6 Of SIHH 2016’s Best Watches

When it comes to fine watchmaking, change is a bit of a dirty word. Steeped in tradition, Swiss luxury watchmakers take pride in dwelling in the mechanical age, revelling Gollum-like in the masterful engineering of their impossibly ornate, exorbitantly expensive timepieces that usually can’t – despite their conspicuous extravagance – tell the time as accurately as your smartphone. But times change. And at this year’s 26th annual Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), there was plenty of it – from dramatically reduced prices (Greubel Forsey) to an expanded roster that saw smaller, boutique watchmakers (the likes of Laurent Ferrier, H. Moser & Cie, and Urwerk) join Richemont-owned behemoths IWC, Jaeger LeCoultre and Panerai at Geneva’s Palexpo complex. At its core, though, SIHH is still what it’s always been about: dizzying feats of craftsmanship, and even more dizzying price tags. These are the watches we wanted to take home.

Parmigiani

Tonda Chronor Anniversaire (Rose Gold/Blue)

One for movement obsessives, Parmigiani’s new-for-2016 Chronor Anniversaire debuts the calibre PF361: the brand’s entirely in-house-made and wholly integrated split-seconds chronograph movement that’s been, oh, just 20 years in the making. While most watchmakers rely on chronograph modules fitted to base calibres, Parmigiani’s 20th anniversary limited edition offering boasts a non-modular single movement system with the chronograph, regulation system and gear train all wrapped up in one beautifully presented package. Plus, it’s made entirely from rose gold, which – as watch enthusiasts will know – is seriously difficult to work with, sticking to tools and deforming far more easily than steel. It’s a true labour of love. And yours for just $135,000 (about £95k).

Parmigiani Tonda Chronor Anniversaire Rose Gold

Parmigiani Tonda Chronor Anniversaire Rose Gold

Greubel Forsey

Signature 1

2015 was a tough year for Switzerland’s haute horological houses. Hit by both a diminishing brand presence in key Asian markets and the surging Swiss franc, it quickly became clear the wave that many of luxury watches’ key players were riding had broken. So at this year’s SIHH, super high-end watchmaker Greubel Forsey responded by slashing its prices, offering up this, the Signature 1, for a practically bargainous 150,000 CHF (approx. £104k). It might not seem like a snip – but it is, not only when compared to the brand’s previous entry-level options priced at $325,000 (£228k), but also considering Greubel Forsey’s industry-leading reputation for quality materials and a peerless finish.

Greubel Forsey Signature 1

Greubel Forsey Signature 1

A. Lange & Söhne

Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon

Although this year saw some watchmakers ditch tourbillons altogether (see the Signature 1 above), German label Lange put it front and centre in its Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon, a new update on the Datograph Perpetual that makes good on the manufacturers freshly unveiled slogan, ‘Never stand still’. Well, it puts it front and centre in name at least. The tourbillon itself is actually only visible through the caseback of the watch, meaning you’re probably the only one aware that it’s located on the reverse of the fairly sober black dial and platinum case, behind 12 o’clock, and contained within a very handsome filigreed cage. Perfect if you’re a crazy contrast lining kind of guy.

A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon

A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon

Urwerk

Geneve EMC Time Hunter

If, however, you’re the kind of man who likes to wear his exhibitionist streak on his sleeve, then Urwerk has just the show pony you’re looking for. Although positively subdued in comparison to some of the Swiss brand’s more outlandish offerings, the EMC Time Hunter still packs a military-inspired punch. In keeping with its techy aesthetic, the Time Hunter features a part-mechanical, part-electronic movement and comes equipped with a complication that allows you to monitor its precision and manually adjust its timekeeping using a small screw on its caseback. Which is pretty useful if you’re not satisfied with a bespectacled watchmaker having the only say in how your watch ticks.

Urwerk Geneve EMC Time Hunter

Urwerk Geneve EMC Time Hunter

Audemars Piguet

Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie

You’d be forgiven for mistaking Audemars Piguet for fresh blood on the fine watchmaking scene. But, despite the Supersonnerie’s sleekly modern aesthetic, its manufacturer is actually pushing 130-odd years of age. That doesn’t mean it can’t keep up, though. This Minutae Repeater – aside from looking like something from the future with its eight-sided bezel and titanium case – chimes audibly on the hour, half-hour, quarter-hour and minutes past the quarter-hour on demand – i.e. whenever you want to hear it, as opposed to a grandfather clock’s passive chiming. Considering you’ll have to shell out over half a million dollars to bag one, this is a definite plus, as you’ll want it to call attention to itself. Again. And again. And again.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie

Panerai

Radiomir 1940 3 Days Automatic Acciaio PAM655

Can’t bear to put another of your private islands on the market? No matter, Panerai’s latest Radiomir promises to be much kinder to your pocket than its listmates. Offered for what is, relatively speaking, pocket change ($10,000), this elegant model marks Panerai’s first white-dial Radiomir 1940. Along with its classically masculine aesthetic, one of the main draws of this mechanical watch is its eponymous 3-day feature – i.e. three full days of power reserve thanks to its double, series-coupled barrels – meaning you can leave it unworn for 72 hours without worrying that it’ll literally lose track of time.

Panerai Radiomir 1940 3 Days Automatic Acciaio PAM655

Panerai Radiomir 1940 3 Days Automatic Acciaio PAM655

Final Word

Which of these painstakingly crafted timepieces would you spend your lotto win on? And which watch complication would you crown king? Let us know by commenting below.

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