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SIHH 2019 - The beasts of Geneva

SIHH 2019 The beasts of Geneva

Animals of both the furred and feathered varieties are in plentiful supply. The 2019 horological bestiary seems to be in fine fettle.

Biodiversity is a sign of a healthy environment, and that applies to the watchmaking environment too. The plethora of watches with animal-inspired dials is one of many signs that suggest that 2019 will be a vintage year for the SIHH. This select circle of watchmakers, who frequently deal in one-off pieces and extremely limited editions, really comes into its own when the mood is one of optimism. After all, if you want to earn the trust of wild animals, you have to be confident. The theme requires a meticulous approach, good taste and a thorough mastery of artistic crafts. 

The beasts of Geneva

Rotonde de Cartier Panthère Wood Marquetry © Cartier

Cartier is invariably comfortable in this field. First, because the panther has always been a leitmotif of the company, and second, because that particular beast is back in the limelight. The Parisian maison may have cut the number of animal-inspired watches by more than half over the last five years, but it nevertheless remains very active in the genre. One of the most successful iterations is the Rotonde de Cartier Panthère Marqueterie de Bois, which has a wood marquetry dial depicting a close-up of the feline’s spotted head. 

The beasts of Geneva

Les Cabinotiers Majestic Tiger, Wild Panda and Imperial Tiger © Vacheron Constantin

For Vacheron Constantin, the animal kingdom is a major cross-cutting theme of its designs for this year, featuring prominently in the Les Cabinotiers Mécaniques Sauvages range. With more unique pieces and special commissions than ever, the collection includes no fewer than eight models featuring wild beasts. Pandas, tigers, and a lion, executed in a variety of techniques, demonstrate a keen sense of observation and interpretation.

The beasts of Geneva

Hermès Arceau Awooooo © Hermès

After the ursine Grrrrr (with five Rs) of 2018, Hermès has launched the Awooooo (with five Os), showcasing a wolf howling at the moon. It is the latest in a long line of animal-inspired pieces, produced in very limited editions or as one-off pieces, illustrating the company’s attachment to the animal kingdom. After all, Hermès is a saddle-maker with long-standing connections to the world of hunting. It’s at ease in the company of beasts. And that explains the presence of a second piece, whose dial depicts an enamel panther set against a flower made from carved mother-of-pearl: the Arceau Baobab Cat.

The beasts of Geneva

Hermès Arceau Baobab Cat © David Chokron

Bulgari plays the animal card more discreetly, more metaphorically and more colourfully. The Italian designer uses the eye of a peacock feather as the dial for a diamond-set Diva. A discreet lacquer coating ensures the feather will remain in pristine condition. 

The beasts of Geneva

Bulgari Diva’s Dream Peacock © Bulgari

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