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22 exceptional luxury watches of 2018 (Part II/III)

Part II of III of the 22 most exceptional watches for 2018, including brands like Girard-Perragaux, Greubel Forsey, Hermes, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc and Panerai.

Sounds like success

GIRARD-PERREGAUX

Minute Repeater Tri-Axial Tourbillon

  • Minute Repeater Tri-Axial Tourbillon

Since bringing back its sporty Laureato with a vengeance – and in a multitude of iterations – last year, Girard-Perregaux continues to strengthen this family.

This year sees the addition of new chronograph versions, as well as ceramic-encased ones. But in terms of technical excellence, one novelty made more noise than the rest, literally. To ensure that its chiming was loud enough to, as the watch’s press information states, “accompany music-loving aesthetes…in today’s often very noisy big cities”, the Minute Repeater Tri-Axial Tourbillon is housed in a case made of titanium, a low-density metal that transmits sound more effectively, instead of absorbing it.

Additionally, the hammer and gongs, usually found at the back of a movement, have been moved to the front to further boost sound transmission and prevent the wearer’s wrist from deadening the chiming.

Offering further dynamic distraction from urban life is the signature Girard-Perregaux tri-axial tourbillon, with its constant rotation on three axes at varying speeds.

 

Power in control

GREUBEL FORSEY

Differentiel d’Egalite

  • Differentiel d’Egalite

Another year, another technical – and impeccably finished – timepiece by Greubel Forsey. The Differentiel d’Egalite is a time-only watch that puts the focus squarely on Greubel Forsey’s constant-force mechanism. The goal behind all constant-force mechanisms is to ensure that energy transfer from the mainspring remains constant, even as the latter winds down.

First announced by the brand 10 years ago and having been refined since, Greubel Forsey’s version sees the mainspring winding a secondary spring, which in turn transmits energy evenly to the watch regulator.

Thanks to a large dial cutout, you can get a glimpse of the workings of the mechanism, as well as elements such as the mirror-polished balance wheel bridge.

The 44mm white gold watch is also the first by the brand to feature dead-beat seconds (which is when the seconds hand moves in one-second jumps instead of in a continuous motion), which can be stopped and reset so the time can be set accurately.

(RELATED: SIHH 2018: Highlights from Audemars Piguet, Ulysse Nardin, Greubel Forsey and Montblanc)

 

Form and substance

HERMES

Arceau Chrono Titane

  • Arceau Chrono Titane

Presenting its novelties at SIHH instead of Baselworld for the first time this year, Hermes chose to highlight its design credentials. Many of the French luxury house’s new watches stood out with their unusual aesthetics – consider, for instance, the rounded square case of the Carre H or the vibrantly coloured champleve lacquer dials of the Arceau Casaque models.

While the brand has chosen to take a break from its playful complications (such as last year’s Slim d’Hermes L’Heure Impatiente, which chimes at the end of a one-hour countdown) to focus on design this year, its new releases include a timepiece with one of the world’s most popular complications – the chronograph. Housed in a 41mm titanium case and powered by an automatic ETA movement, the Arceau Chrono Titane is one of the sportiest models in the equestrian-inspired Arceau family yet. Familiar touches – such as its riding stirrup-like, asymmetric lugs, and italicised Breguet numerals – meet rugged details such as a textured black dial.

(RELATED: 22 exceptional luxury watches of 2018 (Part I/III))

Mix master

IWC

Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Edition ‘150 Years’

  • Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Edition ‘150 Years’

Anybody with the vaguest interest in IWC will know that the Schaffausen manufacture is marking its 150th year with a wide range of novelties. As IWC associate director of product development Walter Volpers told us at SIHH: “You want to pack 150 years of history into one collection, and you cannot do that with only one product line.” While much attention has been showered on the Tribute to Pallweber watch and its jumping time-display discs, the 29-piece Jubilee range has a lot more to offer. For one thing, several pieces feature new combinations of features.

