With eyes ever-wandering to the whizzes and bangs of the smartwatch world, traditional luxury brands have amped up the wonders defining their own timepieces. To be honest, there’s nothing quite like a watch. Even though people generally look to their phones for the time, wristwatches have honed their value. Less a tool, these are stylish accessories, statement-makers, reflections of personality and desire—and even values. When one dons their first automatic watch and learns that the power is drawn from the movement of their own hand, a watch becomes something more than numeric indicators and hands. And at this year’s SIHH luxury watch trade show, this idea of something more exploded from quiet booths, resounding through the halls. The following 10 spoke clearest, and while the imagery conveys this, so does a deeper dive into why we selected them.
Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph
That’s one hell of a smoked green dial, perfectly complement by a green alligator leather strap. But there’s more than vintage-inspired aesthetic achievement in Montblanc‘s limited edition (100 pieces) 1858 Monopusher Chronograph. The 40mm stainless steel watch was developed to honor the Minerva monopusher chronograph calibre 13.20 movement, developed specifically for wristwatches back in 1920. As Montblanc own the Minerva manufacture, an updated iteration falls within this timepiece. The sapphire crystal caseback also offers a glimpse at the hand-finished components working inside.
Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Watch
Holding the record for the thinnest mechanical watch in the world, Piaget’s Altiplano Ultimate Concept Watch measures a striking 2mm thick—overall. It is so thin the brand needed to make a thinner strap to accompany it. Unfortunately it’s a concept only, albeit a working one. Four years of research and development went into this, and a new high-tech cobalt-based alloy and precise use of the glass make it a possibility—not to mention the proprietary movement conceived at their La Côte-aux-Fées manufacture.
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Skeleton Automatic Pirelli
A visual and technical tour de force, Roger Dubuis’ Excalibur Spider Skeleton Automatic Pirelli delivers on both spectacle and performance. Within the 45mm Black DLC Titanium case throbs a Calibre 820SQ movement, powered by a micro-rotor. The Pirelli collaboration is more than in name. In fact, the strap of this watch incorporated rubber from Pirelli tires—and only from tires that have competed already in real races. This is trackable through a serial number. It’s also limited to just 88 pieces, and has an expiration date—the brand will pull any left on shelves in a few months.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked
Regardless of how the word “frosted” makes you feel when it’s about gold, the process behind this precious metal embellishment is a challenge and the results are arguably exquisite. Frosting included, Audemars Piguet has unveiled a truly delectable piece with the Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked—pictured here in white gold. Beyond looks, it’s all in the facts: 37mm, calibre 3132, hand-finished detailing. The exemplary mechanical innards are visible from both front and back, thankfully.
Girard-Perregaux Neo Tourbillon with Three Bridges Skeleton
It’s starting to seem like every year Girard-Perregaux debuts a showstopper. Their Neo Tourbillon With Three Bridges Skeleton continues this tradition. All within a 45mm titanium case, the brand has situated slender bridges atop a skeletonized GP 09400-0011 automatic movement—and a tourbillon. It’s remarkable what’s visible here, organized and working away with clarity. In many ways this is an amalgamation of the brand’s historic developments, but so much more comes from their unity.
Parmigiani Kalpagraphe Chronometre
There’s more to Parmigiani Fleurier‘s Kalpagraphe Chronometre than that 18-carat rose gold tonneau (barrel-shaped) case. This piece marks a refresh for the brand’s Kalpa collection (along with two other new releases). Inside, a brand new PF362 movement that’s shaped to the case powers this iconic watch reinvention, which has also receive subtle ergonomic updates across the board. Regarding functionality, in addition to the chronometer function, there’s also a tachymeter and date display. All pieces will be individually numbered.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph WT
Many world timer watches purport ease of use but until Jaeger-LeCoultre‘s Polaris Chronograph WT that hasn’t always been the reality. Here, the brand has an additional crown at 10 o’clock to control the rotating city disc. This 44mm titanium timepiece invokes the clarity of the Polaris range while offering so much more functionality. Inside, a Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 752 automatic movement delivers a rich pulse. For all its elegance and aesthetic grandeur, this is a watch designed for dynamic use.
Hermès Carré H
No one strikes elegant playfulness quite like Hermès and the latest Carré H reinforces this statement. The piece was actually designed and released in 2010 by Marc Berthier but this latest version ditches titanium for steel—there’s also an Hermès caliber H1912 automatic movement inside for the first time. This 38mm wide square watch and attributes like a yellow-colored seconds hand combine to make something distinct, and fashion-forward.
A. Lange & Söhne Little Lange 1
With the latest iterations of the Little Lange 1, A. Lange & Söhne have brought a little eccentricity to their iconography. From a guilloched dial to the respectable purple colorway, this 36.8mm white gold piece features a manually wound Lange manufacture calbire L121.1. It’s petite but powerful, and offers to brand’s signature dedication to precision.
Gruebel Forsey GMT Earth
Limited to 33 pieces, Gruebel Forsey’s GMT Earth does more than offer a second timezone. It also comes complete with an entire rotating Earth. Within the white gold case and sapphire glass, an original movement makes this universal time possible. Further, the watch features a tourbillon and small seconds. It’s stunning both front and back.
A. Lange & Söhne by David Graver, all other images courtesy of respective brands