Thursday, January 17, 2019

SpotlightBuilding Up To SIHH 2019—Part 2: A Preview Of Sport Watches

Sport watches are dizzyingly popular nowadays, and there is always a lot of excitement around new releases. It is no different this time at the 2019 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). We bring you key highlights from the genre that have been announced ahead of SIHH, taking place between January 14 and 17 in Geneva, Switzerland. Titanium, bronze, a mix of ceramic and titanium—it’s all happening

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In part one of our SIHH preview, we dived into fine timepieces that are going to be on display at SIHH 2019 as this year’s novelties. We also mentioned that SIHH is quite an exclusive, curated event, focused on fine watchmaking. The mental picture that gives us may be restricted to high complications and watches in precious metals. However building tool-ish, utilitarian, rugged sports watches is a fine craft of its own, very much within the fold of haute horlogerie.

As watch buyers have gravitated towards more versatile, all-purpose timepieces over the last decade or so, the modern, high-end sports watch has really come into its own as a category. Such sport watches are a key stock-in-trade for brands such as Panerai, IWC, Roger Dubuis, Ulysse Nardin, Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet, who will all be exhibiting at SIHH 2019 alongside their more classically oriented brethren.

SIHH
Modern, high-end sports watches are a key stock-in-trade for brands such as IWC, Panerai, Roger Dubuis and Ulysse Nardin at the 2019 edition of SIHH, which starts Monday

We have picked out some notable preview announcements of these sportier, more everyday watches, so to speak, that we’ll be seeing and finding out more about in Geneva next week.

IWC’s New Range Of Pilot’s Watches

IWC’s modus operandi at SIHH is usually to focus on one core collection, and this year, it’s the Pilot’s turn. It is one of their best known collections, with a history that dates back to 1936. While there are a total of four new models announced, there are two that really need to be talked about. The top draw for many reasons is the new Spitfire edition of the Pilot’s Chronograph. This iconic piece will now come in a bronze case, with an olive green dial, a smaller 41mm size and an in-house movement. The combination of these factors means IWC have a total winner on their hands and we foresee it as being their most popular release this year.

The combination of bronze and olive green has been a smashing hit ever since Panerai launched its first Bronzo in 2011. The hues of the bronze case feel really harmonious with a green dial to offer a tough, military look. It feels right at home on the Pilot’s Chronograph. The current 43mm version of the watch wears a bit large for many, so this reduction in size and the addition of an in-house movement is going to make it a very, very attractive proposition.

SIHH
The top draw from among IWC’s new offerings is the new Spitfire edition of the Pilot’s Chronograph. This iconic piece will now come in a bronze case, with an olive green dial, a smaller 41mm size and an in-house movement.

The other big news is IWC bringing back the split-seconds chronograph into the Pilot’s line under the Top Gun series. What’s special about this reintroduction is that the watch is encased in a new proprietary material that IWC calls Ceratanium—a composite of ceramic and titanium, that combines the scratch resistance of ceramic with the lightness and strength of titanium. Watches in the current Pilot’s Top Gun series all have ceramic cases, where there does exist a risk of breakage on high impact. Ceratanium presumably seeks to address this issue, while continuing to offer a blacked-out case that makes the watch’s appearance distinctive. The addition of a split-seconds chronograph, that allows two events to be simultaneously timed, is, of course, another halo as it is an uncommon high complication requiring specialised watchmaking expertise. The case is 44mm wide, and true to a Pilot’s watch. It has a soft-iron inner case for increased anti-magnetism.

SIHH
The other big news is IWC bringing back the split-seconds chronograph into the Pilot’s line under the Top Gun series. This new edition is encased in a new proprietary material called Ceratanium—a composite of ceramic and titanium.

IWC has also announced a limited edition Timezoner and Big Pilot’s Le Petit Prince edition with a constant-force tourbillon that we look forward to seeing.

Panerai Goes Back To Its Diving Roots

Most of us know about Panerai’s wristwatch origins as a supplier to the Italian Navy during World War II. And as their collection basically revolves around two iconic case designs to which they have remained faithful—the Radiomir and Luminor—they do keep tipping their hat to the sphere of diving.

The most recent in this series is Panerai’s association with French freediver and world record holder Guillaume Néry, who dived to a depth of 126m on one single breath. Inspired by their ambassador, they have announced a new Guillaume Néry edition, which, in its basic form, is a 47mm Luminor Submersible case with a flyback chronograph function, depth rated to 300m. But if you know Panerai or Paneristi (a nickname given to loyal, devoted fans and collectors of the brand), every release is about the little details and subtle distinction that make all the difference. These add up to Panerai being an interesting brand to get into and collect.

