What to expect from SIHH 2018
The SIHH opens Monday 15th January, the watchmaking world’s cross between fashion week, motor show and the CES.
Twenty eight years after Cartier exited Basel for the undeniably more glamorous environs of Geneva, the SIHH seems to have momentum, having attracted Hermès and a cluster of higher-end boutique brands including Armin Strom, Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud, DeWitt and Romain Gauthier to join an exhibitor list that ranges the haut de gamme of watchmaking; from Audemars Piguet through to Vacheron Constantin.
The rocky ride of recent years has forced the industry to ask some hard questions of itself and the last 12 months has seen a number of brands refresh both their leadership and refine their strategy, a process that bears its first fruit this week.
With nearly half of the main exhibitors having acquired new CEO’s in the last year (or two if you include Cyrille Vigneron at Cartier), there’s a good prospect of fresh ideas and sharper offers. One of the few brands to have actively prospered of late is Audemars Piguet, who mark 25 years of Royal Oak Offshore with a tsunami of new models ranging from the decorative (a diamond-set, purple dial chronograph) to the extreme (an avant-garde pink gold and ceramic Tourbillon Chronograph).
Not content with some 30 variations on the Offshore, Audemars are also showing “plain” Royal Oaks, concept watches and versions of the Millenary.
An even bigger anniversary is being celebrated over at IWC who mark 150 years with a collection of archive curios. There will be 27 limited-edition models from the Portugieser, Portofino, Pilot’s Watches and Da Vinci collections and one extra watch, which will pay tribute to the iconic Pallweber pocket-watches with their digital hour and minute displays.
Lange are also looking back, but to the passing last year of Walter Lange, the much-loved co-founder of A. Lange & Söhne's post-cold war incarnation. The brand has produced an “1815 Homage to Walter Lange” within which is a rare complication pulled from the archives, a stoppable jumping seconds hand that dates back 150 years to an invention by Ferdinand Adolph Lange.
There will be three limited editions in yellow, rose and white gold, and a unique piece in stainless steel. But of the major brands, it’s quite possible that the headline will be grabbed by Baume & Mercier. All too often over-looked for the crime of being good value at accessible prices, Baume & Mercier are showing an in-house, five-day power reserve chronometer movement that will translate into watch retailing at £2,290 later this year. Quite some achievement.
Alongside the 18 established brands that show at the SIHH, there is space for more boutique scale operations in the Carré des Horlogers. This is extremes territory, covering everything from the purists (Ferdinand Berthoud and Laurent Ferrier), the no holds-barred (Hautlence and Romain Jerome) and the ultra-modern (Ressence and Urwerk).
One curiosity being F.P. Journe who are using the Carré des Horlogers to show the brand’s only quartz watch.
The 28th Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie is held in Geneva from 15 to 19 January 2018; sihh.org