The watchmaking industry has suffered various setbacks in recent years, and a handful have proved to be resilient enough to withstand the downs. One of them is Audemars Piguet. The family-owned watchmaker has relied on its legacy of breaking boundaries with timepieces that boast both technical chops and bombastic looks. Its latest launch, the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph, exemplifies Audemars Piguet’s formula of audacious aesthetics tempered with some good ol’ fashioned technical artistry.
The Offshore Chronograph now comes in three different colours, blue, green and brown. The bezels are all made of ceramic, marking the first time that brown has been used. The effect is quite decadent, especially when paired with the rose gold case and the camouflage strap—which, let’s be honest, isn't quite living up to its name. We anticipate that camouflage straps will surely be the marmite of SIHH, as love 'em or loathe 'em, there's no denying that there's nothing discreet about them.
I’m sure there’s some sociological reason why vintage-looking watches are trending. Maybe it's about romanticising the bygone era of elegance, or something along those lines. But we’ll leave that analysis to another time, as we’d just like to celebrate the revival of Cartier’s Privé collection. Originally launched in 1998 as the Collection Privé Cartier Paris (CPCP), it was an exclusive platform where Cartier would re-launch, in limited quantities, the elegant shaped watches it had created over its history. The first shape that Cartier is revisiting is the Tonneau. Cartier pays tribute to the design elements from the original 1906 version, such as the cabochon crown, Roman numerals, Breguet hands, and protruding screws on the short lugs. The main difference lies in the fact that Cartier has installed its own in-house movement into the timepiece. The 100-piece limited edition watch is available in either rose gold and platinum.
Despite having just been (re)welcomed into the Girard-Perregaux family in 2016, the Laureato has already become a main pillar. Its dynamic design lends itself well to versatility, and is able to house divergent functions with equal aplomb. The newest complication to join the stable is the 42mm Laureato Perpetual Calendar. Girard-Perregaux designed and developed an entirely new calibre, the GP1800-0033 for the timepiece. The display of the perpetual calendar counters is unlike any other, and posed a technical difficulty for the watchmaker. But Girard-Perregaux is a master of haute horology, and resolved the challenges quite flawlessly. Like a lopsided smiley-face, the date counter is diagonally across a smaller day sub-dial, while the months are in a curved aperture at 6. Rendered in a stainless steel mono-bloc, the watch is only 11.84mm thick, making for a suitable dress or weekend watch.
It’s not enough that luxury watchmakers have conquered the science behind what makes a watch tick, but they’re also now dabbling in metallurgy. As they experiment with novel case (and movement) materials, the research so far has yielded exciting developments. In 2019, IWC Schaffhausen is taking up the mantle of metallurgist with the launch of the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium. The timepiece features a case made of a combination of titanium and ceramic, called Ceratanium, and harnesses the advantageous properties of both. The result is a jet-black case that’s lightweight, unbreakable, hard, scratch-resistant, and gosh darn sexy as well. The mechanics within, too, have our approval as the watch features a double chronograph function. This means that there are two seconds hands to time consecutive events.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is pursuing the theme of the “Art of Precision” this year, and the Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel exemplifies this ethos. Limited to 100 pieces, the timepiece reinforces the Swiss watchmaker’s expertise in both technical engineering and artistic knowhow. The dial is first hand-guilloched, and then layered with enamel paint—a process that is time-consuming and challenging, as even a small mistake will render the dial unusable. The overall effect, however, is outstanding. It’s the perfect embodiment of the adage that true luxury should whisper and not shout. The dial serves as the canvas to the hour, minute and second hands, as well as the date counter and engraved moonphase. The automatic timepiece is encase in a white gold frame, and has 70 hours of power reserve.
The watchmaking gods have spoken: panda dials are back in a big way. First released in the 1960s thanks to the legibility of the design (black subdials on a white dial), they’re making a welcome comeback on chronographs of all stripes. For 2019, panda and reverse panda dials can be seen the Montblanc TimeWalker collection. The German brand has released two chronographs, measuring 41mm and 43mm respectively. The smaller one features a vertical chronograph display, while the 43mm chronograph follows the classical style of three counters at three, six and nine. The latter is equipped with the in-house manufacture movement MB 25.10, with a winding rotor made of black rhodium-plated tungsten and shaped like a steering wheel. The tachymeter scale on the black bezel reinforces the sporty nature of the chronographs.
Made to withstand the pressures underwater, the Panerai Submersible Chrono Guillaume Néry Edition honours the record-breaking feats of the French free diver. The Panerai timepiece is, of course, an all-out diving watch, with a water-resistance down to 300m. It has all bearings of a tool watch, from the titanium case and the screw-down crown to the uni-directional bezel and luminous white markers. The case back of the automatic, 47mm timepiece features an engraving of Néry’s incredible achievement of diving down to 126m underwater in a single breath.
Giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “out of the world”, the Piaget Atiplano Tourbillon in rose gold frames a blue meteorite dial. It adds a celestial dimension to the already existing line, which has previously featured malachite and lapis lazuli dials. We are partial to the blue meteorite dial for several reasons. For one, the distinctive Widmanstätten patterns on the meteorite add depth and texture. When paired with the rose gold case and the brilliant-cut diamonds on the bezel, the effect is simply stellar. Plus, isn't there something infinitely romantic about wearing a piece of the moon on your wrist?
The hero of the piece is undoubtedly the dial, but the flying tourbillon and the offset hour and minute counter are the perfect complements to the effect. This being an Altiplano timepiece, it measures a sleek 7.4mm height, and only 28 pieces will be up for grabs.
Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers department customises in bespoke, one-of-a-kind timepieces. In recent years, some of the most spectacular watches have emerged, including the most complicated pocket watch, Ref 57260. Once again, the watchmaker has risen to the challenge and has launched Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Sky Chart. The name is indicative of the complications within: a tourbillon, minute repeater, and sidereal time on the case back. The timepiece’s austerity is highlighted by the black guilloche dial, while the baguette-cut diamonds on the bezel add ample pizzazz. The manually-wound timepiece has a 58-hour power reserve.