This week: Audemars Piguet says goodbye, SIHH; Breguet tourbillons in London and Panerai goes Art Deco
by Chris Hall
Business news: AP and Richard Mille to exit SIHH from 2020
It’s turning into a bad year for trade fairs. Following the Swatch group’s decision to leave Baselworld, it has now been announced that Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille will no longer take part in SIHH after next year. The reasoning for AP is that as they look to take more and more control over their retail channels, they have less need for an event that’s heavily geared around meetings with distributors and retailers. What it’ll mean for press, we don’t yet know. One thing is for sure; the addition of new brands in the last two years has made SIHH a hectic and unsatisfactory experience for all concerned, but the fair is undoubtedly weaker for losing one of its flagship brands, and a company as high-profile as Richard Mille (even if it has been reducing the amount it has to show at SIHH for a while now).
What we’re wearing: Ulysse Nardin Executive Tourbillon “Free Wheel”
To round off the summer – ok, Indian summer – QP nipped down to Monaco last week courtesy of Ulysse Nardin, which was launching a new range of dive watches (guys, do it at the start of summer next time!). You’ll hear more about them in due course but the trip also gave us a chance to get some hands-on time with the Executive Tourbillon Golden Wheels – a watch we were very impressed by earlier in the year. We can happily report that in the metal it’s even more appealing, as you get a real chance to appreciate the play of light across those eponymous wheels.
Something to see: Breguet tourbillons on Regent St
The grand watch shops of Mayfair aren’t always the most welcoming places for an idle browse, but if you have any interest in high-end Breguet pieces, it might be worth popping your nose round the door of Watches of Switzerland at 155 Regent St. The brand is taking a moment to remind us of its prowess in tourbillon manufacture, coupled of course with its link to the device’s inventor, Abraham Louis Breguet, and is displaying nine tourbillon watches (not historic pieces, sadly – the man himself only made 35 in his lifetime, of which just 10 survive). Still, it’s not every day you get even a glimpse of some of these watches. Apparently there’s also a digital ‘interactive experience’ where you can get a sense of how tricky it is to assemble a tourbillon.
New watch: Panerai Radiomir 1940 PAM 970 & PAM 971
You can’t seem to move for new Panerai models at the moment – the majority of them the usual iterations along familiar lines. The ones that stand out are a pair of Art Deco themed Radiomir 1940s, with dials that we are told take their inspiration from a clock that once stood in the Panerai boutique in Florence. One black, one ivory, they feature sword-shaped hands (a Panerai first) and some very Art Deco numerals. Powered by the P.3000 hand-wound movement and priced at £7,700, they’re to all intents and purposes a couple of classy, sophisticated, subtle watches: except this being Panerai, they are of course in 47mm steel cases. This does have us scratching our heads a bit – wouldn’t this sort of thing have been more at home in the Luminor Due 42mm?
Something to distract you: QP Vintage
Last week we quietly unveiled QP Vintage, a new area of the site dedicated to vintage watches. There are in-depth features and a new report on the state of the market from our resident expert, Simon de Burton, but by far the largest element is our back catalogue of auction highlights – chosen by Simon over the last five years, these represent some of the most interesting pieces to have crossed the block, from one-offs by George Daniels and Patek Philippe to oddball pieces from defunct brands. Lose yourself in Simon’s brief synopses of each watch – and kick yourself that you weren’t buying Heuer Autavias at 2013 prices…