SIHH: time eschews excess

The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in January is the launchpad for the trends that will define the horological year. The latest and 25th edition marked the return of classicism and sobriety as brands extolled the virtues of moderation and self-restraint.

In a tense context to say the least, following the Swiss National Bank’s surprise decision to no longer peg national currency against the euro – a major handicap for the country’s exports – trends emerging in Breitling replica watches for sale the coming year, for which the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) is always a bellwether, became a reflection of the market overall. Exhibitors put on a show of restraint, favouring trusted designs, such as the Portugieser at IWC, classic styles in the vein of the Classima at Baume & Mercier, or references such as the Tonda 1950 at Parmigiani.

Except at the very high end of their ranges, brands were clearly concerned with trimming off any excess, preferring to channel their creativity into suitably sober designs that are far removed from the extravagant forms and functions that dominated the previous decade. While women were firmly in the spotlight, the creations they inspired, not least at Van Cleef & Arpels and at Audemars Piguet, were infinitely more subdued.

Continuity of style

Globally speaking, indications so far suggest that 2015 is following on from 2014, which let it be remembered ended on a 2% rise in Swiss replica watches exports. Trends in metals reveal that yellow gold has lost points in favour of white gold, rose gold and platinum, while intriguing new alloys are thin on the ground, Panerai’s Carbotech being the exception. Round cases sweep the board with the one noticeable distinction of cushion shapes, which Vacheron chose for its new Harmony collection. Launched to mark the company’s 260th anniversary, it makes its debut with seven chronographs.

Another departure from the rule, La Clé de Cartier sits a round dial inside an unusual short tonneau case. Feminine in design, it targets men. Masculine in mechanics, with its 1847 NC calibre, it appeals to women with a rectangular crown that operates much like a handbag clasp. Downsizing proved to be another overarching theme. The pizza-sized cheap Breitling replica watches of the past have given way to more wearable dimensions, with diameters slimming down to 42mm for men, and sometimes less: the Saxonia Dual Time from A. Lange & Söhne measures 38.5mm while Jaeger-LeCoultre‘s Master Calendar is only marginally larger at 39mm.

Just as watches shed vital millimetres, they also kept a low profile in terms of case and movement height, with ultra-thin now calling the shots. Piaget has consistently defended its status as the master of slim, considered a synonym of elegance in replica Breitling watchmaking. This year it introduced a chronograph to its Altiplano range which sets a double world record for thinness. The Grande Complication de Cartier and the Harmony Grande Complication from Vacheron Constantin pursue similar goals. Skeletonwork is another trend that began in 2014 and is making even more of an impact this year. Skeleton movements are becoming an art in themselves, and a wonderful example of sobriety achieved through a technical tour de force. Recognisable for their long, straight lines, with blackened star shapes sometimes replacing the traditional arabesques, skeletons have become a favourite means of expression, evidenced at Cartier (Crash), Parmigiani (Tonda 1950), Piaget (Emperador Cushion), Ralph Lauren (Automotive Skeleton), Richard Mille (RM51-02) and Roger Dubuis (Excalibur).

Reaching for the stars

Turning to the year’s complications, there was a new flurry of astronomical functions which once again matched cosmic poetry with mechanical complexity. Celestial indications were the theme for Jaeger-LeCoultre this year, as well as for Montblanc whose Heritage Chronométrie collection pays tribute to the navigator Vasco da Gama. Minute repeaters also chimed in, with noteworthy offerings from A. Lange & Söhne (Zeitwerk Minute Repeater), Audemars Piguet (Royal Oak RD#1, a concept new Breitling replica watches that was eight years in development) and Jaeger-LeCoultre (Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication). The latter two demonstrate a rarely achieved quality of sound, and have several patents to their name. The Lange also boasts patents for the innovative pusher system that triggers the striking mechanism, with the additional safety guard that the chimes cannot be operated if the remaining power reserve is insufficient.

The métiers d’art proved as exquisite and in some cases spectacular as ever. Carter revived the art of filigree; Vacheron Constantin dazzled with entirely hand-engraved movements in its Métiers d’Art Mécanique Gravée collection while Van Cleef & Arpels delighted with its Charms Extraordinaire. Special mention must also go to the Radiomir Firenze whose case is hand-engraved using the traditional bulino technique, and to the Excalibur Spider at Roger Dubuis, the first watch ever to set diamonds in rubber, on the bezel. Even so, the more subdued mood that prevailed at this year’s SIHH could be felt in the tendency to “hold back” on artistic embellishments, a trend echoed in the distinct efforts made by brands such as Montblanc and Baume & Mercier to propose more accessible entry-level ranges.

