A watchmaker with a collector's soul commenting on SIHH 2019
Three years ago I launched the Timeline.Watch to present my collection of vintage watches in an unprecedented and intuitive way. The website was extremely well received by the watch community; the first blog that found me was Hodinkee, and they immediately wrote a story about my collection.
Nine months later, Dan Henry Watches was born, and I became a watchmaker. But even now, on the other side of the table, my critical view on the watch industry and collecting remains the same.
As you can see in the article I wrote last year criticizing BaselWorld, the post went viral and created a lot of discussion among thoughtful collectors. However, that article also awakened some anger from a few Swiss brands and their bloggers. Well, sometimes the truth can hurt, but as a result, I was denounced on Facebook and was temporarily blocked from promoting my articles. But in spite of this reaction, nothing has changed for me; I do not pay for marketing, and instead, rely on the support of customers.
This week my critical spirit was recalled again with the launch of SIHH, the first major watch show of the year that is held in Geneva. After reading many controversial issues on watch blogs, I felt it was important to bring an independent and impartial view to these timepieces.
Here are my quick impressions of the models launched there, from the best to the worst:
Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Perpetual CalendarFantastic watch, elegant and incredibly thin 10.4mm case. If I was a millionaire and not a vintage collector, I would buy it. The minute repeating is, in my opinion, the maximum level of complication that you can see in a watch, followed by rettrapante movement and perpetual calendar. US$350.000+
Blue moon phases dialsBlue dial with moon phases is a trend and I love it. Dark blue is the perfect combination for a dial with moon phases, I do not know how we did not think of it before, now it seems that everyone had the same idea at the same time. I think the nicest one is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel Nice dial heavily inspired by the success of the popular Seiko Presage Sunburst dial finishing.
Cartier Libre CollectionThe best of Cartier has always been their jewelry and the ladies watches. I think only the Egyptians in the days of the Pharaohs made jewelry more beautiful than the original art deco pieces created by Cartier 100 years ago. As styles changed, Cartier’s watches never lost their class, nor did they give in to fashion trends such as extra-large models. Cartier watches have always been prized for their elegance, and this year's collection brings the best of the brand.
Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Twin Beat Perpetual CalendarI do not like the dial, but the concept of its movement is fantastic. It is an interesting mechanical innovation, and runs at two separate frequencies: 5hz while the watch is worn, reducing to 1.2hz when in 'sleep mode - enabling the watch to maintain its timekeeping functions for up to 65 days. The single-barrel caliber uses an innovative regulating system that switches between two gear trains. The concept behind this movement is that the balance does not need as much energy to stay stable if the watch is not in motion, so they decrease the frequency and therefore the amount of energy spent. US$199.000
Montblanc Heritage Pulsograph with Minerva Monopusher MovementOne of my favorite watches of the show, but I still cannot break this barrier: to me, Montblanc is a pen and I prefer Parker, lol. The watch is beautiful and the movement is cool, Montblanc has been trying at any cost to gain the respect of collectors, so they bought the Minerva, a very good movement that until now has been produced in only limited quantity, but not good enough to justify the value of US$30.000.
Ressence Type 2 e-crownRessence was born as a micro brand and has become a great brand that I deeply appreciate. For those who like modern and different watches, Ressence watches are very innovative and beautiful. I would like to think I would buy, only I lack the money. But if I had the money, in the hand, I think I will lack the courage. Only US$42.500.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 'Jumbo' Extra-ThinI do not consider this model to be beautiful, but I am a fan and I recognize its historical importance. I have only one of them in my collection, but I am impressed as after more than 40 years Audemars Piguet is still the absolute king among high-end sports watches. Designer Gerald Genta was a genius; the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is the father of all -- Patek Nautilus, Hublot, Vacheron Constantin Overseas, Girard-Perregaux Laureato, Maurice Lacroix Aikon, and IWC Engineer are all heavily inspired in the Royal Oak, and if you observe the AP was inspired in Cartier Santos, in watchmaking everybody copies everybody. US$55.400
IWC Pilot collectionJust a few updates and they are still beautiful. The green dial seems to me to be a trend and bronze cases are still high even though I do not find a good material to make a watch case by oxidation and being a very soft metal, for me cases in bronze look cheap, but IWC have invented a new material that if everything they say is true can be revolutionary.
Ceratanium is a new material that is essentially a hybrid of titanium and ceramic; you get the lightweight properties of titanium and the scratch resistance and matte black finish of ceramic.
Richard Mille Bonbon collectionI love the debauchery of this brand; its cheapest model is US$100.000. Richard Mille is probably the biggest marketing phenomenon of all time in the watch industry. This brand has my respect; it's a brand that has exploded in recent times and from what I see is one of the favorites among the bloggers, new celebrities and famous sportsmen. I never understood this brand and how people are paying over $2.000.000 for plastic watches. But the latter is outdated, the watch looks like a gift from the Dylan's Candy Bar. Price US$160.000
H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alps concept black minute repeater tourbillonHello -- I think this is the first Apple watch for blind billionaires on the planet; did you understand the concept of this watch? For the unbelievable, it does not have dial or hands, it indicates the hours only by its minute repeater movement. That is you have to listen and count the hours. Retail price over US$350.000.
Panerai, this year they are trying to push the hard to sell SubmersibleI always like the Panerai design but they are huge for my wrist and the small versions are meaningless… but what happening with this brand, they look to be trapped to the same design year after year, now that smaller watches are getting back I think they are not that cool anymore, prices for used pieces are dropping, even for the real vintage Military Panerais from the 40s. If the prices continue to drop I will buy a vintage in a few years.
TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 02T Tourbillon Nanograph, lol, I love the names they create for some watchesThe Tag Heuer tourbillon was launched in 2016 and became known as the first accessible Tourbillon Swiss, costing only US$16.000, now 3 years later the updated model costs US$25.000, is a nice increase for a model that was just a little uglier, I thought the Escape tourbillon would be on the way to a popularization since the only usefulness of Tourbillon watches today is exhibitionism. Originally it was designed to be a high precise escape, but this technology has become obsolete compared to modern and cheaper modern escape systems like the Omega Co-Axial or even a well tuned ETA or Seiko can be more accurate and stable than the finest tourbillon.
MB&F HM6 Final EditionThis watch looks like a submarine drone, many find it innovative, I think, but for a watch?
I do not know a person who would use something like that and I can not understand why I create something so complex to show the hours and in a very inefficient way. Price US$210.000
Girard-Perregaux Laureato AbsoluteGirard-Perregaux Laureato carbon glass. This watch is a mix of Hublot and Royal Oak, the carbon glass case looks like a fake Nike or Oakley watch. It's the ugliest case finishing of all SIHH, but its dial has an interesting construction that is identical to the one adopted in my Dan Henry 1963 pilot Chronograph.