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Five technical masterpieces from the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie

In the waning days of 2016, there was much speculation about what to expect at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) watch show in Geneva. Most of last year’s releases tended towards the conservative, leading many to wonder if some of the larger brands were on the verge of launching something truly groundbreaking.

After seeing the flood of new releases unveiled at the show over the past few days, it would appear our hunches were right, and if this is any indication of what is to come, 2017 is going to be a spectacular year. From the classic maisons of Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet, to the independent craftsmen of MB&F and Grönefeld, here are some our favorites thus far. (sihh.org)

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ceramic

AP Ceramic

Audemars Piguet was the first manufacture to bring us a perpetual calendar wristwatch back in 1955, and it has since remained a staple of the brand’s repertoire — though never quite like the Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ceramic. After dabbling with forged carbon and other composites in recent years, the company opted for beautifully hand-finished black ceramic for the case and bracelet for the new release which (rightfully) bumps up manufacturing complexity and cost. The new piece is expected to retail for roughly $US93,900 (about $A123,000) when it hits stores later this year. (audemarspiguet.com)

Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Artistica Mystérieuse

JLC Hybris

Much in the same way that Hermès has recently focused on the craftsman revival in watchmaking, Jaeger-LeCoultre has taken a similar direction with the opening of their Rare Crafts Atelier in the historical premises of their manufacture, and the first creations from the atelier are impressive to say the least. Though it is powered by Jaeger’s new in-house tourbillon Calibre 941, the Hybris Artistica Mystérieuse is really all about its astounding skeletonized mother-of-pearl and aventurine dial (as well as its incredibly ornate casework). Though its price has not yet been released, we do know that only five examples will be available worldwide. (jaeger-lecoultre.com)

MB&F Horological Machine No.7 Aquapod

MB&F

MB&F’s creations have always been a little otherworldly, so the prospect of seeing how the pioneering independent brand would choose to interpret a dive watch immediately piqued our interest. Though the HM7 Aquapod is only a diver in spirit—rated for a mere 164 feet (50 metres)—its ceramic timing bezel still adds a light layer of functionality to the over-the-top creation, whose side profile draws inspiration from the form of a jellyfish. Available in titanium and red gold, the new release will retail for $US98,000 and $US118,000 (or about $A130,000 and $156,000), respectively. (mbandf.com)

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph 1000 Limited Edition 18

MontBlanc TimeWalker

Pulling out all the stops in re-envisioning the TimeWalker collection, Montblanc decided to push the limits of their technical prowess with the range-topping TimeWalker Chronograph 1000 Limited Edition 18, which is capable of timing intervals of one-thousandth of a second. To achieve this, its movement engineers opted for two separate balance wheels, one for the standard time indication — which beats at 18,000 semi-oscillations per hour — and a smaller balance wheel (visible on the dial at 10 o’clock) for the chronograph beating at a whopping 360,000 semi-oscillations per hour. It also relies on two separate barrels for its power reserve, allowing it to run for 100 hours between windings regardless of chronograph operation. Will it serve a practical purpose? No. Is it still impressive and worthy of a spot in your collection? Absolutely. (montblanc.com)

Grönefeld 1941 Remontoire

1941 Remontoire Guilloche Blue Soldier HR

Were it any other watch, and any other watchmaker, a new dial offering for a past watch model could never make this list. The difference is that this is the GPHG-winning Grönefeld 1941 Remontoire, and its new dials for 2017 come from none other than Kari Voutilainen, a master in machine turning guilloche dials. If the technical appeal of the Remontoire did not win you over before, the visual appeal of these new pieces certainly will — that is, if the 25-piece run hasn’t already sold out by the time you are reading this. (gronefeld.com)

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