The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie will celebrate its 25th year of exhibiting some of the world’s finest and most expensive watches when it opens today in Geneva, Switzerland. Originally founded as an alternative to the more established show held ever spring in Basel, SIHH has come into its own as the year’s first opportunity to view the latest innovations from 16 of the top brands in Swiss watches. SIHH is always the place to check out the newest trends and here are a few to look for this year.
Keep it classic
The dominant trend for SIHH 25 isn’t really a trend at all. According to the New York Times, the emphasis will be on “sober-looking men’s timepieces with low profiles and dressy styling.” As Montblanc CEO Jérôme Lambert told the paper, “Classical fine watchmaking remains very strong — more than sport pieces.”
It’s all on the inside
Several watchmakers will be debuting models with skeletonized movements that show off the intricate workmanship inside the delicate cases. Examples to look for are the Rontonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon and a pair of new Excalibur watches from Roger Dubuis.
Thin is in
Like that old saying that a woman can never be too thin or too rich, neither can a Swiss watch. Piaget takes the mania for super-slim timepieces to the extreme with the 4.65mm Altiplano Chronograph, but this won’t be the only wafer-thin watch on display at SIHH.
Courting the ladies
Industries stay in business by attracting new customers and Swiss watchmakers are no exception. Richard Mille is one exhibitor who is very open about why he is courting the ladies market. He told the Times, “I have been pushing very much the women’s collection. I have on my back a sticker that has been written ‘technical material,’ and I wanted to escape that a bit. The ladies segment is increasing every year. Right now, it represents in turnover 20 percent and I am aiming for 30 to 35 percent.”
Mille admits that he has a certain segment of the market in mind when he designs his watches. “I hate volume,” he stated. “And I love extreme luxury.” That explains why Mille will be showing his ultra-exclusive RM 19-02 Tourbillon Fleur ladies watch at SIHH. The 30 timepieces will retail for up to $800,000 each.
The elephant in the room
As much as they might like to, the makers of Swiss watches can’t ignore the potential threat coming later this year from the Apple Watch and other high-end wearable devices. Reid Sherard, watch and jewelry researcher for NYC market research firm L2, explained to the New York Times why the industry can’t afford to scoff at the Apple Watch.
“If you want to see a classic example of people in denial, look to how Swiss watch executives have reacted to the Apple Watch. The responses range from ‘It’s not going to affect us’ to ‘It’s a compliment to our product.’” Sherard gave a very good reason why this threat should be taken seriously.
“Estimates say Apple is expected to sell 30 million devices over its first year. That makes Apple between a $10.5 billion to $15.6 billion watch company by revenue, passing Richemont and the Swatch Group to become the largest watch company in the world.”