By Neelima Agrawal
The Swiss National Bank’s announcement on Thursday, 21st January, about delinking the Swiss Franc from the Euro came exactly four days before the opening the 25th edition of the grand luxury watch fair Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva. The impact rippled through the conversations at the Palexpo Exhibition Center’s Hall No 6, through all days from 19th to 23rd January, 2015.
The Swiss watchmakers depend hugely on export, and the resultant rise in prices will impact sales. The luxury watch markets in price-sensitive zones like India and China are likely to witness a slowing. The Richemont Group, owners of well known luxury brands like Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC, Panerai and Montblanc, has already declared a likely increase by 5 to 7% in the price of its Swiss watches. While the general stance in the industry is ‘wait and watch’, the spirits are upbeat. Stanislas de Quercize, CEO, Cartier was reported to have said, “We have been through volatility before. We would continue to work on new price points and new products to ensure demand wasn’t affected.”
The first of the major watch trade shows, SIHH showcases only 16 brands. Latest watch-making technology, newer complications by skilled craftsman, blending the new and old, this is the place to be for all connoisseurs of time pieces. Here are our favourites.
M19-02 Tourbillon Fleur
A limited edition of only 30 pieces, the calibre RM19-02 watch has a manual winding tourbillion movement with hours, minutes and automaton mechanism. The amazing RM19-02 features an automaton mechanism at 7o’clock. Evoking a magnolia flower, the five petals in18K gold open every five minutes to reveal the flying tourbillon. When the petals open, the flying tourbillion rises slightly to showcase all of its components, as if the flower were arching to receive the pollen from the bee. Pressing the pusher at 9o’clock also enables the opening of the flower to be controlled manually.The automaton is powered independently from the watch by an auxiliary gear train linked to a second barrel dedicated exclusively to this complication.
In the world of horology, the Richard Mille watch case is considered as the most difficult to manufacture. This tripartite tonneau-shaped case is fully curved, which enables the watch to be ergonomic and comfortable but is time consuming during its production and requires a high level of quality control. Both front and back curves are part of the Richard Mille watch case regardless of their shapes. These curving bezels with their characteristic shape demand ultimate precision with no stress in the metal. These manufacturing specifications required one year of research and development.
RM 51-02 Tourbillon Diamond Twister
Limited edition of 30 pieces, the Diamond Twister has a black onyx base plate, and skeletonised bridges made of PVD treated grade 5 titanium. The spray of diamonds emanating outwards in 14 rays from the tourbillion escapement at 6 o’clock can also be associated with the spiraling vortex one perceives in myriad galaxies of the Milky Way. An additional security system in the form of a torque limiting crown prevents any possibility of accidental over winding that might damage to the winding stem or exert extreme pressure on the mainspring barrel.
Each spiral ray of the RM 51-02 is perfectly set with a single row of diamonds; the case is set with white diamonds, and black sapphires have been added to accentuate case details. As a final flourish, the crown has also been set with 3 rows of diamonds to complete the brilliant richness of this shimmering new timepiece.
GREUBEL FORSEY – Quantième Perpétuel à Équation
Here is a relatively new brand that takes pride in its high tech modern creative in time pieces. Founded in 2004 by Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey, the independent company introduced its seventh invention at SIHH – Quantième Perpétuel à Équation, the first application of The Mechanical Computer, in white gold. Measuring 43.5mm in diameter and 16mm high, the QP à Équation includes a fourth patent, the 24 second Tourbillon inclined at 25°, used to measure the Equation of Time. The Mechanical Computer in the QP à Équation is programmed to automatically display all the seasons, the equinoxes, the solstices, the equation of time, and the date, day, month and the four-digit year. For example, the differences during a leap year are taken into account and managed by the specific programming of one of the coded elements.
AUDEMARS PIGUET – Diamond Punk
A noticeable shift from the dainty feminine watches, the angular Diamond Punk watch for women from Audemars Piguet branch is a stunning piece of jewellery. 7,848 snow-set diamonds define the sharp, clean-cut geometrics of a cuff bracelet of 56 dazzling pyramid facets. Beneath a secret sliding cover, the cool beauty of the dial is revealed: set with a further 300 diamonds. Taking inspiration from the graphic design codes of the punk era, a rhythmical pattern of pyramid studs constructs a new Haute Joaillerie design language that resonates with creative energy. The Diamond Punk’s aesthetic is expertly considered and refined, in keeping with Audemars Piguet’s rich heritage of crafting exceptional jewelled timepieces.
PIAGET – Altiplano Chronograph
The new trend is again shifting away from chunky diver’s watches, towards less fussy and more classic looks. Piaget’s new ultra-thin hand-wound Altoplano Chronograph, unveiled at the SIHH 2015, is a winner with itscontemporary design features. It is the thinnest hand-wound flyback chronograph in the world. The new 883P movement measures 4.65mm in width, and the case is upper slim at 8.24mm. According to Piaget, the in-house watchmakers and developers sought to achieve extreme slimness in all parts, whether for the cannon-pinion (0.12 mm), the barrel staff (0.115 mm), the chronograph gear finger (0.06 mm), as well as for the finesse of the dial, of the hand fittings and of the glass fastening.
Another added feature is its flyback function serving to reset the chronograph hands to zero simply by pressing them and then automatically restarting a new timing cycle. This finely crafted movement visible through the transparent case-back features the aesthetic refinement of finishes: circular Côtes de Genève, a circular-grained mainplate, beveled bridges, sunburst wheels and blued screws. The Piaget Altiplano Chronograph watch will be launched in September 2015.