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Citizen
Citizen

BaselWorld 2016 pulls out all the watch stops

The latest watches from BaselWorld are making their way to Australia. COLEBY NICHOLSON and EMILY MOBBS report on the releases expected to win over the local industry.

BaselWorld is renowned as being a platform where major watch brands unveil their new models for the year ahead. The 2016 edition of the trade fair was no different, with a bevy of releases on show – many of which will be introduced to the Australian and New Zealand market.  

While there were product launches galore, those attending BaselWorld couldn’t avoid the fact that the Swiss watch industry was going through a difficult period.

The scene was set for the 44th show even before the eight-day trade fair opened. Kicking off the event was a media conference – held annually one day prior to opening day – that presented the Swiss watch industry’s trading results over the past year and set a gloomy outlook for 2016.

To be fair, no one expected positive results, and the Swiss are also traditionally open about industry challenges, so it came as no surprise when it was reported that Swiss watch exports had fallen more than 3 per cent to CHF21.5 billion (AU$29.9 billion) in 2015.

BaselWorld managing director Sylvie Ritter acknowledged that some of the “small and medium” exhibiting businesses felt the “uncertainty” of the current economic and political climate.

SEIKO
Astron – SSEO85J
Astron – SSEO85J
Presage – SSA303P
Presage – SSA303P
Prospex – SSC487P
Prospex – SSC487P

VIEW SEIKO SHOWROOM

 

Despite this, she said almost all those who had exhibited at BaselWorld 2015 – about 1,500 suppliers – had returned this year, reaffirming her confidence in the industry’s future.

The general mood among the exhibitors and press – a record 4,400 media representatives attended this year’s event – was that visiting buyer numbers were significantly down. Post-event figures confirmed the decline, with organisers stating 111,000 buyers attended the show, down from 114,000 buyers in 2015.

Two exhibitors told Jeweller during the event that the drop was most noticeable in the size of buying teams.

“Whereas in past years, major Asian jewellery stores might have a senior buyer and two or three assistants attend for product review and selection, this year we are seeing just one buyer and maybe a second person,” one exhibitor commented. “That’s where the numbers have declined, I think.”

Local industry represents

Nevertheless, major Australian and New Zealand suppliers were in attendance; Citizen and Seiko had a significant presence yet again, while fashion watch brands such as Ice-Watch and Daniel Wellington unveiled major releases.

BERING & GANT
Bering – 11435-389
Bering – 11435-389
Bering – 11927-369
Bering – 11927-369
Gant – Park Hill  Day-Date
Gant – Park Hill Day-Date

VIEW BYMR SHOWROOM

The event remains important for the local industry because it provides many suppliers with their first peek at the latest watch models for the brands that they distribute and an opportunity to select the timepieces they think will be popular in the Australian market.

It also presents a chance to seek out new brands and secure exclusive distribution deals, which was the case for supplier West End Collection.    

“BaselWorld is an incredible event that brings people in the watch industry together and a great opportunity for us to connect with brands, such as Olivia Burton,” West End Collection managing director John Rose explains.

Rose negotiated the distribution rights for UK women’s fashion watch brand Olivia Burton at this year’s event, and says the regular release of on-trend designs with unique prints and colour variety will “capture the imagination of all age groups”.

The supplier also distributes fashion watch brands Daniel Wellington and Sydney-based Christian Paul, which both launched new timepieces at the show. Rose points to marble enamel watch faces as a prevalent design detail for Christian Paul, while the latest Daniel Wellington models maintain the brand’s preppy aesthetic – brown leather straps combined with rose gold and silver-coloured cases is the style du jour.

ICE-WATCH & HENRY LONDON
Ice-Duo
Ice-Duo
Ice-Watch City Tanner
Ice-Watch City Tanner
Henry London – Piccadilly
Henry London – Piccadilly

Henry London – Shoreditch
Henry London – Shoreditch
Henry London –  Westminster Moonphase
Henry London – Westminster Moonphase

VIEW ICE AUSTRALASIA SHOWROOM

 

Another brand that falls within the fashion watch sector is Henry London, supplied by Ice Australasia. The brand, not only a relative newcomer to the local industry but also to BaselWorld after first exhibiting in 2015, draws on a vintage-inspired look with collections aptly named after iconic London underground boroughs.

