Held once a year in London, Salon QP is perhaps the world’s pre-eminent exhibition for fine watches. A curated showcase of the most notable watch brands, it is always a great opportunity to get up close to some special timepieces. With an eclectic mix of watches, ranging from heavyweights such as A. Lange & Söhne, to independents like Roger W. Smith and Kari Voutilainen, there is certainly an opportunity for any enthusiast to satiate his or her appetite. Today we take a look at the weekend just passed, and highlight some of our favourites pieces.
Beginning with the Voutilainen GMR, which won the ‘Men’s Watch Prize’ at the most recent Grand Prix D’Horologerie de Genève, we’ve always been admirers of Mr. Voutilainen and the superlative quality of his timepieces. Being lucky enough to sell a few of his timepieces, we are no strangers to the level of complexity and thought that goes into this small independent manufacture. The GMR, is certainly no exception. A GMT watch with a retrograde power reserve, everything from the case shape, lugs , engine turned guilloché dial and ‘mega-pomme’ hands is unmistakably Voutilainen. While it’s striking design garners initial attention, turn the watch over and you are greeted with a masterfully hand chamfered German silver movement with a massive marine chronometer-esque balance wheel. In a limited edition of only twelve pieces, and available in white gold, platinum or red gold, the GMR is testament to what haute horlogerie can represent.
Laurent Ferrier Galet Square
For the ‘Horological Revelation Prize’ category at GPHG, Laurent Ferrier, another of horology’s great independents, took top prize for its newly-released Galet Square. The cushion style, tonneau-shaped Galet Square is a new direction for the manufacture, while still maintaining the Galet philosophy, that of a free-flowing, amorphous form. The word ‘Galet’ in English, translates into ‘pebble’, and certainly, the smooth, rounded form is the underlying inspiration for the said collection and as a result, emblematic of the Maison. Adopting the pre-existing calibre FBN 229.01 with Laurent Ferrier’s famous adoption of the micro-rotor, as expected from a man who worked at Patek Philippe for decades, the movement and finishing is nothing short of first-class.
Winning the ‘Petite Aguille Watch Prize’ at GPHG, the Habring2 Felix is perhaps a watch offering immense quality at a great price point. With precision at the heart of the Felix’s design, it is a chronometer-grade watch with an entirely in-house developed movement. In tandem with this, and often at times working in harmony together, Habring2 adopted a philosophy of simplicity to underpin the precision. Using a simple dial layout and sized at 38.5mm, it is certainly a great everyday watch that enjoys a quiet satisfaction.
MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual
Looking at MB&F from a purely traditional standpoint, their past creations, while demonstrating impressive architecture and engineering, have never been of a high complication. Not including the use of a tourbillon, they have never gone past at most, a simple calendar for their watches, until now. This new release, the MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual, expands their foray into the world of grand complications. A perpetual calendar, is perhaps one of the most useful and pragmatic complications to have, as it makes sense to have a timepiece that accounts for all the anomalies of the year without needing manual adjustments. In a typical MB&F style, with a floating balance wheel on the face of the watch, the day, date, months and year are presented alongside a power reserve. While this watch caters to a very specific collector, it is difficult not to admire the complexities of the Legacy Machine Perpetual and its visual theatricality.
Harry Winston Opus 14
The newly released Harry Winston Opus 14 is perhaps one of the more polarising watches out there, and it’s easy to see why. At an immense 54.7mm, even more so than the MB&F, it would cater to a very niche and select subset of collectors. Irrespective of this, if one were to remove personal preference, the technical advancements of the watch have to be admired. The Opus series by Harry Winston has always been a show-stopper, promoting creativity and innovation, but after being taken over by the Swatch Group, and with no release last year, many thought that the Opus was finished. Well, after that brief sabbatical, the series has returned in a juke-box themed timepiece, that one has to see, to believe.
A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater
The A. Lange and Söhne Zeitwerk. It doesn’t take a watch enthusiast to realise the technical marvel that it is. It is a watch with a digital display, and while we have come to be used to digital displays for the time, one has to remember that this watch is mechanical, and powering the display simply from winding a watch requires an immense amount of power. So when the manufacture announced the newest iteration of the Zeitwerk, with a minute repeater built-in, we were impressed. There is a unique tactility to the watch, watching the time change, as the numbers flutter in an audible whirr with every changing minute. The new Zeitwerk minute repeater, in platinum, is an immersive and engaging watch that really connects the wearer to the chiming of the hammers and the dynamic digital display.
Roger W. Smith Series 4
Let me begin by mentioning that this year, Roger W. Smith not only introduced this brand new Series 4, but also updated his entire line up (Series 1,2 &3) with his co-axial escapement. For a man who makes a handful of watches every year, it’s remarkable. Anyway, the main event of his Salon QP showing was of course, the Series 4, an instantaneous triple calendar timepiece with a moon phase. A disciple of the late George Daniels, but today certainly someone standing on his own two feet, this watch is as expected, beautifully handmade and deceptively simple. Most interestingly, is the travelling date aperture on the perimeter of the dial, adds a sense of individuality to the watch. All in all, it is a beautifully proportioned watch at 41mm, encased in rose gold.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Michael Schumacher Concept Lap Timer
Finishing up our highlights with a real heavy-hitter, is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Michael Schumacher Concept Lap Timer, a futuristic split seconds watch composed of titanium and forged carbon. As expected from a watch bearing the name of the legendary Michael Schumacher, it is a racing themed chronograph with a unique complication. The first of its kind, this Royal Oak Concept is a split seconds chronograph with the ability to stop one chronograph hand while the other flies back and restarts through a pusher at 9 o’clock. You can see how this comes useful when lap timing, as it allows the user to read the time of the first lap while beginning the time of the second. It is impressive what Audemars Piguet has done, maintaining the heritage and tradition of the Royal Oak while still managing to evolve and innovate.
While we have only highlighted a few of our favourites, there were certainly plenty more at Salon QP that caught our eye. The curation of some of the finest timepieces under one roof is something that doesn’t happen very often, and it was a great time to simply see some of it in the flesh. Furthermore, the crowd that congregates at events like these are always enjoyable, allowing for great networking and relationships to be built. If you missed out this year, it would certainly be worthwhile attending when Salon QP next comes around the corner again next autumn.