SIHH 2017 Round Table: What We Liked And What We Didn’t Like (Warning: Modem-Burning Photo Fest!)

[av_layerslider id=’59']

by Elizabeth Doerr

 Please join our Quill & Pad round table discussion on SIHH 2017 where we discuss what we did and didn’t like at the 2017 SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie).

Our participants are:

IS Ian Skellern, co-founder of Quill & Pad
 ED Elizabeth Doerr, co-founder of Quill & Pad
 JM Joshua Munchow, resident nerd at Quill & Pad
 GG GaryG, resident collector at Quill & Pad
 AG Alex Ghotbi, contributor to Quill & Pad and expert at Phillips auction house
 SC Simon Cudd, Quill & Pad’s resident visual enchanter
 NM Nola Martin, Quill & Pad’s resident lifestyle guru

ED: What an extraordinary fair this was! I came away with a truly positive impression . . . and I’ll admit that I was maybe influenced by H. Moser’s #makeswissmadegreatagain campaign, which the boutique brand announced with a creative video just days before the fair opened (see H. Moser & Cie. Creates $1 Million Watch Made Of Genuine Swiss Cheese).

And I would have thought that video would have generated lots of polarization, but, no, the vast majority of people I talked to applauded the initiative.

IS: After the two years of depressed sales and fairly dire financial results for the watch industry in general (though there were a few exceptions), I was expecting a less than joyous SIHH 2017. However, even allowing for the optimistic spin brands usually put on anything even remotely negative, I came away with the impression that most saw light at the end of the tunnel.

I thought that the atmosphere was generally quite good and I for one enjoyed this SIHH very much, though with the increased number of brands it was very hard work.

Panerai LAB-ID Luminor Carbotech

Panerai LAB-ID Luminor Carbotech

AG: This was a really interesting SIHH year. I too was really afraid to find a down market with brands afraid of launching audacious watches due to the crisis, but I’m delighted to say that this was not so.

In past years I was used to seeing the independent brands showing the most interesting watches, but this year the mainstream brands upped their games and surprisingly outshone the independents in terms of innovation, design, and overall desirability.

ED: You’re so right on that, Alex. There were so many great watches all over! This was definitely not a year for “just getting through”: just about every brand brought out a talking piece! I feel like Vacheron Constantin must have emptied its entire pipeline, too.

One of three Vacheron Constantin Copernicus versions introduced at SIHH 2017

One of three Vacheron Constantin Copernicus versions introduced at SIHH 2017

JM: The 2017 edition of the SIHH was a bit of a surprise to me due to the fact that I assumed the industry would be very reserved and hesitant. But I was pleasantly surprised, and it was exciting to see the number of new releases, interesting mechanics, and very well priced pieces that make more sense in a down market.

Variety was alive and kicking, perhaps even more so than last year, yet the prices for many pieces were coming down to provide more value for money. Of course, there were still the ridiculously expensive and awesome standout pieces, but I actually found myself believing that I too might be able to (one day) afford some great pieces of horology.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Geographic

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Geographic

NM: I thought that the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control collection in steel and the Cartier Drive Extra-flat were perfect examples of the adjustments in price points to accommodate the current climate of the marketplace.
 
 JM
: Many brands stated that they had felt they needed to be honest about pricing to assure their customers that money wasn’t being wasted, and prices attested to that. Ulysse Nardin even revealed a flying tourbillon with a dial in grand feu enamel for just 28,000 Swiss francs in the Marine Tourbillon: that’s very good value for the technical and artistic craftsmanship inside.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Tourbillon

Ulysse Nardin Marine Tourbillon

GG: I thought it was a pretty strong year! The continued presence of independents (defined in various ways), including the addition of our friends the Grönefelds, is a real plus, and I thought that several of the brands including A. Lange & Söhne, Audemars Piguet, and Vacheron Constantin had intriguing pieces to show.

Perhaps surprisingly, for me the star of the show was Jaeger-LeCoultre with a range of new and updated pieces that are really appealing, practical, and affordable.

Ian Skellern and Elizabeth Doerr at SIHH 2017

Ian Skellern and Elizabeth Doerr hard at work at SIHH 2017

NM: Everyone and everything seems to be coming together to keep the industry progressing forward and getting past the tumultuous year that was 2016. At SIHH 2017 we saw great product with the sensible retail pricing, innovative watches pushing the spirit of creation further, and the right people in the right places.

