For the uninitiated, the Salon International De La Haute Horlogerie (or SIHH) in Switzerland is essentially the Super Bowl of watches. Sixteen of the finest watch brands in the world unite in downtown Geneva to duke it out for the title of most ludicrous timepiece ever produced. You might've heard of some of the brands: Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai, Richard Mille, Greubel Forsey, A. Lange & Söhne, and Audemars Piguet, just to name a few.
And I'll be there all next week, liveblogging and Instagramming the heck out of some of the world's most complicated and unique watches. Till then, these are the nine I'm most excited to check out in person.
IWC Portuguese Annual Calendar It’s rare to see a beautifully simple watch carry this level of complexity underneath the hood. IWC is no stranger to complicated movements, but the restrained elegance of this piece is a massive turn on for me. Sort of like that rare Harvard grad that never mentions his alma-mater, the Portuguese Annual Calendar is a remarkably intricate watch, capable of accounting for a whole litany of calendar irregularities, all the while maintaining near perfect time throughout the year. Expect to see this ref in stainless steel at $24,100, and in 18-carat red gold for $35,700.
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Automatic Skeleton Skeleton watches have always been polarizing for me. On the one hand, they’re a remarkable engineering achievement, a sort of open invitation to show the world just how few parts a watch needs to maintain its complexity and functionality. On the other hand though, they’ve always felt a bit braggadocios—it’s the equivalent of carrying a copy of your resume around with you, in my book. This year though, we’re seeing a range of Skeleton pieces pop on the radar that are rubbing me the right way, and this Roger Dubuis, with its dive watch inspired notches around the crown is one of them.
Parmigiani Tonda 1950 I’ve made little effort to mask my love for Parmigiani in the past, and I don’t intend to start now. PF is quite possibly one of the most undervalued marques present at the SIHH show, but that’s almost by design. Instead of beating the celebrity endorsement drum, Parmigiani has focused nearly 100 percent of its marketing efforts on endorsing the most important artistic moments every year, including my personal favorite: The Montreaux Jazz Festival. The Tonda 1950 is finally getting the skeleton treatment this year at SIHH, and they’ve pulled it off with righteous elegance, on typically gorgeous Hermes alligator leather straps.
Piaget Altiplano Chronograph I had the pleasure of playing with this thing in person at a pre-SIHH breakfast with Piaget not long ago, and it is positively stupefying. If you’ve worn a chronograph before, you’re used to affording a few extra millimeters in case thickness due to the more complicated movement behind the face. Piaget basically said GTFO to the extra bulk that a chrono carries, and quite literally broke the world record for the thinnest mechanical chronograph watch ever made. It's thickness rings in at 8.24mm. For comparison, a Rolex Daytona clocks in at over 12mm, and it’s considered a svelte chrono. Expect it to retail for $29,000 when finally available.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Aucoustic Research Ep 1 Watch Minute repeater watches were the original iPhone clocks, essentially the first programmable wrist sized devices that audibly let you know what time it was in the middle of the night. The fact that they even existed hundreds of years ago is mind blowing, but as a technology they’ve stayed relatively static for the last century. Out of combined respect for the tradition of these hyper-complicated mechanical machines and a genuine interest in doing what nobody else has done before, Audemars Piguet has taken it upon themselves to fully rethink the way that this style of watch functions, and just how loud of a notification they can get out of a machine that has no batteries involved whatsoever. However, this is a 1/1 prototype, so don’t expect to see it on anybody's wrist any time soon.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Calendar It’s got a freaking meteorite in it, what more do you need to know? Expect to see these in the mid $10’s and mid $20’s for stainless steel and precious metal versions, respectively.
RL Automotive Chrono Ralph’s been in the watch game with Richemont since 2009, and every year he busts out a piece that continues to garner momentum for the fledgling watch band. This chronograph is based almost entirely on his 1938 Bugatti’s dashboard, with a Jaeger-LeCoultre movement—uncoincidentally the same company that made the clock in his Bugatti. The wood is real, but as he’s still a relative newcomer to the game we can expect this model to debut south of $10,000—a fair price for a very intriguing watch.
Rotonde de Cartier Reversed Tourbillon More art installation than timepiece, the Reversed Tourbillon is a clear flexing of Cartier’s jewelry muscle. The dial is solid 18-carat white gold, etched in an extremely delicate guilloché pattern. If you know what that means, I’ll probably be seeing you next week in Switzerland, but if you don’t, it’s more than enough to just stare at this thing and drool. Cartier continues to consistently impress me with the fit and finish of their timepieces, and needless to say I’m excited to see what else they have sneaking out of their sleeves. Expect this piece to fetch north of 6 figures when it finally comes available.
Ted Gushue is the executive editor of Supercompressor. He's dreamt of going to SIHH every year since he was a little boy. This year is that year. Hear him wax poetically through a mouthful of Fondue on Twitter and Instagram@TedGushue.