This time of year, the horological universe revolves around the Palexpo center in Geneva. It’s SIHH — the Salon International Haute Horlogerie, where the watch brands under the Richemont Luxury Group umbrella (and a couple of outlying independents) convene to display their wares in elaborate and opulent “booths” that defy that pedestrian name. Journalists and retailers from around the world descend on Geneva to jostle for first looks at the latest and greatest creations from legendary maisons like Jaeger-LeCoultre, A. Lange & Sohne and Audemars Piguet.

MORE GP WATCH COVERAGE Best Watches SIHH 2013 | Baselworld 2013 | A Visit to A. Lange & Söhne

But SIHH is so much more than the watches. It’s a fashion show, a party and a celebration of all things horological. There’s always much anticipation around what sort of outrageous booth IWC will have and which celebrities and supermodels will be walking the halls. Fishnets, tweed, furs and skillfully knotted scarves can all be seen in great numbers, accompanied by a veritable United Nations sampler of languages and accents. While it all makes for great people watching, in the end, we came here to look at watches.

Already we’re blown away by Lange & Sohne‘s perpetual calendar with a power-reserve of 14 days, an orbital moon phase display and, oh yeah, a constant-force escapement. Speaking of perpetual calendars, watchmaking powerhouse Cartier presented the mind-blowing Astrotourbillon Perpetual Calendar with its amphitheatre-shaped calendar display. Officine Panerai has a fleet of new beautiful chronographs and a couple of new Destros (lefties); Jaeger-LeCoultre continues its apparently effortless mastery with an ultra-thin self-winding minute repeater; Baume & Mercier showed off a limited edition flying tourbillon version of its popular Clifton collection; and Montblanc continues to be an exciting brand to watch, especially now that former Jaeger CEO Jerome Lambert has taken the helm.

If there are any trends we’re seeing so far, they include a shift towards smaller watches (hooray!), an increased focus on women’s watches (yawn) and an uptick in the number of gold offerings (gotta love the bling). Oh, and the much-anticipated IWC booth? Suspended life-size hammerhead sharks, wave noise and a cool mist. No Adriana Lima sightings yet though. Stay tuned.

Next week, we’ll round up our favorites from SIHH but in the meantime, come along for the ride with photos taken straight from the show floor.

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