Every dreary January, the luxury watch world and its dog enjoys brief respite from the month’s enforced abstinence inside a vast exhibition complex next to Geneva airport. Here, for the past 25 years, the Richemont Group has provided its own alternative to the chaotic jamboree that is spring’s watch and jewellery fair in Basel, staging the altogether more serene Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). Here, in a cocoon of eggshell tones with champagne and sushi on tap, 15,000 invite-only retailers, VIPs and journalists are introduced to the new year’s new tickers from the likes of IWC, Cartier, Montblanc and Jaeger-LeCoultre.
The Russian slowdown and continued hesitancy of the Chinese market meant that this year at least, proceedings were relatively subdued (or as subdued as they could be, where pricetags average well into the tens of thousands). The previous week’s unpegging of the Swiss franc hardly helped the prevailing mood either. But one brand stood head and shoulders above them all; not only for bravely introducing an all-new coherent collection, but unleashing a suite of phenomenally beautiful mechanical movements, which has been undergoing ground-up development since 2008.
Vacheron Constantin’s “Harmony” (the name, thank goodness, is the only chink in the armour) borrows a voluptuous case shape from the 260-year-old watchmaker’s Art Deco period – a “cushion” design that translates effortlessly from the male wrist to female. What’s more, three of the five launch models feature Vacheron’s very first, in-house-manufactured stopwatch, or “chronograph” mechanism. Previously the house has adapted someone else’s engine, but it can now stand proudly alongside Patek Philippe and Cartier with this gorgeous bit of kit, hand-finished to a mind-bending extent, with its start/stop/reset functions all operated from a single button set into the crown. Oh, and a doctor’s pulsometer calibration around the dial.
If this watch doesn’t make you swoon, then you probably need to check your own pulse.
The Harmony Chronograph (limited to 260 pieces, at £53,450) features a pulsometer scale, calculating your heart rate from 30 pulses. The sublimely architectural, manual-wind movement is handpolished to the exacting standards set out by the “Poinçon de Genève”