SIHH 2019 Roundup Part 3

Ulysse Nardin’s Freak collection now has an ultra-accessible (well, relatively) model: The Freak X. First introduced in 2001, the original Freak had an ultra-modern design that came without a crown; time was set by lifting a tab and turning the bezel, while the movement was wound via its rotating case back. Later iterations have followed this precedent until now. The new Freak X comes with a conventional crown, which has certainly contributed to its accessibility (the new variants start from US$21,000). Naturally, this also means that the movement isn’t quite like the Freak’s. In lieu of a baguette movement that’s mounted on a rotating frame to function as the second hand, the Freak X’s only mounts the balance and escapement. Consider this the simplified, more affordable version of an avant-garde icon.

IWC is supporting the “Silver Spitfire – The Longest Flight” project, which aims to kick off the circumnavigation of the world in a restored Supermaine Spitfire come August. As part of its efforts, the brand has launched the Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition “The Longest Flight” in a limited run of just 250 pieces. The watch functions as a worldtimer, but with a literal twist – its wearer presses down on the bezel and rotates it to “select” the city at 12 o’clock, and simply reads the time in that city via the 24-hour display on the dial below it. What’s more, the date window on the dial will change accordingly to reflect that city’s date too. Unlike IWC’s previous version of this complication, this watch does not come with a chronograph function, which improves overall legibility.

Montblanc previously had several collections that sported the Heritage moniker, but these have all been consolidated into a single line for simplicity under Davide Cerrato. This revamp entails a redesign of the collection’s codes as well, with Cerrato delving into Minerva’s archives and transplanting several design codes into the new Heritage timepieces. Note, for instance, the domed dials, as well as the mixture of Arabic numeral indexes with simple dot ones. One of the highlights from the collection is the Heritage Manufacture Perpetual Calendar. Compared to its predecessor from 2014, you’ll immediately notice a far more balanced dial that hints at a more appropriately sized movement. What’s less obvious lies under the hood – the perpetual calendar is driven by wheels instead of fingers (i.e. levers), so adjustments can be made in both directions using just the crown. How’s that for user-friendliness?

Roger Dubuis pulled the covers off the one-of-a-kind Excalibur One-off at SIHH, and promptly sold it during the fair. This watch is the brand’s take on the outlandish, also bespoke Lamborghini SC18 Alston supercar, which the marque had produced for a VVIP. It draws several inspirations from its automobile counterpart, from the crimson accents to the V-shape engine geometry, replicated here via two inclined, symmetrically arranged flying tourbillons. Lamborghini aside, Roger Dubuis also roped in Pirelli tyres to help with the watch strap, with their input seen in its material and design. The devil’s in the details here: the strap’s openings are covered in a nylon mesh that’s identical to what’s embedded within Pirelli tyres.

For the first time, Greubel Forsey has introduced a timepiece that is less than 40mm in diameter. To be precise, the new Balancier Contemporain measures 39.6mm across despite housing the brand’s in-house balance (first unveiled in 2017), which has a large balance wheel of 12.6mm diameter. Despite the constrained dimensions (by Greubel Forsey’s levels, at least), the brand’s penchant for architectural dials that play with depth and finishings remain here. The three displays are all on different levels on the dial, for instance, while a variety of decorations are all on show, from mirror polished flanks to grained plates. Just 33 pieces of this watch will be produced, all in white gold.

Bovet’s first outing at SIHH this year saw the brand introducing timepieces that are Bovet through-and-through. The Tourbillon Amadéo Fleurier Virtuoso IX here begins with the brand’s signature Fleurier Amadéo case, which can be converted between a reversible wrist watch, a pocket watch, or a desk clock. On one face, the Virtuoso IX has a regulator dial layout complete with a large date display, power reserve indicator, and second time zone indicator. The second time zone can be freely set to other cities, making this akin to a worldtimer. The Virtuoso IX’s other face is a regular time display set against a lavishly decorated movement, which mirrors the “primary” dial’s opulent finishing.