SIHH 2015: Attendance at the annual Geneva watch fair usually hits its stride on day two, but this year seems to be an exception; compared to recent years there’s not quite the same hustle-bustle or energy.
Whether it’s the Chinese market being flat, the Swiss franc going mad, or political or economic static all-over, the product itself, the new watch releases, are having to work hard to generate excitement.
Parmigiani’s informal affair showcased fresh and refined Tonda models, and a brace of extravagantly styled – and priced – Bugatti watches, and a series of lavishly retro clocks, possibly suggesting a longing for more languid times. To a one, these were luxurious timepieces, exquisitely crafted, and understandably expensive. No problem there; Parmigiani knows it’s target market well, and it’s one that’s somewhat insulated from troubling times.
Likewise Lange & Sohne, the revived and revered Glashutte manufacture that’s found Patek-like favour with connoisseurs the world over. Here it was mostly a matter of refreshing things – a new movement for the 20-year-old Lange 1, a new dial design and smaller cases for the Saxonia – before we got to the main event, an impressive Zeitwerk Minute Repeater with digital/decimal time indication. It boasted impressive numbers: 771 parts, 6 patents, and a price hovering around $600,000 plus at current exchange rates.
Montblanc’s strategy couldn’t be more different, and can summed up as ‘sharing the passion for fine watchmaking – at a price most can afford.’
Their success in executing this thrust is sending a shiver through sister brands in the Richemont stable, with one confiding that they’ve gone so far as to analyse how Montblanc manage to do what they’re doing for the price.
That’s surely good news for the purchaser, with models in a new Heritage Chronometrie collection including a limited edition annual calendar in steel for around $10,000, a full calendar for around $6500, and a dual time model for around for $6000.
These were bookended by a Tourbillon Cylindrique Vasco de Gama, with spheres indicating the time in Northern and Southern hemispheres, yours for several hundred thousand dollars, and Timewalker Urban Speed models with Nato ‘e-straps’ that transmit information from your mobile phone. At these extremes the brands looked less secure; it’s the middle ground Montblanc seems to be reading crisply.
Day two wrapped up with an energetic presentation from Roger Dubuis. If you’ve never heard of them that could be because the brand is new to Australia. It’s the Nigel Kennedy of watches – highly accomplished, rebellious, and revelling in it.
Concentrating on skeletonised timepieces that visually eliminate everything except extravagance, their 2015 slate including daring pieces for men and women – all carrying the hard-won Geneva seal (of quality) not to mention prices ranging from around $75,000 to stratospheric levels. No one could accuse Dubuis of being safe.
Rather than seem extravagant, its brand of pizzaz was just what the fair needed at the half-way point, if only to remind us that dressing the wrist should above all, be fun.
More from SIHH 2015 on the morrow…
Bani McSpedden is in Geneva for the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). See all the latest images here. You can also follow Bani on Instagram, or like the watch-next facebook page to keep up to date.