Lastly, two watches at opposite ends of the horological spectrum: the Time Walker e-Strap from Montblanc, an automatic watch on a connected strap, making it the first smartwatch to show at SIHH, and the RM 19-02 by Richard Mille, the brand’s first automata best Breitling replica watches in the form of petals that open to reveal the tourbillon every five minutes or on demand. Between these two extremes lies a world in itself: that of fine watchmaking.

SIHH: women and diamonds first in line

In French, the terms “grande complication”, “technical prowess”, “ambition”, “excellence” and the “new watchmaking year” are all feminine. And as the SIHH comes to a close, it is clear that 2015 will be all about women.

Is it not a sign of great progress for a woman to be able to give a man the time while extracting a jaw-dropping “wow!!” from him as he marvels at the mechanical beauty on her wrist? Or to have a conversation with him, as equals, about the mainspring, the barrel, or even the sinks—no, not the kitchen kind—equipping the movement of her Breitling replica watches sale? Such progress is being driven by watchmakers who are ready to swap the usual equation of “quartz + mother-of-pearl + diamonds = woman’s watch” for chic, high-tech alternatives. And as is customary, Richard Mille is leading the pack with a strong and bold timepiece: the barrel-shaped RM 19-02 Tourbillon Fleur. Five hand-crafted, hand-painted petals of a magnolia blossom delicately enclose a flying tourbillon developed by Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi. An automaton ushers the flower guarding the tourbillon carriage to open and close every five minutes, and can be manually activated on demand by a push-piece at 9 o’Clock. The coordination between the five levers linked to the tourbillon is one of the most striking features to blossom thus far in 2015. At Roger Dubuis, meanwhile, the forest of Brocéliande is the underlying theme of a poetic trilogy showcasing ivy leaves. Offering a feminine version of the skeleton  fake Breitling watches, the Excalibur Brocéliande required close collaboration between two very different professions: watchmaking and jewelry. Released in a limited edition of 28 timepieces and set with approximately 3.44 carats, it combines a world dedicated entirely to precious stones with expertise that demands precision to 1/100th of a micron. You might think of it as a real mix of genres. You’d be wrong. The temptation to marry diamonds with beautiful mechanics is an essential part of these new codes. Of course women want to wear jewelry creations. But they also prefer models that men wouldn’t refuse—or rather, models that put them on a par with their male counterparts.

The impact of women on turnover

Ever the good students, watchmakers have figured it out: factoring in women means increasing market share. Jaeger-LeCoultre places women on a pedestal with its Rendez-Vous Moon watch equipped with a moon-phase complication. The poetic charm of the moon is heightened by a dial that depicts the night sky calibrated to remain accurate for 972 years! Vacheron Constantin is celebrating its 260th anniversary in style with an elegant and feminine interpretation of a watchmaking complication: a new dual push-piece chronograph in its Harmony collection powered by the manually wound 1142 caliber. Released as a limited edition of 260 numbered timepieces, the best Breitling replica watches uk features a graceful gem-set bezel offering 1.20 carats of splendor. The icing on the cake is the prestigious Geneva Seal stamped on the chronograph’s movement. At Audemars Piguet, women take center stage with the Millenary watch and its inverted movement; even if this model is somewhat eclipsed by its sister, the Diamond Punk, with its scintillating diamond-studded cuff bracelet.

And this list would not be complete without a mention of Cartier and its “vibrant” Ballon Bleu. Three patents and five years of development were required to perfect this revolutionary new gem-set model whose diamonds seem to shimmer and glow. It was one of the greatest sensations at this year’s SIHH. Each of its 123 stones is mounted on a microscopic spring, which moves at the slightest tremble. The Breitling replica watches for uk sale is equipped with an ultra-thin 430 MC movement, a best-kept secret amongst women in the know who recognize fine craftsmanship when they see it. So welcome to the club, as it were.