Collectively, these are all important aspects to satisfy the marketplace and keep the pulse of the industry upbeat.

IS: The SIHH Carré des Horlogers has officially replaced the now-defunct Baselworld Palace in my mind as the best place to meet the best independents, see great watches, and hang out in a down moment.

Tribute to Walter Lange at the A. Lange & Söhne booth at SIHH 2017

Tribute to Walter Lange at the A. Lange & Söhne booth at SIHH 2017

ED: The only real down moment for me was learning of Walter Lange’s passing on the Tuesday of the fair, which cast a sad tinge over the rest of the week (find out more about him at Happy 90th Birthday To Walter Lange With A Look Back At The Modern A. Lange & Söhne). I was however consoled by the fact that other members of my “Lange family” were also at the fair, allowing me (and us) to be able to grieve, console, and be consoled as needed — both throughout the day and at the Lange Friends dinner that evening.

Tribute to Walter Lange at the A. Lange & Söhne booth at SIHH 2017

Tribute to Walter Lange at the A. Lange & Söhne booth at SIHH 2017

This was one of those times when the closeness in this intimate industry comes to the fore.

GG: Of course, we will all remember where we were at the moment we learned of Herr Lange’s passing. Over the years I have had the privilege of meeting and speaking with him several times (with translation assistance from Lange friends and a few sentences in my awful German) and I treasure each of those moments. The Lange Friends’ dinner on Tuesday night was both sad and joyous, and I will always be grateful that I had the opportunity to be there.

JM: I also think it should be mentioned that, due to the fair taking place during the inauguration of President Trump, there were more than a few political discussions and questions about the future, but the overall mood at the fair was optimistic and realistically sensible.

But given all the cool things to see, celebrities to meet, and awesome food to eat, the best part is the camaraderie and time with friends that the SIHH brings.

ED: Oh, yeah, speaking of celebrities . . . !

The Quill & Pad team sitting down with Pierce "James Bond" Brosnan courtesy of Speake-Marin

The Quill & Pad team sitting down with Pierce “James Bond” Brosnan courtesy of Speake-Marin

Best of show: a watch of exceptional merit

JM: When it comes to the best watch of the show, it is always hard to choose. There are many, many incredible timepieces to see, and the list of dream watches just continues to grow. But as I am a mechanical junkie and fall in love more with mechanics, this narrows it down. I am still split, but I think that the two watches that deserve the highest honors are the Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie and the Ulysse Nardin InnoVision 2. Both pieces are incredible horological creations.

Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie in titanium

Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie in titanium

The Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie, needing eleven years of research and development to bring to market, resulted in two patents and is an extremely lustworthy watch. The sound is amazing, and the movement is totally nerdtastic. It really stands alone as the best chiming watch this year and competes with the Audemars Piguet Supersonnerie for best chiming watch period.

And, of course it’s a Greubel Forsey, which means that it is finished perfectly and looks like nothing else.

The Ulysse Nardin InnoVision 2 is where science meets horology as it contains ten new innovations for watchmaking. The previous InnoVision 1 did the same and resulted in a majority of those innovations being incorporated into regular models, so the assumption is that these have a strong chance of being in other Ulysse Nardin watches in the future.

Ulysse Nardin InnoVision 2

Ulysse Nardin InnoVision 2

The technology behind the innovations is awesome, including a new winding system, silicon constant force escapement, silicon balance wheel, glass bridge with integrated shock protection, and sapphire-coated bridges eliminating the need for jewels.

The innovation cannot be overemphasized. The downside is that it will never be available to the public as it is just a showcase of the innovations the brand is working on, so that does give the Greubel Forsey a bit of an edge here.

ED: And that is why I have chosen the Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie as best in show over the Ulysse Nardin InnoVision 2 . . . and I have nothing left to add, Joshua.

IS: The highlight for me was also the Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie, though I was also both impressed and intrigued by Greubel Forsey’s Mechanical Nano (see Black Box Theory: The Greubel Forsey Mechanical Nano Movement Explained With A Wild Guess And Live Video).

