With the change of seasons comes more than just falling leaves and colder weather; it also marks the run up to SIHH 2017, so, why not take a look at the stars of 2016?
Top Five at SIHH 2016
Below are my five favorite watches from SIHH:
IWC Mark XVIII
For once, one of the most affordable — relatively speaking, that is — releases from a brand is my favorite. In a brilliant return to form, IWC debuted the latest iteration of the venerable Mark series with the new XVIII, and between the 40mm case, single date aperture, return of the 9 and the choice of white and blue dials, in addition to black, it’s a winner by any measure. Toss in the soft-iron inner-case and, boom, you got me. I vowed to put one on my wrist, and I’m pleased to say that I made good on that promise.
Cartier blew everyone away, but not as in years past, like they did, say with an insane concept piece like their ingenious ID One. No, this time they did it with the Drive, a far simpler piece, yet every bit as ingenious. With an in-house movement and a starting price of around $6K, value is the name of the game here, and that’s exactly what you get. As with the IWC Mark XVIII, the Drive is an understated timepiece, though with the emphasis on elegance, rather than sport. With its cushion case and automotive-inspired guilloche dial, the Drive would be equally at home in a tuxedo as it would be in a pair of broken in jeans. Since I don’t own a tuxedo, the jeans will have to do
Montblanc Heritage Chronometric Chronograph Quantieme Annuel
Montblanc’s Heritage Chronometrie Chronograph Quantieme Annuel brings the popular annual calendar complication to the masses at a price that would make Patek Philippe blush; the addition of a chronograph only serves to underscore the value proposition. (There’s that word again, value…) Housed in a vintage inspired case that evokes the Minerva chronographs of old — Montblanc owns the Minerva manufacture, after all — this is a watch that would be at home on any watch collector’s wrist, regardless of income.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas
How does one update a classic? Very carefully. And that’s exactly what Vacheron Constantin did with the new Overseas. The maltese cross motif is still evident in the bezel and bracelet, but the lines have been softened somewhat, and for the first time, the Overseas — time-only and chronograph alike — comes with an entirely new in-house caliber to run the proceedings. In spite of this, the Overseas remains water-resistant — 150 meters, to be exact — and antimagnetic, as a proper luxury sport watch should. Additionally, it now features a novel quick-change system to facilitate “hot-swapping” the bracelet for a leather or rubber strap, both of which are included. Can a nearly $30K watch also be a terrific value? Yes, it can.
A Lange & Sohne
Lange & Sohne wowed the crowd in 2016, though to be honest, this has become somewhat routine for them. The star of their booth was the dazzling Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon, which combines a column-wheel chronograph and a perpetual calendar with a tourbillon escapment. As with all Langes, the case and movement finishing are a step beyond superlative, with every component lovingly hand-finished to perfection. Mind you, with a list price approaching $300K, this is to be expected. Oh, and needless to say they’re already sold out, and no, I won’t be one of the lucky looks who’s putting one on his wrist.
One of the common threads that wound throughout SIHH 2016 was value, and given the current economic climate, it’s hard to see that changing in 2017. Will we see a repeat of the sombre mood of 2016, or will the brands come out swinging? Hard to say, but the watch industry has faced existential threats to its existence before and been stronger for it.