Best collections from SIHH 2018 — Day 2: Hermès, Baume & Mercier, Roger Dubius, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Vacheron Constantin
HERMÈS: STYLISH COMEBACK
Collection theme: Familiarity with a twist was the order of the day, with distinguished designs such as the Arceau, Cape Cod, and Carré H among the 2018 novelties at Hermès' first showing at SIHH. But in an approach that plays with colours and materials, these icons break free of all design constraints as the maison goes full throttle on the visual appeal by utilising various craft techniques. A new jewellery watch collection also makes its debut, christened the Hermès Klikti, which was inspired by delicate chains.
Star watch: Carré H (honourable mention: The Cape Cod with its new Double Tour strap in Milanese mesh)
Throwback tidbit: Hermès introduced the Carré H back in 2010, created by Marc Berthier who was a furniture designer. The idea was to strike that perfect balance between artistic geometry and graphic appeal. The first generation design was a limited edition, featuring a square inside a square while 2018's update has a circle inside a square.
The devil in the details: The Arceau Pocket Millefiori has a crocodile skin-like façade, thanks to the use of the 19th century millefiori technique of firing molten glass into rod forms. And if you shift your scrutiny to the Carré H, you'll also notice refined specifics like the dial's guilloché work with its right-angled grain. Even the numerals come in an exclusive font.
BAUME & MERCIER: NOT YOUR BASICS
Collection theme: With the launch of the maison's first in-house mechanical calibre — developed in partnership with the Valfleurier manufacture — the Baumatic BM12-1975A was the buzziest topic heard whilst taking a stroll through the Baume & Mercier booth. While the movement was certainly a watershed moment, it comes housed in the Clifton Club design, which is about as classic as it gets. But on the flipside, another hero novelty rocks an edgier, sporty look thanks to a collaboration with American motorbike and lifestyle brand, Indian Motorcycle.
Star watch: Clifton Baumatic
Cool specs: The pros of the new Baumatic mechanism can be summed up in three A's and one D: Accuracy, anti-magnetism, autonomy and durability. Its vital components are made from silicon to resist everyday magnetic exposure up to 1,500 Gauss (that's five times stronger than the norm), and it has a 5-day power reserve on top of a lengthened lifespan, which means a reduced need for servicing. In fact, you can easily pass the 5-year mark of ownership before the Clifton Baumatic needs to see the watch doctor — and all this while remaining affordable.
In other news: Burt Munro was inducted into the annals of haute horlogerie on this day as Baume & Mercier paid tribute to the late motorcycle racing legend with the limited edition Clifton Club Indian timepiece, featuring Monro's lucky number and (as of yet to be broken) speed record of 184 MPH inked onto the dial.
ROGER DUBUIS: RAGING MECHANICS
Collection theme: If the on-and-off revving of super-powered engines and Roger Dubuis staff meandering about in racing tracksuits were any indicators, it was F1 season come early. With a newly minted partnership with Lamborghini, the ever-disruptive brand debuted the Excalibur Aventador S, equipped with a core inspired by the supercar's actual engine. Big on pushing the envelope when it comes to mechanical engineering-meets-extreme performance, the 2018 novelties also sees new additions of last year's Excalibur Spider Pirelli now in a sleek black titanium and pristine white colourway.
Star watch: Excalibur Aventador S
Did you know: Pirelli destroys the tyres after every race as a safeguard against intellectual property theft, so a Roger Dubuis Excalibur is the only way to own a piece of this F1 action. You'll even get a certificate of authenticity imprinted on a sheet of rubber to prove it. This piece of tyre lines the underside of the straps, complete with grooves and everything.
Save the date: On 27 May, 4pm to be among the first to witness the launch of a new timepiece that ties in with Roger Dubuis being the official sponsor of the Super Trofeo Championship, a racing competition with a presence that spans several countries and drivers of all nationalities.
JAEGER-LECOULTRE: ATHLEISURE MADE ELEGANT
Collection theme: Pushing craftsmanship and the art of sleek as part of their aesthetic this year, the maison is not only celebrating 185 years of haute horlogerie but has also gone back to their roots with the new Polaris collection, which references a Jaeger-LeCoultre icon from the '60s. Refurbished for 2018, the strong lines of this gentleman's watch remains unchanged, keeping the off-centred crowns, dual-finish lugs and 3-part dial, although a new material replaces the oscillating weight, made out of tungsten to emphasise a sportier yet no less sophisticated look.
Star watch: Polaris Chronograph WT
Did you know: While there are five automatic versions available, the chronograph editions will feature an open caseback for the first time. With the Polaris Chronograph WT, the technical finesse also extends to two chronograph counters combined with a worldtime function. A closer examination will also reveal different fine finishing touches on the 3-part dial, such as a sunray pattern on the innermost surface, a grained middle portion, and an opaline gleam on its outer ring.
In other news: Benedict Cumberbatch made an appearance at the fair as he came onboard the JLC family as brand ambassador. Yours truly may or may not have taken an unholy amount of snaps when he stood a mere arms' length away at the photo wall. He was wearing the Polaris, of course.
VACHERON CONSTANTIN: REFINED ARTISTRY
Collection theme: Akin to a blast from the past, the highlight from Vacheron Constantin is a true gentleman's watch, with design codes inspired by a historic piece from 1956. Interpreted with a retro-contemporary look, the new FIFTYSIX (no guesses how the name came about) is sleeker and sexier, decorated with the iconic Maltese cross on its back and sides - most notably on the lugs. Ladies also get a re-modeled classic with new Traditionelle novelties, while the maison's annual limited edition, signature Métiers d'Art collection references the pioneering heydays of hot air balloon travel.
Star watch: Métiers d'Art Les Aérostiers (because it's too pretty not to be the star of the show)
Throwback tidbit: From far the new FIFTYSIX is pretty much a dead ringer for its much older sibling, thanks to the similar looking silhouette. But the difference comes through once it's sitting on the wrist, as the modern-day update displays Arabic numeral indices and is ergonomically curved for super comfortable all-day wear.
The devil in the details: Aérostiers literally translates to 'balloonist', and is the term bestowed on the intrepid innovators that first materialised flight for mankind in the late 18th century. Each piece has a different hot air balloon, meticulously crafted by Vacheron Constantin's master engravers to reproduce in miniature the historical depiction of five flights undertaken in France between 1783 and 1785. The hot air balloons are hand-engraved and micro-sculpted, while a translucent plique-à-jour enamel background provides a splendid backdrop.
For more coverage on SIHH 2018, click here.