The Friday before this year’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie opened, the Swiss National Bank announced that it would detach its currency exchange rate from the Euro. This seemingly innocuous proclamation sent ripples throughout the Swiss watch industry and was all the talk at SIHH. The Swiss franc immediately shot up in value: good for some, bad for watch brands, whose products instantly became up to 20 percent more expensive abroad. There were rumors of retailers canceling orders, doomsday predictions in the halls of the Geneva Palexpo.

Best Watches of SIHH: 2012 | 2013 | 2014

Despite this dark economic cloud, which matched the January sky in Geneva, we still wanted to see the new watches from the 16 exhibiting brands. Among the “novelties” shown, there were a few overriding themes that seemed to reflect market and design trends of the past few years. First of all, gold is back, and not just the “safe” white gold — rose gold, yellow gold and two-tone watches were aplenty, showing that what goes around truly does come back. Watches are getting smaller again, with a few exceptions (see the Panerai below), a trend we can get behind. And there seems to be a return to classic designs — not just “heritage” inspired, but design codes that have stood the test of time. Last year was an orgy of divers and sports watches; there was a noticeable dearth of such brutish specimens this year, giving way to classic complications. Globes seemed to be everywhere, used in innovative ways to show world times and day and night. It was a more subtle show — even IWC’s booth felt more like a chic hotel lobby than an aircraft carrier flight deck (see SIHH 2012), which still managed to be immensely satisfying to anyone who loves high watchmaking. And in that respect, SIHH lived up to its name. Here are 10 of our favorite watches from last week.

I’ve always been a bit of an adventure fiend, a Midwestern boy seduced by the exoticism of adventure magazines and Hemingway novels. So, I feel like I’ve arrived now that I’m writing for Gear Patrol. It justifies as “research” a lifetime of tramping about the planet, climbing mountains, diving wrecks, and having a basement that looks like your local outdoor shop. Though I lean towards the Polarfleece aesthetic, I’ve been known to enjoy the occasional urban weekend in a tweed jacket or an evening in (gasp!) a tie. I only wear mechanical watches, drive my adequately patina’d Alfa Romeo Spider right up until the snow flies, and always keep an open bottle of single malt close at hand. My sporting cred runs the gamut from velodrome bike racing to Nordic skiing. I’ve done adventure races; I golf twice a month in the summer, have summited Colorado 14ers,and have even been scuba diving everywhere from Sri Lanka to Boston Harbor. I’ve traveled extensively in Europe, the US, and Asia, somehow earned an English Literature degree and learned German, French, and Latin along the way. I have studied photography and can make a mean saag paneer. I can’t say where Gear Patrol will take me. But as someone once said: “it’s not an adventure if you know the outcome.” And that’s just the way I like it. I’m here to serve you, my fellow adventurers.

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