SIHH, other exhibitions are stages for luxury watches

More than a dozen luxury watch shows and exhibitions open this week (April 3-9) in Geneva, Switzerland, an important annual stage for Swiss haute horlogerie, especially for smaller watchmakers.

The 16th annual Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) opened Monday at Geneva’s Palexpo convention center with 16 of the world’s best-known luxury watch brands. Most are owned by the Richemont luxury goods group; the rest are independents. They are: A. Lange & Söhne, Alfred Dunhill, Audemars Piguet, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Girard-Perregaux, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Jean Richard, Montblanc, Officine Panerai, Parmigiani, Piaget, Roger Dubuis, Vacheron Constantin, and Van Cleef and Arpels.

SIHH expected more than 13,000 visitors from around the world, a 17 percent increase over 2005 figures. The organizer, Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, was founded in 2005 by Richemont, Audemars Piguet, and Girard-Perregaux to promote luxury watchmaking.

Among the debut highlights at the show are Jaeger-LeCoultre’s limited-edition titanium Reverso Squadra World Chronograph, marking the 75th anniversary of this timepiece, which for the first time is housed in a square case; Montblanc’s Star Chrono GMT perpetual calendar, with the brand’s newly patented diamond logo cut on its crown, marking the company’s 100th anniversary; and Van Cleef & Arpels’s Lady Arpels Centennaire, with a revolving painted dial representing the four seasons, to mark its centenary.

Other notables included Piaget’s Polo Tourbillon Relatif, with its tourbillon hanging from the end of the minute hand; Vacheron Constantin’s limited-edition Skeleton Minute Repeater, with a 3.28 mm movement, the world’s slimmest; and Alfred Dunhill’s A-Centric Pantograph, with five hands (including a second time zone), all driven from the center of the dial.

Capitalizing on the influx of foreign retailers and buyers, other watch brands are holding small shows or events in hotels around the city. These include Time Evolution, an eight-day show of 15 mid- and high-end small watchmakers and jewelry makers of Geneva; Les Pieces Uniques, by luxury watchmaker Antoine Preziuso; a salon for high-end watch brand Bovet; HD3, by watch designer Jorg Hysek and two associates; and a salon for the Swiss brand Michel Jordi. Other companies with shows include luxury brand Jean Dunand; the Franck Muller Watch Group, known for innovative complications; and Cvstos, whose U.S. distributor, Hratch Kaprielian, also handles Franck Muller here. In addition, luxury watchmaker F.P. Journe will hold its annual press conference.