In 1991, five watchmakers put up an exclusive exhibition to showcase fine horological crafts in Geneva. Over time, the number of watchmakers increased with new entrants wishing to participate. The attraction was the enrolling criteria — the watch must be a “Grand Complication” piece. This is a watch built in the most technically intricate manner. It must include at least three “complications” to achieve the as title. To be one of the showcases means you have mastered the art of complex watchmaking. 

Thus, 26 years later, Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) has grown to showcase 24 watch houses in 2016. And these include the founding participants: Baume & Mercier, Chartier, Piagaet, Gérald Genta and Daniel Roth. Last year had 16 numbers. 

The 26th year of SIHH, held in Geneva Palexpo from January 18 to 22 welcomed nine independent creators alongside the 15 watchmaking houses that have already forged their reputation in the industry since several decades. Veterans and new entrants sharing stage was a first for SIHH this year. 

Warm hues, metallic beige-peach tints, sharp and sleek forms playing on minimalism, clean displays of watches that added to the decor, all of these presented SIHH under a modern, classic light. Cité de l’Horlogerie or City of Watchmaking remained as the dominant theme, as it has been since the last 10 years. 

The air was filled with excitement, yet remained professional. Conversations were laced with technical comments, attentive curiosity on latest innovations and hints of new business alliances. 

It wasn’t just the professional watchmaking houses that charmed attendees. Six student designers also found a place in the 2016 SIHH. They put on display their “24 Hours in the Life of a Cuckoo”. It is a more contemporary style of the Swiss Cuckoo, in which objects and their scenography can travel together. 

Further, Children Action found the place of honour during this year’s SIHH with the “Malatavie Unité de crise” project conducted in collaboration with the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG).  

The clock has, thus far been viewed in Langenthal, Paris, Montreal and Boston. It also received much applause at the third edition of Watches&Wonders, a “haute horlogerie exhibition in Asia”, in Hong Kong.

More than 14,500 visitors from around the world markets, of whom 1,200 included journalists attended the 26th SIHH.  

The inauguration ceremony of SIHH saluted authorities of the Republic and Canton of Geneva, the President of the Foundation de la Haute Horlogerie, which organises the Salon, and the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. 

In a statement, Fabienne Lupo, Chairwoman and Managing Director of the FHH, organiser of the SIHH, says: “The common denominators of all the Maisons at the SIHH are creativity, expertise, craftsmanship, excellence and the desire to achieve the impossible. Most of all, though, they share the heritage and longevity of an art that must continue to thrive.” 

The fourth day of SIHH observed the traditional VIP cocktail event. The event was attended by Geneva’s economic and political world, along with guests of honour of the watchmaking industry. 

The 26th edition of Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie ended on a high note. SIHH took a bow with innovations and exquisite watch pieces making news at its silver anniversary. 

The next edition of SIHH will take place from January 16-20, 2017 at Palexpo Geneva.