First one to pull the trigger was Xavier, with his Top 10 watches of the SIHH 2017. It was not fair to leave that task to him only, so I had to do the job too. Still, picking up my 10 favorite pieces of the Geneva-based fair was not easy. Not that there was not enough material this year – we’ve seen many interesting propositions, both dream-watches or more commercial offers – but it’s always difficult to set barriers. Whatever, here they are, my 10 favorite watches of the SIHH 2017 (plus a few special mentions, some watches or policies dear to my heat…)
A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Decimal Strike
One thing to know about me: I’m a fan of A. Lange & Söhne and inside their collection, I love the Zeitwerk Striking Time, as you can see in the review I did. I love this watch for being at the same time faithful to Lange’s codes and totally out of this world (display, complications, way it strikes the time…) Nothing is usual and surprisingly, it remains very classical. When the brand annouced the Zeitwerk Decimal Strike, it immediately replaced the Striking Time in my heart, for several reasons. First of all, its striking mechanism is much more in line with the display and, in reality, very practical for a business use (10-minute strikes with a decimal display… logical). Then, there’s the honey gold case, and its soft, subtle, warm but never explicit color. So refined… And finally, there’s the “almost-Handwerkskunst” finishing of the dial (the tremblage finishing of the hammers and the frosted surface of the central bridge). It is simply magical and on a personal side, I prefer it to the new Tourbograph (and even Lange’s CEO agrees on that… see here)
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ultra-Thin 15202 Full Yellow Gold
Usually, I don’t like full gold watches, neither showy pieces. So you might ask yourself why this watch is here? See, I love the Audemars Piguet 15202 (the most faithful of them all, the thinnest, the best executed…) and its full gold version is the exception that confirms my thoughts about full gold. And here, when i say full gold, I mean by that the case, the bezel, the bracelet and even the dial and the hands. Everything is yellow gold and surprisingly the result is just hyper-cool. Yes, it is showy but it also have that unique flair of the first gold Royal Oak watches, something outdated and quite vintage. It’s not showy like a gold Offshore. It taste much different and I did enjoy it, a lot.
Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat
The total opposite of the previous one… A slim case, a white gold case, a super-sleek dial, nothing more, nothing less. Still, this Extra-Flat version of the Drive is, to me, the one I was waiting for. The shape of the first editions was superb, not the proportions (too big, too thick for me). With a smaller case, a thinner profile and a dial cleaned from complications and patterns, the Drive becomes subtle, hyper-elegant and perfectly proportioned on the wrist (at least, on my wrist). This is what Cartier is to me…
Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision Salmon Dial
If there is one dial I want keep from the SIHH 2017, it would be this one. I love salmon dials associated with white metal case. I love the contrast, I love the fact that it is a weird color, I love the association with blue hands and indexes. In the case of the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision, it comes with a platinum case and with the usual discreet look of that watch (Greubel-wise…). The look is great. And there’s the finishing of the movement, as usual, mega. Greubel Forsey is on top of the food web in terms of decoration…
Laurent Ferrier Galet Micro-Rotor Montre Ecole
Once again, a demonstration of elegance from Laurent Ferrier. This watch is subtle, discreet, smooth, original and perfectly executed. its new case refers to Laurent’s first years as a watchmaker and to his school watch, the movement is the same micro-rotor as used in other Galet watches and overall, the design is timeless. You can’t say if this watch is modern, antique or vintage… but what a beauty. I tend to prefer the dials of the gold versions, with a sector-style (straight brushing in the middle and circular graining for the periphery and the small second) more lively than the steel version.
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Steel
After a few dream pieces, with 5 to 6 figures prices, let’s go back on earth, with what is to me one of the most relevant introductions of the SIHH 2017, the Tonda 1950 in steel. What you see here is one of the best 3-hand dress watches available on the market, with an elegant and original case, a nice presence on the wrist, a real haute horlogerie micro-rotor movement, encased in steel. The best is that it is priced below 8,000 Euro. I wouldn’t say that it is a bargain but still, it’s great value for money. Relevant, made accordingly to the current market but still very desirable.
Ressence Type 1 Squared
To me, the most mature Ressence yet. This is the adult version of a watch I always loved. Adult doesn’t mean boring and this watch keeps all the attributes of the previous versions: great display, great mechanics, an originality that can be worn on a daily basis but now with something more practical, more thought. The addition of a cushion-shaped case in steel makes it dressier, slimmer and less of a concept. Add on top of that a few mechanical adjustments to make users’ life easier. Who said that being an adult is wrong?
Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1
The watch of all superlatives… Hyper-complex, hyper-light, hyper-technical, hyper-bold, hyper-provocative and hyper-expensive (close to 1,100,000 Euro). Yet, without saying that everything is justified here, I must recognized the craziness of this watch. A tourbillon Rattrapante that weights less than 40 grams and that is strong enough to be worn by Formula 1 drivers (and not in the paddock, but during races). Everything is in: materials, finishing, movement construction, resistance. Even the look is provocative and at the same time desirable… That’s the magic trick of Richard Mille.
Ulysse Nardin Regatta
To me, the cleverest Regatta watch ever created. When you handle this watch, you immediately see that it has been though not for, but with regatta participants. See, this watch is a chronograph, which starts its life as a countdown, with the hands running anti-clockwise. Once the start of the race is given and when the countdown reaches zero, this Ulysse Nardin automatically switches to a normal chronograph (running clockwise) to time the race… How cool is that? And mainly, how mechanically intelligent it is? To me, one of the best watches of the show.
Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Tourbillon Minute Repeater
Why this one and not the Celestia or the Symphonia? Well, as good as these two watches are (both are technically super-impressive, no doubt about it), I loved the subtlety of the Tourbillon Minute Repeater. Yes, inside is a crazy movement, with hand-decoration, tourbillon and striking mechanism but it brings all of that reservedly. Nothing is opulent, it is still a discreet, elegant, subtle watch. And there’s this finely guilloche dial… For sure, not as demonstrative as the two stars of the show, but more to my taste.
The first one will be for H. Moser & Cie. with their Swiss Mad watch. Not that I’m a fan of the watch itself, but I’ve been amazed by the idea behind – #MakeSwissMadeGreatAgain – a watch entirely produced in Switzerland, with as much as possible Swiss resources (some of the materials are Helvetic too). For once, a brand dares to say what is wrong in the industry and reacts with a gimmick-like watch that is actually full of sense. Hats off! (more on the subject here).
The other special mention is for URWERK, as the brand celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, with a new timepiece, the super-bold, super-creative UR-T8. If it’s not my favorite piece of the brand, I must say that I’m still amanzed by their creativity and the way they deal with watchmaking. A passion-driven brand for sure, and that can be felt in their watches.