Notable Highlights from the 2019 SIHH
The first watch show of the year kicked off this week in Geneva, Switzerland: the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie. In an ever-evolving industry, annual fairs like the SIHH have met the challenge to adapt with the times. As a result, they set out to make the 2019 event more connected and dynamic than ever before. They did so with three strategic approaches: more transparency, versatile content and digital tools.
This year, the SIHH aimed to lift the veil that often shrouds the watch industry in mystery. They offered a behind-the-scenes look at innovation with the LAB. This ideas laboratory sat centrally within the Salon. Here, attendees could explore an array of innovations expected to influence the industry in the near future. The LAB highlighted more than fifteen up-and-coming projects and their tangible applications. For instance, Vacheron Constantin developed a virtual reality platform that allows you to explore their archives.
In another effort to expand the reach of these once highly exclusive events, the SIHH brought back the Auditorium. They first launched this concept at last year’s event in 2018. It offered a space for debates, discussions, panels, and forums on relevant industry topics. They enhanced this year’s version of the Auditorium by adding live coverage online.
The SIHH App
In addition to online coverage of the Auditorium, this year’s SIHH continued to make additional strides in this area. They further opened their doors to a wider scope of people with a new and improved SIHH app. The app also included live streams of curated content from brands and more. Finally, for the third season, they opened the Salon to the public on the last day of the event.
Despite these modern enhancements to the SIHH’s offerings, the core focus remained on the watches. Each of the 35 exhibitors presented some of the most technically advanced and design focused watches we’ve seen yet. Below, we’ve distilled some of the overarching trends you can expect to see and the watches that reflect them.
Pops of Color
Each season, the watch industry tends to embrace a slightly different color palette. Blue is a hue we see come in and out of style rather frequently. Expect to see it as a prominent color again this season but with a slight twist. Enamel dials have been on the rise in the past few years. In 2019, we note blue enamelwork as having a particularly strong presence. Two models that embrace the trend are Bovet’s Virtuoso IX and Jaeger LeCoultre’s Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel. The more unexpected color we’ll see this season is a rose gold, salmon hue. The new Royal Oak Jumbo Extra Flat and the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon are just two of many examples.
Shapes and Sizes
Shapes and sizes are two other watch trends we see ebb and flow from year to year. In 2019, we see the resurgence of the tonneau case. Cartier relaunched their Tonneau collection at this year’s event. It includes a range of watches from time-only pieces to the impressive Tonneau XL Skeleton Dual Time. The trend of larger watches has also been going strong for years. However, in 2019, we’ll see an increased number of smaller options. This in turn reflects the growing interest in vintage-style timepieces. Two of our favorite examples include the 39mm IWC Spitfire Longest Flight and Cartier’s new 38mm Santos Dumont.
Past, Present, and Future
As we teased above, the influence of watches past in addition to the promise of watch’s future feels ever present. The demand for vintage-style timepieces remains stronger than ever, and brands are not slowing down with reissues. One of the most exciting throwback watches for 2019 is the limited edition A. Lange & Söhne’s Lange 1 25th Anniversary model. Yet, at the same time, other more contemporary brands continue to embrace a futuristic concept. We continue to see independents like MB&F pursue avant-garde designs. One of their latest is the Horological Machine 6 Final Edition.
The SIHH can’t go off without a healthy dose of haute horology and high-level gem setting. We notice an uptick in the number of creative, new high complications. One of the most impressive models displayed was the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat. Finally, we see attention to gem setting in men’s watches, notably the use of the baguette cut. It provides a distinctly more subtle and masculine touch while adding a a certain elegance with precious stones. Two examples include Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers Sky Chart Minute Repeater Tourbillon and Piaget’s Altiplano High Jewelry.