Insane Timepieces from the World’s Most Exclusive Watch Show
Most people who know watches know Baselworld—the annual Swiss expo where everyone from Swatch to Shinola to Rolex show off their wares. It’s amazing, but its extravagant booths and public face are the opposite end of the spectrum from the lesser known SIHH: the Salon International de la Haute Horologie. That’s French for “International Supermegafancy Watch Show,” and it’s lower-profile because it’s not open to the public.
Tucked inside a smallish convention center in Geneva, Switzerland, SIHH looks like the high street of a wealthy Swiss mountain town: cream colored storefronts that mostly distinguish themselves by the names above the doors and the watches in their windows. Don’t spend too long looking at the outside of the booths, though; the watches here, from brands like A. Lange & Söhn, Cartier, IWC, and Jaeger-LeCoultre, are insane.
This is the forefront of modern watchmaking, with mechanical and metallurgical wizards showing off depth and complexity that will give you vertigo if you stare deeply enough. You won’t find a quartz oscillator or a battery here, but you will find the culmination of hundreds of years of Swiss innovation: tiny apparati that dazzle with their genius and precious metals. No, these don’t tell time as well as your smartphone or Apple Watch, but that is 100-percent not the point. These watches are wearable art: hundreds of components, hundreds of hours of hand crafting, and centuries of knowledge distilled into tiny machines you can wear on your wrist. Megacities of gears and springs that harness the power of twisted knob or a waved arm to create a subtle, consistent tick.
Here you can find watches that cost into the seven-figure range, but that’s not always where the coolest stuff is. We’re here in search of the coolest applications of materials science, miniaturization, and raw innovation. Stay tuned.
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