Reversing the case of the Urwerk UR-T8 "Transformer"

Reversing the case of the Urwerk UR-T8 “Transformer”

There was also Ulysse Nardin’s $28,000 Marine Tourbillon with a beautiful enamel dial that really made me look twice, and the Urwerk T-8 “Reverso” (see If You’ve Ever Wondered What The Love Child Of A Reverso And A Tyrannosaurus Rex Might Look Like: Presenting The Urwerk UR-T8 ‘Transformer’) really highlighted that the small brands more than match the big boys in terms of quality and innovation. I also thought that the astronomical models from Vacheron Constantin were superbly designed and executed.

Vacheron Constantin Copernicus with enamel dial

One of three Vacheron Constantin Copernicus versions introduced at SIHH 2017, this one with an etched sapphire crystal dial

AG: I choose the Vacheron Constantin Copernicus, a watch presenting the movement of the earth around the sun. Three versions are available: enamel dial, engraved dial, and my favorite, a laser-engraved sapphire crystal dial, which is probably my favorite watch of the show. The dial is an invitation to dream; it takes me back to my childhood fantasy stories filled with mystery and magic.

Vacheron Constantin Copernicus with laser-engraved sapphire crystal dial

One of three Vacheron Constantin Copernicus versions introduced at SIHH 2017, this one with an enamel dial

GG: As usual, I’ll report both on my choices and, in some categories, the picks of my group of collector friends during our traditional Friday night dinner. My choice for best in show was the crisp and loudly chiming Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie. One of my pals agreed, while the other two chose the re-dialed Grönefeld Remontoire 1941 and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ceramic Perpetual Calendar respectively.

Gronefeld Remontoire 1941 with blue guilloche dial

Gronefeld Remontoire 1941 with blue guilloche dial

SC: My choice falls to the MB&F HM7 Aquapod, which pulled out the stops yet again with a blend of high-end movement in a fun jellyfish-shaped case, taking inspiration from a tale of being stung (see Medusa In The Sea: Introducing The MB&F Horological Machine №7 Aquapod (Live Photos And Wristshots).

Worst of show: really bad or just disappointing given its potential

AG: You are only disappointed by those you love and respect, so I don’t want anyone to feel I’m picking on these two, but since they also happen to be two of my favorite brands I feel the need to point out the following.

I respect and love A. Lange & Söhne for its technical know-how and I have to admit that the Lange team is among the nicest and most welcoming I have ever known. However, each year I feel I’m seeing the watch of the year before: I don’t see what’s new, I don’t see what has changed, and it seems to be a continuous repetition. A bit like a Woody Allen movie: there is a new one every year, though it looks like the ones from previous years, and it’s fun while it lasts and is forgotten within days.

Laurent Ferrier Galet Micro Rotor Montre Ecole

Laurent Ferrier Galet Micro Rotor Montre Ecole

There is not a single watch from Laurent Ferrier that I would not like to own. His dials are among the most attractive on the market, the cases are superb, and the movements are works of art. The new Galet Micro Rotor Montre Ecole is definitely an instant classic.

Laurent Ferrier Galet Open Dial Tourbillon

Laurent Ferrier Galet Open Dial Tourbillon

But the new Galet Tourbillon with visible tourbillon dial-side is a miss. The Ferrier tourbillon movement is one of the most attractive I have ever seen, so when I heard about the tourbillon being visible I was expecting to see the movement flipped over to see the lovely tourbillon cage and bridge, but in fact you only see the back of the tourbillon cage, which has absolutely no interest to me.

Panerai LAB-ID Luminor Carbotech on the wrist

Panerai LAB-ID Luminor Carbotech on the wrist

SC: For me it was the Panerai LAB-ID Luminor Carbotech: 50 mm of madness and 50 years of guarantee for £50,000? Why? Really not sure what direction this brand is going, but it’s far away from its cool naval/military roots, producing non-fussy, hardy, simply-designed watches . . . though I will admit that my distaste was nearly cancelled out by the PAM 671 Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo with blue dial.

Panerai PAM 671 Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo

Panerai PAM 671 Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo

A. Lange & Sohne Lange 31 in white gold

A. Lange & Sohne Lange 31 in white gold

GG: My “official” pick on Friday night was the A. Lange & Söhne Lange 31 re-cased in white gold, but I’m coming around to the view of one of my colleagues that the least fulfilling piece of the show was the Greubel Forsey Art Piece 2 Edition 2 — a watch that seemed to have no “art piece” and darn little art!

