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Uncategorized January, 30 2012

SIHH Roundup – Ultra Expensive and Complicated Watches Timepieces

Ben Clymer of Hodinkee gives us a roundup of the ultra-high end, high priced timepieces shown at this month’s SIHH show; many of which are of complications that are stunningly expensive.

I spent last week in Geneva at the Salon International De La Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). The SIHH is unlike BaselWorld because it’s held exclusively for brands owned by or associated with the Richemont group, a luxury conglomerate that owns the likes of Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, Panerai, and a few other high-end manufacturers. The trade show is unlike any other in the world – in fact, in any industry. It is very exclusive – only press and select retailers are allowed within its halls and the level of watchmaking displayed is unrivaled.

Expectations are always high for SIHH, but this year presented some truly exceptional timepieces at the high-end. Here are some of my favorite pieces, all of which really push the boundaries of traditional watchmaking…for a price, of course.

See more from SIHH after the jump.

The Audemars Piguet Openworked Extra-Thin Royal Oak Tourbillon 40th Anniversary Limited Edition

You’ve seen the new 41mm Royal Oaks and you’ve seen the homage to the 1972 original, but the most impressive piece AP introduced this year, the 40th anniversary of the watch that quite literally saved it from bankruptcy, is the incredible openworked tourbillon in platinum. There are over 110 hand-polished angles within this watch and the in-house AP caliber 2924 is one of the thinnest tourbillons in the world. Only forty of these watches will be made and all of them housed in 950 platinum. Price: $353,600.

The Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon

Cartier’s fine watchmaking division is just a few years old, but being the global powerhouse that they are – they’ve come a long way very quickly. In fact, this incredibly conceived titanium minute repeater with flying tourbillon was one of the horological stars of the show. The in-house made caliber 9402MC is comprised of 447 unique parts, and the designers chose to use a push-button activator and titanium case for optimal resonance. The Cartier actually outputs an incredible 68 decibels when activated. Only 50 pieces will be made and they are all sized at 45mm. Price: $314,000.

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre à Sphérotourbillon

JLC is really a watchmaker’s watchmaker, and the new Spherotourbillon is, as CEO Jerome Lambert puts it, the watch that his watchmakers are most proud of. It takes a whole new look at the tourbillon concept by giving using a double-axis tourbillon on a 20° angle to avoid literally all effects of gravity on the balance. It uses a dual-wing concept with two unique power sources, and even allows of the utmost in precision by a small-seconds flyback mechanism that allows the wearer to set the watch to the very second, a mechanical first. While most tourbillons are designed to be worn by Russian oligarchs in the south of France, this watch is all about precision and chronometry, but in a completely wearable 42mm case. Oh, and the movement is made entirely of German silver, so it ages with time. This is just an epic watch. Price: $200,000.

The Richard Mille RM 056 Tourbillon Split Seconds Competition Chronograph Felipe Massa

If there was one piece that everyone was talking about at SIHH, it was this Richard Mille. Encased entirely in solid sapphire, the RM056 is a split-seconds chronograph with tourbillon unlike any built previously. The entire case was machined out of a solid block of sapphire and it took over 1000 hours to produce the case alone. The watch is completely transparent and will sell for $1.65 million – and guess what? All five were spoken for be the third day of SIHH. Price: $1,650,000.

The Greubel Forsey GMT

Nobody does a moving dial better than Greubel Forsey. This time, the masters of the tourbillon revealed a GMT function with an enormous, titanium globe built right into the dial that reveals a second timezone The watch, of course, features one of GF’s legendary 25° tourbillons and the combination of the rotating globe and tourbillon is visually breathtaking. Price: ~$500,000.

The Van Cleef & Arpels Poetic Wish

Van Cleef has a knack for finding the best artisanal craftsmen in the world and bringing them on board create their emotional, “poetic” timepieces. This year’s Poetic Wish, in addition to a hand-painted and enameled dial, features the very first in-house movement built from top to bottom by legendary Jean-Marc Wiederrecht’s Agenor. The Van Cleef caliber features a revolutionary 5-minute repeater with hammers at the center of the movement, plus a constant force escapement. Don’t let the beauty of the dial fool you on this one, this Van Cleef has one seriously badass movement in it. Price: ~$200,000.

The A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar

ALS is, according to many, arguably one of the finest watchmakers in the world. This year, out of nowhere, the Glashutte, Germany based Lange introduced an incredible self-winding hidden tourbillon with perpetual calendar based on its classic Lange 1. What makes this watch so special is the use of an outer ring dial to display the month and the fact that this watch is meant to be worn regularly – it is Lange’s first automatic tourbillon. This, people, is a watch guy’s watch. Price: $250,000.

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