Now that the Christmas ornaments are stored away in the cellar, The Jewellery Editor prepares to make its annual pilgrimage to the SIHH watch fair in Geneva, the first major rendezvous of the year for watch lovers. Running from 14 – 17 January in the colossal 55,000m2 of the Palexpo, 35 exhibitors are ready to unveil their latest collections to the 20,000 expected visitors. There have been some important changes in the line-up of participants and brands like Van Cleef & Arpels will not be exhibiting this year. Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille have also announced that 2019 will be their last time at the SIHH rodeo. The good news is that Bovet, the brand behind some of the most dazzlingly sophisticated mechanical and artistic watches, will be making its debut at the SIHH 2019.
Will we be seeing any fresh new collections or will brands walk the straight and narrow with re-editions of past glories? So far the ‘teasers’ provided by the brands ahead of the fair have been largely composed of re-editions of iconic models. Naturally, the real showstoppers will not be unveiled until the salon is in full swing, but let’s take a look at some of the appetizers.
Women always have a special place at Cartier and the Libre Jewellery Collection highlights the Maison’s historic flair for fascinating shaped watches. The iconic Baignoire model, which got its name for the French word for bathtub, has taken a dip in the waters of high jewellery and comes in two versions, the Baignoire Allongée Céladon in white gold with Paraiba tourmalines, emeralds and diamonds and the Allongée Black model (above) with rich yellow gold case and black spinels, yellow sapphires and brilliant-cut diamonds. The Tank Chinoise is also given a jazzy makeover with a black enamel dial and lintels of bright red rubies and diamonds. Tapping into the sleek Art Deco aesthetic that has worked so well for the brand the Diagonale women’s watch (above) plays with geometric shapes highlighted with black and red enamel inserts and a flourish of diamonds.
Piaget is one of those rare Maisons that specialises in both watchmaking and jewellery and the synergy works to great effect in women’s high jewellery watch models. Recurring to a perennial favourite of the brand, the ultra-thin 36mm white gold Altiplano watch (above) is decked out – for the first time – with baguette-set diamonds. The gorgeous sunray-brushed blue dial (known as Piaget Blue) plays with the light to hypnotic effect, assisted by the baguette-cut diamonds which mark the quarter hours on the dial. A limited edition of 88 pieces, the Altiplano High Jewellery is equipped with Piaget’s very own ultra-thin hand-wound calibre 430P.
Girard-Perregaux revisits its most feminine of pieces, the alluring oval-shaped Cat’s Eye. With its distinctive elliptical-shaped case, the three Cat’s Eye models unveiled ahead of the SIHH combine sparkling blue aventurine glass with diamonds to dramatic effect. The Cat’s Eye Celestial model features a horizontal pink gold oval case and a prominent moon phase display – the moon is made from mother-of-pearl – set in the upper half of the dial. Such is the accuracy of the movement that the moon phase will only need one correction every 360 years. The Cat’s Eye Majestic (above) flips the pink oval case into a vertical position and offers time-only functions against a celestial aventurine background and lavish diamond hour markers. The star of the trio is the Cat’s Eye Tourbillon set with tapered baguette-cut diamonds and a gemset bow over the bridge of the tourbillon. All three models are fitted with sophisticated mechanical movements.
Nobody designs watches quite like Hermès. Launched in 1991, the Cape Cod was the brainchild of Hermès designer Henri d’Origny and combined a square within a rectangle with lugs inspired by another Hermès classic, the 1938 Chaîne d’Ancre bracelet. The clean graphic lines of the Cape Cod were a hit and for 2019, the Cape Cod takes the anchor-chain motif one step further and incorporates the interlocking links of the bracelet on the dial. Set against a white (above) or black lacquered background, the anchor-chain links are picked out with white mother-of-pearl and diamonds or black spinels and aventurine and set on the lacquered dial using the champlevé technique. Presented in a 29mm stainless steel case with 42 diamonds on the bezel, the watch has a quartz movement and comes on a double or single leather strap.
Launched in 2012, the Rendez-Vous was Jaeger-LeCoultre’s first watch family designed exclusively for women and became an instant classic. Seven years down the line, the Swiss watch manufacturer upgrades the moon phase version of the watch with an even more feminine and perhaps more classic interpretation of the moon phase function. Unlike former Moon Phase models with their round aperture and two-tone moon, the new models, in 34mm pink gold and steel (above), feature an entirely reworked moon phase. Housed in a bosom-shaped aperture decorated with guilloché at 6 o’clock, the moon completes its cycle against a lacquered blue starry sky. The distinctive textured guilloché dial and the floral Arabic numerals are similar to previous editions but there is an additional halo of 47 diamonds in the centre of the dial. Set with 60 brilliant-cut diamonds on the bezel, the watch is powered by an automatic movement and features an interchangeable strap system.