New watch trends at SIHH 2015

SIHH, the trade fair in Geneva that presents watches by 16 top brands and the first watch event in the yearly calendar, began on 19 January 2015. We take a look at some of the major trends to emerge.

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21 January 2015

A new watch with a new movement takes a long time to develop, minimum two years, and so the watch business is on a lengthier timescale than fashion when it comes to trends. But every year, there are a few overlying themes, features that can be seen in a number of the brands’ collections.

Astral travellers

Several brands are reaching for the stars, with a special emphasis on moon phase watches, depictions of the night sky, or other astronomically-related features. Roger Dubuis’s stand is on the theme of “The Astral Gateway,” with a massive structure soaring skywards that evokes the open architecture of the latest skeleton watches, which themselves resemble space stations within the wide open spaces of the case with no dial and no solid bridges.

Both Jaeger-LeCoultre and Parmigiani Fleurier present watches made using meteorite for the dial, a material whose age is comparable to that of the solar system – four billion years – and so providing an interesting reflection on the dimension of time. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Rendez-Vous Moon is dominated by the spectacular moon phase display on the backdrop of stars and night sky. The Heritage Chronomètre by Montblanc includes a moonphase in which the stars are in the shape of the Southern Cross, celebrating Vasco da Gama’s exploration in the southern hemisphere.

Mechanical watches for women

For several years now there has been a trend towards mechanical watches for women. This partly reflects a new interest on the part of women in the functions of a watch and not just its beauty, and it is also tied to changes in preferred watch sizes. Many years ago, all watches were much smaller than they are today, with men wearing watches perhaps just 37 mm in diameter, and women typically with watches 28 mm in diameter or less.

Today, watches are much larger, and divisions between men’s and women’s sizes have blurred a bit, with 37 mm typically a woman’s watch as in the Portofino Midsize collection by IWC, but with sizes up to 40 mm accessible to both sexes. As women’s watches are now larger, there is more space for the movement, and so complications become more feasible. Baume & Mercier’s Classima collection now includes a women’s automatic 36.5 mm in diameter, and Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Ivy Minute Repeater places the super-prestigious repeater complication into a beautifully decorated case specially for women.

Minute repeaters

Last year brought some fine minute repeaters, and this continues in 2015, with the spectacular Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept RD#1, not a production watch but a single prototype piece for which not all the technical details can be revealed because it embodies several patents pending.

And one of the highlights of the entire show is without doubt the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, 771 components, and a digital time display accompanied by an unusual repeating system in which the hours, ten-minutes, and minutes are sounded, instead of the conventional hours, quarters and minutes. And of course, there is the ground-breaking Ivy Minute Repeater by Jaeger-LeCoultre.

New materials

This year, amorphous diamond-like carbon can be seen in several models. It provides a sleek black appearance, giving the substrate (typically stainless steel or titanium) some of the properties of diamond, above all its hardness, scratch-resistance and smoothness. Greubel Forsey present their GMT watch in a titanium case with ADLC coating, making the watch lighter and more durable. After their first bronze watch presented last year, Panerai highlighted a model made using a totally new form of carbon fibre, called Carbotech, in which the parallel arrangement of fibres gives the surface a zebra-like effect, different for every piece.

Vacheron Constantin’s superb new pieces include a table clock whose case is crafted from a single piece of rock crystal, spectacular, unique, and very expensive. It’s a one-off and it’s already been sold. Outside SIHH, at the Casino du Lac in Geneva, Emmanuel Bouchet presented his very first watch, Complication One, with a version comprising ADLC-coated titanium.

Strap design

This may seem like a minor detail, but the way that the strap connects to the case is something that several brands have been looking at. Both Baume & Mercier’s new Clifton watches and IWC’s Portugieser range have circular cases, and straps whose top edge, the part meeting the case, are curved, leaving no space between strap and case near the lugs. The result is a smoother and more satisfying design highlighting the curved geometry of the piece.

Anniversaries

An anniversary is always a good reason for a celebration, whether it’s the foundation of the brand, or the launch of a certain collection. Here is a countdown of the numbers:

260

Vacheron Constantin are at their 260th anniversary and present a whole series of new models with five completely new movements.

75

For the 75th anniversary of the Portuguese collection, IWC has completely renewed the range, introducing the new Annual Calendar which neatly fills the gap between a simple date watch and the lofty heights (and prices) of a perpetual calendar.

25

This year is the 25th anniversary of SIHH itself.

20

The oval-shaped Millenary by Audemars Piguet is at its 20th anniversary, and this year’s new models include a model with a new movement, calibre 5201.

10

Greubel Forsey mark their tenth anniversary with a new watch, the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision. Parmigiani Fleurier mark the tenth anniversary of the Bugatti watch, the revolutionary piece that looks more like a car engine than a watch, with three new models.