BaselWorld 2016: Recommendations And Observations, Part 2Written by Alvin Wong
More BaselWorld 2016 novelties and developments that made us go, "Hmm....".
A fuller picture of prevailing trends emerges after four frenzied days of presentations and interviews. That said, even after decades of zipping about BaselWorld, we remain puzzled by how watch brands seem to move in packs, especially in areas of technical and design development.
BLACK REMAINS DOMINANT
There is just no escaping the shade that never fades. Billed as an emerging trend over a decade ago, black watches continue to dominate new collections. Increasingly too, a raven-sheathed-something has become a quick way to garner attention. Need proof? Check out Tudor's Black Bay Dark, clad in a sexy matte-satin finish; the all-black, openworked TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-01; or Breitling's hunky Avenger Hurricane Chronograph (pictured below). Although they are updates of existing models, these reworked raven timepieces rapidly fire up desirability and Instagram likes by virtue of their commanding sheen.
Once the preserve of higher end marques, skeleton watches, recognised by their hollowed out movement architecture and open-faced dials, are now within reach of budget conscious collectors. Some standout creations include Raymond Weil's Freelancer Skeleton, priced tentatively at S$4,030; and Oris' Artix Skeleton (pictured below), which retails at S$3,650. Reasonably priced with decent finishing, these watches will go a long way to endow their owners with a sense of horological gravitas while keeping bank balances in check.
Prices of watches have largely fallen and that must be a good thing. The need to increase sales volume has become crucial as watch brands seek to weather challenging retail markets. Quite a number of them are offering entry-level creations in a bid to cast the net wide for new customers.
Maurice Lacroix rolled out a new collection called Aikon, a full-fledged quartz collection featuring gent's and ladies watches, hoping to entice buyers with lower price points. Elsewhere, the likes of Longines and Fortis stay the course, maintaining starting prices of new creations at between S$3,000 to S$5,000. At the higher end of the scale, brands like Glashutte Original and Ulysse Nardin show greater sensitivity to their watches' price tags. Glashutte Original's new Senator Excellence (pictured below) that features a new in-house movement, and Ulysse Nardin's Chronograph Annual Calendar, are priced at S$14,300 and S$20,100, respectively -- quite reasonable considering the watches' impressive technical content.
FAMILIARITY IS A VIRTUE
Also, when seas get choppy, it's best not to rock the boat. BaselWorld 2016 will go down as a year where variety rules, aided by plenty of nice but fail-safe creations. Breguet isn't attempting to reinvent the wheel with a slimmer and more elegant Classique Small Seconds watch (below).
Neither is Chopard, which celebrates the 40th anniversary of its Happy Diamonds collection by reverting to the original's TV screen case for its commemorative editions.
But that's perfectly OK. In times of uncertainty, watch lovers, too, are more inclined to invest in designs and features that will stand the test of time. For brands and their customers, a tried-and-tested formula isn't just reassuring, but is the most sensible option to take.
Part one of the report here.
Alvin promises not to be a douche when talking about watches. He may have scoured the Basel and Geneva watch fairs for the past 15 years, and played an instrumental role to the growth of Singapore's pioneering horological and men's lifestyle publications, but the intrepid scribe seeks to learn something new with each story he writes.