Now that this year’s edition of Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) has come and gone, we’ve had some time to process the wide array of groundbreaking new offerings from some of the world’s top manufactures. Here are 10 standouts that are worth a second look:
Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon
Known for its elegant, minimalist approach to watchmaking (see Panthère de Cartier and Drive de Cartier, which made appearances at SIHH), Cartier debuted a masterful timepiece that showcased the maison’s technical chops. This iteration of the Rotonde de Cartier features the playful “mysterious” aesthetic that suspends part of the movement seemingly in mid-air, a minute repeater and a double tourbillon—not exactly the most pedestrian of watchmaking complications. The technical piece is a strong reminder that Cartier has something on offer for both jewellery and horology aficionados.
Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph 1000 Limited Edition
Apart from offering fantastic value with its lineup of dress watches, Montblanc has been a worthy steward of the historic Minerva manufacture by positioning it to do what it does best: producing outstanding chronograph movements. Last year saw the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition win the coveted Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève prize in the chronograph category, and at SIHH 2017 Montblanc appears to have yet another Minerva-conjured hit in its roster. The Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph 1000 Limited Edition houses a new calibre that measures up to 1/1000th of a second, a stunning technical leap from when Minerva developed a stopwatch in 1916 that could measure up to 1/100th of a second.
A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual 'Pour Le Mérite'
Since it was reincarnated as a manufacture less than 30 years ago, A. Lange & Söhne has taken the horological world by storm, crafting modern classic after modern classic and positioning the watchmaker from Glasshütte as a foremost standard-bearer of traditional horology. This “Pour Le Mérite” combines some of the most revered traditional complications in all of watchmaking: perpetual calendar, rattrapante (dual chronograph functions working in concert), tourbillon and fusée and chain. Adding superlative finishing and casing that have come to define Lange, the PLM is poised to be yet another timekeeping paragon.
Van Cleef & Arpels Automate Fée Ondine
In keeping with its brand aesthetic of fantasy and whimsy, VCA unveiled an automaton that captures the dual jewellery and watchmaking heritage of the maison. Rather than being constrained by traditional horological complications that state additional parameters of time, the extraordinary object houses a unique mechanism that focuses on provoking a sense of awe and wonder. In so doing, the moving tableau moves horology into a realm few have witnessed: performance art.
Richard Mille RM 50-03
Richard Mille likes to work with collaborators that share its brand ethos. In Yohan Blake, for instance, the manufacture found a partner who is dynamic, trailblazing and utilitarian. In McLaren, RM found a kindred spirit with respect to cutting-edge materials and an obsessive attention to detail. Apart from the obvious racing aesthetics that adorn the RM 50-03, Richard Mille’s latest project makes use of highly resilient, extremely light materials that wouldn’t be out of place at a Formula 1 research facility. The movement, for one, uses titanium and carbon to reduce weight. The result? A scarcely believable 7 grams of a chronograph movement.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Chronograph
Lately, Jaeger-LeCoultre has delighted onlookers by bringing oft-forgotten or oft-overlooked horological traditions back into the conversation—this is the manufacture that introduced the dead-beat-seconds movement (in which second indications come as clear jumps) into its lineup in 2015. JLC made another nostalgic play at SIHH 2017, introducing a special-edition set of Master Control watches to celebrate the collection’s 25th anniversary. The kicker? They feature sector dials, layouts that would be more at home at an auction rather than a modern lineup. The result is outstanding legibility, exceedingly refreshing vintage appeal and instant desirability. Plus points for removing the date window in the chronograph.
Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600
Epic doesn’t even begin to cover this. Two years after unveiling the 57260—the most complicated watch in the world with 57 complications—Vacheron Constantin is at it again, debuting a wristwatch featuring 23 complications with a distinctly astronomical flavour. Most stunning perhaps are the case dimensions: a mere 45 mm wide and 13.6 mm thick for the most complicated wristwatch VC has ever produced.
Audemars Piguet Diamond Outrage
Though SIHH 2017 was Royal Oak–mania at Audemars Piguet (a ceramic version, a frosted-gold edition, colourful Offshore Divers and a chronograph refresh), one of the manufacture’s most captivating releases came in the form of haute joaillerie. The Diamond Outrage isn’t exactly the first thing people think of when they hear AP, but the watch/ice holder perfectly represents the manufacture’s guiding aesthetic principle: taking major visual risks and blowing spectators away.
MB&F Horological Machine 7 Aquapod
Maximilian Büsser’s watchmaking collective has been, possibly, the most exciting horological fixture over the past decade or so of its existence. With a mad-scientist approach to design, MB&F subverts and redefines traditional watchmaking approaches—and each of its releases has been an orientation into something completely unexpected and paradigm bending. This year was no different. With the Aquapod, the collective introduced its first foray into aquatics, blending together two unlikely concepts: a dive watch and a tourbillon. Practical? Not exactly. Beautiful? Absolutely.
F.P. Journe Vagabondage III
O.K., so it's not technically one of the exhibitors at SIHH, but F.P. Journe made a strong showing in any case during the week. Like MB&F, F.P. Journe shirks conformity to horological traditions—its motto, “invenit et fecit,” literally calls for reinvention. Yet while Büsser’s consortium aims at a distinctly futuristic flavour, F.P. Journe has a more demure, understated aesthetic that belies its groundbreaking technical achievements. The Vagabondage III release marks a new accomplishment in horology. Building on the past two iterations, the latest Vagabondage is the world’s first mechanical digital jumping-seconds wristwatch. That may be a pedantic title, but it’s just that sort of attention to horological idiosyncrasies that makes F.P. Journe such a treasure in this day and age.