Following its debut last year, the Carré des Horlogers showcase, dedicated to independent brands, made a welcome return to the latest edition of Geneva fair SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie). Bigger and better – there are now 30 boutique names represented – the Carré is where the wild, wacky and wonderful cohabit with the classical and conservative. And while the majority offer in-house movements, their calling card is design. Here are some of the pieces that caught our eye...Pictured, Urwerk’s UR-T8 Transformer
Christophe Claret Maestro
This legendary watchmaker has created a dial-less watch that begs your attention. Think of the opening credits to Game of Thrones: towers, wheels and plates meshing, the novel features being two ’cones’. One displays the date, the other performs a memo function.
Hyper-cool Ressence reasserted its image as the go-to house for seemingly inexplicable technology: its signature display is a bona fide trompel’oeil, with its flush, rotating discs now housed in a cushion-shaped stainless steel case. The Ressence 12 (or, Ressence 1 ’squared’) is thinner, slightly smaller and more affordable than the rest of the range, adding a note of dressiness
Urwerk UR-T8 Transformer
Like Richard Mille, the inherently outré Urwerk creates watches like no others because it eschews conventional dials. Its rotating satellites are housed in a U-shaped case that has already seen a number of variants, but the latest titanium, cross-hatched-pattern version has a neat trick: it flips over to hide the time display, for a sci-fi take on the classic reverse-dial watch
Voutilainen Vingt-8 ISO
From the school of timekeeping that forces you to actually look at the dial rather than register hands’ positions, Voutilainen’s Vingt-8 ISO has a minutes circle that rotates, while the positions of the hands always remain relative to each other. No, I didn’t understand it either
Speake-Marin Crazy Skulls
Horological melodrama abounds at Speake-Marin. Here, a pair of skulls said to signify two lovers is animated. When they’re nestling together, they form a heart in the lower half of the dial. But that’s not all: the watch also houses a minute repeater. When activated by a slider, while it rings, a mechanism separates the two skulls to reveal a 60-second tourbillon
H Moser & Cie Endeavour
Watch brands suffer neither humility nor anonymity, but so devoted is H Moser & Cie to discretion and elegance that the latest Endeavour commands the eye as effectively as the Hieronymus Bosch-like complexity of the multi-functional. Hours and minutes only, a sublime guilloche dial and no logo. Pure class
Laurent Ferrier Montre École
It’s back to school for Laurent Ferrier with the watch he completed as a student. But this is no case of LS Lowry/Grandma Moses naiveté. The young Ferrier devised a timepiece with hours, minutes and small seconds, and a satin dial free of clutter. Precocious, eh?
Register for our daily bulletin of the stuff that refines you