After several years of conservatism at Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) with watch brands playing it safe with their novelties, the 2019 edition this past January was the best in years, with daring creations and an increasing number of complicated pieces being released. And while the undertone within the halls of Geneva’s Palexpo was one of uncertainty—due to shaky market conditions and a change in schedule come 2020, when SIHH will be held immediately before the watch industry’s other major show, Baselworld—there were plenty of perpetual calendars, a galaxy of moon phases, and several clocks that pushed the boundaries of timekeeping.
There can only be one belle of the ball, and the undisputed crown for SIHH’s 2019 edition goes to Vacheron Constantin for its impressive and technically novel Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar. The watch is a user-controlled dual-frequency timepiece whose two regulating systems operate on different frequencies. This enables the wearer to choose between a 5 Hz active mode, which will keep the calendar going for four days, and a 1.2 Hz standby mode, in which the power reserve is an astonishing 65 days. It is the first and only watch in the world to do this. The completely new movement calibre 3610 QP took the Vacheron Constantin team four years to develop and is conceived, designed, and manufactured in-house. The case is platinum and is 42 mm in diameter, 12.3 mm thick—svelte for a watch that houses a high-complication movement and a power reserve guaranteed to run for over two months.
The blue dial trend is still going strong, with a number of blue face releases at SIHH. Jaeger-LeCoultre enriched its Master Ultra Thin Enamel collection with three new limited edition models, each its own captivating, intense blue: Moon, Perpetual, and Tourbillon. Notwithstanding, the unquestionable highlight from Jaeger-LeCoultre this year was the latest generation of the Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel, a multi-axis tourbillon accompanied by a minute repeater and a perpetual calendar. The minute repeater, with four sets of hammers and gongs, chimes a 28-second-long melody to that of London’s Big Ben. With most perpetual calendars the date mechanism can only be adjusted in one direction, while with this timepiece it can be adjusted forward and backward. The Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel is limited to only 18 pieces and comes with either a blue guilloché enamel or silver-grained dial.
Greubel Forsey is known for creating “architecture on the wrist”: its large wristwatches feature exotic tourbillons and three-dimensional movement architecture. The 2019 Balancier Contemporain is the smallest wristwatch—39.66 mm in diameter, to be exact—that Greubel Forsey has ever produced, but there is no skimping on the Greubel Forsey aesthetic. The white gold 33-piece limited edition timepiece is a compact showcase for the brand’s signature balance wheel system. The manual-winding calibre has 255 components; the watch is equipped with a 72-hour power reserve.
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