SIHH: new watches for 2011

The SIHH (Salon Internationale de Haute Horlogerie) opens its doors for the 20th edition of this annual watch show. Nineteen brands, mainly from the Richemont Group, show their new watches for 2011.

Audemars Piguet Millenary hand wound minute repeater for 2011

The SIHH (Salon Internationale de Haute Horlogerie) opens its doors for the 20th edition of this annual watch show. Nineteen brands, mainly from the Richemont Group, show their new watches for 2011. The SIHH is the main annual event for luxury watch brands and buyers from around the world come to place their orders for the year. The watches on show are usually available in shops by the summer, so if there is something you really like, talk to your local jeweller now about securing one for you. The other important and much bigger watch fair is BaselWorld just before Easter. The vast, hangar-like  Palexpo, next to Geneva airport, is transformed into an oasis of calm, thickly-carpeted luxury and for a week is home to some of the most prestigious watch brands. White sofas, champagne on tap and free food for all the visitors set the tone for houses such as Cartier, Audemars Piguet, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Van Cleef & Arpels to sell their valuable timepieces. I have made a selection of some of the pieces on offer for both women and men. A return to core brand values dominate this year's offerings and each brand is focusing on what it does best and what it is most loved for. It appears that the race for every brand to have every type of watch and complication has lost momentum and the result is more coherent collections. And so it is that houses such as Jaeger-LeCoultre is concentrating on the 80th anniversary of the much-loved Reverso with its clean lines and functional design. Audemars Piguet offers a beautifully made and  gorgeous to look at new hand-wound minute repeater. Richard Mille is sticking to his look of racing machines for the wrist and offers an improvement in the form of a declutchable rotor, a device to stop the watch from overwinding. Cartier, that embarked on the road of haute horlogerie in a serious way two years ago, now has a respectable stable of its own movements that have been manufactured in-house. Cartier's complications such as the Astrotourbillon or the Astroregulateur stand out for being so Cartier. Now how a complication such as compensation system for an escapement can be elegant has to be seen to be understood. Have a look at the Cartier pieces closely and you will see that they bear the Cartier stamp from dial details through to inner workings. Even the concept is unique and Cartier complications strive to be different from others, but all executed with cool ease and panache. For more detail on the Cartier Astrotourbillon, click here. For women, Cartier have launched a new collection called Délices with a twisted oval dial. Find out more by clicking here. From the limited preview I have had, what has caught my eye so far is the Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 in Panerai Composite ® case.  According to the press information this new material is:  'a synthetic ceramic created by an electrochemical process involving the transformation of aluminium.' I am going to have to find out more and report back as I can't think how a synthetic ceramic can come from aluminium. Then again, at school I was asked to drop physics for being so very bad at this subject.  Another watch that promises to be a stunner is the Piaget Ultra-Thin automatic tourbillon. Now I would rob a bank for a Piaget ultra-thin as I think they are as refined as a watch can get but I am not so keen on tourbillons. This however looks to be an exceptionally handsome tourbillon so I will hold back final verdict until I see it in the flesh. I will be tweeting from the shows so follow me and you will be the first to hear the news hot from the SIHH.

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