For the first time, a tourbillon gives additional horological glamour to the perpetual calendar designed by IWC master watch-maker Kurt Klaus. In designing the 45mm red gold Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Edition “150 Years”, the designers made space for the tourbillon by moving the moonphase display from 12 o’clock and integrating it within the month subdial at six o’clock. And in the Big Pilot’s Big Date Edition “150 Years”, a large date is used for the first time in IWC pilot’s watches, boosting utility without compromising on legibility.

(RELATED: The 60-second watch brand guide: IWC)

 

Dive right in

JAEGER-LECOULTRE

Polaris Memovox

  • Polaris Memovox

To create a new, sporty pillar within its catalogue, Jaeger-LeCoultre has dived half a century back into its history.

This year, it celebrates the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Memovox Polaris, a dive watch with an alarm function that enables the (presumably diving) wearer to know when it’s time to resurface. The new Polaris collection comprises five models: a time-only automatic, a date-and-time model, a world-timer chronograph, a chronograph, and a Memovox alarm version that hews most closely to the collection’s muse.

Made in a limited run of 1,000, the Polaris Memovox bears distinctive features that recall the 1968 original, including its triple-crown design, off-white Superluminova hour markers and hands, and trapezoidal indexes combined with four Arabic numerals.

If you’re planning to use this 42mm steel watch to wake you in the morning, we recommend having a back-up alarm if you’re a heavy sleeper. Its deep ring is relatively loud but continues for just 15 seconds; this is on a par with other mechanical alarm watches, but possibly too brief to rouse one from deep slumber.

(RELATED: Why Dr Stefan Ma is crazy over Jaeger-LeCoultre watches)

 

Scaling new heights

MONTBLANC

1858 Geosphere

  • 1858 Geosphere

In the competitive fine-watch industry, Montblanc has been setting itself apart by focusing on its “value for money” proposition. This year, it reinforces this message with novelties such as the 1858 Geosphere, a dual-time steel watch that also (very approximately) reflects world time with a pair of rotating “globes” representing the Northern and Southern hemispheres. It’s an unusual feature adapted – in a simpler, but still attractive way – from much pricier, previous models such as the Tourbillon Cylindrique Geospheres. The 1858 Geosphere is priced at $8,300, while its high-end inspirations have price tags of above $400,000.

This year also sees Montblanc revamping – to positive effect – its classic Star Legacy and sporty Timewalker collections. The Star Legacy Chronograph Rieussec is the highlight of the new and improved Star Legacy collection. With a very reasonable asking price of $11,900, the steel timepiece features Montblanc’s signature chronograph display, which tracks elapsed time via two rotating discs – a tribute to the 1821 inking chronograph of 19th-century French watchmaker Nicolas Rieussec.

(RELATED: CEO Jerome Lambert is taking Montblanc into the future the good old-fashioned way)

 

Going streamlined

PANERAI

Lo Scienziato Luminor 1950 Tourbillon GMT Titanio

  • Lo Scienziato Luminor 1950 Tourbillon GMT Titanio

Panerai is probably among the last brands that would come to mind when one contemplates ultra-thin watches – but several of its SIHH launches show that the brand is looking to lose some of the bulk that has long been its Sylvester Stallone-approved calling card. Firstly, one of the product families the brand is focusing on this year is the Luminor Due, which is a slimmed-down (although still not skinny by any means) version of the Luminor 1950 model. Secondly, Panerai did not simply release new Luminor Due models such as a 45mm edition with small seconds and a date display – it also unveiled a handful of 38mm Luminor Due watches, its smallest and slimmest designs yet.

Of course, there were still big and bold releases to please long-time Paneristis. Even so, reduction was executed in other, although less immediately obvious, ways: Despite measuring a sizeable 47mm in diameter, the Lo Scienziato Luminor 1950 Tourbillon GMT Titanio feels a whole lot lighter than it looks. This is thanks to its hollow titanium case, which is made from powdered titanium using direct metal laser sintering, a 3-D printing process.

(RELATED: The 22 most exceptional luxury watches of 2018 (Part III/III))