Smart Dressing

SIHH 2018: The show must go on

In Geneva this week, Vacheron Constantin revives a 1950s stunner, 150 years of IWC and another micro-mechanical marvel from Richard Mille

Vacheron Constantin FiftySix automatic, SIHHVacheron Constantin FiftySix Self-Winding

The 1950s was right in the sweet spot of the ‘golden era of watch design’, which loosely speaking began in the early 1950s and ended in the late 1960s, with a few notable exceptions from the 1970s. Good then to see Vacheron Constantin embracing its own 1950s archive with the revival of a piece launched in 1956, now called, a little unimaginatively, the FiftySix. The original was an early automatic with a water-resistant case, a minor landmark for a company that currently holds the title of the world’s most complicated watch, but this story is more about design than functionality. The new carry a few cues over from the original, chiefly the Maltese Cross-inspired lug design and the retro box crystal, which sits proud above the case. There are some lovely complicated pieces in the line, but the straight-up automatic, here in stainless steel with a grey dial, is the one to lust after. On the name, to be fair to Vacheron, it got roasted for launching a beautiful watch three years ago and calling it ‘Harmony’, so props for not calling this one Peace or Love.

£10,500

SIHH 2018, IWC watch, Jackal magazineIWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition ‘150 Years’

Before Christmas, we were given a peak into IWC’s 2018 plans, which focus around the brand’s 150th anniversary this year. There are 27 pieces in what it’s dubbed the Jubilee collection, all but three of them falling into the brand’s Portugieser, Portofino, Pilot’s Watch or Da Vinci families. Those three are all called Tribute to Pallweber Edition ‘150 Years’ and feature a complication IWC lifted from a late-19th century pocket watch that until now it had never used in a wristwatch – a double ‘jumping’ display showing both the hours and minutes digitally (jumping because they jump forward). The sparse dial design won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the effect of a fully mechanical function displaying the time digitally is certainly memorable and a sharp reminder of IWC’s watchmaking pedigree. The three versions will be in platinum, 18-carat red gold and, as pictured here, stainless steel. All are limited, to 25, 250 and 500 pieces respectively. There are plenty of highlights elsewhere in the collection (we’ll cover more in the coming days and weeks), the link between them being that they all have white or blue lacquer dials and come on black leather straps. A rather rigid, perhaps Germanic approach, but let’s face it, that approach has served the company rather well over the last century and a half.

Price to be announced

Richard Mille SIHH 2018Richard Mille RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough

In the press release accompanying the launch of Richard Mille’s latest uber-watch there’s a picture of Pablo Mac Donough being crushed by a horse. One of the horse’s legs is whacking him in the back of the head, while the other is entwined with his arm. His face, meanwhile, carries the expression of a man who knows he’s about to get properly mashed. It’s exactly this kind of moment Richard Mille builds his watches to survive. The latest is the second piece made for the aforementioned Argentinian polo player and is, according to the brand, the first to use laminated glass in a watch (more shock-resistant than standard sapphire crystal). Its case is made of Carbon TPT, which is lightweight, sturdy and, we’re led to believe, a safe home for the watch’s tourbillon mechanism. By nature, tourbillons are hypersensitive and housed in dress watches made of precious metals that will never experience greater vibrations than those caused by the clinking of champagne glasses, a trope Mille’s watches delight in subverting. This black and blue see-through masterpiece clearly showcases the mechanism’s secret – a pulley system that suspends the movement using braided cables 0.27mm thick that provide the watch with shock-resistance to 5,000G. Wow.

Price to be announced