Cru 2018

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A new lease of life


05.2018

Some are targeting younger buyers by launching simple three-hand steel watches, others are showcasing every inch of their knowhow. 2018 timewear doesn't do half measures.

The tone was set at the SIHH, the first big show of the year. More connected than ever, the 2018 edition provided a smartphone app, new interactive get-together spaces and White Box mobile studios for preparing social-media posts. On the stands, Vacheron Constantin created a buzz with the launch of a Fiftysix in steel, its most affordable watch yet, catering for a younger clientele. At Baselworld, the other big show, watchmaking again seemed to be having a youthism moment, with Girard-Perregaux illustrating its new, more contemporary, orientation with the Tri-Axial Minute Repeater, while Roger Dubuis delivered up coloured versions of its Excalibur. The new policy? Reconnect with real life and particularly young people by launching more pragmatic models. We don't doubt that Zenith will top that poll with its DEFY Classic in steel.

Amazing stunts
Nonetheless, Swiss watchmaking hasn't lost sight of what makes it world-renowned, with 2018 unarguably the year of the extra-flat contest. Audemars Piguet throws down the gauntlet with the Royal Oak RD#2, the world's thinnest perpetual-calendar watch! There's a trial of strength between Bulgari and Piaget, each introducing their ultra-flat model, the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic for the first and the Altiplano Ultimate Concept for the second. Watchmaking wouldn't be watchmaking if it didn't strut its stuff! Graff dazzles us with some incredible stunts: the MasterGraff Métiers d’Art pairs complex applied-arts techniques with a flying tourbillon in an astoundingly delicate case, while the GyroGraff Drive showcases three complications on three dials inspired by motor racing. Genuine masterpieces!

Full-on anniversaries
When the manufactures aren't introducing timepieces developed through collaborations – Hublot and FIFA, Richard Mille and polo player Pablo Mac Donough – they're looking back to their roots to celebrate anniversaries. Tag Heuer spoils watch lovers with a Special Edition Tag Heuer Gulf (you know, the Steve McQueen watch!) 50 years after those blue and orange stripes impinged on our consciousness. Rolex marks the 55th birthday of its legendary Daytona, Jaeger-LeCoultre pays homage to its 1958 model with the Polaris collection, and Chopard celebrates 30 years partnering the Mille Miglia race. At Harry Winston, the Ocean sports collection flags its 20th birthday and adds a bi-retrograde perpetual calendar, as well as spoiling the ladies with four new models.

What women want
As for complications, women are very much in the watchmakers' sights, being increasingly keen and knowledgeable. Audemars Piguet adapts its Concept for women for the first time, giving the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon, while Richard Mille houses the CRMA2 calibre in unprecedented black ceramic and diamonds. Van Cleef & Arpels has women gazing at the stars with the Lady Arpels Planetarium and Graff has dreamt up the Graff Floral watch animated by three bouquets. Lastly, Chanel, ever the elegant woman's favourite, pursues its horological odyssey with the Calibre 3 skeletonised movement housed in the hugely successful Boy.Friend case.