SIHH debuts impressive luxury watches; Muller Unveils patented diamond cut

As the Swiss luxury watch fairs of Geneva—traditional home of fine watchmaking—opened this week, attendance was good and business was brisk, despite unseasonably cold temperatures and public concerns about the Iraqi war and the SARS sickness spreading outside of Southeast Asia.

The 13th annual Salon International de la Haute Horologerie (SIHH) brought together 16 prestigious brands, several of them part of the Richemont Group (which owns Cartier and Montblanc, among others). The show expected some 11,000 guests from around the world—though world events could deflate that number—as well as some 800 international journalists.

Among impressive debuts were Roger Dubuis’s “FollowMe” cross-shaped watch for ladies on two straps and using a tiny movement; Lange & Söhne’s Grand Lange Luna Mundi, two moon phase watches—sold only as a set—with one showing the phases of the moon as seen in the northern hemisphere, the other as seen in the southern hemisphere; the white gold tourbillon of Jean Richard (the first name “Daniel”) has been dropped; IWC’s new Portuguese Perpetual Calandar watch, which combines the company’s unique Pellaton winding mechanism with a perpetual calendar (to 2499) and an entirely new moon phase display; Jaeger-LeCoultre’s impressive Reverso Platinum Number Two, a tourbillon; and Panerai’s titanium and steel Luminor 300m divers watch, with a 42-hour power reserve.

Special SIHH features included the opening social gala and an in-show exhibition on watch dials and hands.

The 11th annual World Presentation of High Horology organized by master watchmaker Franck Muller—provacateur creativ of the Geneva luxury watchmaking community and acknowledged “master of complications”—offered some typical Muller surprises.

One is his new “Crazy Hours” Cintree Curvex watch for men and women. Muller says the new model presents a “totally new approach to the very notion on time”—or at least the way time has been traditionally presented on watches. Numerals on the dial are in unconventional order, starting with 8 o’clock at the spot traditionally held by 12, then 1, 6, 11, 4, 9, 2 (at the traditional 6 o’clock spot), 7, 12, 5, 10, and 3. The minute hand moves in the conventional order, but the hour springs to whichever hour of the day it is on that hour.

Also noteworthy were two Muller premieres: His Tourbillon Revolution 2 is the first wristwatch to have both a vertical and horizontal tourbillon. Muller also announced that he has patented a new diamond cut—called “Curvex” after his watch case design—that is the basis for his new “Curvex Link” jewelry line.

Two other fine complications brands located at Muller’s Watchland estate are Pierre Kunz and European Company Watch. Pierre Kunz displayed a world premiere-his extraordinary triple second-hand retrograde watch, with each of the three representing one-third of 60 seconds. The ECW’s exquisite creations included new dial colors (red and green) and rectangular cases for the company’s Armada collection, as well as a brand new women’s line (in mini and mini-mini sizes) in pastel colors with quartz and mechanical movements.

A high point of the week-long Muller event was an April 8 gala at Watchland, attended by some 1,000 guests and featuring legendary entertainer Ray Charles.