Luxury watchmaking fans revel in the knowledge that every twelve months a whole bunch of watchmakers will gather around and reveal their latest and greatest. And Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève 2019 did not disappoint. In fact, as controversial as it was, it was also one of the most exciting, both for the media and for the fans alike. We’ve put together a list, in alphabetical order, of the most notable timepieces. Be it impressive or lackluster, hysteria-worthy or just another hype-beast, it’ll be here. Let’s take a look!
Side note: No sugar-coating here.
The Best Watches of SIHH 2019
A. Lange & Söhne Langematik Perpetual Honey Gold (€85,000)
The first piece from the infamous German watchmaking atelier is the Langematik Perpetual, now in honey gold. This is a gorgeous timepiece. Soft, subtle, warm and inviting; everything a watch of this calibre ought to be. Limited to only 100-pieces, the Langematik Perpetual in honey gold brings a whole other dimension of thought, of want and of desire to itself.
A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Salmon (€285,000)
Wholly unnecessary but kind of appealing, the DPT in salmon brings is a slightly more aesthetic affair than the original Datograph Tourbillon Salmon. Everything remains the same on the face of the watch, bar the solid pink gold dial, bringing about the salmon colour ever so evident. Would I pick this over the original? Hell no, but I do see its appeal.
A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Jumping Seconds (€71,000)
Lange’s Richard Lange collection is the bee’s knees in my opinion, and the Richard Lange Jumping Seconds is one of its coolest. To make the fan-favourite that much more impressive, Lange have released it this time with a black dial, a white gold case and some red dial hints. Nothing else has really changed here, but the colour alterations are dramatic enough to keep Lange’s enthusiasts interested.
A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Date (€89,000)
Perhaps the only Lange featuring a technical change, the Zeitwerk Date now has a nifty date function added to it. The digitalized dial remains the same, but the addition of the date wheel surrounding the dial is one that I’m keen to see in the flesh. Does it work well for the Zeitwerk’s aesthetic, or does it ruin what many consider to be one of Lange’s finest looks? Only time will tell.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph 38mm (From $23,800USD)
The Royal Oak Chronograph has long been heralded a true man’s watch, and at 41mm the same rang true for its actual use. To wear a ROC, you sort of had to have the right wrist for it. Otherwise, you’re at risk of it sliding down to your hand and making you look slightly ridiculous. Audemars Piguet have released a smaller ROC version, this time in 38mm in both stainless-steel and in rose-gold. The target market for this? Well, obviously those of us with smaller wrists. But looking deeper, I can only presume that AP are looking to increase their reach into the Asian market. No offense, obviously.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15500 (From $19,200USD)
Perhaps the only Audemars Piguet that actually impressed me, the Royal Oak 15500 brings in a new era for the infamous Oak. It features a cleaner, more refined look. A lot of detail touch-ups. And an in-house movement. The perfect daily wearer/one watch option out there? Most definitely.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ Extra-Thin Salmon ($55,400USD)
Salmon-dial lovers rejoice, for Audemars Piguet have answered your prayers with the Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ Extra-Thin Salmon. Reference 15202BC, this boutique-only limited-edition Oak features a gorgeous salmon-coloured dial which extends to the background of the date window. The case is made of white gold, and it’s a limited-edition piece of only 75-pieces, but does that really justify its price-tag? Probably not, but who cares when you know you’ve got the market by the balls.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra-Thin Black Ceramic (156,000CHF)
It’s hard to see the appeal of the Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra-Thin Black Ceramic, to be quite honest with you. I don’t like the dial pattern (which Audemars Piguet calls the “Tapisserie Evolutive”. I’m not entirely convinced on its aesthetic, despite the ultra-luxe look of that ceramic case. I do enjoy an AP tourbillon, but I’m finding it especially difficult to convince myself that this is something worth my hypothetical money.
Baume et Mercier Clifton Baumatic Perpetual Calendar ($24,500USD)
Overall, the Clifton Baumatic Perpetual Calendar is pretty impressive from Baume et Mercier. But priced in the vicinity of the mid 20s, I find it difficult to justify myself and anyone else forking out that kind of money for what is, essentially, a Baume et Mercier. Call me what you will, but this is big money. I get you’re getting a QP out of it, but a lot of the time it’s the name on the dial that sells the watch. And in the case of the Baume et Mercier Clifton Baumatic Perpetual Calendar, it doesn’t do much for its buying power.
F. P. Journe Tourbillon Souveraine Vertical (From 244,500CHF)
Created to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their tourbillon, F. P. Journe have created the Tourbillon Souveraine Vertical, a completely different take on one of their most coveted watches. There’s too much writing on the face of the watch, and the pattern of the dial doesn’t do the Tourbillon Souveraine Vertical any favors, but damn does Journe know how to make an awesome tourbillon.
