The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) is one of the watch industry’s biggest events—and typically the first on the calendar each year. Organized by Geneva-based luxury conglomerate Richemont, it is a showcase to release the annual collections of that company’s premier watch and jewelry brands, such as Jaeger-LeCoultre, Cartier and Vacheron Constantin, as well as some independent watchmakers. These timepieces from the 2017 show, which ended on January 20, embody distinctive trends for this year’s watch connoisseurs.
The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 was definitely the star of the show. Developed over five years, the watch has three weeks of power reserve, so if you just keep it wound, you can read the time in three ways: civil, solar and sidereal, which is time based on the earth’s rotation in relation to the stars, not the sun. Of course, the watch does much, much more, with 23 complications built into a 514-piece tourbillon movement. No official price was given, but the estimate is, well, astronomical. (Approximately $1 million) vacheron-constantin.com
At Cartier, master watchmaker Carole Forestier-Kasapi continues to create ever-more captivating, complicated timepieces. The Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Axis Tourbillon is a great example: a watch that hides its complicated nature within its stunning aesthetic. Limited to 50 pieces globally, this 45mm titanium timepiece also earned Geneva Seal—a prestigious certification. ($449,400) cartier.com
Value is an important buzzword for the watch industry, and companies are committed to making sure that their watches are worth the money. Ulysse Nardin introduced its Marine Tourbillon at SIHH, with a price tag of just $27,900—an incredible price for a tourbillon, a complication most people consider the height of fine watchmaking. Last year, TAG Heuer received some flack from the industry for unveiling a $15,000 tourbillon—also deemed too cheap for such a complication—but perhaps a trend has been established. ($27,900) ulysse-nardin.com
On the other end of the spectrum, Montblanc introduced bronze pieces for the first time in its 1858 Heritage Collection. These new watches take their inspiration from 1930s pilot chronographs by Minerva—the storied Swiss watchmaker that is now part of Montblanc. The company has reinterpreted these timepieces while incorporating distinct design cues such as a vintage Montblanc logo, as seen on The 1858 Automatic pictured here in two-tone bronze and steel. ($3,475) montblanc.com
Piaget has been making superb watches for many decades, and this year the brand is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its standard bearer, the Altiplano. Available in bold colors (red, green, blue and black), the anniversary Altiplano reinforces the importance of this model for Piaget and reminds us why it’s vital to have at least one elegant watch in our collection. (38mm hand wound, $17,900; 43mm automatic, $23,900) piaget.com
Jaeger LeCoultre introduced a wide variety of Rendez-Vous timepieces—its ladies’ watch—this year, but the most interesting was the Sonatina version, seen here in white gold with a purple dial. This beautiful piece features a star that can be moved around the dial. When the time reaches the star, a single hammer strike chimes to remind the wearer of an appointment or a special moment of the day. (white gold and purple dial, $40,000; also available in pink gold, $28,000) jaeger-lecoultre.com
Last but not least is my favorite watch of the show: the Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Papillon Automate. This beautiful work of art, part of the brand’s line of Poetic Complications, features a butterfly that flaps its wings at irregular intervals, depending on the state of wind of the watch. It is unlike anything I have ever seen. After I took a very close look, I put it down and the butterfly’s wings moved randomly. This is a watch that surprises and delights. (Approximately $278,000) vancleef.com