SIHH - Day 3 (Part 1)
I wish I could say that we were feeling more spry today, but Day 2 at SIHH is usually a packed one, and as you no doubt saw from our report yesterday, this year was no different. Indeed, one could say that Day 2 – Tuesday – is the best day to take the temperature of the show, since Monday is always a bit slower, given that not all of the retailers have arrived yet, while Wednesday is usually a repeat of Tuesday and Thursday slows down considerably, since most of the media have taken all their appointments by then.
So, with that said, let's dive in, shall we?
The big story at Montblanc for SIHH was the updated TimeWalker collection, which takes its cues from the racing heritage which Montblanc inherited through Minerva. (Yes, the more cynical among us will raise an eyebrow here, but hey, it is what it is.) So, what is the TimeWalker? It's an entry-level luxury sport collection – "accessible luxury" in Montblanc's words – that is comprised of a three-hander, a chronograph, a chrono GMT and two range-topping halo pieces that kick some serious butt.
The bread and butter pieces are certainly nice enough, with well-finished stainless steel cases (the sculpted cutouts at the lugs are a particularly nice touch) and uni-directional ceramic bezels, with grippy knurling, but we've got our eyes set on the Rally Timer, which looks like someone ripped a chrono off the dashboard of a vintage race car and slapped a strap on it. Apparently, this is exactly what we were supposed to think, but sadly that didn't win us a discount on the watch, which will retail for $33,900.
But we said the TimeWalker was an entry-level luxury collection, right? Right. The TimeWalker Automatic, Chronograph and Chronograph UTC all clock in at under $5K, and represent a pretty decent value at that price, but they accomplish this through the use of Sellita and ETA movements; the Rally Timer is rocking a Minerva-derived mono pusher chronograph under the hood, which is the sort of thing that has us thinking bad thoughts when we're waiting at in line at the bank. Couple that with its neo-vintage aesthetics and a versatile case that the wearer can angle for a better view while gripping a steering wheel, or remove outright and use a desk clock, and we're sold. Only 100 will be made, and we have every reason to believe that they'll prove as popular as the award-winning 1858 Tachymeter Chronograph Limiteds have been.
There's also the psychotic TimeWalker Chronograph 1000 Limited Edition 18, but frankly speaking, that one terrifies us (it has a zillion patents pending, its movement rivals a Lange in terms of depth and complexity, and since it can measure time down to 1/1000 sec, it moves really, really fast). At $175K, and with only 18 being made, that's just as well, since we can't afford it anyway.
Baume & Mercier
A quick step across the show floor, and we were at Baume & Mercier's booth, where we were immediately made to feel right at home thanks to their "Clifton Club"; an actual bar with actual bartenders mixing actual drinks. It's as though they knew we were coming. But I digress. We were there to get handsy with the new Clifton Club, yet another "accessible luxury" collection, and to be honest, we weren't expecting a whole lot. I mean, sure, we figured they'd be competent enough in a blandly luxe fashion, but certainly not something that a self-respecting RedBar member would shell out for.
Simply put, the Clifton Club is fantastic, and at the price point they're coming in at – starting at under $2K – honestly, we're hard-pressed to think of a better watch to get, should you find yourself in the market for an affordable all-rounder. The Clifton Club will be offered in steel with your choice of white, black or blue dials. James likes the white dial, which, okay, it's good looking (all the Clifton Clubs are), but the correct choice is the sandblasted DLC jammie with the black dial and contrasting bezel. Slap it on the optional rubber NATO (yes, they made a rubber NATO!), and you've got your summer wear-without-a-care-watch base covered.
Of course, this being Baume & Mercier, you just know that there's also gonna be a Shelby chrono... Guess what? There was. Two, in fact: a standard chronograph in a series of 1964 to honor the year that the Shelby Daytona Couple made its racing debut; and a flyback chronograph in a series of 196 to honor the record-setting top speed that the car achieved on the infamous Mulsanne Straight. Our favorite? The flyback, with its split blue/white dial colorway, which evokes the abrupt Kamm back of the Daytona Coupe. Interesting to note, the Clifton Club Shelby Cobra Limited Edition was designed with input from none other than Peter Brock, the designer of the Shelby Daytona Coupe, and it shows in small details, such as the chrono pushers, which he based on the Coupe's pedals and the rotor, which is a replica of the magnesium wheels.
It's all in the details, people.