Greubel Forsey Art Piece 2 Edition 2

Greubel Forsey Art Piece 2 Edition 2

As for our group, there was a list of disappointments including the upsized Ulysse Nardin Perpetual Ludwig (“turning a great historical piece into a bad modern one”), the H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Mad cheese-encased watch (“worthy issue, terrible watch”), and the Richard Mille RM 11–03 split-seconds tourbillon.

Richard Mille RM 11-03 on the wrist

Richard Mille RM 11–03 on the wrist

For better or worse, eyebrows were also raised about the MB&F HM7, the Ressence Type 1 Squared, the premium-priced Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition, and Kari Voutilainen’s Vingt-8 ISO watch with its novel display of relative time (“answering a question no one is asking”).

Ressence Type 1 Squared

Ressence Type 1 Squared

IS: I don’t have a worst in show, and not because I am reluctant to speak my mind about watches I don’t like, but because there are too many brands to cover at the SIHH so I’m naturally inclined to see those I like. I value my time too much to spend on watches and brands I’m less interested in.

JM: For me this was an easy one to pick, but mine might be the most controversial choice I’ll make. The most disappointing release at SIHH 2017 was from — prepare yourself — Greubel Forsey!

Okay, before you cut me out of your life forever, just listen to what I have to say. I am not disappointed by anything that Greubel Forsey makes, ever. Even the Signature 1, which many proclaimed wasn’t a real Greubel Forsey because it didn’t have a tourbillon (come on, people), was an incredible watch that I would dream to own (IS: me too). And so you can infer that nothing the brand has released now probably disappointed me either.

Actually, what disappointed me wasn’t a release or an invention, but a tease from the brand: the newly released tech, Mechanical Nano.

I am absolutely in love with the concept and what I think it is, but that’s just the problem: I only know what I think it is. There isn’t much information forthcoming from the brand or from Stephen Forsey himself. Responses I received to technical questions were basically “pretty small,” “rather difficult,” and “it’s a new way to think about things.”

And to that I say, “pffft, really?” I can understand the justification: it’s in development, the patents are all pending, and it’s something that hasn’t entirely been fleshed out. But I find that frustrating after my initial excitement.

When I was on my way to Geneva this year, I literally had only three specific questions that I expected to ask brands about specific things, and the details about the Mechanical Nano was at the top of the list. So while I am super excited to hear more when details are shared with the public, the tease of the Mechanical Nano seems a bit out of character for Greubel Forsey and really provided me with my most disappointing moment of SIHH 2017 because I learned nothing.

I loved seeing the extremely cool example of Mechanical Nano in action (that could only be photographed from one very specific angle), but I can’t help but be disappointed and frustrated with not learning more. I actually would rather have been kept in the dark until the debut it in all its glory than find out nearly nothing but a tease of information.

Panerai Luminor Marina America's Cup

Panerai Luminor Marina America’s Cup

ED: If I have to pick one that disappointed me at all — though admittedly only very little as it was still in keeping with the brand’s way of doing things — it would have been the Panerai America’s Cup models, which looked quickly done and with no special additions, though I will admit to very much liking the color schemes.

Watch you would buy with your own money

Ulysse Nardin Classico with blue enamel dial

Ulysse Nardin Classico with blue enamel dial

AG: The Ulysse Nardin Classico with enamel dial. I normally am not a fan of UN designs, and I must stress that “not a fan” is a polite understatement. However, with this timepiece the brand has managed to create not only a very classic and attractive watch with a superb blue enamel dial, but one it has also managed to price under 9,000 Swiss francs, making it even more desirable!

Ulysse Nardin Marine Tourbillon

Ulysse Nardin Marine Tourbillon

ED: I was also blown away by that, Alex! But even more so by the $28,000 Ulysse Nardin Marine Tourbillon — which I would consider purchasing for myself!

