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TIMEPIECE

Trendy time

The annual Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) offers a foretaste of the latest and biggest trends in watchmaking for the new year. Here is a sample of the timepieces

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1. Vacheron Constantin's Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Phoenix.

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2. Audemars Piguet's New Royal Oak Offshore Chronographs.

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3. Hermes' Arceau 78.

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4. IWC's Big Pilot Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition "Le Petit Prince".

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5. Panerai's Submersible Chrono "Guillaume Nery" Edition.

1. Vacheron Constantin's Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Phoenix

Les Cabinotiers is the department in Vacheron Constantin where timepieces of rare technical and aesthetic complexity, "inspired by astronomy, science and the arts", are created. Its creations are usually one-of-a-kind models intended for collectors or specifically commissioned bespoke pieces.

The Grand Complication Phoenix is the product of the united imagination, expertise and passion of the engineers, designers, watchmakers and craftsmen in Les Cabinotiers. A unique timepiece which defines time with its 15 complications, the grand complication is inspired by a symbol of immortality - the phoenix, which is a fabled bird that has braved the cycle of life and death by setting itself on fire and rising from its ashes every 500 years.

In addition to the holy trio - the tourbillon, minute repeater and perpetual calendar - the 47 millimetres in diameter twin-dial watch also manages to pack an array of other complications that include equation of time sunrise and sunset, sky chart seasons, signs of the zodiac, age and phase of the moon.

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The artisans working on this exceptional timepiece, which is powered by a hand-winding movement with 58 hours' power reserve, employ a pair of engraving art techniques which few artisans still master: pounced ornament, or bas-relief, for the case band; and the fine line engraving for the bezel and case-back. At least a decade's experience is required to perfect the ability of sculpting gold to create the 3-D effect displayed on the watch, in a process involving 300 hours of patient craftsmanship.

2. Audemars Piguet's New Royal Oak Offshore Chronographs

Audemars Piguet has launched three new Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronographs with camouflage colours, including the brand's first brown ceramic model. These new 44mm chronographs continue the Royal Oak Offshore's tradition of featuring new materials. They combine ceramic bezel, pushpieces and screw-locked crown, Mega-Tapisserie dial and robust rubber straps.

The blue and green ceramic models come in a stainless steel case. The brown ceramic watch is endowed with a pink gold case that nicely sets off the bezel. Ceramic is harder than steel and can withstand high temperatures, thermal shock and scratches. Colouring ceramic requires research to find the right pigments and goes through a long and delicate manufacturing process.

3. Hermes' Arceau 78

Introduced in 1978, the Arceau's basic design combines a round case with asymmetrical lugs inspired by stirrups as well as a sloping font that reminds you of a horse's gallop. The watch's understated design and deliberately simple line has allowed it to play with different styles. Arceau 78, equipped with a quartz movement, features a round case in mirror-polished stainless steel, housing a grained anthracite dial with cream-coloured Arabic numerals and hands. The natural Barenia calf strap is made by Hermes.

4. IWC's Big Pilot Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition "Le Petit Prince"

Pilot's timepieces form the core of IWC Schaffhausen's 2019 watch collection, which introduces a new Spitfire and Top Gun line as well as "Le Petite Prince" ("The Little Prince") special editions. The latter includes the first IWC pilot's watch to have a constant force tourbillon, it comes in a "hard" gold case and is limited to 10 pieces. This is also the first IWC watch in "hard" gold - a new version of red gold that's significantly harder and five to 10 times more water-resistant than conventional red gold.

The patented constant force tourbillon mechanism provides "extraordinary precision" to the Big Pilot's Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition, which also features a perpetual moon phase that takes 577.5 years to require adjustment by one day. The hand-wound movement is fitted with two barrels to store enough power for 96 hours.

5. Panerai's Submersible Chrono "Guillaume Nery" Edition

Inspired by French free diving champion Guillaume Nery, this new precision flyback chronograph is built for the professional diver - it's water-resistant up to 300 metres deep, the unidirectional rotating bezel accurately displays the duration of the dive and the dial is clearly visible under all lighting conditions, even in complete darkness. The light-weight timepiece - the case is made of titanium - is also equipped with a device for zeroing the seconds hand to enable "perfect synchronisation with a reference signal".