Text by Alex Ghotbi - Photos by Alberto Schileo
© April 2004 by the authors and ThePuristS.com
Please note that you may click on any watch image to enlarge it.
We left sunny Basel for rainy Geneva, the hum of the Basel fair gives way to the hushed atmosphere of the SIHH. Where in Basel each brand rivals in ingeniosity in creating the most astonishing booths, all brands have exactly the same booth design at SIHH, each decorating the interior to their taste.
After a short night’s sleep following a delicious meal of fondue and Swiss wines shared with some internet friends with which I have great pleasure of meeting up each year, we started our day on Monday April 19 with IWC.
This year was definitely IWC’s with many interesting novelties and a stunning new complication.
A very beautiful skeleton minute repeater limited to 50 pieces in white gold and 50 in rose gold. The watch is not legible but if you want to know the time all you’ll have to do is trigger the repeater!!
Second complication to be presented by IWC is the Portuguese automatic tourbillon using the Pellaton caliber (limited to 250 pieces in rose gold and 50 in platinum). To my knowledge this is the first time IWC puts the tourbillon on the dial side of the timepiece (until now in the Distrerio and DaVinci tourbillon the whirlwind was hidden on the back) and I’m sorry to say IWC should have continued hiding it!! It really is not an attractive tourbillon cage, I would have said that it was damn ugly but I guess that it’s not politically correct!! It’s a shame because the rest of the watch looks very good!
A new Portuguese with automatic 8 day Pellaton movement, with seconds subdial, power reserve indicator and date at 6. A very elegant watch and the steel version with black dial and black date disc is a true looker!
After the minute repeater and the tourbillon, IWC presented an extraordinary complication: the Split Minutes (previously named the Minute Memory) housed in the case of the new Aquatimer models.
The Split Minutes is a professional watch in its true meaning, tested by the Cousteau team in over 900 dives. The watch can go to a 120 meter depth, the pushers are not screwed in but are still water resistant to that depth and can even be used under water.
The novelty here is the use of a split minute complication enabling the timing of 2 different events having the same beginning but not the same end. Imagine a split seconds chronograph but instead of timing the difference in seconds between two events this watch enables the timing in minutes. From what we were told this is particularly useful when scuba diving to calculate the different levels of decompression.
A very very nice looking watch with a fascinating and novel complication.
IWC also presented a whole new series of Aquatimer models which will be delivered with bracelet and rubber strap:
The Cousteau Diver limited to 1953 pieces. 1953 being the year “Le Monde du Silence” a film on Cousteau’s discovery of the wonderful underwater world which won the Palme d’Or at the International Film Festival at Cannes.
Next step took us to Audemars Piguet who had placed the brand under the year of the woman and were presenting many encrusted timepieces as well as a whole new line of jewels.
Even though Audemars Piguet was celebrating the “Femmes du Monde” their new Cabinet n° 4 timepiece weighing over 500 grams of platinum was in no way fit for what we call the “fairer sex”.
This amazing timepiece (limited to 20 pieces), comes in the Royal Oak case and features a tourbillon, a chronograph, a 10 day power reserve indicator as well as an power reserve indicator for the last 24 hours. A stunning watch: I really like the mix of a sports case in the most precious of metals supporting a complication often found in more conservative pieces. Very nice!
We also got to see the controversial Montoya Royal Oak Offshore models (limited to 1000 pieces in titanium, 425 pieces in rose gold and 75 in platinum). I have read many negative comments on this watch during the past few days but in fact is a true stylistic feat: turning a watch directly inspired by the sea to one with F1 racing inspirations. The Royal Oak Offshore has been totally redesigned to integrate the Formula One racing atmosphere the watch exudes with: bolts instead of screws on the bezel and the funky pushers representing the accelerator and break pedals found in racing cars. Even the strap is inspired by the suits worn by F1 drivers.
Royal Oak Offshores with new dials:
A gorgeous 2 counter tourbillon chronograph in the beautiful Jules Audemars case using a new movement designed by Renaud et Papi:
Edward Piguet chronograph in a new case featuring elongated lugs and 2 new dials:
Edward Piguet Tourbillon:
Our next presentation was the booth next door, at the watchmaker’s watch maker: Michel Parmigiani.