GG: My money was on the Grönefeld 1941 with the new all-blue guilloche (not enamel) dial. Other “at the show” picks of our group included the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Annual Calendar and the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Reserve de Marche with stunning blue dial.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Annual Calendar Chronometer

Ulysse Nardin Marine Annual Calendar Chronometer

Outside of the show (and technically not a new introduction) I continued to be impressed with the Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ as we had an opportunity to talk with the Wiederrecht family about its development and see the watches under construction at Agenhor.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold

NM: Hands down the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold in pink gold. The Florentine finish on the case and bracelet adds the perfect feminine touch even though the watch comes complete with self-winding manufacture Caliber 3120. At 37 mm in diameter, it is the perfect fit and feels like butter on my wrist.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Frosted Gold

JM: When it comes to this question, I am usually left without many options, as my budget doesn’t generally reach to SIHH brands. But with the prices starting to come down a bit and new releases capturing my interest, I had more than a few choices this year that I would actually see myself saving up for. At the top of the list is one of my all-time favorite brands and its newest release: the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Geographic.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Geographic

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Geographic

The new sector dial design is much more my style compared to its predecessor and regular collection counterpart and it is also less expensive, coming in at $9,400. The second time zone is incorporated beautifully and the dial is kept minimal and clean. It is the most expensive of the new Master Control releases (the Master Control Date comes in at a fantastic $5,700), but it is still the one that calls to me the most. It will only be made for 2017 (unless demand is strong enough) so that is a bit of a downside, but it still is probably the best bang for my buck from a brand like Jaeger-LeCoultre.

Ressence Type 5 gray

Ressence Type 5 gray

IS: I’ve become even more enamored with the Ressence Type 5 after seeing it again here than I thought possible and would seriously like to have one of my own (see
 Unanimous Predictions In The Sports Category Of The 2016 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève).

Watch you would buy if money were no object

GG: Since I get to pick a true “object of desire” later in this post, I’ll use this category to pick a watch that I would almost buy with my own money (and was sorely tempted to ask for during the show), but would certainly buy with yours: the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ceramic Perpetual Calendar.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ceramic Perpetual Calendar

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ceramic Perpetual Calendar

Two members of our collector group nominated the Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie (one with the solid dial removed, please) and one nominated A. Lange & Söhne’s big piece of the show: the Tourbograph Perpetual Pour le Mérite. And as long as you’re buying, the pink gold Greubel Forsey 24 Seconds Tourbillon Vision with the anthracite dial would be a nice stocking stuffer.

A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual Pour Le Mérite

A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual Pour Le Mérite

Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Seconds Vision in platinum with salmon-colored dial

Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Seconds Vision in platinum with salmon-colored dial

IS: Any watch by Kari Voutilainen! When photographing his collection I realized I would have been happy to have anything he presented at SIHH (see Exclusive Preview: Kari Voutilainen Watches For SIHH 2017).

Kari Voutilainen Vingt-8 ISO

Kari Voutilainen Vingt-8 ISO

ED: For me it would have been hands-down the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Decimal Strike in its exquisite honey gold case with visible hammers decorated with tremblage engraving. I think my heart actually skipped a beat when I saw (and heard) it!

A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Decimal Strike

A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Decimal Strike

A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual Pour Le Mérite

A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual Pour Le Mérite

NM: Money is no object so I am going to select two — I mean, why not?!?! I would buy the Urwerk UR-T8 or the A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual Pour Le Mérite if massive amounts of money were freely flowing into my bank account. These two timepieces are complete opposites but represent incredible possibilities to tell time.

Urwerk UR-T8 Bi-color

Urwerk UR-T8 Bi-color

Oh, and I might just add the Cartier Panthère Joueuse to fulfill my playful feminine side.

Panthère Joueuse de Cartier

Panthère Joueuse de Cartier

SC: The H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde for me. This cross between the Moser Swiss Alp Watch of last year and the Hautlence Vortex simply looked amazing with its thicker case showcasing the jumping Roman numeral hours and the intricate retrograde chain system blending modern looks with old-school tradition.

H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde

H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Alp Watch Minute Retrograde

JM: Given all the incredible releases and super complications this year, my answer for this is perhaps a bit surprising and at the same time not so much.

Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique

Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique

My choice could only be from one brand, the inimitable Greubel Forsey. But considering how awesome the Grande Sonnerie is, I still think my choice for this year wouldn’t be that, but instead the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Édition Historique. The overall look is just so cool, and the details always speak to me. It’s a hard choice to make — and so many other brands made such lustworthy pieces — but this is one that, once on my wrist, made me the most emotional.

I think a lot of that is from my love for the brand, but it is hard to argue with people who do so many things right. This watch might not get chosen by the rest of the panel, but it spoke to me quietly, whispering in my ear that it wanted me and I wanted it. And I think it was right.

Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique

Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Edition Historique

ED: That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it, Joshua? Emotion. And I’m very happy to see that we all chose very different pieces. It represents our differences in personality so well!

An investment watch

GG: While it was billed as a “pre-SIHH” watch (see 35 New Pre-SIHH 2017 Watches), the lovely and inventive new A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Moon Phase with its day/night display behind twin gold moon disks was also present at the show, and for me absolutely meets the test of having the potential to become a stable foundation piece within a well-built collection.

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Moon Phase in white gold

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Moon Phase in white gold

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Moon Phase in pink gold

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Moon Phase in pink gold

AG: I nominate the Panerai LAB-ID Luminor Carbotech. What a cool-looking watch, a timepiece with not only the case made of Carbotech (a composite material based on carbon fiber), but also the movement, which makes it lubricant free. The movement architecture is also very attractive. The icing on the cake is that Panerai gives the watch a 50-year guarantee!

View through the display back of the Panerai LAB-ID Luminor Carbotech

View through the display back of the Panerai LAB-ID Luminor Carbotech

SC: The Laurent Ferrier Galet Open Dial Tourbillon. Now, I’m not a conventional guy, and certainly not a traditionally smartly dressed guy, however I love pretty much any and every Laurent Ferrier watch. I was blown away by both this and the Montre Ecole watches.

Laurent Ferrier Galet Open Dial Tourbillon

Laurent Ferrier Galet Open Dial Tourbillon

IS: I think that there are safer and more rewarding investments than watches. Watches for me are something to wear for pleasure, not something to invest in. But if I had to pick one as a keeper it would be the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Decimal Strike.

Movement side of the A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Decimal Strike

Movement side of the A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Decimal Strike

JM: I am actually more interested to see what the rest of the panel says to this category because I don’t believe I would ever buy a watch as an investment only. But I also think I have learned a thing or two from GaryG and I think that out of all the pieces to buy, there are multiple reasons that the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Decimal Strike would be a fantastic investment piece.

Beside the fact that I love it, want it, and will probably dream about it for weeks, the Zeitwerk has been my favorite collection from A. Lange & Söhne for a long time, with my tippy-top being the Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst.

But adding a decimal striking mechanism to the Zeitwerk and throwing in a touch of tremblage engraving makes for a piece that I think will only go up in value. It is the only watch in existence like it, and given the success of the Zeitwerk collection (and relative rarity on the second-hand market) the likelihood that this piece will be coveted is fairly certain.

On a more somber note, this watch made its debut the very same week that Walter Lange, the man that reinvigorated German watchmaking and made A. Lange & Söhne into the leader it is, passed away. It is a terrible loss for watchmaking as a whole, and it gives this piece (and all others in the collection this year) a much deeper connection for collectors. I could imagine that collectors will want a piece of A. Lange & Söhne history even more at this moment.

NM: The A. Lange & Söhne Decimal Strike in honey gold, which truly sounds sweet and is limited to just 100 pieces, is also my choice, Joshua.

Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie

Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie

ED: I will choose both the Vacheron Constantin Symphonia Grande Sonnerie and the Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie for my investment watches from this fair, two extremely limited-in-number and difficult-to-produce timepieces that will probably rarely ever be worn, which is a real shame.

A patronage watch

ED: This category is a particularly difficult one for me as I am so enamored of the work that the independent watchmakers do altogether. However, I must say that I was fully enchanted by the Speake-Marin Crazy Skulls, whose repeating movement allows not only customization but also insanely cool motion on the dial. I love this!

Speake-Marin Crazy Skulls minute repeater tourbillon

Speake-Marin Crazy Skulls minute repeater tourbillon

GG: Since I already went with the updated Grönefeld Remontoire 1941 above, I’ll aim my attention in this category at the F.P. Journe Vagabondage 3; definitely in platinum as the color contrasts on the red gold version were just not to my taste.

F.P. Journe Vagabondage 3 on the wrist

F.P. Journe Vagabondage 3 on the wrist

AG: MB&F Horological Machine 7 Aquapod. Years ago I used to impatiently wait for Baselworld to discover the mind-numbing creations from the independents, and it seems to me that in the past years the only one to have maintained the WOW factor is MB&F . . . and its new Aquapod does not disappoint.

