Haute Time: SIHH 2015 Watch Report
From the tropical clime of Mumbai, Verve (CEO Falguni Kapadia and I) air dash into the freezing zone of Geneva to waltz into the warm ambience of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) 2015. Initially, in the humungous halls of the Palexpo, Geneva, the buzz is all about the decision of the Swiss National Bank to detach its currency exchange rate from the Euro – good news for some, bad news for others.
Through the four days, we find the SIHH team extremely helpful, as its members emerge swiftly from different spots in the vast venue to guide us to different areas and the diverse booths where the presentations are held and even help us find seats during the peak hour for lunch. The hairstyle of some of the hostesses (part of the SIHH team) draws instant attention – and to my food-driven eye the headgear looks like a miniature pizza placed delicately on top; one threatens to fall off, but never does, with each move of the head. Later on, we see the models from Richard Mille, dressed in floral, backless gowns, sashaying down the corridors and also, taking a coffee break – one that we all need as the hours tick on.
We walk into one presentation after another. Humorous tones, deadpan expressions, monotones and dramatic deliveries are accompanied by exciting visuals, fascinating displays on screens and across the walls of a room. We enjoy putting on and pulling off our gloves as we delicately handle the new creations that are poised to leave their mark on time.
At the A Lange & Söhne’s booth, we are dwarfed by a 12-foot-high rendition of the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater and have to strain our necks to look up to the dial. As the spokesperson of the brand said, it is idiot proof! A short while later we are confronted by a thin timekeeper – the Piaget Altiplano Chronograph which according to Piaget is the world’s thinnest mechanical flyback chronograph. Seeing that the dial is 8.25 mm, I do not think we are in a position to dispute that.
At the end of one of the four days, tired though we may be, diamonds steal our hearts as we stare at the glittering dial of the Ballon Bleu de Cartier Vibrating Setting Watch. The dial has 123 shimmering diamonds and even if your wrist is steady and still, the diamonds vibrate gently, creating a magic of their own.
We take in the influence of galaxies beyond our own on the timekeepers as they make an appearance. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Moon is an ode to the role the moon plays in our lives.
The Astral Skeletons from Roger Dubuis are futuristic in tone and intent. Almost provocative with the intention of standing out! We enjoy the Astral Skeleton experience in the booth, donning a pair of high-tech goggles that transport us into the inner world and movements of time. It is almost like an inter-galactic experience. On a more serene note, the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Broceliande is inspired by nature – the ivy decorations intersperse delicately with the bridges of the movement.
We catch our breath as we watch the video depicting the muse behind Van Cleef & Arpels’ Carpe Koi Watch Bracelet. It is a unique piece of amazing, brilliant detailing. Inspired by the movements of the fish, the actual dial is a concealed one.
We have an interesting interaction with Jasmine Audemars of Audemars Piguet. Carrying the weight of experience and time on her shoulders, she speaks wisely and crisply about her responsibilities and role in taking the house from strength to strength.
While our minds are feasting on the parade of beautiful horological masterpieces, our bodies crave a different kind of nourishment. And SIHH 2015 has left no stone unturned in fulfilling what every palate craves – sumptuous food. So, every afternoon we join a host of other people from other countries at the tables. Exchanging smiles and polite courtesies, it is a fun way to go global. Although vegetarians have to remain content with cookies, cheese, salads and the occasional pasta, non-vegetarians have a different spread every day to choose from. So, whether it is a conventional Caesar’s salad to nibble on, or a dim sum platter served on a bed of rice, or some pieces of sushi I, for one have no cause to complain. The evening high tea is a spread to be experienced – with small tarts and tartlets laid out on attractive platters to tantalise one’s taste buds. And, liquid accompaniments – from a variety of juices, to a plethora of coffees and even wines – are available in plenty. Manna for the watch-infused souls…SIHH 2015 is the time to be wooed and wowed by time itself!
Verve speaks to three brands, A. Lange & Soehne, Roger Dubuis and Vacheron Constantin about their relevance to the Indian market, brand positioning and favourite or unique timepieces
Ramzi Nael (Brand Director A. Lange & Söhne Middle East & India)
1. India “India is a very promising market. As a brand, we would like to develop our presence in it a great deal.”
2. Brand “At A Lange & Söhne, we are very classical. We believe in strong concepts and lay emphasis on functionality. We stress perfection rather than innovations for the sake of innovation.”
3. Timepieces “Choosing a watch is a very personal thing. Personally, I find that dual time is a very convenient function. And that is because I enjoy travelling so much. A watch I value is one that I inherited from my grandfather.”
Dorothee Henrio (Marketing Director, Roger Dubuis)
1. India “We definitely want to be present in the Indian market – there is a strong clientele in the country and amongst global Indians. Our clients are charismatic individuals who have a unique personality and know exactly what they want.”
2. Brand “We have defined our playing field which is different from the rest of the watch market. We look at creating new masterpieces that are a tribute to fine watchmaking, Roger Dubuis’ offerings are characterised by technical sophistication and are at the same time aesthetic, beautiful pieces. Though not bold or extravagant, we tend to have a certain elegance. We basically have a tick against all the boxes that a haute horology house should have. “
3. Timepieces “We stepped things up at SIHH this year, by introducing the Excalibur Spider concept and the first Automatic Skeleton caliber with a micro-rotor.”
Rishab Suresh (Country Manager, Vacheron Constantin)
1. India “The Indian market is challenging, but holds a lot of potential with the right approach. The market, the discerning customer and the growing culture of luxury is quite encouraging for us. The economy is recovering and we’re optimistic. On the other hand, the Indian clientele is one of the biggest in the world for gold jewellery and is also knowledgeable about watch techniques. This makes Indian market naturally a good fit for Vacheron Constantin, which is renowned for the quality of its craftsmanship.”
2. Brand “For a brand to pass the test of time, it is critical to stick to the core DNA come what may and consistently provide what its promise stands for. We have been producing watches without interruption since 1755 – the only manufacture with such long history. Hand-finished movements to comply with strict guidelines of Hallmark of Geneva, elegant and contemporary designs, limited production of 30000 pieces a year and high levels of technical craftsmanship…our timepieces reflect a perfect balance between aesthetic and technical excellence. Another point that makes the difference is the human side illustrated in the history of our Maison, made of many encounters such as when in 1755 our founder Jean-Marc Vacheron signed the first contract of apprenticeship through which he undertook to always pass on his knowledge – thus establishing our Maison.”
a. Personal favourite: the new Harmony Split Seconds Chronograph, the world’s thinnest split second chronograph calibre, and was recently launched to commemorate the 260th anniversary of Vacheron Constantin.
b. The Vacheron Constantin American 1921 from our Historiques collection, that was relaunched and also known as a Drivers Watch, conveys the brand’s spirit and savoir-faire in contemporary reinterpretations. The design features an off center dial and so elegant that 90 years hence it still looks so relevant and timeless.
c. Fashion and the Haute Horlogerie industry have a connection. For instance, at Vacheron Constantin, our 1972 ladies model, which has an asymmetrical shape, was launched during the hippy chic, fun, disco era. Our America 1921 model was launched during the Art deco period, which signified exuberance in style and decade of prosperity.