The SIHH 2019 has concluded, leaving us to ponder over the changes sweeping the watch industry. Both Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet have bowed out of the Richemont fair, in an attempt to reach out to their audiences directly. Watch brands are back to experimenting with dial colours this year, with blue, salmon and guilloche dials making a splash. It’s an interesting time to be a watch enthusiast and witness brands moving away from their traditional image and towards something unconventional.
1. Audemars Piguet – Code 11.59
The Code 11.59 was a big surprise. Round-shaped novelties from Audemars Piguet are about as rare as they come, with the brand’s well-documented preference for octagonal (Read: Royal Oak) watches. However, in a bid to draw in younger customers, AP decided to create an all-new series with 6 calibers (3 of which are brand-new). The series has been six years in the making, and features a Perpetual Calendar, a Chronograph and an open work tourbillon among others. The designs are a lot more conservative than what we’ve come to expect from AP, but the brand hopes that there’s more people want from them than just the Royal Oak. Given how profitable the last six years have been, they might be on to something.
2. Jaeger Lecoultre Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpetuel
Easily one of the best grand complication watches from this year, the Gyrtourbillon Westminster Perpetuel is a stunning return to form for Jaeger LeCoultre, who’ve been rather conservative with their grand complications in the last couple of years. The “Westminster” in its name comes from the fact that it’s equipped with a minute repeater which recreates the sounds and chimes of the Big Ben clock tower with its four gongs. Limited to only 18 pieces, the watch is available in two finishes: Blue guilloche enamel or silver grained. A blue alligator strap furthers the ‘blue’ theme that JLC is sticking to this year. Any way you look at it, this is one gorgeous piece of horological hardware.
3. Richard Mille – RM07-03 Marshmallow
Love them or hate them, Richard Mille’s watches can never be underwhelming. Their new Bonbon collection may have raised many an eyebrow from enthusiasts, considering the brand’s penchant for sports-related, mechanical masterpieces, but there’s no denying that the pieces are hard to forget, if a bit polarising in their appeal. The idea of the collection is to be a throwback to the sort of confectionery 80’s kids grew up on. The “Marshmallow” for example, is resplendent with the colourful symmetry of the saccharine multi-coloured candy bars and marshmallows that get your inner 10-year-old salivating like a Labradoodle.
4. Montblanc 1858 Geosphere
The Montblanc 1858 Geosphere is, by the brand’s own admission, the most popular model from their Minerva-derived 1858 collection. Apart from giving a few of them a bronze exterior, MB has decided to introduce ‘khaki’ green as a new dial colour, which paired with a green canvas strap or a tan brown leather strap, really broadens their sartorial appeal. Pictured here is the limited edition Geosphere (limited to 1858 models) featuring a world time movement and turning hemisphere globes.
5. IWC Spitfire “The Longest Flight”
IWC is back to focusing on what they do best: Make top-brass Pilot watches. Apart from a rather unimaginatively named “Top Gun” series, the Schaffhausen manufacture dished out the all-new Spitfire edition – taking inspiration from the form, functionality and famed reliability of the legendary British war plane.
This TimeZoner Spitfire “Longest Flight Edition” has been dedicated to IWC’s “The Longest Flight” project which will see an actual Spitfire circumnavigate the globe. It’s been designed to assist the pilots, and has been limited to 250 editions only. With the dial, case and textile wristband taking inspiration from the Spitfire’s cockpit, it comes equipped with the brand’s patented “TimeZoner” mechanism which prevents accidental resetting of the time zone.
6. Panerai Submersible Carbotech
Panerai appears to have dedicated this year to the “Submersible” – that badass, Navy-bred diving watch that’s something of a flagship for the brand. The brand has released something of a nautical dream-squad of hardcore diving watches with their patented “Carbotech” treatment along with introducing new elements like ‘Eco Titanium’ which are back to their original 42mm size and bolder than ever. In an effort to save the oceans from choking with plastic, Panerai has also fashioned plastic straps, which feel more like textile and have been created entirely from used plastic bottles (each strap reusing 3 bottles worth of recycled plastic). Variants include the ‘Marina Militare” which is a tribute to their longstanding affiliation with the Italian Navy, the BMG-TECH which is made of a new material using aluminium, titanium, nickel and copper – making it stronger and impervious to corrosion.