The third edition of the Salon QP kicked off in November in a flurry of activity at the Saatchi and Saatchi Gallery. Much more relaxed than the SIHH and more intimate than Baselworld, the show has gained much ground since it first opened its doors in 2009. The bright, clean space of the gallery was an apt setting to showcase a great array of high-end watches, many of which featured artistic details, tributes to music and great artists, oriental decorative techniques, and unique mechanical innovations.
Art at its Best
One of the highlights of the opening night was the presence of Rolling Stones’ guitarist Ronnie Wood. Now dabbling in art, he is collaborating with aviation watch specialists Bremont to produce 14 limited edition B1 Marine Clocks, the larger-than-life timekeepers that the brand, inspired by adventurer John Harrison’s original ship chronometer, introduced last year. These ‘art clocks’ will have both their dial and internal case hand-painted by Wood to depict different periods of his life. Specifically they will reflect his water heritage, love of music, and passion for horses.
The Bremont B1 Marine Clock, fully made in England, is designed with some unique features not often found in clocks: three time zones, a 30-day power reserve, 90-day chronograph and waterproof case. The first limited edition clock features a whopping white horse sticking its tongue out against a red background. Very rock and roll!
Vacheron Constantin’s Metiers d’Art collections, specifically a unique piece from the Chagall & l’Opera de Paris series, and the second set of three watches from the La Symbolique des Laques collection, also appeared for the first time in London.
Featuring the ancient Japanese lacquer art of Maki-e, the Frog and Hydrangea watch from La Symbolique des Laques comes in 18k pink gold with an open-worked mechanical movement 1003SQ, seen from the centre of the dial, which indicates the hours and minutes.
The 40mm watch features a “double dial” where both the front and back are designed with 18k gold lacquer in Japanese maki-e style. Each side represents a half of a symbolic pair: the frog represents faithfulness, while the hydrangea plant symbolises patience, calm and serenity.
Vacheron Constantin delighted aficionados with on-site demonstrations of the technique, as well as hand-engraving, enamelling and guilloche that the company is well-known for.
There were quite a number of new releases, which was pretty impressive given that many of the brands had to be preparing for Basel and SIHH 2012.
Roger Smith revealed the first completed Anniversary Watch that he co-designed with watchmaking legend George Daniels, who passed away in October of this year. The Schofield Watch Company and John Isaac Genève both launched their brands during the show. And speaking of independents, Ressence was the talk of the town with their revolutionary Platform watch, which displays the time quite uniquely. The watch’s ergonomic design, with stark contrasting markers and indications, makes it easy to read the time, but what’s entertaining about the Platform is how you read the time. The watch features a revolving main dial that turns every minute. So instead of seeing a hand turning, you see an entire dial move around! To make it even more riveting, three sub-dials that indicate hours, day/night, and seconds have been built into main rotating dial. Watch how it works at ressence.eu/concept/demo.php.
One of the watches that really piqued my interest was IWC’s Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia, which was officially presented with grand aplomb in Chile’s Paranal, the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, last August. The watch is the most complicated one the company has created, uniting solar time with sidereal time, together with astronomical displays, and a perpetual calendar. The front is essentially a Portuguese, which features a constant-force tourbillon. The back reveals a celestial chart with horizon, geographical coordinates, solar time, sidereal time, sunrise and sunset display. The chart is actually fitted with a polarization filter, which changes its colour from a bright blue indicating daytime, to grey for night and yellowish for twilight. Each piece is unique as apart from the personal celestial chart on the back cover, the customer can also choose from a wide range of case materials and dial designs, as well as the colour and material of the wristband.
Jaeger-Le Coultre also presented a masterpiece in the Master Eight Days Quantieme Perpetual 40, made especially for the SalonQP. The watch, built around the Cal. 876-440B movement, has twin-winding barrels and a calendar that shows the date, day of the week, month and year in four digits, alongside displays for power reserve, moonphase and day/night. The watch was engraved with the SalonQP logo and the signature of its founder, James Gurney.
Aside from this timepiece, Jaeger-LeCoultre also presented an exhibit of Reversos, which includes antiques and the most complicated models to those from the 2011 collection, in celebration of the Reverso’s 80th anniversary.
Past is now Present
It was evident that watchmakers continue to look to the past for inspiration, and of course Panerai is one of the leaders in this group. The brand presented two rare left-handed models powered by the P2004/9 movement: the Luminor 1950 8 Days Titanio and Luminor 1950 Chrono Monopulsante 8 Days Titanio.
The latter, a special edition of only 150 units, comes in 44mm brushed titanium. The handwound movement has three spring barrels, which provide eight days of reserve power. A cylindrical pushpiece controls all the chronometer functions. The brown sandwich dial has the hour markers typical of Panerai, as well as a continuous seconds dial and minute counter.
Cartier presented three watches from its high-watchmaking collection, the Rotonde de Cartier Astroregulateur, the Calibre de Cartier Multi-time zone, and the Pasha de Cartier Skeleton. Since I’ve previously discussed the first two, I’ll give a quick description of the Pasha. This timepiece is constructed with the in-house Calibre 9457MC, which features a flying tourbillon in a modern skeleton. The iconic model, a Cartier classic with its Arabic numerals, the Pasha de Cartier Skeleton is presented with bridges – that are actually part of the movement – instead of a dial, which form the Arabic numerals. Fashioned in white gold the engraved numerals 3, 9 and 12 frame the flying tourbillon’s carriage at six o'clock. A play on solids and spaces reveals a movement driven by a skeletonised barrel whose spring remains fully visible. This version of the Pasha has been stamped with the Geneva seal.
An exhibition called Mechanical Horology from its Origins to the Present Day was also organised in cooperation with the Fondation de la Haute Horologerie (who are very active in Hong Kong too). The exhibit drew attention for its collection of historical pieces that showcased how far timekeeping has evolved over the last seven centuries.
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