SIHH 2019, one of the watch industry’s most grandiose trade shows, has come and gone, and though we didn’t partake in this year’s festivities, it has been fun to sit back and watch the coverage come in. From a product standpoint, it’s interesting to see some brands push into the “value” segment of the market and offer more horological bang-for-the-buck (it should be noted that value, when viewed within the framework of Richemont’s portfolio, does skew higher, hence the liberal use of scare quotes). Particularly, IWC seems to have had a really strong showing with a slew of consumer-friendly products, both in terms of price and overall execution, with the Spitfire and Top Gun series both introducing in-house movements into the fray.
From a business side of things, the show did seem to be a bit contracted. Last year’s SIHH, if I recall correctly, was an onslaught of highfalutin SKUs, but this year felt a bit more restrained, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Now, that contraction may reflect some level of uncertainty within the industry itself, but I also think that having a smaller, more curated showing that cuts the fat is far more preferable—and, of course, there are 11 months left in 2019 to push out new watches.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the horological eye candy. There was certainly a lot to lust over this year, so we tapped members of our editorial team to each pick one watch that stood out to them. As always, let us know what caught your eye in the comments section below. Enjoy!
IWC – Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium
That’s a mouthful for the name of a watch, but IWC’s new Top Gun Chronograph is a wristful, so I think it’s warranted. The Top Gun Ceratanium is indeed a double chronograph—the pusher at 10 and garnished in red activates a similarly garnished additional chrono seconds hand, should the need to time a secondary event arise. This new aviator timepiece calipers at 44 millimeters, it’s made of Ceratanium (a patented alloy based on titanium), and it’s parked on a black rubber strap.
So yeah, this thing is all high-tech and everything, but just look at it! All blacked out, and you know nobody does pilot hands better than IWC. When they see watches like this, men of a certain age (me) can just hear that guitar riff at the beginning of Tom Cruise’s Top Gun.
H. Moser & Cie – Swiss Alp Minute Repeater Concept Black
H. Moser & Cie have aced SIHH again. In previous years we’ve had the Swiss Icons watch, the Alp, and, back in 2017, the Cheese watch. It’s easy to dismiss these as something daft—a succession of whimsical novelties, if you will. But Moser’s send-ups are neither daft nor whimsical; they’re properly clever and wonderfully satirical. It was hard to miss the pointed jab that the Swiss Icons watch delivered to the industry and its obsession with marketing and celebrity. There’s been lots of fuss over this year’s grow-your-own “Nature Watch,” but the real star of the Moser show is the Swiss Alp Minute Repeater Concept Black. A straight gloss face dial, just like a certain well-known wrist computer, it has no hands, no visual time indication—just a tourbillon and a minute repeater that you set using markers on the crown and stem. It’s a proper piece of watchmaking and a very confident two-finger salute to the ubiquity and disposability of smart watches. As Moser says “. . . it’s exactly what the digital version isn’t: rare.” Well played, gentlemen, well played.