Watch and Wonder
Geneva (Valley of Luxe) –The 26th edition of the private and exclusive “Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie” officially concluded the 22nd of January. The world’s most popular watch fair in Geneva, hosted by luxury conglomerate Richemont, dominated the market thanks to its local and international aura and to the many manufacturers that rolled out new over-the-top watches at a visual and a technical level.
The 2016 wave of the SIHH: invention has a future
The SIHH featured an alternative approach to fine watchmaking by proposing an engaging mix of some of the world’s most important fine watchmaking Maisons and a new wave of watchmakers. It reflects a major turning point in the SIHH history. Fifteen ancestral household names showed alongside its very first “Carré des Horlogers”, a collection of nine independent labels and small artisans-creators. Each exhibiting Maisons demonstrated real excellence in providing an exclusive, personalized and tailored experience for their premium class guests, with captivating and engaging stands that told a lot about the brand storytelling.
The brand new SIHH with its clean design and sophisticated visual identity was the essential guide to the High Horlogerie for the watch admirers. But not only. The watch show also addressed representatives from the professional distribution industry, journalists and international media, providing with both the inspiration and information about what will show up on wrists the rest of the year.
Traditional Maisons: The Art of Watchmaking…
Among the traditional maisons iconic pieces appreciated by connoisseurs and collectors worldwide –from the Cartier “Tank”, Panerai “Radiomir”, to the Jaeger Lecoultre original “Reverso” – this year again saw the brands showcase a bunch of new models. The boundless technical and precious haute horlogerie ability of the big global brands offers endless opportunity to creativity. Stand out works of art aimed to women were the new Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Fabuleux Ornements collection with four unique interpretation of the “Ottoman Architecture”, the “French Lace”, the “Chinese Embroidery” and the “Indian Manuscript”, “The Lady Arpels Ronde de Papillons” watch of Van Cleef & Arpels which is a new addition to the latest “Complications Poétiques” range, the incredible Audemars Piguet “Diamond Fury” and the new Piaget “Limelight Stella” watch featuring a moon phase. Some of the most complicated and innovative models targeting men that caught my attention were the A. Lange & Söhne “Saxonia Moon Phase” and the Baume & Mercier “Clifton Chronograph Complete Calendar”.
… and an historical gust of digital
Over the last years, we have seen the rise of high tech and wearable technology. Therefore, it came as no surprise to me to see a digital disruption at the SIHH and a smart move from the watchmaking’s grand old names. The true show stoppers were with no doubt the smartwatches that embody the new face of watchmaking. IWC came up with its IWC Connect model and Montblanc presented its e-strap. And I guess it is just the beginning.
In the fast lane of outsiders, H. Moser & Cie, has also added to its product line a digital watch called the “Swiss Alp connected” watch.
Exclusive independent watchmakers: A genuine fresh take on tech and innovation
So, let’s not forget the new generation of independent watchmakers which are the new trendsetters that combines the codes of traditional watchmaking with a futuristic vision. A mover that actually changes the watch market and wins the race is Richard Mille with its waving masterpiece “RM 67-01” automatic extra flat watch.
Some other stunning, technically outstanding and cutting-edge young innovators that are reshaping the watch industry are the MB&F with its horological machine HM6 SV, Hautlence and its unconventional Vortex 02 creation, URWerk Geneve with its EMC Time Hunter timepiece, the non-classical HYT with its so-called H2 Tradition, De Bethune and its DB25 Quetzalcoatl symbol of power and last but not least, Christophe Claret with the Tiger Watch limited edition. These are incredible pieces of art and engineering that bring in some real inventiveness and boldness in the industry.
Technology is clearly changing the face of the watch market. But will precious horological smartwatches be the game-changer? It is said that no digital smartwatch can satisfy the long-lasting value of a classical wristwatch and the chronometric luxury. Time will tell.