As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I landed the chance to attend what is, aside from BASELWORLD, the most important event in the watch world this year: SIHH 2015.
It's a posh takeover of Geneva's largest convention center, a massive feat of engineering and booth construction, designed to showcase the latest and greatest from 16 of the horological world's greatest brands. It was an action packed few days, and to be honest, nearly every single piece I saw was worth its own write up, but these ninewatches were the true standouts in my book.
This Chinese Festival Is Like 'Frozen' Come to Life
The Greubel Forsey GMT In Rose Gold And In Black PVD This piece is an absolute triumph of watchmaking. That little globe in there? It fully rotates to reveal where the sun is currently shining. Think about that for a second. A tiny little rotating globe that is powered by mechanical springs that accurately rotates as the earth spins around the sun. On your f*cking wrist.
That backside though... Steampunk time machine? Check.
Audemars Piguet Two Tone Royal Oak 15400 A stone cold stunner from the past, you haven't been able to purchase the AP 15400 in gold/stainless for a long, long time. We're talking like 30 years. So for the true nerds out there, the fact that this beast is back in action is a really killer acknowledgment of our fandom.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Acoustic Research Now we're fully into geek-out territory. Minute repeaters are these tiny mechanical functions that are tacked onto insanely complicated watches. They were designed for use after dark, when, let's say while you were traveling in your horse and buggy, you wanted to know the time. Nowadays we have electronic notifications, we have super luminova paint that glows in the dark, and heck, Timex's have had indiglo for like 40 years. But this function allowed you to hear the time, much like Big Ben in London. They actually have tiny acoustic hammers that hit acoustically tuned metals inside the watch, clanging out the time in hours and minutes. Until now, though, these have been remarkably quiet instruments, audible to only the wearer, and usually only if he was in a quiet room. What AP has done here is create what is now considered to be the loudest minute repeater mechanical watch in existence. I had the pleasure of hearing it, and it's suspiciously loud. Like hear-from-across-the-room, loud.
Minerva 1/100 Second Timer This is a straightforward gorgeous stopwatch from the turn of the century, made by the now-defunct Minerva manufacturing company. They were absorbed by Mont Blanc, and now manufacture the movements in a range of their super high performance chronographs. This timer really caught my eye for it's elegant simplicity, and would be such an interesting piece to own.
Piaget Altiplano Ultrathin Chronograph Plain and simple, this is hands-down the thinnest mechanical chronograph ever made. Like, preposterously thin—8.2mm at it's thickest. By comparison, a Rolex Daytona is north of 12mm thick, and that's generally considered a rather svelte chronograph.
IWC Portugueser 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. Not to mention it's drop-dead sexy.
The Pargmigiani Tonda 1950 Meteorite Parmigiani isn't the first brand I've seen execute a meteorite dial watch, but they're without question the first I've seen execute it in various colorways without making it feel chintzy or gimmicky. The meteorite is treated using some sort of crazy chemical that allows them to get the exact control over the shade of the blue. Plus, it has a freaking meteorite in it.
Clé De Cartier I didn't have my camera with me for the unveiling of this piece, unfortunately, but it really is a stunner. Cartier has been making huge strides in my book, bringing their entire movement making process in house, and slowly but surely releasing their take on classic case designs. The real standout with the Clé though, is the way that the watch is wound and the time is set. That tab on the right is actually the crown, and when extended, the feeling is a lot like the feeling of winding up an old school clock with a key. A very cool touch.