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Watches of BaselWorld 2012- A look inside

Posted on 2013-01-07, By A-Best Staff

Swatch Group’s reduction of supply of mechanical watch movements and movement parts began in small amounts this year, and one analyst says he expects the Swiss Competition Commission to approve a gradual phase-outof supply to certain brands.

Swatch Group’s decision has forced what one industry player termed a “watch-making renaissance,” compelling brands to pour funds into research and development of their own movements or seek alternate sources of supply.

As a result, more timepieces equipped with brands’ in-house movements--including watches with skeleton movements and dial apertures designed to showcase its inner workings--are emerging from the factories of Switzerland. Brands want to call attention to their craftsmanship and to explain why, in some cases, consumers are paying a premium for their new timepieces.
“Their hand is being forced by what Hayek is doing and what Swatch Group is doing so they want to distinguish themselves, turning it (their movements) into an asset,” Faber says.

Hermès introduced its first in-house movements, produced for the company by Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier, a Swiss manufacturer in which Hermès purchased a 25 percent stake in 2006. The French fashion house equipped its men’s “Dressage” watch with the H1837 movement (below, left), while its women’s “Arceau” was outfitted with the H1912.




Breitling continued to introduce models equipped with the Breitling caliber, including the “Transocean Chronograph Unitime (above, right).

Even Citizen, the Japanese brand known primarily as a manufacturer of quartz and, more recently, solar-powered watches, jumped into the mechanical mix with the introduction of the “Grand Classic,” an automatic watch housing the brand’s 9010 movement made in Japan. The 42 mm Grand Classic has an exhibition caseback and retails for $995.

Breitling U.S.A. President Thierry Prissert said the brand plans to introduce a total of two new in-house movements this year, the Caliber 05 that debuted in the Unitime at Baselworld and a Caliber 02, slated for release in May.

“The industry’s changing,” he observes. “Every watch brand that wants to be secure ... better have started looking at in-house movements. I think you will see that trend increasing again and again.”

To view more watches that display this trend, please visit our Baselworld slideshow.

Creativity and colorA number of trends observed at last year’s show continued into 2012, including the use of rose gold, which Faber notes gives a “softer look” than yellow gold--and simplicity in design.

The high price of gold, which remains well above $1,000 an ounce, continues to force brands to be creative with their collections, offering a wider range of price points and using technology to produce gold looks at a lower price.

Vulcain introduced its first non-alarm timepieces containing a movement produced by Soprod. Designed to give the brand a more attainable starting price point, the non-alarm watches retail for $3,950 in stainless steel. Illustrating the astronomical per-ounce price of gold, the same model in 18-karat pink gold is more than triple that amount at $15,900.

Swatch Group brand Rado came out with “Specchio” timepieces in its first rose gold-colored Ceramos, a combination of titanium carbide and metallic alloy (below). The brand first introduced Ceramos in 2010 in a platinum color.




The brand also debuted its first watch featuring gold-colored plasma treatment for high-tech ceramic, which the brand has been using since 1998.

Movado, meanwhile, introduced the “Luma” collection for women. It includes both a stainless steel model with a round 31 mm case and a 28.5 mm watch with a square case in polished dark brown PVD-finished stainless steel with a taupe-colored powder-textured dial.

Taking a cue from spring and fall fashions seen on the runways in Paris, London and New York, watchmakers also experimented with color, with some adding splashes of bright hues on the dial and bracelet.

“Playing with color is something maybe new to the watch world,” says Prissert, who came to Breitling from Vilebrequin, a luxury line of men’s swimwear. “We have a little touch of that in our own collection.”

Breitling added color to the bracelet of its “Superocean” model and to the dial of a limited number of the watches it produces in conjunction with luxury British car company Bentley.

In introducing its new line of dive watches, the “Sea Force,” Wenger Swiss Watches showed models with blue, yellow or pink accents on the inner and outer bezels as well as in the stitching on the strap.

Hermès, meanwhile, took a more wholesale approach to playing with color when expanding its “Cape Cod.” The brand introduced new models with straps in both lime green and electric blue (below).


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