VIDEO: What we learnt at SIHH 2017 - Day 2
In the watch industry the Salon International de Haute Horologerie (SIHH) is a big deal. Held every January in Geneva, this convention is put on by the timepiece brands that fall under the umbrella of the luxury goods goliath Richemont (plus a few other independents).
This year sees the 27th edition of the watch fair and its biggest one yet, so we sent our man to camp out at the show for its duration so that we can get an on-the-ground, daily round-up of FIVE things we learnt:
1. Friends in high places
The strategy of celebrity brand endorsement is commonplace within the watch world, and a trip to Geneva doesn't seem like much to ask in return for being presented with some rather lovely wrist candy. This year's SIHH pulled together a rather strong line up with IWC hosting the likes of F1 World Champion Nico Rosberg and Arsene Wenger, while Hollywood A-lister Ryan Reynolds stopped by the Piaget booth to say hello. Not to be outdone, Montblanc rolled out the red carpet for its famous friends including Hugh Jackman, Charlotte Casiraghi and Victoria’s Secret Model Joan Smalls. Elsewhere, we managed to have a quick chat with the man who will replace Jenson Button at McLaren, F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne at the Richard Mille stand.
2. Need for speed
Speaking of Montblanc, the Swiss marque's booth has been one of the busiest at this year's show, and it is not hard to see why. Not only did we see a sneak preview of the updated 1858 collection in December, but at SIHH it launched its new TimeWalker collection. Harking back to the golden days of 1960s and 1970s motor racing, the brand released several models at various price points starting with the Automatic Date (approx Dhs11,000) all the way to the limited-edition TimeWalker Chronograph 1.000 Titanium (Dhs650,000). While the collection's design points come from classic car dashboards, the dominance of oversized black DLC-coated cases give it a very contemporary feel. Powered by the calibre MB 25.03 the Chronograph UTC (approx Dhs18,000) is able to display three time zones – one with the main hands, one with the UTC hand adjusted to the main dial, and one by aligning the bezel with the UTC hand for another offset – and comes with a 46-hour power reserve.
3. The watch world DOES have a sense of humour
Sea-inspired watchmaker Uylsse Nardin is a first-timer here at SIHH and it looks to be making up on lost time. Taking the convention to announce the second phase of its Innovation strategy, the manufacture has filed for patents on 10 new mechanisms. While much of its output for 2017 is focused on some impressively skilful dial enamelling techniques, and its official watch for the America’s Cup Artemis team we particularly enjoyed the North Sea Minute Repeater and the cheeky Ulysse Nardin Hourstriker Pin-up.
4. The big boys aren't going anywhere
One of the the SIHH originals, Audemars Piguet, proved why they are such a dominant force in the haut horology world with fresh additions to its Royal Oak (our pick being the Perpetual Calendar in Black Ceramic) and Offshore (adding eye-catching bright options of white, yellow, blue and green) lines. As if any evidence was needed as to how strong the brand is performing in the Middle East, CEO Francois-Henry Bennahmias personally told us that last year was Audemars' most successful one ever in the region, playing an important part in the company's near CHF 900 million turnover for the year.
5. Space for the little guy.
After making their debut last year in the Carré des Horlogers section, the number of small independent brands at this year's SIHH has grown to include five additional independent brands - Grönefeld, MCT, Ressence, Romain Jerome, and Speake-Marin - which can only be a good thing for watch enthusiasts. Sharing a much smaller space than the establish powers tiny companies like HYT and Ressance are hoping that their groundbreaking contemporary watchmaking techniques will help them stand out from the pack.