As we gear up for the SIHH 2016 watch fair in Geneva, it’s timely to recall some of the watches that left a deep impression in the 2015 edition of SIHH. We’re not holding manufactures to the insane standards they set; at least not in the quantitative sense. Unlike in the tech industry where it is so much about CPU cycles, data throughput and assorted metrics, watches are not all about raw performance, complexity and complications: three complications is not necessarily better than two; a dish made with more exclusive ingredients is not always better than another that is more commonplace. Like cuisine, watches are also about balance.

1

A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater

As the constant force mechanism within which ensures very stable energy transmission to the escapement over the power reserve of the Zeitwerk, Lange as a manufacture advances in steady steps, seemingly unhurried but undoubtedly with every ounce of resolve its love for watchmaking can muster. The first Zeitwerk eschewed hands for windows to tell time digitally. Then came a minute repeater with bared dial-side gongs and hammers. This iteration pictured here takes yet another swipe at convention: instead of sounding the quarters, it does it in tens. A more intuitive fit for a base-10 display; and instead of tracking the inner circumference of the case, the gongs add visual drama by hugging the profile of the sub seconds.

2

Cartier Crash Skeleton

A little morbid, to find inspiration in a watch that had melted in a fiery car crash that killed its wearer; but it’s a certain poetry when life, death and art come together, and Cartier’s Crash watches convey this with strange beauty. The Crash Skeleton is all this and more: there is no dial, the skeletonised baseplate has had Roman numerals cut out of them; and if the case shape  of the watch is unusual enough, this is the first-ever Crash watch to feature a movement specifically shaped for its case. A rarity in a business where even square watches are routinely fitted with round movements as a matter of cost efficiency.

3

IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar

Much of its appeal can be attributed to its marine chronometer inspiration, which has lent IWC’s Portugieser such strong fundamentals in terms of performance and grace. This is yet another model that bears all the model codes in sublime balance: railroad track minutes, leaf-shaped hands, Arabic numerals, sun seconds and power reserve indicator, with the addition of an annual calendar display in its own sector fanned under ‘12’. Eminently classical, masculine, handsome, and very practical.

4

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 Carbotech 3 Days Automatic

Panerai’s expertise is not restricted to creating innovative and beautiful movements, it’s also proven to be quite the maestro in exotic case materials, being among the first luxury brands to popularise PVD and DLC coatings, and one of the early adopters of titanium, ceramic and tantalum cases. Here, the tiger stripes camo is not just for show, but it’s the first use of Carbotech in a watch case. The material is carbon fibre compressed together, and according to Panerai, the material is exceptionally hardy, with mechanical qualities surpassing titanium and ceramic while remaining totally hypoallergenic and corrosion resistant. A hard watch for hard men.

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