MeisterSinger on the SIHH – An exhibition report
Before Baselworld, where MeisterSinger also presents its new products, the world of watches attends the annual SIHH watchmaking exhibition in Geneva every January. From an in-house exhibition of Richemont brands such as IWC, Cartier, and Jaeger-LeCoultre along with less closely associated companies such as Audemars Piguet, SIHH has developed into one of the foremost events in fine watchmaking. After incorporating small, young, and independent manufacturers into the mix, there will be presentations on the current topics and trends for premium timepieces at SIHH.
Atmosphere exceeding expectations
Geneva presents the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the prevailing atmosphere among producers and purchasers. It’s no secret that the industry has recently had little reason to celebrate; decreases in exports from the Swiss watch industry, especially in business with China, and increasing product prices due to the abandonment of the franc-euro cap have put a significant curb on the once seemingly never-ending watch boom.
But the atmosphere exceeded expectations at this year’s Geneva SIHH; according to many jewelers, the brands with iconic classics such as a Daytona, Reverso, or Royal Oak in their range, or those with a niche in ultra-expensive high-tech (Richard Mille) and/or a unique design (Ressence), have remained on their successful track. Accordingly, manufacturers not only cautiously updated their models (while cutting costs), but also developed new products, with just a few exceptions.
This includes all sorts of astronomical products, above all moon phases, that will have to be corrected by one day by the purchasers’ heirs 122 years later (with the new Lange, 1 moon phase), or a realistic representation of the Earth’s rotation around the sun (Vacheron Constantin) – such long times were more in focus than micro-timekeeping. Manufacturers have presented chronographs that (again) are dedicated to auto racing, featuring not only pieces of original Grand-Prix tires (Roger Dubuis), but also brand new high-tech materials such as graphene (Richard Mille).
In comparison, the exclaimed “rebirth of sports watches” is a rather nostalgic topic; the new models continue the tradition of the comparably subtle three-hand sports classics of the 60s and 70s (such as the Laureato family by Girard-Perregaux) – or experiment with their aesthetic quite wryly (Max Büsser & Friends).
Watches without time on the SIHH
Some more trends: visual freedom of the mechanical works and the virtually sculptural nature of the dial faces and markers. This three-dimensionality acts as a firm objection to the flat monitors of smartwatches, which are considered serious competition in the industry.
The same goes for their design counterparts, watches whose time is displayed as an electronic projection, but are actually controlled mechanically. Small brands in particular have presented more products than ever with time displays only playing a minor secondary role (Van Cleef & Arpels), and ones that are no longer a watch, but more of a pleasure to be worn on the wrist (such as the Labyrinth by Hautlence). Whether manufacturers have struck a chord remains to be seen.