Want to know what everyone will be wearing on their wrists in the coming year? There are just two places to look: the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) and Baselworld watch fairs. SIHH takes place in Geneva this week (January 15-19) bringing with it a wave of new launches from some of the world’s most famous watch brands - here’s our pick of the best…
To celebrate the 160th anniversary of its Minerva Manufacture, which produced the military and mountain exploration watches for which the brand became famous in the 1920s and 30s, Montblanc has introduced the new 1858 range inspired by adventure. Composed of five designs, an automatic, chronograph, Manufacture Worldtime Geosphere, pocket watch and slim wristwatch with a 13-line monopusher chronograph movement, the range has been designed to include a combination of modern and traditional materials such as bronze composite cases and ages calfskin straps. Made to be worn, not just admired, all pieces are waterproof to 100 metres and have undergone over 500 hours of simulated wear.
For 2018 Jaeger-LeCoultre is putting an emphasis on its mens collections with the new Polaris range inspired by its vintage Memovox Polaris watch from 1968. Comprising a full complement of timepieces, including a three-hand automatic, a chronograph, a chronograph world time and vintage-style date watch, the collection is aimed at meeting the needs of every modern man. Available in rose gold and steel with case sizes ranging from 41mm to 44mm, the range is completed by a 1,000 piece limited edition Polaris Memovex featuring a three-crown design, alarm function and water resistance to 200 metres. There was, however, one new and very special piece for women - the classic Rendez-Vous Night & Day in midnight blue (pictured left). Available in 29mm or 34mm versions, the steel case features a diamond-set bezel and sunray blue dial.
Hermes’s move to the Geneva show was one of the biggest talking points of the 2018 fair but, fortunately, the watches it brought with it didn’t disappoint. The French brand has once again teamed up with designer Marc Berthier who has given a modern update to the Carré H (left) he originally designed in 2010. The unusual square steel case has been enlarged to 38mm while the dark grey or black dial is finished with an opaline guilloché centre and underneath an H1912 self-winding movement offers a power reserve of 50 hours.
Another heritage design from Hermes getting a makeover this year is 1991’s Cape Cod by Henri d’Origny. Its square dial on a rectangle case is an icon of the house and 2018’s new iterations include rhodium-plated, black gold and blue lacquered dials available on single or double Milanese mesh, Malta blue or single or double tour étoupe straps.
Famed Swiss watch brand Audemars Piguet unveiled no fewer than a dozen new or updated models at SIHH 2018 so picking the best is no easy feat. The star of the show in undoubtedly the Royal Oak RD#2 (centre) - an ultra-thin perpetual calendar whose movement was five years in the making and involved re-engineering a three-storey movement into a single layer. Housed in a platinum case and finished with a blue Grande Tapisserie, it’s a must-have for true collectors.
The original Royal Oak celebrates its 25th anniversary this year so, as well as the RD#2, Audemars Piguet has introduced a limited edition chronograph tourbillon (right) which features an entirely reimagined calibre 2947 movement and is available in a pink gold or steel case. Elsewhere, the brand has added three new models to its Millenary collection which aim to offer women complicated watches which are more than shrunken versions of the men’s designs. The most precious design is crafted in rose gold with an off centre white opal dial and openwork design and powered by a calibre 5201 hand-wound movement.
Ulysse Nardin was another brand introducing a roster of new pieces at SIHH but, for yachties, the two to know are the Freak Vision and Diver Deep Dive. The first automatic watch in the Freak collection, the Freak Vision incorporates the range’s iconic flying carousel baguette movement but this time includes a 3D carved upper bridge inspired by the shape of a boat’s hull as well as a host of technical watch innovations including a Grinder automatic winder system and Anchor escapement. The Diver Deep Dive, meanwhile, is a limited edition of 300 which boasts an incredible water resistance of 1,000 metres (the world diving record stands at 701 metres). With a removable titanium guard and helium release valve for prolonged periods underwater, the watch is finished with a rubber strap that expands and contracts in conjunction with the compression of your diving suit.