Professional Jeweler Archive: Luxury in the House

July 2002

Timepieces/News


Luxury in the House

At SIHH, high-end timepiece companies increasingly do it all. New movements are placed in innovative design


Retailers who sell any of the 14 brands shown at the annual Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva, Switzerland, can expect bolder looks from these high-end watch manufacturers. In addition, watchmakers behind retail counters can strut their stuff as more luxury timepiece companies create a range of in-house movements and complicated pieces destined for U.S. showcases.

Now in its 12th year, SIHH attracts more retailers than ever, in part due to the addition of four premier brands: IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, A. Lange & Söhne and Van Cleef & Arpels.
Richemont, which started the invitation-only SIHH, added these companies to its roster of prestige brands. Contrary to some predictions, innovation continues even as consolidation occurs.

More Movements

Many of the brands at SIHH are on the road to full vertical manufacturing. To advance these goals, Baume & Mercier, Panerai, Vacheron Constantin and Cartier – all part of Richemont – announced plans to build new manufacturing facilities in Switzerland this year and in 2003. Piaget’s new manufacturing facility is operating at full capacity.

Independent company Girard-Perregaux is building a new facility specifically to expand its already substantial movement manufacturing capabilities. Audemars-Piguet just placed nine watchmakers in its recently opened service center for the U.S. in Florida and plans to hire nine more.

During the show, Roger Dubuis officially opened its Geneva Manufacture, a state-of-the-art facility employing 150 (by December). It already is assembling the four new movements it debuted at SIHH.

Technique on Display

In several cases at SIHH, the movement was the focus of the new timepieces. The technical innovation was decorative and designed to be seen.

At Audemars Piguet, the high-tech “Concept “ is made with alacrite, a hard metal. It’s used in its tourbillon bridges and case. The bezel is titanium. The watch celebrates the 30th anniversary of the brand’s signature watch, the Royal Oak.

To mark its 247th anniversary, Vacheron Constantin created a limited edition of 247 units of its “To and Fro” platinum-cased timepiece with an opened dial. Revealed from its top and its open back is the decorated in-house Calibre 1136 movement fitted with power-reserve indicator, day of week display and retrograde date hand.

A stunning karat-gold movement made by Jaeger-LeCoultre was just one feature of its much-discussed limited edition Septantieme. The two-barrel, eight-day movement – which has a patented large date display – is made in two series of 500 each, one is gold, the other platinum.

Designs

The new features are not limited to the inside of the cases – shapes have changed. Cartier, Daniel Jean-Richard, Baume & Mercier and Montblanc showed large, cushion-shaped cases among the featured debuts. Rectangular cases also comprise the majority of debuts from many of the other brands.

Cartier’s exclusive Privee line features two new tank watches: One has a newly created dual-time movement, the other hour and date apertures.

Enamel made a comeback of sorts as Cartier, Bovet and Roger Dubuis debuted several hand-enameled dials. The craft, highly sought-after because of its beauty and rarity, is displayed in two Panther motif pieces from Cartier and in an “America” watch from Roger Dubuis. Panerai showed a limited-edition hand-engraved flip-open steel dial cover for its titanium “Blackseal.”

Highly jeweled pieces were more evident than in past years, though jeweled items have been featured regularly at SIHH. New cases in Cartier’s and Piaget’s jewelry watch lines are elongated ovals and lengthened lugs flush with diamonds. Van Cleef & Arpels showed bracelets, cuffs and pendant gold timepieces among its expanded line of highly jeweled items. Many in these and other brands are reminiscent of Art Deco era, though new bracelet and strap materials and color modernize the look.

– by Michael Thompson

Jaeger-LeCoultre has a new alarm watch, the Master Compressor Memovox. Inspired by a 1960s model, its name derives from the patented compression devices that ensure water resistance with turned keys rather than screw-in crowns. One half-turn of the key releases the crown. The automatic JLC Caliber 918 movement is hand-decorated. Jaeger-LeCoultre , New York City; (212) 891-2363, www.jaeger-lecoultre.ch.
Baume & Mercier designed a movie-screen-shaped case for its new Hampton Spirit. Its Swiss-certified Girard-Perregaux movement is decorated and visible through the sapphire caseback. The case, hands and applied markers are 18k gold. The pink gold ($8,500) or “gray” gold series (a special alloy at $8,900) celebrate the company’s 172nd anniversary. Limited edition for each color is 172 pieces. Steel versions are not limited. Baume & Mercier, New York City; (212) 909-4385, www.baume-and-mercier.com.
The Piaget Altiplano watch is now made for women as shown by this colorful model set with diamonds. Colors include pink, violet and yellow with matching leather straps. Piaget, New York City; (212) 909-4369, www.piaget.com.
Montblanc debuts a rectangular collection, its first, called Profile, which includes this men’s chronograph. It also unveiled a thin-cased “Summit” line plus additional women’s chronographs with diamond bezels. Montblanc, Murray Hill, NJ; (908)508-2343.
Girard-Perregaux’s first Sea Hawk was made in 1959, but this new model adds many features, including steel or titanium case, power-reserve indicator, 50-hour power reserve from the Girard-Perregaux movement, 1,000 feet of water resistance and two sizes: 40mm and 42mm. A rubber strap is available. Retail prices start at $4,950. Girard-Perregaux, Rutherford, NJ; (717) 581-8387, www.girard-perregaux-usa.com.
Cartier’s elegant Himalia sparkles with an elongated diamond-set 18k gold case. The dial is asymmetrical and the buckle is also set with diamonds. A model with full-pavé diamond dial is also available. Cartier, New York City; (212) 753-0111, www.cartier.com.

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications