Slim is in

Like the siren’s song, watchmakers were lured by the temptation of XXL. Bigger, thicker, more imposing, watches were put on a diet of bodybuilding hormones. Not so today, as classic-sized timepieces mark their return.

Piaget already gave a taste of things to come with last year‘s Altiplano 900P, yet another demonstration of the expertise behind the brand’s impressive string of records for ultra-thin movements. In this latest exploit, Piaget skimmed its watch down to a thickness of 3.65mm including the case. A Swiss replica watches uk with such a slim profile could easily have expanded outwards on the wrist, and the off-centre dial and visible gears indeed give the impression of a watch that takes up a respectable amount of wrist real estate. In reality, the Altiplano 900P has a 38mm diameter. And while Piaget presents it as a model that will appeal equally to men and women, not so very long ago it would have been filed under women’s watches without a second thought. This year, Piaget exercises similar restraint with its hand-wound Altiplano Chronograph which, at 4.65mm high, sets another record for thinness in its category. Its 41mm diameter revives a size that was commonplace in the 1950s but totally out of phase with the recent wave of “big is beautiful” watches.

There have been a number of sightings in the horological skies these past few years of watches that truly push the envelope in terms of size. The success encountered by the likes of the Luminor by Panerai, Excalibur by Roger Dubuis or Master Compressor by Jaeger-LeCoultre has largely demonstrated that wrist appeal is directly related to the number of millimetres on offer. Such man-sizing went hand-in-hand with the seemingly unstoppable growth that drove the Swiss watch industry onwards and upwards. Built to conquer, watches were expected to think big; this was a time of superlatives, even excess, as a way to mark one’s territory.

Horological workout

As doubt creeps in as to the real prospects for growth in 2015, given the sudden surge in the Swiss franc and the downturn in certain key markets, watchmakers appear to be turning their back on XXL. A welcome show of restraint in these uncertain times; a more introspective approach to wearing a watch; a return to the more classical canons… Whatever the explanation, the facts are plain to see: men’s Rolex replica watches have been put on a diet and are flaunting their new slim figures at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie. The hand-wound Saxonia 8 Days from A. Lange & Söhne has shrunk from 37mm to 35mm. Baume & Mercier is reviving its 1996 Classima in a 40mm version for men. Similar downsizing can be observed with the new Clé watch by Cartier, while Jaeger-LeCoultre is proposing its Master Calendar with meteorite dial in a 39mm diameter. This is also the size of Parmigiani’s Tonda 1950 Skeleton, with just 2 millimetres more for the Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Dual Time or the self-winding Royal Oak from Audemars Piguet.

No need to go on. Watches that would have had sand kicked in their face not so long ago are now paragons of virtue. Ideal dimensions, irresistible elegance, comfort on the wrist, timeless appeal… the trend is almost ubiquitous among brands. best Swiss replica watches uk are shedding their excess millimetres. A horological workout that is also an exercise in style.

The SIHH confirms Geneva as a centre for watchmaking

On the one hand, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie which celebrates 25 years. On the other, a canton that has helped define the history of time measurement in Switzerland. The two combined ensure that the SIHH continues to play its foremost role in the Swiss replica watches UK for sale segment, not only thanks to the firms that exhibit there, but also because the region offers a unique cluster of competencies in watchmaking.

Work began last year on the Richemont Campus in Meyrin, next door to Geneva. The group, which is investing CHF 100 million in this new infrastructure, plans to employ around a thousand people there by 2020, half of whom will fill newly created positions. The Campus will have as a neighbour the production site for replica Louis Vuitton watches: LVMH cut the ribbon on its new facility last autumn after investing CHF 20 million to renovate buildings that are now home to some one hundred staff, including from La Fabrique du Temps which Louis Vuitton acquired in 2011. Coming on the heels of these two projects, Patek Philippe recently announced that it will be extending its Manufacture at a cost of CHF 450 million. Work is scheduled for completion in 2018.

A group named Richemont

Ventures on this scale, regardless of slower growth in Swiss replica watches for men exports these past two years, are giving the industry a new foothold on Genevese soil. They also carry on a wave of expansion that began in the canton two decades earlier, thanks to which Geneva now constitutes an employment pool of some ten thousand people: the third largest for watchmaking after Neuchâtel and Vaud, and with some major employers, including Rolex, Chopard and Harry Winston. Geneva is hardly a sprawling metropolis, hence the particularly dense concentration of watchmakers at this end of the eponymous lake.

The Richemont group certainly has something to do with this. The multinational, whose head office is a short drive from the centre of town, has made itself at home in the region where it has developed production capacity for several of its Maisons. Piaget and Vacheron Constantin have both moved into facilities that opened only recently, and which are already slated to grow. Roger Dubuis, established in 1995 and acquired by the group in 2008, is firmly anchored in Geneva. Not forgetting Cartier, many of whose Haute Horlogerie watches are hallmarked with the Poinçon de Genève, which requires watchmakers to have workshops in Calvin’s city. This will shortly be the case for Van Cleef & Arpels too. Completing the line-up are Baume & Mercier, which is located inside the group’s head office, and Stern, a specialist dial manufacturer that will become part of the future Campus.

A golden era coinciding with the SIHH

This string of developments has confirmed the importance of Geneva as one of the cradles of watchmaking in Switzerland. The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV in 1685 was decisive in establishing watchmaking in the city. Born with the Reformation, it has continued to grow there ever since. In the eighteenth century, the number of Swiss fake watches online store produced in Geneva each year grew from some 5,000 to 40,000 in gold and 45,000 in silver on the eve of the French Revolution, when the sector employed almost 6,000 people in and around Geneva: almost 40% of the region’s total workforce. It took Genevese watchmaking several decades to recover from the consequences of the French Revolution, particularly the blockade imposed on the country’s exports, yet by the late nineteenth century watchmaking had built itself back to its former heights and new businesses were springing up across the Arc Jurassien. Even the quartz crisis of the 1980s, despite sounding the death knell for many companies in the branch, couldn’t wipe Geneva off the map of horological excellence, and over the past two decades this position has been further reinforced.

This new golden era coincides with the creation and expansion of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), a gathering for the watch Maisons in the Richemont group which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary, still in the company of Audemars Piguet, Greubel Forsey, Parmigiani, Ralph Lauren and Richard Mille, bringing the total number of exhibitors to sixteen. A sign of the times, just a few years ago only a handful of brands set up shop in Geneva to take advantage of SIHH week to present their new models. Their number is now closer to fifty. Seen by many as a breakaway venture in its early days, the SIHH has succeeded in establishing its character and its vision of watchmaking. It can also take credit for repositioning Geneva as a centre for prestige best Swiss replica watchmaking. A position which, as history shows, it rightfully deserves.

Grading the Retrograde: Longines Master Collection Retrograde Test

In 2007, Longines commemorated its 175th anniversary with the introduction of its classically styled Master Collection. When the company made the decision to add to this line a complicated watch with multiple retrograde displays, it considered several options for where it would get that Swiss replica watch’s movement. The brand, a member of the Swatch Group, covers the mid-range price niche, bridging the gap between lower-priced Tissot and Hamilton and higher-priced Omega, and its budget for movement-making is accordingly limited. Thus, the simplest option would have been to use an existing base movement from ETA — the movement supplier that is Longines’s sister company in the Swatch Group — and add a module from a specialist such as Dubois Dépraz. However, Longines CEO Walter Van Känel wanted an all-new movement for the Master Collection Retrograde — one that would be exclusive to Longines — and directed the specialists at ETA to create one.

For its part, ETA welcomed the challenge, using as its canvas the Valgranges line of calibers, descendants of the classic Valjoux 7750, which are known for their large size and reliable rate performance. The results were not one but two reliable, user-friendly and, above all, high-performance calibers, each of which uses the traditional cam-and-rack construction. Version A07L21 (designated Caliber L698.2 by Longines) has four retrograde displays; version A07L11 (Longines Caliber L697.2) has three.

Caliber L698.2 has retrograde displays for the date, the day of the week, the time in a second time zone and the continually running seconds hand at 6 o’clock; Caliber L697.2 leaves out the seconds hand and replaces it with a power-reserve display at the same position. The Master Collection Retrograde watch in our test contains Caliber L698.2.

Longines Master Collection Retrograde - front

Close scrutiny of the movement reveals some unexpected attributes. The first surprise comes when you extract the crown to its middle position to set the time: the hand on the seconds display continues to run, but the hands on the three other retrograde displays abandon their previous positions and move clockwise into a sort of waiting position. A Teflon-coated guide ring ensures that the racks fall onto the cams and thus disengage simultaneously. When they’re in this position, the hour hand can be set in hourly increments without stopping the seconds hand or influencing the position of the minute hand. If you need to reset the minute hand, pull the crown out all the way and turn it. In this position, the seconds hand stays stopped where it was when the crown was fully extracted. There is no return-to-zero mechanism for the seconds hand; the movement’s developers decided not to include one because it would have made the cheap Omega replica watches sale significantly more expensive.

Longines Master Collection Retrograde - recliningAfter the time has been set and the crown pressed back into place, the retrograde displays all return to their original positions. To set the day-of-the-week display, press the button at 2 o’clock to advance the display in single-day increments. The button at 4 o’clock is used to set the date display. So far, so good, and eminently simple, too. This watch has no 24-hour indicator for the hour hand, so the wearer must determine whether the hour shown on the dial is a.m. or p.m. Failure to take this detail into account may cause the date and weekday displays to advance at noon rather than at midnight. The simplest solution is to turn the hour hand through one full circle by extracting the crown halfway and then advancing the hand in a dozen single-hour increments. After the crown is pressed back in and the retrograde displays have returned to their positions, you can see if the hour has progressed past midnight, causing the date and day-of-the-week displays to move to their next positions. If you’ve inadvertently jumped to tomorrow’s date and day, simply turn the hour hand 12 hours back and the calendar displays will follow suit.

Longines Master Collection Retrograde -  side

The threaded button at 10 o’clock repositions the retrograde display for the time in a second time zone. Following the motto, “better safe than sorry,” Longines put threading on this push-piece to prevent its being inadvertently pressed when the wearer bends his wrist. The fake replica watches uk time in a second zone can be set so that it’s independent of, and uninfluenced by, the ordinary hour hand. If you wish, you can set this display to show the time in a city outside your home zone (say you live in New York but want to keep track of the hour in London or Los Angeles) or you can use this display to keep track of the time back home while you’re on the road. The display of the hour in your home zone remains unaffected, even if you turn the ordinary hour hand forward or backward.

 

SIHH 25th anniversary edition

— The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie is celebrating its quartercentury and opens on Monday January 19th at Palexpo in Geneva.

 

From five exhibitors sharing 4,500 square metres in 1991 to 16 Maisons occupying a surface ten times larger inside Palexpo Geneva, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie has come a long way in 25 years. So far, in fact, that the four initials SIHH speak for themselves.

The SIHH introduced a new face whose spirit has remained resolutely unchanged: an event where professionals within the sector and representatives from distribution networks and the media could meet in a relaxed and welcoming environment. Now scheduled in January, the SIHH has grown into a foremost event which invariably sets the tone for the twelve months to come.

While the 16 exhibiting Maisons’ command of technique has long been established, it is now joined by their expertise in the métiers d’art. This dual approach to the measuring of time makes theirs a unique activity in the world of luxury.

This year’s SIHH conveys the full extent of Fine Rolex Replica Watchmaking’s distinctive culture with a new approach. While previous editions explored the concept of historical and themed exhibitions, this 25th edition is instead highlighted by initiation to watchmaking workshops, where participants are given the opportunity to take apart then reassemble a Swiss replica watches movement. What more eloquent demonstration of the palette of skills that make up a world ruled by the infinitely small. Such an exercise is invariably rewarded by a sense of wonder. An emotion shared by every visitor to the SIHH!

Discover a video on the history of the SIHH by clicking on the large image at the top of the page.

 

SIHH-Baume&Mercier

Baume & Mercier at the SIHH 2014 Replica Watches UK.
© SIHH