SIHH
Inspired by their ambassador, freediver Guillaume Néry, Panerai have introduced a special edition Luminor Submersible, featuring a flyback chronograph function, and depth rated to 300m

For this Guillaume Néry edition, the case is in titanium and is the first time we are seeing a dark blue ceramic bezel on a Panerai. The grained, textured dial that Panerai calls shark grey has also not been seen before on Panerai watches. Many would also consider it a plus that there is no overt reference to Guillaume Néry or this being a special edition on the face of the watch. This has been reserved for the titanium caseback that is engraved with the diver’s signature and has a stylised silhouette of Néry, symbolising his record-breaking freedive. The watch comes on a blue rubber strap with an automatic movement made in-house. With effectively three shades of blue between the chronograph hands, bezel and strap, how this contrast plays out in the metal will be really interesting to see.

Ulysse Nardin’s Exciting New Diver

Ulysse Nardin has an old connection with the seas, as it was established in 1846 for the purpose of making high accuracy marine chronometers that were supplied to navies and shipping companies through the second half of the 19th century. Today, it is known for making timepieces with modern materials and avant-garde techniques.

SIHH
Ulysse Nardin’s most recent announcement of a new 42mm diver’s watch pegs it as one of its most accessible, versatile and simple watches in recent times

The brand’s most recent announcement of a new 42mm diver’s watch pegs it as one of its most accessible, versatile and simple watches in recent times. This is really good news for anyone looking to enter the brand and wanting something off the beaten path, as Ulysse Nardin timepieces are very nicely finished with great details on the case and dial. The new Diver 42mm is no different. The bezel of the watch is concave and textured, with large notches around the circumference, and the dial has some graining. There are no extraneous elements to detract or distract, and this simple layout combined with the beige accents give it a decidedly retro look. The now smaller 42mm case (the Diver Chronometer is 44mm and larger), 300m water resistance and overall unfussy appearance make it a truly viable candidate for the one watch that can do everything.

SIHH
The now smaller 42mm case has an overall unfussy appearance, making it an ideal everyday watch. It’s even available with a dial in black or blue, and strap options such as blue fabric, black calfskin, steel bracelet, and a steel Milanese mesh bracelet.

The innards hold something special too. While it is an entry level watch that uses a Sellita base movement, it is heavily modified by Ulysse Nardin to incorporate silicon components—the high-tech buzzword in mechanical movement technology today.

The Diver 42mm will be offered in a blue or black dial, with various strap options to choose from, such as blue fabric, black calfskin, stainless steel bracelet and a stainless steel Milanese mesh bracelet.

Roger Dubuis Creates Another Avant-Garde Timepiece In Collaboration With Lamborghini

Roger Dubuis may be considered a relative newcomer to the world of watches, as it is only about 20 years old. But it has always been unabashed about its designs that make a bold statement. A quick look at their catalogue will show you that they place no limits on their imagination and are always looking to create something cutting-edge and different. Sure, their designs can be polarising, but they never really set out to please everyone. And that’s what makes them a respected force in the industry.

With this philosophy, they have found a soul-match in Lamborghini to partner with and collaborate on timepieces. The amount of thought and effort that Roger Dubuis is putting into this partnership is yielding results where the DNA of both brands are meaningfully intertwined.

SIHH
The level of development that the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Huracàn Performante has undergone goes to show that this collaboration goes far beyond co-branding between Dubuis and Lamborghini

The Excalibur Huracàn Performante is one such release. One look at it and you can feel the assertive, menacing vibes, much like you would from a Lamborghini. An all-new movement has been developed for this model, housed in a 45mm titanium case with many automotive cues inspired by the Lamborghini Huracàn Performante. The crown is designed to resemble nuts on supercar wheels, the circular rotor in the movement looks like the Huracàn’s wheel rims, while the skeletonised dial has elements of air intakes. The strap has a rubber base with an alcantara inlay (a flame-retardant microfibre that finds application in supercars)—another neat touch.

The level of development this watch has undergone goes to show that this collaboration goes far beyond co-branding, and that both partners are serious about creating unique timepieces that stand out as marvels of engineering and design. In its own way, this is another peak of modern watchmaking. The Roger Dubuis Excalibur Huracàn Performante will be a limited edition of 88 pieces.

Other Announcements

Girard-Perregaux has announced the release of a perpetual calendar in the Laureato collection with an unconventional dial layout. It is a solid offering in the space of integrated bracelet, luxury sports watches, with all the design hallmarks of a Laureato, such as the octagonal and round case, and the clou de Paris dial pattern.

SIHH
Girard-Perregaux has announced the release of a perpetual calendar in the Laureato collection with an unconventional dial layout

Speaking of integrated bracelets, Audemars Piguet will be coming out with three new Royal Oak Offshore chronograph models with ceramic bezels and camouflage straps in green, blue and brown.

As you can see, from competitively-priced diver’s watches to high complications and minute repeaters, it’ll all be happening at SIHH. The Watch Guide will be on the ground in Geneva to bring you all the latest updates from the fair as we share our thoughts on the novelties. Stay tuned!

Click here for a preview of the more elegant products of fine watchmaking to be seen at SIHH

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