SIHH 2018: Day One
By Nicolette Wong January 16, 2018
We give you the rundown on the year's most prominent pieces from Van Cleef & Arpels, Montblanc, Greubel Forsey, Audemars Piguet, Ulysse Nardin, and H. Moser. We bring you three things you need to know about each of the brands and their new releases in 2018.
1/5Van Cleef & Arpels
- Van Cleef & Arpels is famous for its poetic complications, and it seems shocking now to think that the brand only started producing them a scant 10 years ago. And unlike most of its watchmaking counterparts, Van Cleef & Arpels has no timeline for the completion of each watch—whether it takes one, three, seven years, or even longer, the brand makes sure to get everything just right before it is released to the press.
- The new Lady Arpels Planetarium, for example, took some four years to complete—not surprising considering that you're wearing a miniature planetarium on your wrist. Each of the planets spin on their own axis, and revolve around the sun at the same rate that the real planets revolve around the sun in the universe. And it also has a clever moonphase display—if you know how to read it, that is.
- Van Cleef & Arpels is also known for its stunning high jewellery secret watches, and this year has brought us a bumper crop. Our favourite is the Dandelion Secret Watch, which takes the form of an open bracelet. One end holds the dandelion flower, whose heart swivels open to reveal the dial, and the other end holds the ever-so-familiar dandelion ball of seeds, which uses an en tremblance mechanism to make the delicate seeds move, as if they were about to take flight in a gust of wind.
- The Montblanc Minerva manufacture in Villeret celebrates its 160th anniversary this year, and its stamp can be seen on all of this year's releases.
- It's star piece for the year, the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Limited Edition 1858, has two globes on the dial (with either one giving the view from the north and south pole) that each make a full rotation every 24 hours. It was made in tribute to the Seven Summits challenge, which involves mountaineers climbing the highest mountain in each of the 7 continents. It is recognised as the world's most difficult mountaineering challenge.
- The 1858 collection is dedicated to the spirit of exploration and mountaineering, and all of the watches in the collection go through over 500 hours of simulated wear testing to make sure that they are up to the brand's stringent standards, even if most of them will likely never see the top of a mountain.
- Greubel Forsey's watches are always mechanical marvels to behold, and this year is no exception. The GMT Earth here, for example, has a fully three-dimensional globe enrobed in the sapphire glass case. It has three timezone indications, a transparent dial, a GMT hours display, a tourbillon, and has three patents pending for the watch's mechanics.
- Given the brand's propensity for large watches, it seems somewhat surprising that it would venture into the world of nano energy technology. The Mechanical Nano is intended to reduce the amount of space and energy used to power a watch—it uses some 1800 times less energy than a conventional watch movement, which means it has a whopping 180 days of power reserve.
- The Differentiel d'Egalite watch is the brand's first to ever contain a deadbeat seconds complication. And naturally, there is a patent involved.
- 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the much-beloved Royal Oak Offshore, and the brand has apparently created over 120 different references of the 42mm watch in the preceding years.
- This year's Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph reimagines the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph. At an unprecedented 45mm, the watch and movement architecture have been completely reimagined, and makes the movement look as though it was suspended from the bezel of the watch.
- The Royal Oak is getting some love too. This year's Royal Oak RD#2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin is the thinnest self-winding perpetual calendar in the world. No mean feat considering the complexity of a perpetual calendar.
- #FreakMeOut was Ulysse Nardin's caption of the year—a tongue-in-cheek reference to the brand's Freak collection, famous for its avant garde designs and movements.
- The Freak Vision is this year's iteration of the annual Freak launch, we were particularly impressed by the new grinder automatic winding system, which is twice as efficent as regular automatic movements. It takes advantage of every slight movement of the wrist to wind the watch. The oscillating rotor is linked to a frame containing four arms, which gives the automatic system twice the torque, while a flexible guidance mechanism drastically limits friction.
- In keeping with Ulysse Nardin's grand tradition of erotic watches, the brand has created the Classic Voyeur minute repeater, which depicts two hand-engraved couples in flagrante delicto. And that's not all—the carvings are mobile automatons, who will move to the chimes of the minute repeater. We'll let you imagine that on your own. #NSFW #HotHorlogerie