It’s day three here in freezing Geneva, but in the halls of SIHH, things could not get any hotter. Our jaws are still dropping from the spectacular and at times mind-blowing timepieces being presented before us, and it’s starting to feel as though this edition just might go down as one of the best ones in recent history. Buckle up and prepare for another exciting horological ride.
Greubel Forsey Grand Sonnerie
Producing a mere 1,000 timepieces a year, tops, Greubel Forsey belongs to the rarefied world of ultra-exclusive high watchmaking. Behind this brand are watchmaking geniuses Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey, whose life mission is to constantly push the bounds of horology. And this year, they do just that with a new musical chiming watch, the Grand Sonnerie. It took the duo 11 years to create this piece, which is equipped with a faultless acoustic resonance cage—containing flawless cathedral gongs and striking hammers—that can produce pure and exquisite chimes. And as if that were not enough, a tourbillon is thrown into the mix.
Why we love it: What can I say. Owning a Greubel Forsey timepiece alone is incredible, but owning one that’s said to be the watchmaker’s most complex creation to date is mind-blowing. The beauty of the Grand Sonnerie is that despite the myriad of complications on the dial, it remains to be a truly beautiful piece to have on the wrist. You have to be patient, though, as only five pieces will be produced each year.
Perhaps unknown to many, Girard-Perregaux is one of the world’s oldest watchmakers, having celebrated its 225th anniversary last year. To mark this milestone, it resurrected a 1970s icon, the Laureato, a sporty watch model which it will continue to push this year. Let’s get it out of the way: yes, it does bear a striking resemblance to Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak, which is because the two models were created in the same era—the Laureato only a few years before the Royal Oak—when octagonal bezels and steel in expensive watches were the done thing. What sets the Laureato apart though was that it was equipped with an in-house quartz movement. This year, it does just that and much, more more, with over 30 variations giving customers a wide choice of materials, movements and complications.
Why we love it: It’s rather curious why Girard-Perregaux kept this gem on the shelves for that long—the last big update was in 2003—but no matter, what’s important is that it’s back with a vengeance. So if you’re looking for a contemporary watch that’s versatile, easy to wear, fitted with spectacular movements and has a heritage, I’d suggest you look seriously into a Laureato.
Panerai Lab ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days
Introducing the first and perhaps only watch that’s guaranteed for half a century. So confident is Panerai in the Lab ID—which has been named after its R&D facility Laboratorio di Idee—that it’s given it a 50-year warranty. Now, the most notable bit about this piece is its use of high-tech materials. The case is made from a carbon composite called Carbotech, which is extremely durable, scratch-resistant and very light. On the dial they use Vantablack, a material made from carbon nanotubes that absorbs all light, and is said to be “the blackest substance on earth.” The true genius here though is its movement, which is the first one in history that doesn’t need lubrication as its bridges and plates are made from a low friction composite that integrates a tantalum-based ceramic.
Why we love it: Black can be more black—who knew? I know, it sounds like a marketing gimmick but it really is, and in an Abyss sci-fi kind of way, quite beautiful. What’s more, it’s very comfortable; at a sizeable 49mm, it’s so light that you forget you’re wearing it. For Panerai fans who love the Luminor 1950, this is an absolute must-have, but be quick, only 50 pieces will be produced.
IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
While it was all about the Pilot collection last year, 2017 is officially the year of the Da Vinci—a collection IWC first launched in the 1980s. As the brands revisits this line, it returns to the original and classic round case; as some of you might remember, it introduced a tonneau case to the line some years back. The new Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph is particularly impressive, which echoes the model’s more formal and distinguished look of the mid-80s. If you have a keen eye, you might notice that the cylindrical lugs, pushers and crown are slightly different and made more contemporary.
Why we love it: We were not always sold on the tonneu case on the Da Vinci so returning to its classic round shape was a welcome change. Aesthetics aside, this piece is now equipped with a manufacture automatic movement, enabling the watch’s perpetual calendar and chronograph functions. This certainly is a piece made for those of you who want to dress to impress.