Geneva's annual Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) is an exhibition of the world's most exclusive watch brands that sets the stage for timepiece trends for years to come. This year, the show's 29th, ingenuity and imagination with cool, quirky and innovative designs hallmarked the new offerings. Here's a selection of standouts.
One of the most important movements in haute horology is embracing nontraditional materials in case construction because, for many wearers, comfort is as much a luxury as noble metals. This year at SIHH, Girard-Perregaux introduced a new Laureato Absolute Chronograph with a carbon glass case. This unique substance is 100 times stiffer than steel, and its properties also make it light, airtight and water-resistant. Girard-Perregaux also took advantage of the fact that these glass fibers could be tinted, and the play of light on the case surface adds depth and motion to the classic Laureato profile. Price upon request, Westime, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood; girard-perregaux.com
One of the most disruptive and delightful presentations at SIHH 2019 was Richard Mille’s Bonbon collection of 10 candy- and fruit-inspired confections. Mille is famous for technological innovation, but this sweet series raised the bar on its decorative techniques. The RM 07-03 Automatic Marshmallow uses the classic Richard Mille tonneau silhouette and traditional grand feu enameling, but makes it fun with its two-tone ceramic and red gold case sprinkled with colorful gemstones sandwiched on the sides. $153,000, Richard Mille and Westime, Beverly Hills; richardmille.com
The centerpiece of the Roger Dubuis booth at SIHH 2019 was the bespoke Lamborghini SC18 Alston supercar, a fitting symbol given that the brand has staked its reputation on performance-driven timepieces. And Dubuis introduced the Excalibur Shooting Star in recognition that women want watches that are as bold and technical as their masculine counterparts. The Shooting Star has all the signatures of a men’s Dubuis, but its 36 mm case is better proportioned to smaller wrists. The 18K pink gold case, with white round-cut diamonds and enamel accents, comes in two colorways: pink ($168,000) and blue ($184,000). Heavenly! Geneva Seal Fine Jewelry & Timepieces; rogerdubuis.com
This year, Panerai has focused its energy on its sporty Submersible line. And by using innovative materials such as Carbotech, a proprietary carbon fiber the brand started working with in 2015, the collection has been refreshed not only in function but also in style. On the wrist, Carbotech is lighter than steel or titanium. The matte black material of the case looks similar to the finish of a meteorite and is complemented by bright blue Super LumiNova accents found in the dial printing, bezel markers and, for the first time, applied block markers. $17,900, Beverly Hills, panerai.com
Originally conceived in the 1910s, the Baignoire is one of Cartier’s most enduring watchcase designs. Catherine Deneuve, Romy Schneider and Jeanne Moreau—all women celebrated for their spirit and taste—have worn one. Over the years, Cartier has played with the size and shape of this oval timepiece, stretching it out and decorating it with diamonds and other precious stones. At SIHH 2019, the company revealed another new edition, in 18K rose gold decorated with an extravagant sculpted gold bezel that is worked into studs that adopt the shape of the clou de Paris in Cartier’s jewelry repertoire. It’s spiky, sexy and wholly original. $27,100, Beverly Hills, cartier.com
One of the most admired watches in Geneva was the Montblanc Heritage Pulsograph Limited Edition 100. While it was inspired by a 1940s-era doctor’s watch, this stainless steel stunner encapsulated so many of the fair’s trends with its sensible 40 mm case size, salmon-colored domed dial and a box-shaped sapphire crystal. The pulsometer is a tool watch invented to provide physicians with an accurate way to check their patients’ heartbeat. This 21st-century version is also precise thanks to its Montblanc Manufacture Monopusher MB M13.21 with column-wheel chronograph caliber. It certainly sets our hearts racing. $31,000, Montblanc, Beverly Center and Feldmar Watch Company; montblanc.com