Bulgari Octo Roma Grande Sonnerie

Fuego Alert: Our Top Five Spiciest Watches From SIAR 2019

After a recent trip to Latin America’s premier horological trade show, Salón Internacional Alta Relojería (SIAR) in Mexico City, we’re rounding up our favorite selections from south of the border. 

By Thomas Hendricks

This year’s edition of the Salón Internacional Alta Relojería (SIAR) watch fair brought together roughly 50 brands to the St. Regis hotel in Mexico City. Here, manufacturers old and new, large and small, gathered to exhibit their latest and greatest pieces to the Latin American market. Watchonista attended the trade show and saw hundreds of pieces in the metal over three days. Here is a select list of some of our favorite timepieces from SIAR 2019. ¡Vamos!

Girard-Perregaux Cosmos

First up is the Cosmos watch from Girard-Perregaux, a pre-selected piece by the Fondation du Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève for its 2019 competition - the Oscars of watchmaking - in the Calendar and Astronomy category. The Cosmos is the centerpiece of Girard-Perregaux’s “Earth to Sky” collection and demonstrates a sublime melding of technical and creative prowess.

The 47mm, crownless case measures 22.2mm thick and holds, most notably, two twin titanium spheres. One sphere represents the celestial, a night sky as visible from Earth, and the other the terrestrial, showing Earth as visible from the night sky. The zodiac constellation chart is a unique departure from the standard, two-dimensional moonphase, and rotates every 23 hours, 58 minutes, and 4 seconds, the exact duration of a sidereal day. The globe counterpart at three o’clock features a GMT ring around the equator, the coolest expression of the complication that I’ve ever seen. 

There’s a certain poetry at play here, that to me illustrates the essence of timekeeping in tremendous depth. The near-microscopic precision of the tourbillon, set against representations of our home planet and of unfathomably large celestial bodies, keenly illustrates our own smallness in a limitless and constantly turning universe on the wrist.

Piaget Emperador Cushion Watch Tourbillon

In the sixteenth century, conquistadors searched far and wide for “El Dorado,” the city of gold. We found our own version of El Dorado at SIAR with the Piaget Emperador Cushion Watch Tourbillon. Spanish for “emperor,” the Emperador is a stately piece dressed in a not-quite-round, not-quite-square case of 18kt rose gold, as warm and exuberant as the locals of Mexico City. 

In typical Piaget fashion, the watch is elegantly thin at just 10.4mm. The automatic 1270P tourbillon movement itself is only 5.5mm thick. The 269 components form an asymmetrical dial layout with a flying tourbillon at the one o’clock position. The rose gold oscillating weight at nine o’clock is finished with the Piaget coat of arms, a regal touch for a watch fit for a king. 

Greubel Forsey Hand Made 1

With the Hand Made 1, Greubel Forsey does things the hard way to highlight their full range of watchmaking prowess. Even the screws in this piece are hand-made with each taking approximately four hours from start to finish. 

As Stephen Forsey explained, there’s no guarantee for quality even given the intense man hours behind each component, and many will fail upon the running of the movement. This means that often parts need to be made two, three, or four times before they’re deemed acceptable. Multiply this over 272 movement and 36 case parts and you start to understand the level of dedication behind the Hand Made 1. I don’t think I’ve ever been more careful with a piece on the wrist. 

The timepiece takes approximately 6,000 hours to complete. For reference, 40 hours a week for every week of the year only equates to 2,080 hours. And since man hours don’t come cheap, especially for surgeon-level watchmakers, this piece falls firmly into the price category of “if you have to ask…” 

HYT H²0 Mexico

SIAR is a chance for brands to create and exhibit distinctly Latin American pieces, and HYT did not pass on the opportunity. For those familiar with the brand, you may think we would opt for their signature Skull watches with their distinctive Dia De Los Muertos vibe. 

Instead, we’re turning our attention to the HYT H²0 Mexico, a trio of one-of-one pieces with a single watch produced in red, white, or green, reflecting the colors of the Mexican flag. Underneath the cloche-like sapphire crystal lies the APRP movement that uses a vein of fluid around the dial to illustrate elapsed time. On top of this, the movement features a jumping minute and a thermal indicator. 

We arrived at the HYT booth with little time to spare in the midst of a hectic appointment schedule. As one of the brand’s Vice Presidents pulls the piece from the display case for us to photograph, he mentions that it’s the last remaining of the trio, with the red and white pieces already selling to eager buyers. As we are wrapping up some fifteen minutes later, he pops his head into the side room to let us know that the green piece in our possession has just been purchased. As we exit the HYT booth, we hear him turn to one of the sales associates fresh off the phone and say, “Crack open the mezcal, we’re partying tonight!”

Bulgari Octo Roma Grande Sonnerie

Bulgari has really found their footing in recent years with the popular Octo Finissimo series capturing their distinctly Italian DNA. A new addition to the brand’s lineup, this pièce unique is a collection of the industry’s biggest buzzwords, with an 18kt white gold case housing a skeletonized dial, minute repeater, and tourbillon. 

The result is busy in the best possible way, with a strong gravitational pull that draws the eye deep into the layers and layers of components inside the 8.77mm thick movement. Twin power reserves occupy the right side of the dial, one for the movement and one for the minute repeater chimes. The tourbillon, usually the centerpiece of any watch carrying it, is tucked away and visible only through the sapphire caseback. A marvel to experience in the metal and on the wrist.

With a full meal’s worth of technical features and a price tag of approximately three-quarter of a million dollars, the Octo Roma Grande Sonnerie is a strong statement for Octo lovers.

(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)

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