Geneva has given us plenty to drool over.
With SIHH 2019 wrapping up, the watchmaking houses are packing their bags in Geneva and gearing up for Baselworld in March. Still, these are very, very full bags, and they’ve left us a lot of ground to cover before the next big show rolls along.
SIHH sets the tone for the rest of the year and, looking at everything that’s been released so far, that tone isn’t likely to disappoint.
From tourbillons to perpetual calendars, to a watch dedicated to a historical attempt at flying across the worldin a restored antique fighter plane, the latest releases show just how much art there really is in watchmaking.
Here’s a roundup of some of the most audacious pieces to come out of SIHH 2019:
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Perpetual Calendar
Audemars Piguet is widely known for the Royal Oak, which was the first luxury watch in stainless steel. (And why not? It basically saved the company from the brink of bankruptcy, and became one of the watches that changed timekeeping history.) This year, the brand took a different turn, coming up with an entirely new collection—the Code 11.59.
Code 11.59 is AP’s idea of where they see the future of the brand going. The collection is certainly a novel one, with 13 new references, but it’s the perpetual calendar that stands out in terms of looks. The pink gold case highlights an aventurine blue dial that recalls the night sky. And while there are displays for the day, date, month, and a moonphase, they’re done with a sense of balance, so the watch doesn’t look too busy.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel
JLC has a habit of creating watches with wildly fantastic tourbillons (and unusually long names). This watch is no exception.
The Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel’s key feature is the multi-axis tourbillon at the bottom of the case, now reduced in size for wearability. It’s the first watch that combines this complication with a perpetual calendar and Westminster chimes.
On command, the watch tells the time with sound, using different melodies to indicate the hours, quarter hours, and minutes. The chimes replicate the sound of Big Ben at the Palace of Westminster in London, from which the watch takes part of its long name.
A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon
The watchmaking house from Glashütte always comes up with clean, simple pieces that border on the austere. So, when they decided to create a timepiece with basically everything in it, the result is a watch made with restraint and elegance, and a look that brings to mind classic watches from decades past.
The Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon has a flyback chronograph, a power reserve indicator, a moonphase display, and perpetual calendar with the signature oversize date windows. The one-minute tourbillon is only visible from the caseback, which means you won’t be seeing it as much, but it’s great to know it’s there.
Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar
Yes, it’s another perpetual calendar, but SIHH has always been focused on luxury pieces, and complications like these are almost expected in a watch that commands top dollar. For this particular piece, Vacheron Constantin ups the game by giving it a 65-day power reserve.
So how does that happen? Basically, the watch can run for four days and the movement beats at a frequency of 5 Hz when active. But, once you take it off, you can press a button to switch the movement’s frequency to 1.2 Hz.
Okay, so what does that mean? The lower the frequency is, the less energy the watch needs from the mainspring, which is the watch’s power source. By keeping it on “standby” mode when unworn, the watch extends the “battery.”
That’s groundbreaking stuff for something that’s made of gears and springs.
Urwerk UR-105 CT Maverick
Now, something a little more out of the box.
The original UR-105 was an insane creation, and in a good way. It took what we knew of time displays—analog and digital—then combined the two with Urwerk’s now-famous wandering hours complication.
Without getting too technical, this means that a pointer displaying the hour digit travels along an arc at the bottom, which has a scale indicating the minutes. This creates both an analog and digital display.
While this isn’t a new complication at all, the case of the Maverick is made out of bronze and titanium, which will acquire a unique patina over time. It allows the wearer a personal connection to the watch, and adds something a little more philosophical to the already conceptual timepiece.