Smart Dressing

SIHH 2018: All the fun of the watch fair

In the first of our reports from the first of the annual Swiss watch fairs, Panerai shrinks its iconic Luminor, Audemars Piguet smashes a record and Hermès debuts at SIHH with a watch designed by Marc Berthier

Panerai Luminor, SIHH 2018Panerai Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic Acciaio – 38mm

Rocking up at Panerai’s stand at SIHH and expecting a mould-breaking design is like walking into Harvey Weinstein’s bedroom and expecting to find a copy of the complete works of Germaine Greer on his bedside table. When all’s said and done, Panerai makes two watches – the Luminor and the Radiomir. Of course, the analogy falls flat quickly because both are icons of watch design. If it ain’t broke, and all that. The news this year is that Panerai has fallen in line with market trends and made a watch under 40mm in diameter. In fact, the fleet of new 38mm Luminor Due models are the smallest watches the company has ever made – good news if you like its inimitable style but don’t have wrists like Dolph Lundgren. There are a number of executions in the new batch, including this stylish ivory-dialled stainless steel version with blue numerals and a blue leather strap. One of the brand’s in-house movements with a three-day power reserve completes the package. A smart move by Panerai, you have to think, opening the brand up to a more anatomically diverse audience.

£5,100

Audemars Piguet RD, SIHH 2018Audemars Piguet Royal Oak RD#2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin

We reported last week on the 25th anniversary of the Royal Oak Offshore, but arguably the brand’s biggest story this year is the arrival of this new Perpetual Calendar version of the Royal Oak. Measuring 6.3mm top to bottom, it shaves 2mm off the Royal Oak Extra-Thin Jumbo (the one everyone wants) and, says AP, becomes the thinnest automatic perpetual calendar (one that keeps track of month lengths, including leap years) on the market. Brands battle over thinness records because vacuum packing mechanical watches is extremely difficult. There are 256 parts in this watch’s movement; somehow the brand has squeezed them into a calibre 2.89mm deep. Even if you’re not technically minded, it’s hard not to be impressed. Forgetting the technicalities for a moment, this is also a great-looking watch, combining the Royal Oak’s angular but here slightly less muscular stainless steel case with a blue ‘grande tapisserie’ dial that does a tidy job of showcasing the day, date, month, phases of the moon, day/night and leap year.

Price to be announced

Hermès Carré H

Hermes watch, SIHH 2018If you’re at all familiar with the annual Swiss watch fairs you’ll have spotted the oddness of reading about Hermès in an SIHH review. The Parisian house has cut ties with March’s Baselworld watch fair, and brought its wares instead to Geneva this week. Among those is the returning Carré H, back this year bigger and with a new dial design. Hermès tends to work with non-watch industry folk when sourcing its designs, as was the case with the original 2010 Carré H, which was penned by prolific French designer and architect Marc Berthier. The case is now 38mm x 38mm and the layered dial patterned with right-angled guillochage. For a final flourish, those applied numerals use an exclusive font. The idea is to mix contrasts – light and shade, sharp angles and rounded edges – and it works superbly. The grey dial version on a brown Barénia calfskin strap might smack of art-loving elitist Parisian bankers (you know the guy – drop-dead gorgeous wife 10 years his junior, two sandy-haired, chestnut-cheeked kids in Breton-striped jumpers), but somehow we English kind of like that.

£5,625