Ice Australasia CEO Larry Porter highlights two new ranges landing on local shores. The Piccadilly collection has a masculine feel, using a slate grey and black colour-way, while the Shoreditch range is undeniably feminine using blush/pink and rose-gold hues.

In addition, Porter indicates there’s excitement around the latest Ice-Watch releases.

“The Ice-Duo brings back the colour attack from Ice-Watch – a two-tone design based on the popular slimline Ice design,” he says. “There’s currently a crossover with activewear being casual-wear amongst women, and this collection complements this trend and has been embraced by retailers.”

Another new offering is the City Tanner collection. Porter describes the range as sophisticated and elegant, while maintaining that signature “Ice-Watch colour twist” – albeit in a more understated way than usual. “With this style being bang on-trend and at a highly accessible price-point, the range will appeal to both retailers and consumers alike,” he states.

CX SWISS MILITARY, ZEPPELIN & FORTIS
CX Swiss Military – Rallye Auto 2755
CX Swiss Military – Rallye Auto 2755
Zeppelin – 7044-3 LZ129  Hindenburg
Zeppelin – 7044-3 LZ129 Hindenburg
Fortis – Aeromaster Stealth Chronograph
Fortis – Aeromaster Stealth Chronograph

VIEW WATCHPARTNERS SHOWROOM

 

Still in the fashion sector, Swarovski Australian and New Zealand head of marketing and communications Victoria Brown has high hopes for a number of models.

The stainless steel Alegria timepiece is tipped to be a best-seller as is the Crystalline Hours watch, which Brown says has strong sales potential despite possessing a higher price-point compared to the brand’s other offerings.  

The standout model for the latter part of 2016, though, is the Crystalline Oval watch in grey/rose gold. “This is a new colour and will most likely be the biggest watch seller for the second half of the year,” Brown comments.

Bering is another brand heralding from Europe – Denmark to be exact. Local distributor BYMR managing director Nils Rasmussen says the design traits synonymous with the country are still in huge demand amongst Australian consumers.

“There is a great appreciation of minimalist Danish design in Australia, stretching across home interiors, furniture and lighting as well as to fashion and accessories,” he says. “Bering watches embrace that aesthetic, which is enhanced by Bering’s adventurous use of colour combinations.”

 

DANISH DESIGN & VOSTOK EUROPE
Danish Design – IV62Q1167
Danish Design – IV62Q1167
Danish Design – IV68Q1167
Danish Design – IV68Q1167
Vostok-Europe – Rally Timer ‘Black Edition-2’
Vostok-Europe – Rally Timer ‘Black Edition-2’

VIEW TIMESUPPLY SHOWROOM

 

Rasmussen also notes an increasing popularity for subtle design in men’s watches, which is a trend that his other brand, Gant, is leveraging.

“There is a return to the classic gent’s timepieces in many markets around the world, including Australia, which sees the Gant collection enjoying great popularity,” he says. “The Park Hill Day-Date [model] matches this trend perfectly, with a classic dial design and stitched crocodile strap.”

Big and bold

For a completely different aesthetic, look no further than Lithuanian-based Vostok-Europe, distributed locally by Timesupply.

Timesupply managing director Ken Abbott says he is excited to introduce two limited edition models: Rally Timer ‘Black Edition-2’ and Rally Timer ‘titanium edition’.

Abbott explains the Swiss quartz chronograph multi-function movement was specifically made for Lithuanian rally car driver Benediktas Vanagas to use in the annual Dakar cross-country rally event. Among the features are a rally timer – chronograph with 30-second delay of start – two time zone indications and a black luminous dial on the black edition.

 

CITIZEN
Citizen Eco-Drive One
Citizen Eco-Drive One
Promaster Satellite Wave - GPS
Promaster Satellite Wave - GPS
Citizen L Ambiluna Limited Edition
Citizen L Ambiluna Limited Edition

VIEW CITIZEN SHOWROOM

 

Watchpartners’ Jack Retman also notes that CX Swiss Military has developed a collection, called the Rallye series, for motorsport fans. One model, the Rallye GMT Nero Evo, features a stainless steel case inspired by the heavy-duty wheels in rally motorsports and has a ‘smartstrap’ that communicates with mobile phones and apps.

Retman is introducing new models from other brands too, including the Fortis Aeromaster Stealth chronograph that is said to bring back the core elements of classic aviation watches.

Motor vehicles appeared to be a source of inspiration for several watch brands.

TW Steel also turned to the sphere for its Maverick collection. According to TW Steel chief design officer Ton Cobelens, the range was inspired and developed following the success of the Son of Time project – a collaboration between the Dutch watch brand and motorcycle manufacturer Numbnut Motorcycles that resulted in the development of a one off watch and motorcycle.

The Maverick offering is a 42-piece collection, all available locally, with each model coming in 45 mm or 48 mm sizes.

Police is a brand known for its statement-making men’s watches and local supplier Moda Group is again bringing a number of options to the market.

Moda Group managing director Trent McKean indicates that the latest iterations of the Adder and Copperhead – designed for “guys with a survial instinct” – are expected to perform particularly well. McKean is also launching models from Roamer.

Japanese innovations

The Japanese brands were in full force at BaselWorld; both Seiko and Citizen had plenty of new timepieces on offer.

Seiko Australia group sales manager for the Oceania region Brett Neill says he was extremely pleased with the releases unveiled at the trade fair.

“Basel has been a huge success for Seiko, with the launch of many new designs across our collections,” he states. “The new Grand Seiko limited edition models have received fantastic reviews from both the press and retailers.”

Neill says he expects the new Presage mechanical dress collection to appeal to a wide audience as well as to “challenge our competitors in the mechanical segment”. He adds that the latest Astron iteration, consisting of a slimmer case than previous versions and a clean, uncluttered dial layout, is predicted to increase the collection’s prominence in the Australian market.

Citizen also had several releases on show. Rod Willment, Citizen Watches Australia sales and marketing manager, points to the Eco-Drive One as being the ‘flagship’ model of 2016. The timepiece is said to be the world’s thinnest light-powered analogue quartz watch – measuring a 2.98 mm case and 1 mm thick movement – and was developed to celebrate 40 years since the launch of Eco-Drive technology.

A new addition to the brand’s Promaster Sky series will hit local shores in the coming months too, while the fairer sex will have access to the limited edition women’s Citizen L Ambiluna watch.

It seems that the troubling backdrop of the Swiss watch industry hasn’t deterred watch brands from pulling out all the stops at BaselWorld. It also hasn’t discouraged suppliers from bringing the hottest releases back to the Australian and New Zealand market, which should plant the seed for a buoyant year ahead for watch retailers.  

BaselWorld 2017 is scheduled to take place from March 23 to 30.

 

ANTI-SMARTWATCH MOVEMENT

Smartwatches have created hype at BaselWorld in the past but there was another trend that couldn’t be overlooked in 2016.

While some brands were again promoting the smartwatch approach – or at least highlighting the introduction of connectivity models to their ranges such as Guess Watches and Tag Heuer – there was a clear anti-smartwatch campaign by a number of exhibitors.

For example, in a full-page advertisement in the trade show’s daily magazine, watch brand Glashutte trumpeted, “For men who don’t need GPS to know where they stand.” Shinola, meanwhile, had a series of ads in the same publication with taglines such as, “A watch that’s not dumb. It’s just not smart,” and, “A great looking watch with average intelligence.”

The smartwatch versus traditional watch battle looks to be on.

 

Coleby Nicholson attended BaselWorld as an accredited media representative.











ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Coleby Nicholson • Managing Editor

Managing Editor • Jeweller Magazine


Coleby Nicholson is publisher and managing editor of Jeweller magazine. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than a decade and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.

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Sunday, 22 September, 2019 12:37pm
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