SIHH 2018 WATCH LIST
25th January 2018
Geneva doesn’t ‘do’ post-Christmas blues – instead, all things haute and horological are celebrated with January’s spectacular SIHH trade fair and the LVMH group’s intimate Geneva Days showcase. As always, ROX was invited to the party, and we didn’t come back empty-handed…
If an envelope from Richemont lands on your desk round early December, you can kiss goodbye to Dry January. What the luxury-goods giant has sent is an invitation to its annual new-year showcase of all things ‘haute’ and horological, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie – probably the most exclusive trade fair, let alone watch fair, in the world.
Like an English conservation area, each of the 30-or-so brands’ pavilions adheres to the fair’s tastefully off-white colourwash, filling a vast exhibition complex by Geneva Airport. But venture inside each one and they still harbour a penchant for the theatrics of SIHH’s more gregarious cousin, Baselworld. Audemars Piguet’s ‘stand’ alone is an epic paean to the dramatic, fractured landscape of its Jura Mountains homeland.
Which isn’t to say the Basel event’s regulars don’t get a look-in – the LVMH Group’s four big watch brands (Bulgari, Hublot, TAG Heuer and Zenith) have their own thing going on back in the city, aboard a huge pleasure cruiser moored on the freezing waters of Lake Geneva.
Naturally, ROX was on the ground, at the coalface, attending to all your watch needs. And despite a pervading trend for fine-tuning existing collections, we’re pleased to report that our own biggest brands were firing on all cylinders, without a whiff of playing things safe. Here’s the inside track:
Strange to think that AP’s now-immortal, octagonal classic, the Royal Oak never did particularly well in its Seventies and Eighties infancy. That is, until AP started aligning keenly with high-profile golfers, then, 25 years ago, introducing a beefed-up, water-resistant “Offshore” iteration. This was a Royal Oak “for young people”, and by god did they get one; albeit young people who lived on the Riviera and drove white Ferrari’s.
Of course, there were some detractors, some of whom went so far as to claim it was an insult to good taste – after all, back then, the idea of a 42mm watch seemed ridiculous. But it proved to be a pioneer, singlehandedly setting the trend for uncompromising, oversized watches.
This year’s anniversary collection is a fitting one – refreshingly un-meddling, pushing the outrageous colourways further more (our favourite is the 44mm camouflage strap with green ceramic bezel), re-introducing a faithful repro’ of the 1993 original, and sticking a cherry on top in the form of a dazzlingly architectural, openworked tourbillon chronograph.
Anything else chez Audemars? Oh, well there’s the small matter of the RD#2 concept watch. Only the thinnest-ever self-winding perpetual calendar. That’s all.
Royal Oak Offshore “Camo” Watch
This iconic model features a 44mm stainless steel case with khaki ceramic bezel, pushpieces and crown which locks down. Sapphire crystal glass on case and caseback allowing wearer to see movement. Model has chronograph functionality with 50 hour power reserve. Dial is beige with ‘Grande Tapisserie’ pattern, brown counters and brown external zone. Hour markers are white gold. Watch is presented on ‘camouflage’ rubber strap with stainless steel pin buckle fastening.
There are cynics and misery-mongers who used to write Hublot’s Big Bang off as an ‘homage’ (our word, not theirs) to Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Offshore. But while the octagonal, steroidal thing is arguably comparable, the line is drawn there. For the Big Bang has quite literally exploded into a constellation of limited-edition, chameleonic iterations.
This year’s Unico Golf is a ‘stroke’ of mechanical ingenuity, allowing you to keep your score all the way to the 18th hole (it then being down to you to remember how many you’ve downed at the 19th…), while a welcome injection of blue ceramic jazzes up the Meca-10 – Hublot’s Meccano-inspired technical showpiece.
Hublot is a brand on the move by its inherent nature, and where its iconic collections go next is anyone’s guess, and therefore half the joy. Which meant, away from the Big Bang, we were delighted to see the Classic Fusion dress watch venture daringly from the angularity of its past, into fully integrated ceramic bracelet mode. Rounder, sleeker, stealthier.
Things were somewhat quieter on the Zenith front, aboard LVMH’s otherwise rowdy ‘Geneva Days’ boat party. But if ‘quiet’ means laser-guided evolution of three crucial collections, then we’re definitely all-aboard.
First up is new kid on the block, Defy. An instant shot in the arm last year for Zenith’s core El Primero chronograph, this breakneck stopwatch now whirrs at 100th-of-a-second precision in a rainbow of new materials, from blue or black ceramic to diamond-encrusted or rose gold.
Meanwhile, the Sixties revival that everyone went crazy for in two years back? Well, the Pilot Cronometro Tipo CP-2 now comes with a flyback chronograph function, meaning you can instantly start timing your flight home without fumbling a ‘return-to-zero’ in leather gloves, and you have a choice between two particularly on-point looks: bronze, for a gradual, unique green patina, or (should you prefer your green rather more controllable) a pre-distressed steel model on a green oily nubuck strap. More suited to maritime or two-wheeling activities respectively, but still born viscerally of the life aeronautic.
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.
The Zenith El Primero is steeped in horological history. However, while many may be familiar with the history of the El Primero they perhaps might not be quite as knowledgeable about the name Defy. The Defy was the original design that Zenith had around the time they moved into their manufacture in 1865 – it was actually spelt with an I back then and only changed to a y in 1969.