In the recently concluded Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, luxury watchmakers came out with some truly stunning and complicated timepieces. We bring you five of the best watches that debuted at the show.
IWC TRIBUTE TO PALLWEBER
Celebrating their 150th Anniversary, IWC showcased a number of new references at SIHH. Of particular interest amongst them was a stunning new edition that imitated the design of pocket watches that the company used to produce back in the late 19th century (1884 to be exact). The rotating digital display – with large numerals for hours and minutes – was revolutionary for its time and was the first of its kind. The latest design also features a gorgeous enamelled dial, as well as a stunning movement visible from the caseback. Available in three versions – Platinum, Red Gold and Steel – the Pallwebers are limited editions.
PIAGET ALTIPLANO ULTIMATE CONCEPT
Piaget has long been known for its ultra-thin watches. It comes as no surprise, then, that they showcased what is the world’s thinnest mechanical watch – with a thickness of a mere 2mm. This is no mean feat of engineering. To achieve this, Piaget had to move from the traditional construction techniques and use the case of the watch as a part of the movement itself. It also had to come up with ingenious ways to accommodate other aspects of the watch within that thickness. For instance, the crystal is 0.2mm thick and held in place with a specially formulated epoxy. And despite all the technical challenges, the movement still has a 44-hour power reserve. Impressive indeed!
A. LANGE & SÖHNE TRIPLE SPLIT
One of the most admired watchmakers, A. Lange & Söhne, introduced a watch that created a massive amount of buzz at SIHH. Known as the Triple Split, this is a seriously complicated piece of watchmaking. It happens to be a first-of-its-kind and is another landmark achievement for the brand. To explain it in simpler terms, the rattrapante chronograph movement in this watch is capable of measuring and comparing the time of two concurrent events for up to 12 hours at a time. A traditional rattrapante chronograph has two chronograph second’s hands that run together till the split function is pressed, which stops one of the hands, while the other continues. This is useful for recording events like lap times and to indicate the difference between two laps. The triple rattrapante allows one to not only split hours and minutes but also seconds – something which has not been done before. A rattrapante is considered to be a very complicated mechanism to build and adjust. Naturally, then, this represents a new high for the A. Lange & Söhne brand, and allows them a chance to show off their technical prowess and mastery of watchmaking. P.S. If you’re considering asking the cost, don’t. As they say, if you have to ask…
VACHERON CONSTANTIN FIFTYSIX
A common trend now emerging among leading watchmakers is their desire to target younger customers, who exhibit a tendency to shun traditional watches that cost a fortune. To grab the attention of this section of customer, brands are increasingly coming up with entry-level watches in more affordable materials to keep the price down. Continuing this trend, one of the most iconic brands in the business, Vacheron Constantin, introduced their new FIFTYSIX models at a price that is roughly half of the price of their previous entry-level pieces. Despite that, the FIFTYSIX is a good-looking range that offers the quality that the company’s known. This new range is also quite large and includes both simple watches and complications.
RESSENCE TYPE 2 E-CROWN CONCEPT
Perhaps the other first-of-its-kind technological achievement displayed at SIHH – the other being the Lange Triple Split – was Ressence’s concept watch, which promises some truly 21st century technological advancement in the guise of conventional watchmaking. The unique point being that this watch features an electronic system that sits between its mechanical movement and the ROCS display disc system. This electronic system allows the watch to set itself to new time zones by itself or via a smartphone app. This concept watch also features a contribution by Tony Fadell (designer of the iPod). The basic idea of the watch is to allow the user the freedom from manually adjusting its mechanism to set the time. The electronic system also powers itself both kinetically and via 10 tiny photovoltaic cells hidden behind the dial. Needless to say, this concept brings all sorts of geekery to mechanical watchmaking, and I for one would love to own one of these – just for how cool it is. The icing on the cake would be not having to manually adjust your watch after a long-haul flight.