After years of uncertainty and dipping sales in the luxury watch industry, optimism appears to be running high again. The troubles faced by wristwatch brands—some triggered by smartwatches and wearables flooding consumer feeds—were due in no part to lack of innovation. From prestige brands to Kickstarter projects, exciting new pieces debuted last year—and with the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève (SIHH) taking place in Switzerland right now, we can’t help but embrace our appreciation for truly unique pieces. SIHH, a trade-show hosted by Richemont but also featuring a select group of independent boutique luxury brands has long been a platform for stunning reveals. This year has been no different and the six watches below reflect our first effort at selecting standouts from the 21 companies present, with prices up to a million dollars.
Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication
After acknowledging the beauty of this highly complication piece, it all comes down to the numbers with Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication. The wristwatch, perhaps the most complex ever created by the house, features 23 predominantly astronomical complications. There is only one of these watches and it took five years to develop, with 514 components inside its 8.7mm thick calibre. Beyond telling time the watch offers a star chart, and also tracks sunrise and sunset. For flair, perhaps, it also notes equinoxes, solstices and even the current Zodiac sign. Price is around $1 million.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra-Thin Openworked
We’ve made our love of skeletonized watches clear before. As a limited-edition variation on their Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra-Thin, Audemars Piguet has released a stunning new 18K rose gold Royal Oak Tourbillon Extra-Thin Openworked. Only 50 pieces exist—and no more are planned with this skeleton design or material. Within one finds AP’s in-house caliber 2924 with 26 components. Price is around $220,500.
Ressence Type 1² “Squared”
Crafted from polished stainless steel (as opposed to the brand’s typical use of Grade 5 titanium), the TYPE 1² is referred to as Ressence‘s dress watch. The piece is both thinner than their previous styles and has a few more traditional time-telling indicators. The 41mm cushion shaped case conceals the brand’s ROCS 1 in-house complication, which received a small update to allow for easier date setting. Still, this piece maintains their hallmark orbital time display innovation, something we admire as much today as we have since the brand launched back in 2010. Price is $20,600.
Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary
When elegance is maintained when stepping away from the silver, black, white or gold materials of most watches, a successful timepiece for those with personality is born. This is the great success of Piaget’s Altiplano 60th Anniversary—which comes in four different colorways. Beyond the punchy color, the dial offers up a natural radiance. It’s almost hard to believe that the Altiplano launched 60 years ago. This ultra-thin watch, with a 40mm case houses a 1203P self-winding movement. Pricing is set at $25,200 for the green/yellow gold version.
H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Concept Guilloché
Revered for the simplicity of their fumé dials, H. Moser & Cie.’s Concept watches forego indicators and subdials for a clean, minimal presentation. With the limited-edition Endeavour Concept Guilloché (only ten pieces in rose gold) they’ve added a new dimension: sunburst guilloché. Drawing inspiration from one of Heinrich Moser’s pocket watch designs from the late 19th century, this 38.8mm hand-wound piece lets the craftwork speak for itself—something we are also fond of.
Girard-Perregaux refers to their Neo-Bridges as retro-futurist for a tangible reason: they have “extrapolated” the shape of their 19th century movement and applied it to a theatrical, future-forward automatic titanium timepiece. Inside, one finds a new, proprietary GP08400 self-winding 14 ¼-ligne movement with 208 components. At 45mm this is on the large end of the spectrum but the face’s visual balances compels wholeheartedly. Price is around $24,300.
Additional reporting by David Graver, images courtesy of respective brands