In some parts of the world, the two-tone watch never really went away, and even remained very popular, but here in the Old World, two-tone watches were regarded for a long time as out of style. This doesn’t reflect my personal taste, by the way, as I have a weak spot for my Rolex Oyster Quartz in two-tone and wouldn’t mind owning a mint-condition Royal Oak 5402 in steel and gold. A few brands at the SIHH brought this fine combination of precious metal and stainless steel back into the picture, and Audemars Piguet had the most striking example, in my opinion. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15400SR, a 41-mm, three-hand watch, will now be available in two-tone. It’s worth mentioning that this watch’s 36-mm predecessors from way back were also available in a steel-gold combination. The previously mentioned Royal Oak 5402 in two-tone is, of course, similar, but considered to be the “Jumbo” or “Extra-Thin” version. More about the new two-tone Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15400SR can be found here.
Minute Repeaters are the New Tourbillons
I don’t make it a secret that the minute repeater complication is more interesting to me than a tourbillon. Although a tourbillon watch can often be very impressive, nothing beats the sound of a minute repeater. Although Audemars Piguet was able to produce the loudest and cleanest-sounding minute repeater with its Royal Oak Concept RD#1 watch, it was a prototype that won’t be in boutiques in the near future. So allow me to rule that one out. After that, the most impressive minute repeater of SIHH 2015, for me, was the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater. This minute repeater made in Glashütte, Germany is a “decimal” minute repeater, meaning that after activating the mechanism using the pusher at 10 o’clock, it strikes the hours, the 10 minutes (instead of the more common quarters), and the minutes. The Zeitwerk Minute Repeater also memorizes the actual time, so when you activate the minute repeater seven seconds (for example) before a new minute starts, it strikes the time as it was when you pushed the button. After the minute repeater finishes its job, the watch jumps to the correct time (and date). The watch is not limited by numbers, but purely by the capacity A. Lange & Söhne has to manufacture it.
A 440,000-euro minute repeater and a 1.3-million-Swiss franc tourbillon are botj beautiful to look at or listen to, but most of us are looking for a watch in a bit more modest price range. Although it seems that a lot of the Richemont Group brands are moving away from anything affordable these days, there are healthy exceptions from Montblanc and Baume & Mercier. Montblanc was the brand that surprised most of the visitors with its new and stunning affordable pieces. One of my personal favorite Montblanc watches of this year is this world-timer (or Spirit Orbis Terrarum as it is officially called, probably because it is so easy to remember and pronounce) from the Heritage collection. A beautiful and clever watch that will tell you the home time at a glance wherever you are in one of the 24 displayed time zones. It works with two sapphire blue (light and dark) discs to indicate day or night, and it’s priced just below 5,000 euros. Detailed information can be found here.
This is the second-most popular mechanical watch complication, if we include the date indication as being one, as well. In my book, it is also one of the most useful ones. SIHH 2015 showed us a lot of chronographs, from the ones added to divers’ watches by Panerai to the Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph. Piaget did something it is very good at, introducing a very thin chronograph — the Piaget Altiplano Chronograph in gold, which has a thickness of just 8.24 mm. Vacheron Constantin reached back to some of its historical pieces and introduced the beautiful Harmony Chronograph. However, my personal pick for the most beautiful chronograph this year is the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Calendar, combining the best of both worlds in a slightly updated version of this already existing watch. It was not what most would consider the highlight for A. Lange & Söhne this year — considering the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater and the revised iconic Lange 1 —but the new Datograph Perpetual Calendar is simply striking, even without the gong.