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What's new in the watch market?

While many companies have withdrawn from Baselworld in recent years, the Swiss trade show still marks the start of the new watch-buying season. ARABELLA RODEN discovers the latest models from leading brands.

Just a few short years ago Baselworld was king of the watch industry. The luxury trade fair once attracted more than 2,000 exhibitors and 150,000 visitors.

Held in March, at the end of the Northern Hemisphere winter, it was a time of excitement, renewal, and growth – the ideal place to launch new watches and timepieces ahead of the summer shopping season. Some industry commentators even likened it to an awe-inspiring ‘pilgrimage’.

Unfortunately, the once-great show fell into a slow pattern of decline. Predatory local businesses charged higher and higher prices for meals and accommodation, leading to lower visitor numbers. Booth prices soared, making exhibiting prohibitively expensive for many brands; at the same time, a redesign of the main Hall 1 venue in 2013 softened numbers due to reduced floor space.

Meanwhile, falling Swiss watch exports in 2015 – the end of the so-called ‘China watch boom’ – saw further contraction. By 2017, the show had shed 600 exhibitors and was in dire financial straits, reporting losses of CHF110 million.

As a result, long-term managing director Sylvie Ritter, director of sales Martin Fergusson and marketing and communications director Loraine Stantzos left the show’s parent company MCH Group.

Yet Baselworld had still not hit rock bottom; that came a year later with the departure of industry juggernaut Swatch Group, parent of Breguet, Longines, Tissot, Omega, Hamilton and Rado, among many others.

Its CEO Nicolas Hayek Jr publicly criticised MCH’s management, claiming they’d ignored complaints and refused to adapt the format to attract more buyers, before abruptly pulling out of the show.

René Kamm, who had been CEO of MCH Group for 15 years, resigned shortly after – but the decision could not prevent a further exodus of high-profile manufacturers, some of which had supported the show for more than 60 years.

Maurice Lacroix, Corum and Raymond Weil quickly announced their decision to stop exhibiting at Baselworld.

Yet there were glimmers of hope following the 2019 edition, under the fresh leadership of MCH Group’s new managing director Michel Loris-Melikoff.

Industry commentators acknowledged that while exhibitor numbers were still hovering at the 600 mark and attendees around 80,000, there was a willingness to embrace change and at least some vision of what the future would hold.

With new MCH Group CEO Bernd Stadlwieser also coming in to breathe new life into the venerable trade show – which marked its 102nd anniversary in 2019 – there’s a sense that, with the right strategy and enough time to implement it, the challenges can be met.

While Baselworld is not what it once was in terms of exhibitors, visitors and industry support, it still marks the natural time for brands and suppliers to debut current and upcoming releases, as well as get retailers informed and enthused about the latest products.

Its timing makes it the focal point of the buying year, and even in its present form, there is no other watch industry trade fair of its calibre in terms of reputation, recognition and reach.

Whether participating at Baselworld or debuting fresh stock on their own terms, here’s what leading brands and suppliers have in store for retailers.

 

WHAT'S NEW IN THE WATCH MARKET

 

Seiko

Seiko’s Prospex Collection is an adventure series of watches purposely built for land, sea and sky. The two new additions are from the Sea series, and are 200m water resistant with rotating bezels and stainless steel cases. Meanwhile, the latest models from the Presage Collection display the finest mechanical watchmaking from Japan.

Above: SSA397J Presage     Above: SNJ025P Prospex     
Above: SRPD25K Prospex      Above: SSA393J Presage      


 

 

MAD & Associates

The MeisterSinger Bronze Line No 3 features a brushed bronze case with striking galvanic blue dial. A single hand indicates time, doing away with redundant minutes and seconds. Meanwhile, the Zürich-designed SEVENFRIDAY P1C/01 – the third instalment in the White Series – features a Corian case, a unique and non-traditional material.

Above: Sevenfriday P1C/01        Above: Meistersinger AM917BR Bronze Line No 3   


 

 

Citizen

The Promaster series releases new models designed for travel and adventure across mountains, oceans and time zones, with water resistance, accuracy and rugged construction at their heart. At Bulova, the world’s first curved chronograph movement makes its debut.

Above: Citizen BN2036-14E Promaster Marine     Above: Citizen JY8088-83L Promaster Sky   
Above: Bulova 96A205 Curved        Above: Bulova 96B309 Classic       


 

 

West End Collection

From the classic design of Bering and Paul Hewitt to the cool and colourful Ice-Watch, the new releases are all about playing to each watch’s strengths. The most recent edition to West End’s distribution portfolio, Claude Bernard, brings Swiss-made quality to designs for both men and women.

Above: Paul Hewitt PH-C-B-BSR-1M        Above: Claude Bernard 10216_3_APN2 Dress Code  
Above: Ice-Watch 016977 Duo Chic CaliforniaAbove: Bering 11739-797 Titanium      


 

 

Duraflex Group Australia

Thomas Sabo’s Code TS watch is characterised by the brand’s distinctive aesthetic, mixing modern and traditional influences. At Mondaine, MS1.32110.LD is the latest addition to the sustainable Essence collection. Meanwhile, the rugged Luminox XL.1201 is part of the ICE-SAR Arctic 1200 Series, designed for Icelandic search and rescue teams.

Above: Thomas Sabo TWA0342 Code TSAbove: Mondaine MS1.32110.LD EssenceAbove: Luminox XL.1201 ICE-SAR Arctic 1200


 

 

Heart & Grace

Aravis is the first Cluse collection for men. These sophisticated and stylish watches are leading Cluse to a whole new audience. Meanwhile, the latest models from Pierre Lannier continue the company’s 40-year legacy of elegant, quality watches at affordable prices, designed and made in France.

Above: Cluse CW0101502004 AravisAbove: Pierre Lannier 076G598 LibertyAbove: Pierre Lannier 224G169 Capital


 

 

InStyle Watches

Pierre Cardin’s new releases feature beautiful design and function. The masculine, multifunction Ryan comes with a sturdy stainless steel band, while the Mila and Charlotte have mop dials and floating crystals for an elegant finish. Perfect for daily wear and special occasions alike.

Above: Pierre Cardin 6003 Charlotte Above: Pierre Cardin 6014 Ryan Above: Pierre Cardin 5985 Mila 


 

 

Swisstime

This season sees the relaunch of the Glycine Airman, which dates back to 1953 and was famously worn by US Air Force pilots and NASA astronauts. Another watch brand with US military pedigree, Traser, debuts a new model: the OdP Evolution, which features the brand’s self-powered illumination technology. And finally, Jowissa offers the chic J5.545.L Facet Watch, ‘a piece of jewellery that tells the time’.

Above: Jowissa J5.545.L Facet WatchAbove: Traser 109046_P96 ODP EvolutionAbove: Glycine GL0054 Airman

 











ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Arabella Roden

Arabella Roden is a journalist for Jeweller Magazine.











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