Photo: James Bassil
New year, new watches.The first big watch show of 2013 is happening in Geneva: the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie.
The SIHH is organised and hosted by Richemont, the company that owns such watch brands as Baume & Mercier, IWC, A. Lange & Sohne and Jaeger-LeCoultre, and serves as the launchpad for its new model releases.
As guests of Richemont, we’re at SIHH to do some scouting on your behalf. If you’re planning on making a watch investment in 2013, you can start your window shopping right here with this SIHH gallery (we’ll also be publishing a second one tomorrow).
We say “window shopping” because we know that part of the pleasure of the watch hunt consists in just that: staring at models that are way out of most of our financial reaches but still pretty to look at. These models also indicate emerging watch trends in terms of design and functionality.
But we won’t totally get you lost in fantasy land, as we’ve included the new entry-level models for all the brands that offer them. In fact, let’s start with one of the most accessible watches at the show: Baume & Mercier’s Clifton.
We featured the Clifton on AskMen a few weeks ago when Baume first released some pics. Trying it on at SIHH reinforced our good first impression.
We've seen a number of 'heritage models' over the past few years (the Longines Silver Arrow being the most popular), but we believe that this new throwback from Baume offers the best value for dollar. It's based on a 1950's model and features a double-bevel design that makes it appear much thinner than it is. You'll be able to buy it in April for around $2,700.
Here's the same model with a black face. The case size for this starter Clifton is 41 mm; on the rose gold version, it's 39 mm (though it also costs twice the price).
Montblanc made a splash at SIHH last year--in fact, both Timothy Barber and Frank Geelen named Montblanc models as their favourites at the show.
This year, the company has come back with a couple of new watches that are less complicated but more affordable. Pictured here is the TimeWalker Voyager UTC, which will be available in September for $3,835.
The Star Collection is an entirely new model line from Montblanc and much more elegant than what we're used to seeing from them. The steel version pictured here is 42 mm with a moon phase and a month and date display, and will be priced at under $5,000.
The rose-gold version of the Montblanc Star will cost considerably more: around $17,000.
That last considerable price tag is dwarfed by this one: the $160,000 marine-themed Nautique.
This is a 2012 model, but we wanted to show it to you just because of the emergency power reserve on its inside. This is a patented Montblanc complication that gives the wearer an additional 10 hours of watch-running power on top of the Nautique's base 55-hour power reserve. Which could prove useful in case you get stranded at sea while wearing your $160,000 watch.
OK, let's try to get grounded again. Jaeger LeCoultre's watches are certainly not cheap, but they offer amazing value.
This year's update of the Ultra Thin 41 model brings together a highly-respected brand, an in-house movement and ultra-elegant design for around $9,000.
A few steps up from the Ultra Thin 41 is the Master Ultra Thin Jubilee, one of three limited-edition models that Jaeger is releasing in 2013 to commemorate its 180th birthday.
This heritage model was inspired by the company's 1907 'Knife' pocket watch model, which was the world's thinnest. At just over 4 mm, the Ultra Thin Jubilee is also pretty skinny. But what struck us most was that beautiful blue strap--one of many colourful ones we're seeing at SIHH this year.
The 'Tribute To 1931' Reverso was the big hit of SIHH 2011. For 2013, Jaeger has come up with another tribute model; this homage to the Reverso Duo line has a black face on one side and a white one on the other.
Here's another watch-strap highlight from SIHH. This one looks like the fabric you'd typically find attached to a dive watch but is, in fact, a specially stamped leather. Yup, water-resistant leather.
And another colourful strap, this time attached to a Van Cleef & Arpels watch. The model here is the PA49, an update of a model designed by Pierre Arpels (the company founder's son) in 1949.
In his roundup of last year's SIHH, Timothy Barber noted the impact the emerging Asian market was having on luxury watch design. You can definitely see it at work here. The dragon is carved out of gold mother of pearl, and it's in part due to that detail that this watch is priced at $141,000. If you can consider that beyond window shopping, you likely own some kind of Chinese utility company.
You've likely noticed that in this gallery we've moved up progressively in both price and complication. We're going to wrap it up with some really crazy models from Richard Mille.
Pictured here is the RM 27-01, an update of the model that Rafael Nadal wore while winning the French Open last year. Rather than being fixed to the case, this watch's movement is suspended on four little cables. The idea was to reduce weight wherever possible, and the result is the world's lightest mechanical watch. The RM 27-01 only weighs 19 grams.
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini went into partnership with Richard Mille in 2011, and now he's been rewarded with his own custom model. This chronograph has been designed to track very specific time frames: the two 45-minute halves of a soccer match, as well as extra time.
This last watch was designed by Richard Mille for his buddy Jean Todt, a former rally driver and the current president of the FIA. The RM 36 tracks g-forces mechanically; it can tell you when you are hitting up to 8 gs -- though you'll likely be unconscious by then. The watch's price tag of $490,000 is also likely to render you unconscious.
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