What’s trending in luxury watches this year? The first exhibition of 2015 reveals horologists taking the simplest timepieces to complex new heights—and they’re coming soon to Vegas.
Greubel Forsey’s QP à Équation watch (price not yet available) combines a tourbillon with a perpetual calendar and an “equation of time” mechanism. Bellusso, Grand Canal Shoppes at Venetian and Palazzo, 702-650-2988
Watch sales in 2014 were estimated to total nearly $40 billion globally, with timepieces from Switzerland accounting for more than half of that sum—which made Geneva the place to be recently for connoisseurs of the world’s finest watches, at the first timepiece exhibition of 2015, January’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie.
Some 12,000 visitors, including watch retailers and journalists, descended on the city to witness the unveiling of the newest timepieces from 16 top luxury brands. These watches, many half a dozen years in the making, will start arriving in the US market this summer and establish wrist trends for the coming year and beyond.
What can consumers expect? The unexpected and the incredible. Making a strong showing this year are skeletonized watches, pieces inspired by astronomy, and watches with high complications such as tourbillons, an added escapement to compensate for errors in timing due to the effects of gravity when the wrist is in certain positions. Also making important statements—at more affordable prices—are creative new chronographs, as well as new annual calendar watches (which require a date adjustment just once a year, at the end of February) and perpetual calendar watches (designed to keep perfect time until the year 2100, when the leap year will be skipped).
FROM LEFT: For the Cartier Crash Skeleton (approximately $62,000), the entire movement had to be reconfigured before its metal could be meticulously carved away. Wynn Las Vegas, 702-770-3498. The IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar watch (price upon request) is powered by a new caliber made in-house to celebrate the line’s 75th anniversary. Bellusso, Grand Canal Shoppes at Venetian and Palazzo, 702-650-2988. Piaget again sets records with its Altiplano Chronograph ($29,000): the world’s thinnest hand-wound chronograph movement and watch. Encore Las Vegas, 702-770-5470
Garnering particular attention this year are skeletonized watches, in which as much metal as possible is carved away from the movement, so the wearer can see the beauty of the elaborate gears and wheels inside. The tiny components are often engraved and finished, resulting in a breathtaking work of art and precision. Brands such as Cartier, Roger Dubuis, and Parmigiani Fleurier take the lead with elaborate new skeletonized watches. In fact, for Cartier’s new Crash Skeleton, the movement had to be reconfigured to fit inside the unusual Salvador Dalí–inspired case.
In the realm of tourbillons, top brands are combining the complex tourbillon escapement with other useful functions, such as chronographs and perpetual calendars. Montblanc, for instance, unveiled the Heritage Exotourbillon in a special Vasco da Gama tribute edition. Named for the famous explorer who in the 1500s navigated by the Southern Cross to connect Europe with Asia, this stunning version features an aventurine dial complete with the stars of the Southern Cross.
Inspired by the heavens, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new Duomètre Sphérotourbillon Moon watch features a movement that combines moon-phase indication, a perpetual calendar, and a seemingly free-floating tourbillon escapement. Similarly, Greubel Forsey focuses on astronomy in its seventh invention watch: QP à Équation, which masterfully marries tourbillon, perpetual calendar, and “equation of time” mechanisms (the latter showing the difference between real time and solar time), along with a display of the season. These luxury watches will be true statement-makers in 2015.
As for advancements in chronographic design, Piaget’s new ultrathin Altiplano Chronograph sets two world records: The hand-wound flyback movement (caliber 883P) is only 4.65mm thick, while the watch measures just 8.24mm thick.
Other impressive new chronographs hail from brands like IWC, Panerai, and Ralph Lauren. IWC has greatly expanded its Portuguese collection to honor its 75th anniversary this year, unveiling several new chronographs and calendar timepieces and introducing new movements made in-house, including one for the Portugieser annual calendar watch.