Greubel Forsey Balancier Contemporain (195,000CHF)
What a delight, to be around when Greubel Forsey first took to the stage. And now to see them continuing to create masterpieces like this. Unreal! The Balancier Contemporain is an especially impressive feat of watchmaking. It’s the perfect combination of artistry, of mechanical genius and of surprising wearability. The Balancier Contemporain features perhaps the most wearable of all GF cases, and whilst it is available with diamonds, I’d much rather the white gold case minus the bling.
Greubel Forsey Art Piece Edition Historique (550,000CHF)
A heavier, more complicated and far more expensive affair than the Balancier Contemporain, the Greubel Forsey Art Piece Edition Historique is a fantastically impressive watch whose technical prowess will absolutely blow your mind. It features a double axis inclined tourbillon and a whole bunch of ultra-intricate detail and finishing techniques that more than justify its incredibly high price-tag. Oh, to be a billionaire…
H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Concept Black ($350,000USD)
Moving on from the bullshit that was the H. Moser & Cie Nature Watch, they released a piece at this year’s SIHH that was actually worth your attention. The watch in question is the Swiss Alp Watch Concept Black, and to date this is perhaps one of their finest specimens. It features a gorgeous deep-black dial with no dial markings. Just a tourbillon sitting a 6 o’clock gives you the notion that this is indeed a special watch. You set the time through the crown which may sound normal, but believe me without hands, it’s far more complex than that. And you can tell the time but pressing the striking mechanism on the left-hand side of the watch. This is a noteworthy watch. Moser. More of this. Less crappy marketing propaganda.
Hermès Arceau L’Heure De La Lune ($25,500USD)
Who would have thought? One of my favourite watches of SIHH 2019 would be from Hermès. The Arceau L’Heure De La Lune is a beautiful, majestic, magical and romantic affair from Hermès, and it definitely deserves that loving title. It features a double moonphase powered by an exclusive patent-pending calibre made by Hermès. Two variants, one with a meteorite and the other with an aventurine dial. Both made in a limited run of 100-pieces. Both completely and utterly captivating.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Edition ‘Le Petit Prince’ ($38,300USD)
IWC’s stunning do-it-all Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Edition ‘Le Petit Prince’ is one badass bit of kit. Supremely beautiful. Very functional. A decent daily wearer. And a watch that will serve you well for the rest of your life. What more could you want?
IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph TOP GUN Ceratanium (€15,400)
One word. One syllable. Four letters. Want. I want this watch. This is my pick from IWC. Balance, symmetry, proportions, functionality and beauty. Overused adjectives, but oh so applicable in the case of the TOP GUN Ceratanium. Gimme gimme gimme!
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel (€800,000)
A long-ass name for a watch that definitely deserves it. And it’s eye-watering price-tag. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel is a combination of insanity, meticulousness and absolute horological mastery. Indefinably complex and unfathomably beautiful, I challenge you to find a watch that comes even close to that of the Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel.
Piaget Altiplano Meteorite (24,500CHF)
How would one make a plain-Jane gold dress watch identifiably different and a touch more beautiful? Well, if you were Piaget you’d give it a grey meteorite dial and call it a day. And that’s what they did. Aesthetics: 5/5. Not much more needs to be said.
Ulysse Nardin Freak X (From $21,000USD)
Man, I love Ulysse Nardin’s Freak. But with a price-tag equivalent to that of a yearly salary, its addition to my collection is not likely going to happen any time soon. Now, the Freak X I can definitely work with. More affordable and with just as much theatrics as its more expensive brothers, the Freak X is going to open a whole new market for Ulysse Nardin. Exciting stuff!
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin (From $75,000USD)
The Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin was an absolute delight to cover last year, and now with the edition of a rose gold variant, my admiration of Vacheron Constantin has nowhere to go but up. Available with either a blue dial and straps or with a silver dial and a full gold bracelet, the Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin is one heck of a statement piece.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon ($103,000USD)
The Overseas collection is expanding, and now we have a tourbillon to play with too. Introducing the Overseas Tourbillon, this 42.5mm wide stainless-steel beast is an absolute weapon of a watch. I love the marriage of simplicity and complexity, and I find it difficult to fault this watch in any way.
Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Perpetual Calendar (Piece Unique)
My biggest nuance with the majority of perpetual calendars is the stagnant nature of the dial. Predominantly, and I assume to keep the movement and thus the case dimensions down, many of them do not feature a sweeping seconds hand. The same rings true with Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Perpetual Calendar. But, Vacheron being Vacheron, they’ve come up with an ingenious, albeit super complex, way of ensuring that some notion of “real time” is apparent. Enter the minute repeater, enabling one to hear the time at any given time, giving the user a feeling of continuity and, to an extent theatrics.