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SIHH Show Stoppers

Mike Espindle | March 26, 2018 | Style & Beauty Story Style

As the first of the big annual Swiss watch shows, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva sets the tone for the year for lovers of fine timepieces. This roundup of outstanding new offerings for him and her from top makers only gives a taste of what’s to come.

Editor’s Note Many of these timepieces are available in very limited editions. Contact the listed retailers for more information.

Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Planetarium
While the house’s signature whimsical garden and fantasy themes were in elaborate display at SIHH, this highly complicated and beautiful planetary timepiece stole the stage for many visitors. At just 38 mm, the planetarium function can only show a subset of planets in an astronomically accurate rotation around a pink gold sun on a starry aventurine dial. Mercury is depicted in pink mother-of-pearl; Venus is in green enamel; and the Earth is in turquoise, with a similarly accurate diamond moon. A rhodium-plated gold shooting star indicates the time on the outer rim of this compact solar system, adding an everyday practicality to a gorgeous rare watch function. Even the blue alligator strap gets a glittery nighttime finish. Numbered editions only, $245,000, Neiman Marcus, San Francisco

Piaget Extremely Lady
The involvement of newly minted brand ambassador Jessica Chastain and a focus on intricate gold work are the hallmarks of Piaget’s new line of Extremely Lady quartz watches. The collection is reminiscent of the clean, innovative elegance of the 1960s, when, in fact, the company counted first lady Jackie Kennedy as a customer. Seductive oval stone dials in a multitude of materials and hues (the dramatic heart of ruby version is shown here) blend with elaborate textured-gold techniques that mimic fur, frost and wood grain (the wood-grain technique is shown here in 18K pink gold), along with 24 bezel-set diamonds, creating a timeless and always appropriate timepiece. $50,500, CH Premier Jewelers; Stanford Shopping Center, Westfield Valley Fair

Panerai L’Astronomo Luminor 1950 Tourbillon Moon Phases Equation of Time GMT
Panerai’s rugged military-inspired design DNA has not precluded the maker from debuting some elaborate, highly complicated movements in the past few years. Last year’s Panerai minute repeater proved a musical watch could still wear tough. The new L’Astronomo proves the same for a tourbillon-equipped watch that masterfully weaves together an equation of time function, GMT function and a detailed moon-phase indicator (a first for Panerai and located on the watch back), along with an innovative, patented polarized crystal date wheel. To ensure maximum visibility of the complications on the skeletonized watch front, the new mechanism utilizes laser imprinting on a clear crystal wheel, which allows the date numerals to be visible only when they pass through the polarized window. A lot of horological technology, but in a 50 mm titanium case, it is just as bold and wearable as any Panerai. Made to order, price upon request, Shreve & Co., Stanford Shopping Center

Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Limited-Edition 100
Montblanc’s inspiration at this year’s show was the 160th anniversary of Minerva stopwatches, whose heritage and legacy is now under the umbrella of the company. One of the best examples of this homage is this striking “smoked” green iteration of Montblanc’s popular 1858 line. A 40 mm steel monopusher chronograph, this timepiece incorporates heritage cues from its contrasting beige stitching to its bicompax dial with small seconds counter at 9 o’clock to its tachymeter scale along the dial’s outer edge. To cap the vintage appeal, Montblanc included a vintage “mountain” logo. Water-resistant to 100 meters, this watch displays a beautiful combination of sporty ruggedness and classic complexity like no other. Limited to 100 editions, $30,000, Westfield Valley Fair

Vacheron Constantin FiftySix Complete Calendar
With a history dating to 1755, Vacheron Constantin is the oldest continuously operating watchmaker on the planet, and its fine work has been an industry watermark of excellence for collectors and for the watch cognoscenti. This year, the maker broke from tradition with the launch of the handsome midcentury-inspired FiftySix line, with a very accessible entry point via steel executions (the base steel FiftySix self-winder retails for $11,700). To up the ante, this classic and balanced complete calendar steel version with an elegant moon-phase indicator carries Vacheron Constantin’s signature in-house handfinished movement work, providing a uniquely low-impact entry into the world of elevated horology. $21,600

Originally published in the April issue of Silicon Valley

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