What Is The SIHH?
It’s the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie. The what? It’s an exclusive annual exhibition where 16 Swiss & German brands reveal their latest watches. 12 of the brands are owned by The Richemont Group. The 4 other brands are independent, one we know Richemont has a 20% stake in (Greubel Forsey), so they may have something to do with Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille and Parmigiani.
This year was the 24th SIHH where only 12,500 privileged guests and 1,200 journalists were allowed into the 30,000 square meter exhibition floor. The event was held January 20th to 24th.
The timing of the SIHH is just a couple of months before the bigger Baselworld Watch and Jewellery Show which has been in existence since 1926. Today BaselWorld attracts nearly 100,000 visitors, is open to the public, and has over 2000 exhibitors. This has always made me feel the SIHH is Richemont’s way to get their exciting news and innovations out first so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. ..not that the likes of Audemars, Cartier, IWC, Panerai, etc. can be lost in the shuffle!
Since we do not have the privilege (by being an international retailer, journalist or brand representative) of attending ourselves, we must rely on the journalists! Here are a few watches that stood out to me.
Luminor Base 8 Days Titanio PAM 562
When I started seeing Panerai watches come through our doors a decade ago, I didn’t really get them. They seemed too big, and the case shape was funky. Today, I am wanting. ..and this new model with a brown dial, 44mm case, sandwich dial, and 8 day power reserve manual wind (in-house Cal. P5000) would be a top pick for me in its price range. The 44mm Luminor wears smaller than other watches of its size (ie. the Breitling Chronomat 44mm appears considerably bigger for also being 44mm).
The retail for the PAM 562 is currently €6500 ($8800 as of Feb 2014). Quite a lot more than its not too distant ancestor the PAM 114 which in 2005 had a retail of $3450. It’s not all inflation and price hikes; the quality of Panerai has continued to grow every year.
Jaeger Le-Coultre Master Ultra Thin Date
The very thin automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 899 (3.3mm thin) has been put into this timeless rose gold case. Well, timeless except for the modern 40mm case width. The entire watch rests at only 7.45mm thick letting its fortunate owner to wear the tightest of coats without worry about their watch protruding. You can find thinner watches, but they’re unlikely to be self-winding.
More info @ Perpetuelle.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 42mm
The 42mm Royal Oak has been around since 1993, but was perhaps neglected a bit during the super sizing of watches during the first decade of the 21st century. 42mm is a the perfect watch size for many men in 2014. There are general refinements on the 26470 all around, but most notably AP has replaced the rubber accents with ceramic and they now sport a display back to allow you to admire the beautiful in-house caliber 3126.
Six versions of the this refined model will be available this year, 4 in steel, 2 in rose gold. The steel models will set you back a cool $26,000 at your AP Boutique.
Montblanc Star Twin Moonphase
Montblanc has been well-known for their pens for longer than most of us have been alive. The watches they make are not a fad or a gimmick. They are genuine Swiss quality with their Meisterstück (Masterpiece in English) line comparable to the likes of some Cartier, Omega, and Ulysse Nardin watches, and their Star collection comparable to TAG Heuer, Baume Mercier, and Longines.
This particular moon phase piece caught my eye with its unique wave pattern shaped like the Montblanc star and its busy moon phase. The moon phase indicator will provide the wearer with the moon phase for both northern and southern hemispheres and show the moon age. I could personally have done without the 7 1/2 and 22 1/2 markings, but that’s me.
We don’t know a retail on this, but looks like it will be around $4,500. Perhaps we will see this watch pre-owned in 2015 and offer it closer to $2000?
More info @ Perpetuelle.
Piaget Altiplano 900P
With the 900P, Piaget has set a record (for now) for the world’s thinnest mechanical watch at an incredible 3.65mm thin. That’s the whole watch. The Automatic JLC Ultra Thin mentioned above has a movement that sits at 3.3mm, but the watch is 7.45mm. The 38mm wide Altiplano makes the thinness happen with a variety of tricks. The most noticeable is how the mechanics of the movement have been worked into the dial allowing the wearer to observe its function without removing it to see the back.
I find it interesting that Piaget actually prints twenty (20) jewels on the dial. Decades ago, there was a silly marketing race that tried to trick consumers into thinking that more jewels meant a better watch. Here, Piaget helps to slap that incorrect logic in the face.
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Kyle @ Perpetuelle has understandably gotten very excited this watch and posted a lot of information & photographs on it. More info also at Hodinkee and all over the internet for that matter. It is the world’s thinnest mechanical watch after all!
I hope you have enjoyed this small review of some of the many new models that will be hitting retail shelves in 2014. All in all, these brands are definitely moving forward with technology and design, but I can’t help but think the SWATCH Group is gearing up to make much bigger gains in the market. SWATCH Group has a stronger tendency to put their greatest innovations in affordable watches, like the Swatch Sistem51, Omega’s Anti-Magnetic watches, and $500-$2000 automatic watches from Tutima and Hamilton with automatic movements with 90-hour power reserves (vs. the 40-48 hour reserve standard).
LVMH is doing very well too and I’m excited to see how Jean-Claude Biver directs TAG, Zenith, and Hublot now that he’s been promoted to Head of Watchmaking At LVMH. Biver is a bit of a genius and is very passionate about the technology and brands he works with.