The 2016 SIHH watch salon was marked by a climate of calm moderation and restraint in contrast to the heady years of bonanza when novelties rained from the skies. Following two years of slow growth - due in part to the Swiss franc, a dip in sales in China, and instability in Russia and the Middle East - some watch brands have decided to slow down and think long and hard about their core collections, revisiting classic women’s watches that best capture the brand’s identity and soul.
However, one of the few Maison’s to launch a brand new line of ladies’ watches was Cartier, showing the world once again the indisputable might of the brand. Christened with the name Hypnose, the collection exercises a hypnotic fascination with its infinite spirals of style and femininity. The elegant oval-shaped case is accentuated with double diamond-set bezels and, in this case, with a black lacquered ellipse separating the two ribbons of diamonds. Available in a variety of declinations and two sizes, this 37.8mm pink gold version has a fully pavéd dial and comes on a black alligator strap, allowing you to make the transition from exquisite day wear to sophisticated evening attire seamlessly. These Cartier watches are equipped with a quartz movement, with the crown hidden on the back of the case to allow the oval to work its magic.
When it comes to iconic watches, few can rival the Reverso’s perennial appeal, still going strong after 85 years. To celebrate this milestone, this family of Jaeger-LeCoultre watches has been revamped across the board with grand complications and customisation possibilities to suit every palate. No doubt one of the smallest models on display, the Reverso One Cordonnet caught my eye with its appealing vintage-inspired, leather cord strap - reminiscent of the straps on women’s watches from the 1930s. Measuring a demure 33.8 x 16.3mm, the contemporary two-tone case, made from stainless steel and contrasting pink gold, is remarkably stylish and feminine, and the dial draws the eye with its elegant white sunburst guilloché pattern and blued hour and minute hands.
Roger Dubuis knows how to put on a show. Proclaiming 2016 as the Year of the Diva, the stand featured a group of models positioned on red-carpeted stairs showing off the new iterations of the well-established Velvet family. Edgy, dramatic and contemporary, the 36mm Black Velvet model combines a dark ultra-lightweight carbon case with 66 electrifying Paraiba tourmalines set in the bezel and lugs. This is the first timepiece to feature gem-set carbon - a technical achievement the brand has patented. As with all Roger Dubuis watches, the mechanical movement is stamped with the prestigious Geneva Seal.
Evoking Piaget’s fabulous jewellery creations of the 1970s, the Limelight Gala watch returns in 2016 with a sensual Milanese gold mesh bracelet. The Limelight Gala is renowned for its distinctive diamond-set lugs that swirl around the dial and reach out to touch the bracelet, creating a sensation of fluid motion. The new Milanese bracelet is woven like a fabric and its supple, silky touch sits beautifully on the wrist. Presented in 32mm white and pink gold cases set with 62 brilliant-cut diamonds and a classic dial with Roman numerals, these Piaget watches for women certainly add some glamour.
Still recovering from the abundant novelties launched for its grand 260th anniversary in 2015, Vacheron Constantin concentrated on its existing Overseas collection, releasing new models and three in-house calibres complete with a gold rotor decorated with a wind rose - a symbol associated with travel. First introduced in 1996, the Overseas watch is conceived as a sporty, water-resistant, anti-magnetic timepiece for customers with an active lifestyle. The distinctive six-sided bezel and contrasting polished and satin finishes are very attractive, but the big news for 2016 is the introduction of interchangeable bracelets and straps - a marked trend at the SIHH this year. Vacheron Constantin has designed one of the easiest and fastest mechanisms on the market to change the bracelet that even a child could master. This 37mm stainless steel Overseas model, with its rosy-beige dial adorned with 84 round-cut diamonds and powered with a new automatic movement, comes with a choice of three interchangeable watch straps: a practical steel bracelet, a sporty waterproof rubber strap, and a classic leather strap. Versatility is very much the name of the game.