The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, whose mission is to be an independent guardian of watchmaking culture and “promote Fine Watchmaking throughout the world,” continues to grow their membership. Founded in 2005 by the Richemont Group, Audemars Piguet, and Girard-Perregaux, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) has a range of activities among which is organizing the annual watch trade show SIHH that is second in importance for the watch industry only to Baselworld and takes place a couple of months before. Both SIHH and the Foundation have continued to grow in size in recent years, increasing the number of partner brands as well as exhibitors at the show. So, it should perhaps be unsurprising that many of the 12 brands the FHH has just announced as new “partners” are also bringing their booths and money to SIHH from Baselworld.
Adding 12 new members to the FHH’s partners brings the total list to 41 brands (see them all above) as of late 2017. The dozen new brands are: Armin Strom, Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud, DeWitt, Grönefeld, Hautlence, Kari Voutilainen, Laurent Ferrier, Ressence, Romain Gauthier, RJ-Romain Jerome, Speake-Marin, and Urwerk. As mentioned, SIHH has been growing year over year, and it increased to 24 participating brands in 2016 and then even more for SIHH 2017. Expanding from mostly the founding partners’ brands, SIHH added a “Carré des Horlogers” section of the show for independent watchmakers in recent years. Many of the brands now announced as new FHH parnters were also in last year’s Carré des Horlogers.
It is hard to say exactly what it means for the FHH, SIHH, or the brands for them to be “partners.” As is so often the case in the watch industry, one is forced to try to read between the lines of vague statements and terms. The FHH notes that these partners “actively support” their mission, but it is not clear how they do that nor what benefits they get in return, though surely there is mutual prestige and “legitimacy” in the association and probably some marketing advantage as well. In a perfect example of obfuscation, in my opinion, the FHH put out a “white paper” in 2016 with the purpose of defining the term haute horlogerie – “fine watchmaking” or whatever translation you choose is equally ambiguous in English. What they ended up with after three years was an elaborate set of criteria and a list of 64 brands that met the criteria – about the same number as the FHH’s “partners” plus their also obscurely named “perimeter brands.”
Vis a vis Baselworld, SIHH has worked to maintain its prestige and reputation as “exclusive,” and perhaps only FHH members will be allowed to exhibit in the future. SIHH has been growing in size, but exclusivity means they can’t just let everyone join, right? About that, SIHH Managing Director Fabienne Lupo says the following: “There is no intention of extending SIHH indefinitely. It will grow within carefully measured limits so as to preserve the values of excellence that have forged its reputation. It must also meet the expectations of its exhibitors and clients, both now and in the future.”
SIHH 2018 adds Hermès to its “Historic Maisons” (total 18 brands) and the Carré des Horlogers (total 16 brands) adds three exhibitors – DeWitt, Ferdinand Berthoud, and Romain Gauthier – bringing the total number this year to 34 participating brands. So, clearly, not all the new FHH partners are joining SIHH right away. However, with Baselworld attendance having declined in 2017 and SIHH expanding, we can perhaps expect more balance between the two major shows, and hopefully even more variety and interesting releases at SIHH coming up in January 2018. hautehorlogerie.org
Regardless of the visible balance wheels, the dial stays very legible. The ideal half of this dial homes the sub dial that tells the moment. The minute and hour hands are made from rose gold. The newest and the version of the watch form a smaller circle within the dial. I am not so sure that I need to be educated of this view’s name on the dial, but this isn’t a deal-breaker for me personally. That said, I’d however, prefer a cleaner design.To the left are just two subsidiary seconds dials with quite cool-looking triple-spoke moments hands. What’s even neater is that the next palms spin in opposite directions. The very best hand spins counter-clockwise, while the reduced hand goes in a clockwise direction. It generates a rather nice looking effect. Based on Armin Strom, it requires less than 10 minutes for the effects of resonance to take hold of both running moments hands, and you will see them beating in unison.And further to the left of the two subsidiary seconds dials are the celebrities of the watch – both resonating equilibrium wheels. The 2 wheels oscillate in a fairly unusual rate of 25,200bph, but what’s really unique about it is the patented resonance clutch which connects the two balance wheels via the balance spring studs (the ends of the balance spring). This clutch allows the transmission of vibrational drives between both balance wheels, letting them locate a natural rhythm so that they can overcome in unison. The clutch, made from steel, is also what sets the Mirrored Force Resonance watch apart from its contemporaries.