Highlights from Geneva 2018

Exceptional watches from the Geneva-based SIHH watch fair – our favorite pieces from day one.

by Stephen Watson

The New York Times recently reported that “Every major economy on earth is expanding at once, a synchronous wave of growth that is creating jobs, lifting fortunes and tempering fears of popular discontent.” Sounds like fantastic news to me, and the positivity is only increasing.  At Geneva’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), the invitation-only watch fair presented by luxury goods company Richemont, the prevailing mood always manages to reveal the current state of affairs.  It’s in the demeanor of the attendees, the disposition of the executives, even the type of decor—no matter the ferocity of the game face, the truth seems to seep through the polished veneer. I’ve attended SIHH for more than a decade. This year the mood was terrific.

The brand presentations felt sharp, the collections beautifully and precisely edited. The new timepiece introductions perfectly captured the needs and desires of the current luxury timepiece buyer.  This made it impossible to single out favorites, which, in turn, underlined my overall takeaway: The coming year promises to be utterly fantastic for watch enthusiasts, and we have Baselworld just around the corner.

Day One:

The love affair with panda dial chronographs seems only to grow stronger. For 2018, Montblanc will introduce the TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph, available with a steel bracelet, a brown perforated strap, or vintage inspired “Bund” wide wrist strap. The black and white dial indicates hours, minutes, small seconds, and date—chrono indicators at 3 & 9 o’clock—with in-house Montblanc Manufacture Column wheel Chrono Calibre MB 25.10 movement. An oscillating weight shape of a steering wheel drives a 46-hour power reserve.


TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph, $5,940; montblanc.com

The Laureato collection from Girard-Perregaux continues to grow with an expanded line of sporty chronographs. Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, and chronograph indicators with automatic mechanical movement (and 46-hour power reserve) elevate a successful collection to new heights. In pink gold or steel, the steel version with black “Clou de Paris” textured dial with blue subdials was an immediate SIHH fan favorite.

Laureato 42mm Chronograph, $14,300; girard-perregaux.com

A dazzling booth filled with jaw-dropping artworks by Damien Hirst, Ulysse Nardin lived up to its bold hashtag, #freakmeout. The brand also revealed the first automatic watch in the Freak collection, an unconventional timepiece that “exposes” time without a crown, hands or even a dial. Slimmed down with components made of silicium (balance wheel) and solid nickel elements, with an overall design created to resemble a ships hull. Slight wrist movements power the “Grinder” winding system, along with an ingenious Ulysse Nardin Anchor Escapement,  which keeps the 45mm platinum-case watch powered at a constant rate without the influence of torque variation from the mainspring.

The Freak Vision by Ulysse Nardin, $95,000; ulysse-nardin.com

Simple good looks disguise one of the more fascinating watches shown at SIHH 2018. A new ultra-efficient, in-house movement called the Baumatic from Baume & Mercier radically increases the power reserve (120 hours/five days) while the use of silicon parts vastly improves accuracy as well as anti-magnetism. These updates cut down on the need for the professional maintenance (more than five years–possibly ten!) making this the ideal watch for any low-maintenance modern guy.

The Clifton Baumatic, $2,790;  baume-et-mercier.com

Part of IWC‘s impressive Jubilee collection, the stealth IWC Pilot watch in stainless steel features a white lacquered dial with an oversize date for the very first time. The 46.2 mm case houses a hand-wound movement, with an eight-day power reserve visible through a small window located on the antimagnetic soft steel caseback. A limited edition of 100 pieces for an irresistible new version of one of IWC’s most beloved watches.

Big Pilot’s Watch Big Date Edition “150 Years,” $13,800, iwc.com