Are we pumped for SIHH 2018 yet? Just like the “holiday shopping season” and beginning around the same time, it seems like the new-product announcements get earlier every year. With still more than a month to go, the 2018 models that we will get to see in Geneva in January have already started coming in. The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) watch industry trade show, just like its organizing body the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), has continued to grow and evolve each year, adding more brands as well as a day where the show is open to the public for the first time in 2017 – this time around, it will be Friday, January 19th, 2018. Now with a total of 35 brands, SIHH 2018 promises even more variety than in previous years.
Hermès is rather a rare breed in the luxury watch industry, being a family-owned independent firm particularly famous for fashion and leatherwork. But they’re serious about watches too, and the Arceau watch made by celebrity Henri d’Origny, with its distinctive wind-blown ribbon and asymmetrical lugs, has also been around for a while. The new Hermès Arceau Chrono Titane is the newest evolution of the Arceau design, including a much sportier theme than previous incarnations.Henri d’Origny combined Hermès in 1958, operating in the maison’s flagship boutique in Paris. He made leather and silk goods for the company as well as iconic watch layouts such as the Cape Cod, which turned 25 final year (our hands-on impressions here), in addition to the original Arceau model in 1978. The dial of this Hermès Arceau Chrono Titane is galvanic black with moved white Arabic numerals and a minute track which features a red bar every minute plus a red pip each five minutes. Many chronographs color-coordinate the chronograph hands, but here the central chronograph seconds hand and the running seconds hand at 3 o’clock are reddish, with the rest of the hands being rhodium-plated. The running moments index is made even easier to locate at a glance due to some contrasting gray exposed ceramic ring around its perimeter. A date index is wedged in at 4:30 and uses the same whimsical font as the dial. The minute and hour hands can be described as leaf-shaped and should provide decent legibility against the black dial.
You already know that SIHH is one of the two most important events for the watch industry, as its exhibitors – while much fewer than at the biggest industry trade show, Baselworld – represent many major and influential brands, and this is the time of year when they introduce their most important new products. Vis-à-vis Baselworld – where around 300 brands represent the breadth of the watch industry from high-end and mainstream to obscure startups – SIHH has always carefully maintained an image of exclusivity and “prestige.”
So, while a few brands do introduce models in the “mid-level luxury” range that the average person might be able to consider saving up for and possibly actually wearing… you can expect a lot of skeletonization, avant-garde designs, artisanal techniques and haute horology finishing, “high complications,” precious materials, and stratospheric prices. Haute horlogerie is in the name, after all. It has largely been a spectator’s show for fans of high-end watchmaking, but with recent industry trends emphasizing more “down-to-earth” (it’s all relative) models, some balance and variety can at least be hoped for.
SIHH 2018’s 35 Exhibiting Brands
The Richemont Group along with some independent brands long represented the handful of SIHH exhibitors. However, the show’s 2016 edition added a “Carré des Horlogers” section with nine “artisan-creators and independent workshops” and expanded that number in 2017. This year, the Carré des Horlogers brands are up to no fewer than 17, with the primary exhibitors (referred to as “Historic Maisons”) at 18 for a total, again, of 35. The primary exhibitors are joined by Hermes, and the Carré des Horlogers adds five brands with Armin Strom, DeWitt, Ferdinand Berthoud, Élégante by F.P.Journe, and Romain Gauthier. See the full list of exhibitors in the image above.
From a media perspective, Baselworld has tended to spread our resources very thinly in past years with simply too much to cover at once, so with some prominent brands having moved from Baselworld to SIHH, we can hope for some balance between the shows. Around 20,000 visitors are expected this year, and the FHH promises improved facilities and connectivity in order to make our job of bringing you high quality content more efficient – so we’ll see what that’s like in January. That’s just a glimpse into our point of view in preparing for the show.
We’ll continue providing news of new products ahead of the show – if mostly only renders and official product images from the brands with basic information before being able to see the watches in person to photograph and evaluate them in their glorious and gritty reality. SIHH 2018 runs from January 15th to the 19th, and again, the last day is open to the public with tickets on sale at the SIHH website. sihh.org