It’s the most wonderful time of the year for watch lovers, because the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) is just around the corner. The 29th edition is shaping up to be a pivotal moment for the luxury watch industry: Attendance numbers are predicted to set a new record, although these statistics are slightly overshadowed by an air of change, possibly permanent, upon the horizon.

In late 2018, Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille announced that 2019 would mark their final year of direct participation at SIHH. The departure of the Salon’s two largest independent brands has been met with much speculation — fuelled by the similarly controversial flight of Swatch Group at Baselworld last July. At this stage, it’s difficult to gauge what precise effect these departures will undoubtedly have on the fair — the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH’s organiser) is already moving to reposition the event as more inclusive, experiential and end-user focused — although both watchmakers are expected to pull out all the stops for their final year of participation.

Meanwhile, other historic manufactures (Panerai, IWC, Vacheron Constantin, etc.) are ploughing ahead with “business as usual” and teasing the first highly anticipated releases of 2019. We’ll be attending SIHH and bringing you on-the-ground coverage via Instagram. In the meantime, whet your horological appetite with our rundown of the five timepieces we’re most excited to see next week at SIHH 2019.