SIHH 2010 Report
 
The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, which this year was celebrating its twentieth edition, closed on an optimistic note, pointing to a more favourable year for Fine Watchmaking. The attendance recorded by the 19 exhibiting brands was up, as were the business volumes, the signs of a recovery that began at the turn of the year. The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) is now held in January, to the satisfaction of the 19 exhibiting brands, which as a result are better able to plan their production and deliveries over the whole year. This general sentiment thus corroborates the choice made last year to position this event at the beginning of the year - a choice that will be repeated in 2011.
 
While 2009 will be remembered above all as a year marked by a global economic crisis that did not spare Fine Watchmaking, the next twelve months are likely to be a completely different vintage. The increase in attendance recorded at the 2010 SIHH - despite greater selectiveness in extending invitations - is a very clear sign of this. The number of visitors was 10% up on last year at 12,500, 1,200 of whom were representatives of the international media. The signals of recovery observed at the end of last year during the pre-Christmas sales period were also confirmed at this anniversary edition of the SIHH. At the end of a week devoted to the theme of Fine Watchmaking, the brands’ sales teams were openly optimistic
that business would increase over the coming months.
 
 
 
After the arrival of Ralph Lauren Watch and Jewelry Co in 2009, this year it was the watchmaking firms Greubel Forsey and Richard Mille which joined the ranks of the SIHH exhibitors. The visitors made a point of welcoming their presence by showing a keen interest in these two watch houses, which were delighted to have joined the event, both for the image it conveys and for the business opportunities it creates. This edition of the SIHH confirms, if this were necessary, the central role that Geneva plays in Fine Watchmaking. After the exuberance seen in recent years, watchmaking firms have today reverted to a form of classicism and fundamental values that have stood them well over the centuries. This approach has led, in particular, to a showcasing of creation, innovation and the art-related crafts, which were truly sublimated this year by some exceptional models presented by the different watchmaking firms.
 
Both Sowind brands were once again amongst those at the forefront of expectations and neither Girard-Perregaux nor JeanRichard failed to meet these high expectations. The 1966 Chronograph from Girard-Perregaux was received with great excitement and is a perfect example of the brand's focus on its true DNA. The elegant design, typical of the brand's 1966 collection is timeless and sophisticated, while the Calibre GP030C0 is technically excellent. Meanwhile, JeanRichard also returned to classic brand DNA in the form of the Aquascope, the latest addition to the brand's popular sports collection and a striking example of avant garde design fused with fine manufacuring techniques.
 
Cartier provided another exhibition highlight in the form of its Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon, an exceptional timepiece boasting a manufacture manual wind Calibre 9451 MC comprising a centrally positioned tourbillon carriage, weighing a mere 0.39g and contructed in titanium. Although not as spectacular, yet arguably equally exciting was the launch of the Calibre de Cartier collection; an entry level collection featuring a newly developed in-house movement, the Calibre 1904 MC. This collection represents a brave and admirable move by Cartier away from the ETA movements used in the past and towards manufacture mechanisms, even at the simplistic end of the spectrum.
 
Highlights were plentiful at this year's exhibition and every brand in attendance presented timepieces worthy of merit, Audemars Piquet made a bold statement with its Royal Oak Offshore Grand Prix collection, but Jaeger-LeCoultre's offering of two contemporary versions of the historic Memovox seemed to encapsulate the spirit of this year's exhibition; fine watch manufacturers doing what they do best. The latest incarnations of this legendary watch feature smooth, flowing cases, 40mm in diameter and clean, simple dials creating an overall impression of purity and refinement.
 
SIHH and Daniel McNutt (Jan 2010)
 
For more information visit www.sihh.ch
Images: Greubel Forsey, JeanRichard
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