In the second installment of our three-part series, we present the finest timepieces revealed at this year’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH)
1858 Split Second Chronograph, Montblanc
Last year, Montblanc debuted its mountaineering-themed 1858 collection to great acclaim; this year, the collection received a few new additions, headlined by the 1858 Split Second Chronograph. Limited to 100 pieces worldwide, the watch is inspired by an old Minerva military chronograph from the 1930s, and represents the best of Montblanc’s in-house, hand-made and hand-finished movements. The watch features a mono-pusher operation (the button sits at the 2 o’ clock position), while a different pusher that’s mounted on the crown engages the split function.
The dial layout is very close to the original, including a spiralling set of tachymeter markings that give the chronograph a distinct look. There are also distance-measuring telemeter markings on the outside of the dial. Additionally, the 44-mm bronze case, which will develop a rugged patina, is well-suited for your next big adventure.
Arceau L’heure De La Lune, Hermes
Hermes watches tend to have an aesthetic flair that’s uncommon among more traditional watchmakers. This year is no exception, with its Arceau L’heure de la Lune, a dreamy timepiece with a double moon theme.
The dial – available in a starry adventurine or rugged, otherworldly meteorite – sports two mother-of-pearl moons and a pair of time and date counters that bear the stylised Arabic numerals that are the hallmark of the Arceau series – all contained in an elegant 43mm white gold case.
It also has some surprisingly technical watchmaking, with a unique double moonphase complication where the counters indicate the phase by rotating around the dial to obscure the moons beneath, all while remaining correctly oriented. This was made possible through the engagement of Jean-Francois Mojon and his movement-building specialist studio Chronode.
“We had many ideas,” Mojon says. “But the one that was the most interesting was to place the complication at the centre of the watch.” In the final result, the module pivots around a central anchor that is cleverly concealed beneath a screwless plate, which helps preserve the mystery of the movement. Just 100 pieces of each timepiece are available.
Balancier Contemporain, Greubel Forsey
The Balancier Contemporain offers a bold asymmetrical design with open-worked mechanics that expose the depth of the movement. At just 39.6mm in diameter and 12.2mm thick, the timepiece is rather petite by the brand’s usual standards, and the new hand-wound movement – engineered for size reduction without sacrificing performance – boasts of 72 hours of power reserve.
However, there’s still enough space for the signature, large 12.6-mm balance wheel, which occupies the bottommost part of the watch. The time indicator, power reserve meter and small seconds are artfully arranged over the remaining space, conferring a technical but balanced aesthetic.
Glimpses of the geartrain and barrel drum can be seen throughout the split-level design of the display, while the caseback shows off the white gold movement plate. The plate conceals any inner workings but is relief-engraved with the brand’s ethos and set with a red gold plate bearing the edition number and Greubel Forsey‘s logo.
Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition “Le Petit Prince”, IWC
A 1940s fighter pilot would have scoffed at a watch made of precious metals and sporting a high complication. However, those days are long gone, and we can now have fun with the pilot’s watch heritage – something that’s exemplified by IWC‘s whimsical Le Petit Prince collection.
Despite sporting a large tourbillon, moonphase, power reserve, complications and large numerals, the dial remains uncluttered, thanks to the generous space accorded by the 46.2mm diameter. Additionally, the tourbillon is IWC’s patented constant-force version, which isolates the escapement from power train and re-tensions the balance spring every second, ensuring an even delivery of force.
Only 10 pieces are available in either platinum or hard gold: the latter is a newly-developed variant of red gold, which IWC claims is harder and up to 10 times more wear-resistant. This hard gold alloy also provides a wonderfully warm contrast to the lustrous blue dial.
Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpetuel, Jaeger-LeCoultre
Jaeger-LeCoultre never fails impress with its creations, and this year, it does so with the Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpetuel. It has a minute repeater, for starters, with four sets of gongs and hammers that recreate the sound of the iconic Big Ben clock tower at the Palace of Westminster in London; a silence-reduction feature ensures that the chimes always flow smoothly with no audible gaps when the strikes are not needed.
In addition to a perpetual calendar that can be adjusted both forwards and backwards, the timepiece also contains a constant force mechanism with a jumping-minutes function that ensures the repeater always strikes the correct number of minutes.
The pointer date jumps over the multi-axis tourbillon – the fifth iteration of the maison’s Gyrotourbillon – which is significantly smaller than its predecessors. This contributes to the watch’s petite size, with the white gold case measuring just 43mm in diameter and 14mm thick, which is impressive if you consider the complications within.
All this technical prowess is on glorious showcase via the open-worked main display, which shows off the twisting tourbillon, hammers and the blue gongs within. The dial is available in blue grand feu enamel or silver grained (limited to 18 pieces in each), and carries an art deco touch in its aesthetic.
Submersible Chrono Guillaume Nery Edition, Panerai
The Submersible collection bears all of Panerai‘s hallmarks: it’s tough as nails, generously sized (most models have a 47mm option), has convex-shaped subdial hands, a cushion-shaped case and a prominent lever-operated crown guard. The Submersible Chrono Guillaume Nery Edition is no exception to these traits.
Named after champion free-diver and record-breaker Guillaume Nery, it is, naturally, a professional diver’s watch with water-resistance of up to 300 metres, bright lume, great legibility and a uni-directional ceramic bezel. Its 47mm titanium case is black DLC-coated for greater scratch resistance.
The flyback chronograph is operated by pushers on the left side and has a seconds reset function to synchronise with a reference time. The blue dial fades to black at the edges, reminiscent of the ocean itself, with turquoise accents on the dial and hands.
The most extraordinary thing about this watch, however, is that each owner of the 15 pieces available will be invited to Nery’s home territory of French Polynesia and given the opportunity to dive with the legend himself.