SIHH 2019 – Day One – THE REINVENTION OF SWISS WATCHMAKING
If we are to evaluate the global economy by the plans and the launches of the watch brands, the crisis is over and they don’t see another coming – unlike last year, when almost all the brands were very careful to launch affordable pieces, this year it was about the spectacular, about the talking pieces.
IWC launched updated pilot watches in the Spitfire, Le Petit Prince and Top Gun ranges, some of them going up to the 250,000-euro price range. New materials – ceratanium (titanium turned into ceramic), beige ceramic; new complications (perpetual calendar), new dial design. I must say that I liked the restored Spitfire best and I cannot wait for its round the world flight.
Piaget did what they do best – a lot of colour, diamonds and beautifully worked gold for their Limelight Gala and Possession watches. And they introduced meteorite dials into the Altiplano collection – playing well into their exotic dials traditions.
Audemars Piguet upped the ante with an entirely new collection – Code 11.59, about the last minute before a new day. This is AP’s way of going up with a bang, since this is their last SIHH. I loved Code 11.59, because it is strong, daring, it looks great, I finally saw something different. These are big, unisex (a first at AP) watches looking great on any kind of wrist. They launched 13 references, with 6 in house calibers.
Vacheron Constantin introduced a tourbillon in steel, in the Overseas range, and also a perpetual calendar. Overseas is my favorite range at Vacheron and I hope to see it more prominently featured in the future. They also played with several exquisite shades of blue, in several ranges, in their quest for the perfect blue. And the talking piece – Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar, a user controlled dual frequency watch, with 65 days power reserve, and instant low energy mode.
It is able to beat at different paces.
User controls the frequency by clicking on the pusher. This is an around 200,000 euro watch.
For Panerai, this is the year of the Submersible, in three sub-ranges – Divers Professional, Marina Militare and Oceans Saving. Panerai has a new CEO and is now positioned as a lifestyle, experience brand. I think they are testing the experiential marketing theory – the three limited edition watches in the Submersible range come with an almost 49,000 euro price tag and with extreme experiences such as freediving with the world champion in the French Polynesia, training with the Comsubin (the elite commando of the Italian Navy) or exploring the Arctic with the famous Mike Horn.
Jaeger-LeCoultre opened with a huge talking piece – Master Grand Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpetual, a beautiful super sonnerie 6 years in the making, with a caliber made of 1,050 pieces and 4 crystal gongs instead of two. The Westminster Melody is superbly complex and the watch does it great justice. There are seven patents for the sonnerie alone.
Also a totally new perpetual calendar and a first at Jaeger-LeCoultre – it is possible to adjust the perpetual backwards and onwards.
I liked what I saw today – it was not boring and it was not predictible, unlike some of the previous years.