Despite exhibiting nine new brands, the Palexpo convention center in Genève was noticeably quieter than previous editions. The collections presented were more conservative, the visitors less plentiful. Signs of an industry in crisis? Perhaps, but there were a lot of positives to take away from this year. Starting with the obvious response to current market trends. Collectors have been asking for smaller, less expensive, and more vintage-inspired designs, and brands have (finally) given them just that. Even the most exclusive brands introduced new entry-level watches to invite new collectors into their universe. Here are 8 highlights from this year’s fair.
1 Montblanc 1858 Manual Small Seconds
The 1858 Collection is Montblanc’s homage to Minerva, a famous watchmaking factory that suffered mixed fortunes before it was eventually sold to the Groupe Richemont in 2006, to Montblanc's benefit. The Small Second was inspired by original designs and calibers from Minerva. The watch houses caliber MB 23.03, a manual-winding movement inspired by early pilot's watches. The watch comes in three variations, with two straps options or a bracelet, all priced just over the $3,000 mark.
2 IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII
The Mark XVIII is IWC Schaffhausen’s entry-level model into the new Pilot collection, and returns to the core design features that made the Mark the most copied line in the world. It is simple, precise, and robust. It welcomes back the “6” and “9” hour mark indications which had been dropped altogether since 2002, and feels perfectly sized at 40mm. The Mark XVIII is available on a calfskin strap or a stainless-steel bracelet, from $3,950.
3 A. Lange & Söhne Lange Saxonia Thin
At merely 5.9 millimetres, the Saxonia Thin is the flattest watch ever made by A. Lange & Söhne. Introduced in 2011, the Saxonia (as well as the rest of the Lange collection) has slowly morphed through the years. The latest iteration sheds some thickness, and presents a new face, consistent with the collection presented in 2015. The new Saxonia Thin is priced at $24,500 and is available exclusively in 18-carat pink or white gold.
4 Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duo
Business as usual in the Reverso Tribute line, which sets itself apart with not one, but two faces, each working independently on either side of the iconic Reverso. The Reverso Tribute manual-wind Caliber 854A/2 powers the hours and minutes on the front, and a day/night indicator at the back. Or vice versa depending on how you want to wear it. The new Reverso Tribute measures 42.8mm by 25.5mm, and comes with a dark blue alligator leather strap. Price is not available yet, but should be around $ 10,000.
5 Panerai Luminor 8 Days Set
Panerai presented a Luminor 8 Days Set composed of 2 watches inspired by models created prior to brand’s acquisition by the Richemont Group in 1997: the Luminor Black Seal (originally created for Sylvester Stallone) with, for the first time, a left-handed version, and a Luminor Daylight with a rare white dial and blue markers and numerals. All for the incredible price of €19,900.
6 Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph
The Overseas collection has always struggled in comparison to other luxury sports watches. With the exception of the Chronograph. Part of the ‘official’ Overseas collection launched 20 years ago, it is the sportiest watch in the family, and the obvious choice for an all-purpose, daily VC. The same can be said of the latest iteration, presented in stainless steel or rose gold, with a choice of blue or white lacquer dials. The new Overseas Chronograph is slightly larger than its predecessor (42.5mm vs 40mm). Hours, minutes, small seconds, calendar and chronograph functions are powered by the new in-house Caliber 5200, featuring 52 hours of power reserve. The Overseas is priced at $28,900 in stainless steel.
7 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph
Audemars Piguet presented a new diver (well four actually), and it’s nothing like last year’s Royal Oak Offshore Diver Ref. 15710. The new collection may be presented in a similar 42 mm stainless-steel case with the same rubber strap, but its colorful dials (it comes in either bright blue, orange, yellow, or lime green) welcome a chronograph function, powered by the automatic caliber 3124/3841. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph is priced at $27,900.
8 Greubel Forsey Signature 1
As its name suggests, the Signature 1 is the first in a new line of collaborative watches made between Greubel Forsey and independent watchmakers. The collection, the latest ‘educational’ project led by the duo, is inaugurated by Didier J.G. Cretin. A longtime Greubel Forsey partner, Cretin introduces a manually wound three-hands watch (the first ever at Greubel Forsey) that features an exclusive balance wheel and gold dial. The Signature 1 will be available from $149,283 in stainless steel. Half the price of its cheapest timepiece.