Best collections from SIHH 2017 Day 3: Vacheron Constantin, IWC Schaffhausen and Montblanc

Best collections from SIHH 2017 Day 3: Vacheron Constantin, IWC Schaffhausen and Montblanc

Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève

Text: Angelyn Kwek

A higher purpose took precedence on the third day of SIHH 2017 as the Renaissance greats and competitive sporting held court with conversation pieces turned out by Vacheron Constantin, IWC Schaffhausen and Montblanc

The inspiration: Nicolaus Copernius, the man who theorised the sun was the centre of the universe while Earth orbits around it — a notion ahead of his time, what with his peers thinking everything else revolved around our planet.

The collection: Crafting the universe into amazingly complex horology masterpieces that combine art and science was a lofty ambition Vacheron Constantin tackled with aplomb as they unveiled a Metièrs d'Art trio that was astrology reinterpreted. Like its namesake, the Copernicus celestial spheres marry creativity with extraordinary know-how, playing to the maison's long tradition in astronomical complications. Featuring three innovative crafts executed by master artisans including champlevé Grand Feu enamelling and a combination laser and hand engraving on sapphire crystals on dials no more than 37mm in diametre. The Baroque-esque aesthetics are bolstered by a manufacture 2460 RT calibre, which on the model that mimics a beautifully embellished map reproduces the earth's circuit around the sun in an elliptical trajectory that needn't be adjusted in 8,000 years. The stun factor doesn't just stop here: The biggest highlight is the Celestia watch, inspired by Vacheron Constantin's most groundbreaking Reference 57260 movement. Packed with a wealth of complications in a slim double-sided display, this is the one that is the perfect embodiment of the heavens' movements.

Worth the investment: The Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600, which set tongues wagging over its many functionalities — perpetual calendar, moon phase, tourbillon, day and night indicator, seasons and solstices, among many more — in a deceptively understated appearance. What you'll be wearing is actually ten years worth of development, over 700 components, and 500 hours of assembling by one single watchmaker. Why settle for less when you can have 23 complications?

The inspiration: The great polymath Da Vinci and his legendary work. Think proportions taken from the Vitruvian Man, touched with Roman architectural influences, and add a dash of essence of the Mona Lisa and the Lady with an Ermine.

The collection: Centred by a strongly feminine edge in a grand revival of this IWC classic, 2017's Da Vinci sees the signature round dials carried over from past iterations of the collection. Built on the repute of the lineup's rich heritage at the heart which lies creativity and genius, the brand pulls historical references from '80s Da Vinci models for familiar design codes juxtaposed with enhanced, modern-day complications and movements. In a continuity that does the venerated artist proud, the re-launch evokes a visual cipher that reveals itself on closer inspection: The round contours of the case is also translated onto rounded details upon the pushers and the crowns. Light bulb moment, IKR. Fabricated with dials in 36, 37 and 40mm — the last can be worn by men as well — every timepiece in every size is immaculate pared-down luxe. Similarly translating this design equilibrium onto three other renditions, an automatic moon phase, perpetual calendar chronograph and tourbillon rétrograde chronograph elevate the pure beauty and mystique of the collection.

Something you might have missed: The Flower of Life engraving on the caseback of the 36mm novelties, and lugs designed to be moveable for ergonomic wear. An exclusive edition with red-brown straps is only available in IWC boutiques. Plus, the fine and exceptional straps in genuine leather are by Santoni.

The collection: In a contrasting counterpoint to the profusion of Renaissance ideals, Montblanc veers into competitive territory as they revamp the TimeWalker series and pushes performance to the forefront. With a firm foot on the pedal, the maison sought a means of fleshing out their specialist timekeeping Minerva legacy into a professional collection, and thus a racing spirit was cultivated — as evidenced by their SIHH booth outfitted with checkered pennants and cool-as-heck brand advocates striding about in racing jumpsuits. Inspired by their iconic RallyTimer stopwatch that played the role of official timekeeper at many a vintage rally, the manufacture has now fully integrated Montblanc with Minerva in a Chronograph UTC, Chronograph Automatic and Automatic Date watches that lynchpins legibility, functional design, robust wear and precision performance into a tightly curated edit of timepiece essentials for the racing gentlemen. Each one delineated with strong lines cast in satinated DLC titanium with contrasting colours in bold red and black, and augmented by SuperLuminova indices, the superstar that had everyone clamouring for more was the limited edition Chronograph Rally Timer Counter that most resembles its stopwatch predecessor, now modernised into a wristwatch. Just looking at it totally delivers those anticipatory pre-race feels.

What you might not know: 500 hours of testing was implemented on the TimeWalker collection, demonstrating its tremendous endurance and far-reaching capabilities to keep up with you on and off the race track.

Something to pique your interest: That über cool limited-edition Chronograph Rally Timer Counter? It's a multi-purpose transforming timepiece, swapping between wristwatch to stopwatch with some clever manipulating of the leather strap and articulated lugs. Now that's what we call a winner.

Catch up on all our coverage of SIHH 2017