This year I attended SIHH in Geneva for the first time. It was a crazy week and I needed some distance to it before I could write about it. Being a noob in that environment is hard. What to do, were to go, who to talk to - that was my questions before I left my safe office. Thanks to a couple of hardened friends I figured out I had to be everywhere, do everything and talk to as many people as I could. And I did.
For those of you who have not been there, SIHH is a watch fair were brands unveil their novelties for the year. Dealers, journalists and VIPs join in on the fun for the whole week. I was invited by Richemont and went there as a journalist. Before I left I had a wish to see brands and watches that I have never seen or rarely see in Norway. Brands like Audemars Piguet, Kari Voutilinen, HYT, MB & F, Ulysse Nardin, Greubel Forsey, and many more, does not have a Norwegian dealer and is hard to find and study in the flesh here. The SIHH fair is also an opportunity to see and experience rare watches that I will probably never see again, like the new L'ASTRONOMO by Panerai.
Here is my list of what to remember if you decide to go to SIHH (based on hard learned experience):
- Learn the 3 kiss greeting - you may find a norwegian hug cozy, but it is very inappropriate.
- Hang with a young crowd - they will often say "whaaat....you don't look forty!" - It's really amazing.
- Go to Vacheron Constantin for morning coffee. They have the best barista and coffee in the building.
- Dress nice. Remember that it is only Kristian Haagen that is allowed to wear beat up cargo pants. He's earned it, you haven't.
- Not everyone understand Scandinavian humour, and don't use irony. Ever.
- Never take off your shoes in public after a long day in the Expo hall.
- Most important. Never drop a 1 mill EUR watch on the floor - It went well, not a scratch to the watch, but I thought for a second the lady would have a heart attack. I guess I will be banned from ever going to SIHH again.
So that's it. Learn from a noob.
The rest will be a picture heavy feature. I always intend to give you good quality shots of watches. So it may take some time to load page.
Best of SIHH 2018
SIHH is also an overwhelming sensory experience. All the brands represent themselves with luxurious stands showcasing their watches and novelties.
From the second I entered the massive expo hall I was like a kid in a candy store. Design, artwork, food, drinks, loud music and watches just kept coming at me. Non-stop. So much fun!
Some brands had more interesting novelties than others, and I will try to give you my honest opinion on the best ones. Bare in mind that I like a classic look but I am also weak for modern madness. You'll seewhen I expose my favorite novelty at the end of this post.
If you followed the releases this year you may ask why Panerai is on my best of list. And you are absolutely right. They did not release anything very exciting this year. But what they did was to renew their whole base model lineup. What that means is that they decided to spend SIHH this year scrapping ebauche movements and introducing in-house movements on all their watches. I am all for that!
Also exciting is that they introduced 38 mm Luminor Due. For a smaller wrist as they say themselves in their presskit. In Scandinavia that is a synonym for ladies. I will finally consider getting a Panerai for my wife.
Celebrating a 150th anniversary is not something you forget in the watchindustry. And IWC did not either. I had pretty high hopes for this year and I must say that I was a little disappointed at the beginning of the week. Their release was not what I had hoped for. But then I had the opportunity to spend almost an hour fondling their novelties. By the end of that hour I was sold.
What IWC did this year was to introduce lacquered dials on a wide range of their models. Pilots, Portuguese, Portofino, and Da Vinci will be seen in 12 layers of white or blue lacquer. And the new references inspired by the Pallweber pocket watches.
The Pallweber in red gold.
And the new perpetual calendar with the lacquer dial.
The beautiful Annual Calendar Pilots watch.
I guess no one could really miss the Polaris release this year. In the norwegian community it certainly stirred up the interest for Jaeger LeCoultre. I have always been a fan of vintage inspired watches, but lately there have just been too many. And as rumors started going about the Polaris being reintroduced a few days before the official release I was sceptical.
Jaeger LeCoultre nailed it! What a beauty. And about time they celebrated this iconic diver.
And the good looking golden chronograph
A. Lange & Söhne
While everyone was talking about the new and groundbreaking triple split I set my eyes on a classic beauty. First I want to say that I cannot be objective when it comes to A. Lange & Söhne. I love what they are trying to do. Making classic after classic and always with an eye for developing new and complicated movements. Always true to their design language and philosophy. You may call them conservative, but I find them to be nothing but uncompromising.
Well, the new Saxonia Moon Phase is nothing but beautiful. It comes in both white and pink gold.
Another personal favourite was the new 1815 chronograph. I have said it many times. I love that watch.
And I have to have the triple split in here. Front may look unsuspicious at first glance but the back reveals a complicated watch. Exactly what I am talking about. Design is classic, complication is groundbreaking.
I have to say that I knew nothing about this brand before SIHH. Nothing.
Of course I had seen pictures and had heard about the brand, but I had never touched one, and I had never really buried myself in the details.
I found the Laureato Ceramic Skeleton to be very interesting. The Laureato is a classic GP design, but in the all black ceramic dress and light as a feather it was a nice acquaintance.
Already trapped in their own Royal Oak they did not release anything but this year. Not of importance anyway. I have no idea what happened to the rest of the references from this respected manufacture.
Still they continue to develop this line of watches with new technical achievements every year.
As with many of the other brands rumors started going in the days before SIHH and pictures of the novelties were revealed. I was once again sceptical before I had my appointment with AP.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Royal Oak Offshore. Even though I liked the reedition of the 1993 model of the Offshore my heart skipped a beat when I saw the new case and bezel on the Tourbillon Chronograph. Audemars Piguet is one of the houses that bring us contemporary design features and they are constantly reinterpreting their classic Royal Oak. Watch nerds find this irritating, but I find it refreshing. At least for Audemars Piguet. This has been a strategic direction for them with the Royal Oak for the last few decades. And I like their Rock'n Roll attitude towards their heritage.
I guess similar stunts for the Patek Philippe Nautilus would be heavily frowned upon, even by me.
The Offshore Chronograph in camo colors was interesting in the flesh.
And of course the RD2 - the 6.3 mm thick perpetual calendar.
To finish off with my choice for Best in Show 2018 - the introduction of a new line from Vacheron Constantin - Fiftysix.
Inspired by the ref.6073 from 1956 (of course) they now offer a 40 mm rounded case and almost sector like dials on this new lineup. This was really a much needed facelift to their Quai de l'ile models. I never could swallow that case. In my opinion they now have a much more elegant watch with the elegance I expect from the maison.
Here is the Complete Calendar in pink gold.
And the Day Date in steel.