Vintage watches at SIHH

By Katherine Arteche, Revolution Asia & Australia

The idea of comparing old and new watches always seems to be a game of contrasts: short lugs versus long ones, enamel versus lacquer dials, thick versus ultra-thin cases, and the list goes on. So, when is a homage piece a true homage piece without being a mere replica of an ancient muse?

SIHH 2018 set the tone with milestone celebrations, namely IWC, who celebrated its 150th anniversary with a Jubilee collection in palettes of white and space cadet blue. In addition to a re-edition of the first 1884 Pallweber pocket watch, IWC recreated the new design in a wristwatch version. The IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years” retains the original layout, albeit with a refined design for its 45mm dial. The plain canvas splayed across the wrist may be a bit daunting for those who prefer the conventional display of time, but the linear arrangement of the hour, minutes and small seconds deviates barely from the original, providing the same ease of legibility. Finished on lacquered dials in platinum, 18K red gold or stainless-steel cases, time is read from jumping hour and minute discs which are powered by a new in-house 94200 caliber.
The new Polaris collection by Jaeger-LeCoultre is inspired by the 1968 Polaris Memovox, one whose signature rang true thanks to its iconic alarm function that was the first to ring under water. While one could argue that there was no effort to update the physical semblance from 50 years ago, it is worth noting that the movement (caliber 956) within its stainless-steel case is the second automatic alarm movement produced by Jaeger-LeCoultre since the original Memovox. Limited to 1,000 pieces, the timepiece works on the same three-crown function: inner disc, outer bezel, and main hour and minutes hands. The black dial bears Super-LumiNova indices on three different dial finishes — sunrayed, grained, and opaline.

5 Looking back in time_final

Looking back at 160 years, Montblanc ventures down the military watch route with five new pieces in the 1858 Collection celebrating the Minerva movement. If you were a fan of the bronze 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter, then the 1858 Automatic Chronograph is your new favorite, with the smoked champagne dial, no less. The double pushers operating the elapsed-seconds hand are a nod to Minerva’s chronographs from the 1900s, powered by the caliber MB 25.11. Also available in a stainless-steel case, time is read off bold Arabic numerals coated with Super-LumiNova and finished off with a NATO or calf leather strap.

Vintage watches are desired not just because human beings are sentimental creatures who plunge into nostalgia at the mere thought of our yesteryears, but because these watches are storytellers whose journeys began the moment they were materialized in their workshops and became treasured and worn, over and over again. Their reasons for being made are reflected in the materials, the techniques, the style, the colors, the sizes and the complications, where they encapsulate everything of that moment, preserved in their metal cases, hoping that half a century later, they’re as charming as they were all those years ago.