MB&F HM7 Aquapod in profile

MB&F HM7 Aquapod in profile

I don’t know if I would/could wear it, but what a watch! It’s so out there, I love it! And just because the design is so strong doesn’t mean the innovative movement shouldn’t be lauded.

JM: When I think of a patronage watch, I almost automatically assume that any major brand isn’t eligible. Granted, the major brands need patrons to continue making fantastic things, but small brands or independent watchmakers need the influx of cash so much more.

Oscillon l’Instant de Vérité

Handmade: the Oscillon l’Instant de Vérité

And so when small brands and people like Robert Greubel, Stephen Forsey, Philippe Dufour, Felix Baumgartner, Vianney Halter, and David Bernard help to fund projects with organizations like the Foundation de la Haute Horlogerie and the Time Aeon Foundation, that is worthy of patronage. The Oscillon l’Instant de Vérité is the watch that has resulted from the efforts of those mentioned, and the two amazing watchmakers behind Oscillon, Dominique Buser and Cyrano Devanthey.

The Oscillon l’Instant de Vérité is made nearly entirely by hand in the old style; no CNC for these guys, this is something fantastic and “simple.” Though the dial details aren’t about to win awards for design, the real reason for the l’Instant de Vérité is the awesome handmade movement. Out of everything at the fair, supporting the work in this watch might go the longest way to saving traditional watchmaking for future generations (see Oscillon’s l’Instant de Vérité: The Most − If Not The Only − Fully Handmade Watch Available Today (Felix Baumgartner And Time Aeon Foundation Are Involved).

Oscillon l’Instant de Vérité

Oscillon l’Instant de Vérité

IS: Agreed, Joshua! I also choose the Oscillon l’Instant de Vérité tourbillon project that the micro brand is doing with the Time Aeon Foundation.

Cartier Ronde Louis Cartier XL Flamé Gold

Cartier Ronde Louis Cartier XL Flamé Gold

NM: I decided to go at this from an independent artisan angle, rather than from a pure independent watchmaker angle, and choose the Cartier Ronde Louis Cartier XL Flamé Gold.

Cartier is rich in historic artistic expertise, which I often drool over, and this timepiece continues these traditions with a new and completely stunning métier d’art. It took one artisan two years to perfect the technique of heating gold at varying temperatures to achieve the desired effect.

Cartier Ronde Louis Cartier XL Flamé Gold

Cartier Ronde Louis Cartier XL Flamé Gold

A fun watch

ED: Though this is quite far out of my price range, my ultimate fun watch from SIHH would be the HYT Skull Axl Rose. This lightweight watch that tells the time using HYT’s patented liquid is also quite large at 51 mm, but the size is hardly noticeable on the wrist thanks to the cool cuff strap.

HYT introduced the Skull Axl Rose at Dubai Watch Week 2016

HYT first introduced the Skull Axl Rose at Dubai Watch Week 2016

And when I tried it on at the booth, I did really imagine myself onstage right between Axl and Slash . . . how much more fun can that get?

NM: Visually, the MB&F HM7 Aquapod is completely unique and qualifies for a fun watch in my book. This powerful mechanical wonder for your wrist will surely see conversation striking up with any watch aficionado — or just about anyone, you really can’t help but notice it.

MB&F HM7 Aquapod on the wrist

MB&F HM7 Aquapod on the wrist

The jellyfish-inspired watch is steeped with horological traditions and finishings executed in a non-traditional way to create the most innovative aesthetics. The spherical design starts with a tourbillon in the center working outward to a bezel that seems to float and rotates with the greatest of ease. Hats off to super-talented watch designer Eric Giroud and the entire MB&F team, this piece is phenomenal!

IS: I thought that the MB&F HM7 Aquapod was a visual and technical delight as well, Nola, and as wild as it is, I think I’d be comfortable wearing one (see Medusa In The Sea: Introducing The MB&F Horological Machine №7 Aquapod (Live Photos And Wristshots).

GG: Here, it’s any of a number of the attractive and affordable new pieces from Jaeger-LeCoultre for me. Among these, as a robust daily wearer the piece that is calling my name is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Seconds on its new steel bracelet.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta

Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta

But also the new Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta captured my attention in an equally fun way.

