SIHH 2017 WATCH LIST
20th January 2017
The hallowed, champagne-cream halls of Geneva’s Salon de la Haute Horlogerie were once again host to the world’s most revered watchmaking this January, and the most reverential of invite-only guests – ROX included. Here are our highlights… Words by Alex Doak.
unico magic sapphire
The last few years have seen Herculean strides in the field of sapphire engineering, with totally transparent pieces coming from all angles, whether it was Greubel Forsey, Bell & Ross, Richard Mille, Moser & Cie… All charging astronomical but justifiable prices for cases that take days at a time to machine from this rock-hard but fickle and brittle crystal. Then Hublot came along and somehow – no one knows how – the price for a Big Bang in sapphire was a fraction of the rest. A highly desirable proposition that now extends to the Unico chronograph, which is nice. Very nice in fact.
67316 | £48,000
This is a first for Audemars Piguet – a non-metal Royal Oak and it really is a thing of beauty. Although AP has been known to indulge in a little material experimentation it usually reserves the Offshore for that privilege, but this year it has chosen to shake-up its icon by releasing it in zirconium oxide ceramic.
By doing this, it hasn’t made life easy for itself. A steel bracelet takes around six hours to machine, assemble and finish; this takes around 30. And the extra time and attention is noticeable – the polished surfaces have a mirror-like gloss to them (which does unfortunately mean you can see every tiny fingerprint), while the overall feel is of something less muscular and more elegant than previous Perpetual Calendars. So elegant in fact that it almost crosses into dress watch territory, which must be a first for the Royal Oak.
Created for “gentlesportsmen” (no, that’s not a typo), this offshoot of the Clifton collection, which was first launched back in 2013, has been designed to appeal to a younger audience. Its design is perfectly pitched to appeal to the type of man who aspires to a Rolex but thinks of it as more the “older statesman” choice. Its got all the classic sports watch attributes – chunky bezel, option of steel or “black leather with colour-pop lining” straps, legibile indices – presented in three dial colours – white, black and a rather cool-looking blue.
The movement is a Sellita SW200, which would explain how Baume & Mercier has managed to keep the price so reasonable, and its good to 100m, making it perfect for Saturday weight-boarding, or whatever it is gentlesportsman do of a weekend.
67327 | £1,750
Michel Parmigiani’s extraordinarily capable “Vaucher” facility in Fleurier can often seem rather gnomic to the casual watchnerd, given all the Bugatti, ballooning, Jazz Festival and Pershing yachts connections. But this humdinger of a masterpiece is all you need to know about the origins and ethos of the Swiss maestro’s eponymous brand. Like all the modern-day greats, Mr P started out as a restorer, learning from the past masters in the most hands-on way, and it was an old chiming pocket watch that led to the development of this minute repeater, which dings and dongs the precise time on double-wound “cathedral” gongs, circumscribing the movement itself.
royal oak chronograph
The watch world loves an anniversary, to the point where obscure milestones such as 85th or 15th are touted as excuses to jazz up a flagging collection. Not so the Royal Oak Chronograph, which not only has a rocksolid platinum – or, more traditionally, china – anniversary going on (its 20th, in case you were wondering) but a fabulous watch perfectly poised for a spruce-up. The beautifully crafted, integrated automatic mechanics remain intact (courtesy Blancpain), but meanwhile the original two-tone dial configurations have returned and a big push towards improved legibility has been wrought, from the larger counters to the larger hour indices containing more luminescent paint.
67322 | £19,500
The final piece of a trilogy that started in 2015 with Diamond Punk, this incredible creation really highlights Audemars Piguet’s gem-setting prowess.
Its punk-rock spiked design is inspired by the snow-tipped fir trees that surround the brand’s workshop in Le Brassus and features a mind-blowing 9923 brilliant cut and over 300 baguette cut diamonds totalling a jaw-dropping 65.91cts. If diamonds aren’t your think then it also comes in sapphires, with the stones on each spike deepening in colour as you head towards its base.
And it tells the time too, if you’re into that sort of thing.
big bang unico gmt
Two miles from the hushed cocoon of luxury that is Richemont Group’s official SIHH event, within the Palexpo exhibition complex by Geneva airport, LVMH’s big boys of horology stage their own break-away showcase, right in the city centre, overlooking the Lake and the Alps beyond. Hublot was principle amongst them this year, with an innovative new take on the “GMT” second-time-zone complication so elegant that it should have every other Swiss brand slapping its collective forehead in “D’oh!” like frustration. A patented, proprietary module enables the second time zone to be updated instantly by a push-button, allowing the local time to be read via the conventional main hand of the watch. Clever, non?
67317 | £16,500
rm 50-03 tourbillon
Richard Mille’s collaboration with McLaren has the dual honour of being the lightest split-seconds chronograph in the world, with the longest name. The RM 50-03 Tourbillon Split Seconds Chronograph Ultralight McLaren F1, to give it its full name, is a feather-weight 40g with the strap, thanks to the use of a brand-new case material called Graph TPT. Developed in association with the University of Manchester National Graphene Institute and North Thin Ply Technology (NTPT), it is a composite that is created by impregnating carbon with a supercharged resin containing graphene. It’s also an impressive piece of kit – a manual-wind tourbillon with split-seconds chronograph that has a 30-minute totaliser – but one that will only give you a measley £4,000 change from £1m.
el primero 36,000
LVMH stablemate to Hublot, the venerable watchmaker that is Zenith has one particularly iconic pillar that the vast majority of its sporty-but-chic collection hinges on, and rightly so: the high-frequency El Primero chronograph movement. It was the world’s first self-winding wristbound stopwatch, and was designed so perfectly in 1969 that barely a screw has been tweaked ever since. The latest pieces to be equipped with this legendary 36,000 vibrations-per-hour engine are a brace of monochrome beauties – just retro enough to celebrate the El Primero’s esteemed past, just sleek enough to carry off with just about any modern-day gentleman’s ensemble.
Browse through our collection of luxury watches available at ROX and discover more about the fascinating world of haute horology. Select a powerful timepiece that takes pride of place on your wrist and establishes an unbeatable watch collection from the world’s most influential brands.
Hublot’s iconic Big Bang focuses on the “Art of Fusion” by combining objects and materials that don’t appear together under normal conditions. Browse our interactive guide to the Hublot Big Bang and explore the contrasting components that make up this striking natural masterpiece.
Teaming up with football legend Alan Shearer, Hublot has created a unique King Power timepiece. Limited to only two watches, one will be worn by Alan himself, while the other will be auctioned to raise funds for the Alan Shearer Foundation, which provides specialist care to people with complex disabilities.