H. Moser & Cie.
As impressed as we were with Montblanc and Baume & Mercier, it was time to leave the accessible luxury world behind and head over to H. Moser & Cie, where our friend Mike Margolis was waiting to indulge our deepest, darkest and Swiss cheesiest fantasies.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know by know that Edouard Meylan, the eccentric president of H. Moser & Cie, has been less than happy with the state of Swiss watchmaking and the so-called 60% rule, which allows 40% of a watch's content to be sourced from somewhere other than Switzerland (usually a place that rhymes with "China"), yet still have "Swiss Made" on the dial. To protest this, he recently decided to remove "Swiss Made" from the dials of all Moser watches going forward; a move that we applaud. However, given that we're talking about the guy who famously trolled Apple with the Swiss Alp watch and the Endeavor Perpetual Calendar "Funky Blue", which he labeled as the original smartwatch, we probably should've guessed that he wasn't finished.
Not by a longshot.
So, please allow us to introduce you to the Swiss Mad Watch, which is 100% Swiss Made, right down to its case, which is crafted from nano-tube reinforced Swiss cheese. Really. Once you get past that, and its $1million dollar price tag – $1,081,291, to be exact, which also happens to the date that the Swiss Charter was signed – you're left with a typically killer Moser, this time with a deep red fumé dial, which honors the Swiss flag.
The cheese-cased Swiss Mad watch is a one-off, with all of the proceeds of its sale going to fund a foundation to support and promote independent watchmaking, but Moser will also be releasing a series of 50 pieces in ever so slightly more traditional white gold cases, called the Venturer Swiss Mad. Don't worry, though, they still have the untreated cowhide strap, so your status as an iconoclast will be maintained.
There aren't a whole lot of brands out there that are as large and as established as Parmigiani and can still say that the guy who's name is on the dial is not only alive, but still designing the watches. Not only is Michel Parmigiani very much alive, but his daughter, Anne-Laure, is also involved with the company, which is awesome. "Awesome" also describes Thierry Collot, Parmigiani North American General Manager and good friend of RedBar, who was on hand to talk us through their new releases.
First up was the Toric Chronometre, which hearkens back to one of Michel's original designs, but updates it for 2017 sensibilities. What are 2017 sensibilities, you ask? Good question, and one that I didn't anticipate, so you'll have to content yourself with a supremely attractive watch in either white gold or pink gold, and black or white dials. The PF331 in-house movement is finished to Parmigiani's usual high standards, and whole shebang can be had for under $20K, which is a fairly aggressive price for a watch of this caliber.
A redesigned Kalpa was also on hand, as well as the new Bugattii Aerolithe Performance chronograph, but I had eyes for the Tonda 1950 White Meteorite dial, which, as you can probably guess, has a white meteorite dial. Atom wants the black meteorite dial, which means that we can trade when we want to mix things up.
A. Lange & Sohne
What is there to say about these guys? Every year they positively kill it, so much so that it's almost boring to cover them. Seriously, if they could drop a stinker once it a while, it would give folks something else to talk about. So, yes, they killed it again this year with the 1815 Annual Calendar for under $40K and the Tourbograph Perpetual "Pour Le Mérite" for well over $40K (about $460K over).
The 1815 Annual Calendar retains the classic 1815 styling cues, and, as you can probably guess from the name, brings an annual calendar complication to the party. The end result ought to have the Patek folks spending a lot of time in the Lange booth when they crash the party on Friday (this is the first year that SIHH will be opening its doors to the public, so you can bet your ass that Basel brands will be hoofing it on over to the PalExpo). Up until now, the high-end annual calendar market was pretty much solely Patek's domain, but now they're gonna have some competition. Good.
As for the Tourbograph Perpetual PLM, what can you say about a chain-fusée tourbillon with a rattrapante and a perpetual calendar? It's awesome? I mean, sure, it is, but c'mon, that barely scratches the surface of the magnificence contained within its polished platinum case. Basically, it's gang-busters nuts and unless you recently took your tech startup public or you bought a ton of privatized utilities for pennies on the ruble after the Soviet Union collapsed, the pictures you see here are about as close as you're ever going to get to one of these beauties. Only 50 will be made, and it's probably a fair bet that they already have homes.
I'm giving serious thought to becoming an oligarch right about now. Just sayin'
Okay, my fingers are tired and my hangover cure isn't working (basically, I just drink more). As such, I'm signing off temporarily, but still to come we have Greubel-Forsey, Ulysse-Nardin, Ressence, FP Journe and more...
(Photos courtesy of Atom Moore)