Girard-Perregaux Neo-Bridges

Girard-Perregaux Neo-Bridges

AG: For me it’s the Girard-Perregaux Neo-Bridges. GP was back at SIHH with two major launches: the Laureato, of which none of the new models spoke to me, and the Neo-Bridges, which uses the iconography of the brand’s celebrated three golden bridge tourbillons. Here it is used in a non-tourbillon watch.

I love the Neo-Bridges’s resolutely modern look and three-dimensional movement architecture resulting in a viciously cool look. Definitely up there on my wish list!

JM: It should come as no surprise that my selection for a fun watch isn’t particularly simple. I absolutely have loved the direction from Girard-Perregaux with the Neo-Tourbillon, so when I saw the newly released Neo-Bridges, I knew that this is a watch I would wear everyday if I owned it.

Girard-Perregaux Neo-Bridges

Girard-Perregaux Neo-Bridges

The movement is simply stunning, and being a time-only watch it is a relatively practical watch for daily wear. In a titanium case it wears light and comfortable and will stay looking sharp for a long time. In the end, it is a relatively straightforward skeleton-esque watch without being over the top. And with a price tag of $24,000, it actually borders on affordable if you wanted one really cool watch to wear all the time. It gets my vote.

Urwerk UR-T8 Bi-color transforming

Urwerk UR-T8 Bi-color transforming

SC: The Urwerk UR-T8 . . . After 20 years of making “out there” watches, pushing the boundaries of innovation and conventional time telling, Urwerk will always have a place in my heart (especially after a week-long connection in Iceland with the EMC Time Hunter!).

I would have liked to see the UR-T8 be slightly smaller, but it was still wearable, innovative, and above all fun! Think mad fusion of dinosaurs and a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso! I loved the tactility of the case.

A fantasy/money no object watch: a true object of desire

JM: For me, I look at this category differently than the previous money is no object category. I look at it as a fantasy because the watch I choose, no person will ever own.

ED: That is the idea, Joshua!

Ulysse Nardin InnoVision 2

Ulysse Nardin InnoVision 2

JM: That watch is the Ulysse Nardin InnoVision 2. Sadly, it is going straight to the museum (after being on tour) and so it must be a fantasy as — even if I was a billionaire and the first to try to buy it — I couldn’t anyway.

This is an easy category to choose because the InnoVision 2 is simply awesome, and since I can’t own it (not because I am cash-strapped, but because nobody can own it), I feel a bit happier about that prospect.

IS: If it’s a fantasy then I’ll have two: the A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual Pour le Mérite and the Vacheron Constantin Celestia.

Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Papillon Automat

Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Papillon Automat

ED: Well, I will follow suit and choose two as well: the Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Papillon Automat with its intermittently fluttering butterfly wings and the likewise not-to-be-bought-just-to-look-at Automate Fée Ondine, which was created by François Junod. In case you can’t tell, I’m a total sucker for automata. Unfortunately, my bank account is not.

AG: For me, it’s the Vacheron Constantin Celestia. In the past years, Vacheron Constantin has been hitting the nail on the head continuously and (I believe somewhat unfairly) has not been getting the same respect as Greubel Forsey or A. Lange & Söhne in terms of technical prowess.

Vacheron Constantin Celestia

Vacheron Constantin Celestia

With the double-sided Celestia this will have to change: 23 complications fit into a movement only 8.7 mm high. This watch is mind-boggling in its construction, complication, and amazing legibility. Congratulations, Vacheron Constantin!

SC: I choose the Richard Mille RM 11–03 watch in a funky blue quartz signature tonneau-shaped case. Its intricate dial is so fascinating! And I do think Richard Mille has its whole marketing and partnership strategy down right, making it able to create fun but highly innovative and exciting watches.

Richard Mille RM 11-03

Richard Mille RM 11–03

GG: My true “grails” remain a Philippe Dufour Sonnerie and the F.P. Journe Tourbillon Prototype, but within the show this year the watch that most closely approached those for me was the Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie.

My collector pals were very much divided in their opinions of one of the other chiming pieces in the show, the Audemars Piguet Supersonnerie in the Jules Audemars case, but I quite liked both its look and sound and could easily imagine lusting after it as well!

You may also like Baselworld 2016 Round Table: What We Liked And What We Didn’t Like.

Originally published at Quill & Pad.