If you’ve never had a sales assistant explain why you should “accessorise” your outfit, it’s a long time since you shopped anywhere that wasn’t .com. When it comes to watches, any accessorising is usually done by the strap or bracelet. So tear yourself away from your screen for a few hours and stop off at SIHH. You’ll be surprised by the stylish ingenuity of Cartier’s interchangeable straps, the feminine refinement at Roger Dubuis, and the stunning fine jewellery creations from Audemars Piguet. Some things must be seen for real…
More than an accessory
Women have taken a front seat at SIHH these past years. We still remember the chain bracelet that Richard Mille presented in 2015. Hand-crafted and hand-finished in solid gold, this astonishingly lightweight and comfortable bracelet makes the perfect foil to the powerful design of the RM 07-01 and the RM 037.
In 2016, all eyes were on the refined aesthetic of the Milanese bracelet adorning the Piaget Limelight Gala, winner of the Ladies’ Watch prize at this year’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. This intricate construction echoes the various woven bracelets on offer from the watchmaker-jeweller since the 1970s. Its ingenious sliding buckle fastens as easily as a conventional pin buckle, and adjusts the bracelet to a perfect fit for any wrist.
The straps that most stood out last year, however, were the interchangeable styles that accompanied Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas collection, as they spelled the start of an ongoing trend. For its twentieth anniversary, this charismatic timepiece was given a set of three removable straps that can be swapped, with their buckle, without any special tool. The trio includes a metal bracelet with easy-fit system that can be lengthened by several millimetres for constant comfort on the wrist.
The trend to mix and match straps is confirmed at this year’s SIHH, most notably at Cartier which is proposing an impressive range of easily removed straps in coloured leather for its Ronde Solo and Tank Solo watches.
Roger Dubuis: Beauty and the Beast
Roger Dubuis, a brand renowned for its complex, architectural mechanics and never one to hold back when it comes to staging its watches, has “unleashed” the Excalibur Spider Full Carbon into the aisles of SIHH. A riposte to the technical prowess of a skeletonised movement in platinum and carbon, the strap plays with different materials, having a black rubber base with red top-stitching and red fabric inserts on a DLC-coated titanium folding clasp. In a similar vein, the strap on the explosive Excalibur Quatuor Cobalt (in cobalt chrome) inlays its black rubber strap with blue lambskin, again with red top-stitching. These eyecatching colours are a clever match for the cobalt chrome, and for the red and blue of the movement of this horological “Beast”.
To bring out a softer side, “Beauty” will wear one of three watches dedicated to the golden age of Hollywood. Hallmarked Poinçon de Genève, as always at Roger Dubuis, they are distinguished by their straps, each designed and crafted by Parisian shoemaker Massaro: pleated gold leather, exquisite black feathers by Laurence Le Constant, or a row of pearls tucked into silver leather folds.
Chanel J12 XS: Excessively yours
Imagined by Jacques Helleu in 2000, Chanel’s ceramic J12 has to be one of the biggest success stories of twenty-first-century watchmaking. Its smaller sibling, the J12 XS – which isn’t at SIHH but didn’t go unnoticed at launches in the US, Paris and most recently Geneva – seems determined to follow in the original’s footsteps. Proposed in Chanel’s signature black or white, this petite timepiece is mounted on an exceptionally soft patent calfskin strap, which slides into a matching matte calfskin cuff with silver piping. The pin buckle and loops are in steel. For an even bigger, bolder statement, wear it on the extra-wide patent calfskin cuff whose steel loops are set with diamonds that channels a glamorous, rock-chic spirit in keeping with the brand.
Audemars Piguet: Not for the fainthearted
If you think you have seen all there is to see in jewellery watches, Audemars Piguet will make you think again. After the astonishing Diamond Punk in 2015 and last year’s extravagant Diamond Fury, the watchmaker from Le Brassus has excelled itself. Diamond Outrage, which completes the trilogy, is nothing less than prodigious. The scintillating beauty of this forest of snow-capped firs – or glistening stalagmites – is a poetic evocation of the Vallée de Joux in winter, and will leave no-one indifferent. While the aesthetic effect may not be to everyone’s taste, the expertise behind the snow setting and invisible setting of the diamonds will convince even the most sceptical. 3D is undoubtedly more beautiful when it’s for real.