Creative inspiration

An anniversary, whether of a brand or one of its watches, is always a noteworthy event, as is the launch of a new collection. For the Maisons in question, they are an outlet for creativity… for those that dare, at least. A look at some of the new offerings unveiled at the 2015 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie.

As Alexandre Peraldi, head of design at Baume & Mercier, explains, “Breitling replica watches brands have made a more subdued start to 2015. Not so much with regard to movements, which are still subject to new developments, but definitely in terms of design and outward appearance. After the vintage years, we’re seeing a return to classic styles.” Proving the point, this year Baume & Mercier is putting the aptly named Classima, a 1996 model, back centre-stage in versions for men and women. But as cheap Breitling replica watches designer Eric Giroud notes, this return to more sober lines isn’t preventing brands from proposing numerous additions to their ranges, anniversary models, even entire new collections. “Even in today’s more turbulent environment, and while this may be what customers expect, brands aren’t afraid to venture into riskier terrain and with one objective in mind: creativity.”

From past to present

Classicism and creativity make a fitting description for the direction taken by Vacheron Constantin, which marked the 260th anniversary of its founding by unveiling the first seven styles in its Harmony collection. “Issued in limited editions, these eminently contemporary timepieces feature a new cushion shape and a design inspired by one of the brand’s first wristwatch chronographs, introduced in 1928. At the heart of these generous cases with their reinvented aesthetic beat new calibres, entirely designed, developed and produced in-house, focused on monopusher chronographs.” Cartier is another brand accustomed to presenting landmark collections, Ballon Bleu being the latest to date (introduced in 2007). It also stepped up with a new offering. Sporting understated but no less sculpted lines, a gently curved back and the signature features of a Cartier dial, the new Clé de replica Cartier watches – which takes its name from its crown (clé is French for key) – is driven by the new 1847 calibre. Named in reference to the year Cartier was established, this new movement anchors the brand even more firmly in fine watch territory.

As if this weren’t enough, a third collection made its debut at the 2015 SIHH when Montblanc unveiled its Heritage Chronométrie watches. This particular incursion into history sees the brand set sail with Vasco da Gama as he leads a small fleet on a voyage towards the coast of India, in 1497. “Vasco da Gama’s pioneering spirit and skilful navigation inspired Montblanc to create a new replica Breitling watches collection which connects the Portuguese Explorer’s obsession with precision and the roots of fine watchmaking. Precision, which has always been the paramount goal of watchmaking, has become synonymous with the French word chronométrie, i.e. highly accurate time measurement. This heritage of fine watchmaking provided the name for the new Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie collection.”

As time goes by

As well as new collections, this year’s SIHH produced an equally rich crop of anniversary watches. One important jubilee in 2015 is that of Roger Dubuis, which celebrates its twenty-year existence with the Hommage Minute Repeater Tourbillon Automatic. However, the brand instead chose to train the spotlight on its Excalibur Skeleton collection, with a single tourbillon and a double tourbillon joining an automatic hours and minutes model, so as to make its mechanical difference clear. This was matched by the world’s first ever rubber bezel to be set with diamonds. “Our skeleton replica Breitling watches with their powerful architecture stand in a class of their own,” comments creative director Alvaro Maggini. “This year we have extended the skeleton theme to the Excalibur line, which has iconic stature. This has given products that are perfectly representative of Roger Dubuis’ enigmatic and determined soul.”

A number of other Maisons are celebrating a milestone in their history this year. For IWC, this means 75 years since the launch of the Portugieser line. A. Lange & Söhne put the accent on the Saxonia while Audemars Piguet focused on the Millenary; both these models first saw daylight exactly 20 years ago. Anniversaries such as these are, of course, a choice occasion to give a second wind to already storied best Breitling replica watches. True to form, IWC revisited the range from top to bottom. Audemars Piguet, meanwhile, fleshed out its palette of women’s models. Ever classic, A. Lange & Söhne focused its explorations on sizes and useful complications. This leaves Jaeger-LeCoultre, which spotlighted a grande complication pocket watch from 1895 incorporating moon phases, a chronograph and a minute repeater. For its 120th anniversary, the manufacture has chosen to share its fascination with the movements of the heavenly bodies as a source of inspiration: “Through its new creations, Jaeger-LeCoultre illustrates the phenomena observed by ancient civilisations and which punctuate our daily lives.” And so astronomy and history meet.