This week, the Palexpo facility in Geneva, Switzerland, will become the center of the watch world for the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, or SIHH, a luxury watch show rivaled only by BaselWorld in relevance and prestige. We’ve got a team on the ground, there to bring you the most exciting releases. Follow our coverage here, and also be sure to check out Instagram. We’ll be posting to our feed throughout the week.
At first, we thought it would be a one-off. On day one of SIHH 2019, we visited A. Lange & Söhne and very quickly fell in love with a new rose-gold version of the house’s Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon. But then on day two, we saw similarly rosy hues back to back — first at Audemars Piguet when we got our hands on the appropriately named Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ Extra-Thin, and then later at Montblanc when we took a look at the Heritage Pulsograph and Heritage Automatic.
Photo: Henry Phillips
While it’s not unheard of for several major watchmaking legends to issue new models in similar colors all at once (see: flat black dials, blue dials with black straps, bronze cases with green dials, and so forth), it does signal that there’s a consumer thirst for a specific look. So we’re calling it now: 2019, as far as watchmaking is concerned, is the year of the salmon.
It makes sense that it would happen right now. As watch brands and their customers continue to abandon hard-and-fast ideas about what’s masculine and what’s feminine, the idea of a couple’s watch — sized and styled for both men’s and women’s wrists, so both members of a straight relationship can wear it — is taking off. And the color has been gaining steam for years. Pantone recently named a pink-orange shade called Living Coral as its color of the year for 2019. That came after a few cycles in fashion, interiors and other product categories proclaiming Millennial pink as the go-to hue. There’s no shortage of dusty pink Common Projects walking around the streets of world style capitals, nor bars of “ruby” Kit Kats available in British convenience stores. One need look no further than the all-pink dining rooms at New York’s Pietro Nolita or the Gallery of London’s Sketch for proof of the color’s moment in the sun.
Watches are a lot harder to swap out than sneakers, candy bars or even upholstery — especially at the level that we’re discussing here. Because unlike those ephemeral products, watches are designed to stand up to eternity. Lots of the people who spend the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars on these pieces understand this, which is why the category tends to be pretty conservative.
But in these pink versions, we see the smallest glimmer of a shift. After all, watchmaking, like all industries, has to future-proof itself somehow. And if tomorrow’s collectors are one day reminded of their youths by a beautifully preserved, 30-year-old pink reference like some of the ones above, then the salmon models will have successfully made it upstream.