of Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) – a welcome sight, considering that several top names are parting ways with the premiere event
Altiplano Tourbillon, Piaget
Stylish, understated, elegant and, of course, ultra-thin, Piaget’s Altiplano Tourbillon — the brand’s latest at SIHH 2019 — features a meteorite dial. While it looks fairly standard from a distance, the organic, metallic surface is actually shot through with fascinating geometric patterns that make each dial unique, and features a deep blue shade that’s made possible through a galvanic colouring process.
Limited to 28 pieces, the watch’s 18k, 41mm pink gold case’s clean lines and balanced proportions act as a counterpoint to the 85 diamonds on the bezel — which add up up to approximately 1.59 carats —and the flying tourbillon. Despite the high complication, the handwound 670P movement is just 4.6mm thick. The tourbillon and time indicator sit diagonally opposite each other, an unusual and playful orientation that recall celestial orbits, and are a nod to the cosmic origins of the dial.
Bonbon Collection, Richard Mille
Richard Mille may have taken a farewell bow at SIHH 2019, but it still managed to captivate with its Bonbon collection on its final outing. The range — named after various fruits and sweets — riffs on three iconic Richard Mille timepieces: the ladies’ RM 07, the rectangular RM 16 and the tonneau RM 37. When viewed together, these food-themed timepieces are a riot of colour, which is something so rarely seen in watchmaking that it almost looks out of place. This is no gimmick, however; the commitment to the theme and craftsmanship is absolute.
On the RM 07-03 Automatic Marshmallow, for instance, the hand-enamelled titanium and rose gold dial conveys mouth-watering textures, while the crown is a delectable swirl of decorative icing. Meanwhile, the RM 16-01 Automatic Fraise‘s dial is studded with tiny candies, each painted and lacquered by hand, and the sugar effect was accomplished with crushed enamel and sand. The case of the Fraise also makes good use of Richard Mille’s advanced materials engineering, utilising layers of Carbon TPT and Quartz TPT for a striking application of colour.
Excalibur One-Off, Roger Dubuis
Created in collaboration with Lamborghini and Pirelli, and inspired by the Lamborghini SC18 Alston – a one-off supercar in itself – this timepiece is a totally unique creation based on the maison’s favourite range: Excalibur. Displayed at Roger Dubuis’ booth throughout SIHH 2019, the watch’s single central hand indicates minutes and recalls a rev counter, while the jumping digital hours at the 12 o’clock position would look equally at home on a dashboard. The Excalibur One-Off‘s handwound movement includes a double flying tourbillon, inclined at 90 degrees towards each other.
Instead of a push-pull operation, a selector lever switches the crown from winding to setting – this was a specially developed mechanism, and one of four patents filed during the manufacture of this watch. The 47mm case has a high-tech construction made from carbon, titanium and ceramic, while the two red accent pieces on the dial side are crafted out of ultra-thin sapphire. The watch is, unfortunately, not something one can buy freely in a boutique, but it does confirm Roger Dubuis’ commitment to outrageous exclusivity and the sheer joy of over-engineering.
Freak X, Ulysse Nardin
Ulysse Nardin debuts an all-new collection in the Freak X. As ever, it centres around the iconic carousel movement, which acts as a minute hand, as it revolves around the dial. The one on the Freak X is particularly streamlined and modern, taking strong cues from last year’s Freak Vision – including the ultra-light silicium balance wheel. Where the Freak X differs is in sizing, having been slimmed down by 2mm to 43mm, making its profile more compact and contemporary. A crown has been added, with the old case-back winding and bezel time-setting removed in the name of slimness. Although this breaks the symmetry of the case, it does make it easier to operate. The Freak X is available in a range of materials, including rose gold.
Kalpagraphe Chronometre Titanium, Parmigiani Fleurier
Parmigiani Fleurier is best known for classically styled watches such as the Toric and Tonda collections. But contemporary design is not neglected, as proven by the Kalpagraphe Chronometre Titanium. The streamlined grey-and-black themed, tonneau-shaped chronograph features prominent lugs and pushers that are daring without losing a sense of refinement.
The 48mm by 40mm titanium case has a micro-blasted finish while the dial is laser-cut for a skeletonised, grille-like appearance that allows glimpses of the movement beneath. Completed with a rubber strap, it is every inch the modern sports watch. In the spirit of unified design, the self-winding calibre PF362 is also tonneau-shaped, features COSC certification and a beat rate of 36,000 vibrations per hour. This, combined with an additional bridge that helps secure the balance against shocks, means the Kalpagraphe Chronometre Titanium is hardy enough to withstand the active lifestyle it is clearly made for.
Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar, Vacheron Constantin
It’s no secret that if a perpetual calendar can be finicky to reset if it were to run down. The Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar by Vacheron Constantin solves this age-old problem with an all-new development. At the simple push of a button, it enters standby mode, which extends the power reserve to a maximum of 65 days, allowing the calendar to keep track of the date for up to two months after a full winding.
This is accomplished with a movement that contains two geartrains. The high-frequency geartrain beats at 5Hz for accuracy and performance, and in active mode, it acts more or less like a normal movement with a power reserve of four days; the low-frequency geartrain beats at 1.2Hz, and makes the most of the remaining power. In standby mode, it is not recommended for normal use as it will suffer from stability issues, but will be fine if left in a drawer. The switching system between active and standby modes is lag-free and seamless, too.
The watch’s 42mm platinum case is a cool complement to the slate-grey dial, the bottom half of which is openworked. Also, its date discs are exposed and translucent, and the mode indicator at 9 o’clock will never let the wearer forget that a revolutionary feature is on their wrist.