By Adam Craniotes
on 1.24.12
Photo by GP

Every year, 18 of the major Swiss watch manufacturers pack up their suitcases, shut down their ateliers and head to Geneva to participate in one of their biggest events of the year, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). Part trade show, part intimate soiree and all business, SIHH has, for the past 20 years, been an integral part of the watch industry’s business cycle. This past week, a select group of international retailers, collectors and journalists was invited to SIHH to check out the companies’ novelty releases, rub shoulders with celebrities and ogle their latest innovations and designs.

There were a lot of great watches on display from brands like A. Lange & Söhne, Mont Blanc, and Cartier but we’re gear guys through and through and always run to check out the sports watches first. And SIHH 2012 didn’t disappoint. Here is a rundown of Timekeeping’s favorite new releases.

Audemars Piguet

This storied brand showcased a number of pieces, but none were more hotly anticipated than the 40th Anniversary Edition of the Royal Oak “Jumbo”. Introduced in 1972, this now iconic watch practically invented the sport watch category and in doing so, ushered in the era of the luxury stainless steel watch. For 2012, we see a few small, but significant changes, such as a newly refined trademark “petite tapisserie” pattern on the dial, which brings this piece closer to its roots

Another standout from Audemars Piguet is their latest iteration of the wildly popular Diver, which, for the first time is available with a forged carbon fiber case and a virtually scratch-proof ceramic bezel. Forged carbon fiber, which is exclusive to Audemars Piguet, is an exceedingly complex material to work with, but the end result is a case that is as strong as steel at a fraction of the weight. You can expect all the most fashionable deep sea divers to be sporting one this year.

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IWC ~ International Watch Company

IWC declared that 2012 was going to be the year of the high-flyer, and they certainly made good on their promise. In addition to the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Miramar, which we covered last month, they unveiled no less than eleven other pilot-themed watches, among which can be found a perpetual calendar, a world-timer and even a perpetual calendar with a digital date-month display. But perhaps the most significant aspect of this complete revamp is the debut of their in-house automatic chronograph movement, the calibre 89365 — a modification of their excellent 89360 — which sports a flyback function and boasts a 68-hour power reserve. This outstanding new movement finds its way into the Spitfire Chronograph, which also gets a gorgeous new anthracite dial and a larger case, which can now be had in red gold or steel.

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Jaeger-LeCoultre

Last year Jaeger-LeCoultre wowed us with their Memovox Tribute to Deep Sea Alarm, a faithful recreation of their very first dive watch, which debuted in 1959. Well, this year JLC re-imagined the Deep Sea Alarm as a chronograph, and the end result is nothing short of spectacular. With the same retro-inspired case as the Deep Sea Alarm, but outfitted with a thoroughly modern chronograph movement, the Deep Sea Vintage Chronograph is truly the best of both worlds And the best news of all? Unlike the Deep Sea Alarm, which was produced as a limited series, this one will be a regular production piece.


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Officine Panerai

Officine Panerai showed up loaded for bear as usual with a bit of something for everyone. In particular, the new Luminor 422 will have broad appeal among die-hard collectors and casual fans alike, as it is a variation on the theme established by their star from last year’s show, the Luminor 372. The 422 takes the 372 as a foundation and adds a running second hand at 9 o’clock, a power reserve indicator on the back and replaces the vintage-inspired Plexiglas crystal with a modern sapphire crystal for increased scratch resistance.

They also debuted the 438, otherwise known as the “Tuttonero”, which houses Panerai’s exclusive P.9001/B automatic movement in a high-tech ceramic case. Been there, done that you say? Well, for the first time they’re also offering a matching ceramic bracelet, and the effect is sinister, to say the least.

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The above represents just a handful of the watches that debuted this year, but they’re the ones that have us salivating. It’s probably best to start looking for spare change under the sofa, because none of the pieces unveiled at SIHH are going to be free.