Be they circles, rectangles or squares, the cases for the 12 watches below contain extraordinary advancements in watchmaking. Each of these selections made their debut during this year’s luxury trade show Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève (SIHH) and they barely scrape the surface of innovation in an industry often thought of as antiquated in comparison to an ever-expanding smartwatch market. This year, the 18 historic maisons and 17 carré des horlogers shown at SIHH delivered beyond expectation. Getting hands-on with each affirmed our belief that the industry standard continues to soar. Our picks are heirloom watches—accessories of the utmost value that inspire, challenge and excite. Of course, they also come with a pretty price tag.
Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar
Beyond the meticulous dial organization—which displays hours, minutes, date, month, leap-year cycle and power reserve—Vacheron Constantin‘s Twin Beat can be switched from a high-frequency Active mode (5Hz) to a low-frequency Standby mode (1.2Hz). This extends the mechanical power up to 65 days when the watch isn’t being worn. This is thanks to the in-house developed calibre 3610 QP and a patent-pending system. With all of that going on inside the case, it’s only 42mm in diameter. And no corners have been cut with regard to finishing or material.
H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Concept Watch Black
Close behind H. Moser & Cie‘s horological mastery comes an ability to develop headline-grabbing concepts. With the Swiss Alp Concept Watch, they’ve revealed a handless face, but that doesn’t mean the timepiece doesn’t let you know the time. In addition to the flying tourbillon, the movement features a minute repeater with shaped chimes. Thus, as the brand suggests, this watch can announce the time, even in the dark, when the pusher on the left side of the case is pressed.
A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Date
It’s all in the impeccable details with A. Lange & Söhne‘s 20th anniversary Zeitwerk. Here, the German brand accents the classic Zeitwerk with a ring-shaped date display. It’s an innovative development that means inside the 18-carat white gold case there’s a new, 512-part calibre L043.8 manufacture movement. Further, the timepiece includes a button at four o’clock, dedicated exclusively to advancing the hour indicator. This, for a traveler, is quite the convenient feature.
Montblanc Heritage Spirit Pulsograph
There’s something quite marvelous about the salmon-colored dial and meticulous vintage-inspired design of Montblanc‘s new Heritage Spirit Pulsograph. Referencing a mid-20th century chronograph by Minerva (the manufacture now fully integrated into Montblanc), this new piece feels like more than a nod to the past; it also feels useful. And elements like the three elongated markers in the chronograph minutes sub-dial make for a good story: they fall at three, six and nine, purportedly to track when one would need to deposit a coin into an international telephone booth.
Jaeger LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Westminster Perpetual
If only every watch could sing like Jaeger LeCoultre‘s Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Westminster Perpetual—a stunning execution of haute horlogerie. From the extraordinary Gyrotourbillon (the brand’s fifth multi-axis development, and smallest) to the minute repeater hammers and patented crystal gongs and a perpetual calendar mechanism, this watch demonstrates highly complex watch configurations. All of this and the diameter of the white gold case is only 43mm. The JLC 184 movement is one to be proud of—and the watch itself is a sight to behold, whether or not it’s warbling away the Westminster Chimes song.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Mojave Desert”
Of course, there’s the allure of the monotone sand-colored ceramic case, matching indicators, numerals, strap and dial. It’s near impossible to make something that would appear muted seem so bold. And yet, IWC’s limited edition Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition release is more than its color. This automatic chrono, clocking in at 44.5mm, features a 69380 Calibre movement. From the Côtes de Genève finishing to the applied luminescence, beauty and functionality merge for utter success.
Audemars Piguet Code 11:59 Perpetual Calendar
Pick up Audemars Piguet‘s 11:59 Perpetual Calendar. Examine it from the side to see both the dual-domed optical sapphire crystal and the way the lugs separate from the case. Beyond the sky-invoking aventurine dial and 18-carat rose gold case, every detail of this 41mm watch was carefully considered. And it’s evident. Inside, there’s the self-winding calibre 5134 manufacture movement, also visible through an exposed caseback.
Armin Strom Sapphire Dual Time Resonance GMT
Armin Strom’s Masterpiece 1 Dual Time Resonance sits two movements side by side in an unusual oval case, composed of sapphire crystal. Beyond the visual shock, it employs a proprietary resonance clutch-spring to keep both of those movements aligned, so that the watch can display two independent time-zones accurately. There is no other watch that looks like this—inside and out.
Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa Kalpagraphe Chronometre Titanium
It’s not just the sandblasted titanium tonneau-shaped case that tantalizes in the latest addition to Parmigiani Fleurier‘s Kalpa collection, it’s also the integrated chronograph movement made entirely in-house that drives it. This year’s Kalapgraphe Chronometre Titanium relies upon several horological advancements and it’s a true feat for any watch manufacturer—let alone an independent one. All that aside, it sits well on the wrist, too.
Hermes Arceau L’heure de la lune
Beyond hours, minutes and date, Hermes‘ cosmos-concerned Arceau L’heure de la lune wristwatch indicates moon phases in both the northern and southern hemispheres simultaneously. Two sub-dials appear to float over two mother of pearl moons and make a complete revolution every 59 days. Propelling it all, there’s an Hermès manufacture movement in the 43mm watch. As for the mesmerizing dials, there’s both a meteorite and aventurine version, both of which will be released in editions of 100.
Santos de Cartier Skeleton Noctambule
Skeletonize one of Cartier‘s most iconic watches and coat the bridges in super-luminova: the Santos de Cartier Skeleton Noctambule is born. This steel timepiece features a 9612 MC movement—visible, of course, from front and back. The watch is a tribute to the skies of Paris and it truly glows beautifully when put to the test.
Bovet 1822 Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter One
A “writing table” slope case composed entirely of sapphire crystal might not be one’s first thought when dreaming of the decorative arts of Bovet 1822. And yet, that’s exactly what they’ve done with the Récital 26 Brainstorm Chapter One. Visible, a shooting star tourbillon meets a three-dimensional moon phase in this extraordinary complication. It’s the maison’s first timepiece dedicate to astronomy and it’s stellar to say the least.
Images courtesy of respective brands