For the last few years, the luxury watch industry has witnessed the resurgence of vintage-inspired watches and more affordable timepieces. However, at this year’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève (SIHH), the impressive selection of technologically advanced offerings suggest that the appetite for innovation – and the high prices it commands – has not disappeared completely.
One of the most talked-about watches at SIHH 2018 comes from Piaget. The company publicly unveiled the flattest mechanical wristwatch ever made: the Altiplano Ultimate Concept Watch, which is just 2 millimetres thick.
Van Cleef & Arpels’ Lady Arpels Planetarium shows the actual positions of Earth, Mercury and Venus around the sun, and the position of the moon around the Earth.
Audemars Piguet also introduced a slim new model: Royal Oak RD#2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin. The self-winding watch comes equipped with a perpetual calendar and a 2.89-millimeter movement.
Slightly thicker is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak RD#2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin, which has a 2.89-millimeter movement.
Both watches are concept pieces and not available commercially – at least for now. But German watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne has displayed two notable complicated watches that are available for purchase.
A. Lange & Söhne’s 1815 Homage to Walter Lange was produced in honour of the company’s founder, who passed away last year.
Piaget‘s Altiplano Ultimate Concept Watch purports to be the thinnest mechanical wristwatch of all time.
At 2 millimetres thick, Piaget’s Altiplano Ultimate Concept Watch purports to be the thinnest mechanical wristwatch of all time.
One, the 47,000-euro ($57,550) 1815 Homage to Walter Lange, was produced in honour of the company’s founder, who passed away last year. Its second-hand jumps once per second, and, because it can be stopped and reset to the zero position, can also be used as a timer.
At a higher price point is the A. Lange & Söhne $147,000 Triple Split, a watch with a simple name but a lot of parts – 567 in the movement, to be precise. This is a type of watch known as a split-seconds chronograph, which lets you time two events simultaneously. Most split-seconds chronographs can only “split” times less than a minute apart, but the Triple Split can do so over seconds, minutes and hours.
A. Lange & Söhne’s $147,000 Triple Split has 567 pieces in its movement.
Among the most visually stunning watches on display at SIHH is Van Cleef & Arpels‘ Lady Arpels Planetarium. The $245,000 watch puts the planets of the inner solar system on your wrist, showing the actual positions of Earth, Mercury and Venus around the sun, and the position of the moon around the Earth. The time is displayed by way of a comet that moves around the dial once per day.
Continuing the out-of-this-world theme, Officine Panerai debuted the highly complex L’Astronomo Luminor 1950 Tourbillon Moon Phases Equation of Time GMT. It’s the company’s first watch with a moon phase complication.
But this year’s SIHH has also shown that small independent brands are often willing to take bigger risks than their larger rivals.
Greubel Forsey, who specializes in exotic complicated timepieces with elaborate hand-finishing, displayed the new GMT Earth world-time watch, which features a miniature globe rotating inside the mechanism. It’s more a wearable art object than a watch and, at around 610,000 Swiss francs ($635,760), is priced as such.
Greubel Forsey’s new GMT Earth world-time watch features a miniature globe rotating inside the mechanism.
Catering to more understated tastes, independent Belgian brand Ressence has unveiled it’s Type 2 e-Crown Concept. The watch, which was created with iPod co-designer Tony Fadell, contains a solar-cell chargeable electric motor and connects to an app that can automatically set the time or change the time zone.
Ressence’s Type 2 e-Crown Concept was created with Tony Fadell, one of the designers behind the original iPod
These models are all notable departure from the classic watches that have been in style recently. But watch enthusiasts of any taste and budget can appreciate the inventiveness the industry’s watchmakers and designers still have to offer.