Watch manufacturers gathered this month for the annual edition of BaselWorld, a trendsetting trade show in Basel, Switzerland. One of the main storylines was the smartwatch sector, which surprised many during the 2015 show. “There are always collections at BaselWorld that stir up excitement with our customers,” says Greg Simonian, President of Westime USA.
While BaselWorld officials insist that Swiss timepieces will remain the focus of the trade show, smartwatches were on display once again. Swiss watch brand Swatch, already launched its first smartwatch, the Bellamy, in Sept. 2015, in China. Also, luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer recently launched its first smartphone late last year in cooperation with California companies Google and Intel.
Euromonitor International, a market research firm that keeps an eye on various industries and publishes annual reports, offered the following trend summary for watches. “The year 2015 can be referred to as the year when so-called “smartwatches,” which integrate a traditional watch with Innovative computer technology, became an established and fully defined category. Smartwatches compete directly with the classic timepieces, which they resemble in form and function. The debate has raged among watch manufacturers as to whether smartwatches should be viewed as a threat or opportunity, or even ignored altogether.”
Despite the recent buzz about the smartwatch impact, it doesn’t appear that Swiss luxury watchmakers have anything to worry about, at least not yet. According to 2015 statistics from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, 28.1 million Swiss watches were exported with a value of $20.52 billion.
Here are a few highlights that were featured at BaselWorld 2016:
Merry Go Round
A new name in watchmaking, Okletey makes an impressive debut with Merry Go Round, an aesthetically pleasing flying tourbillon that takes nature’s beauty as a source of inspiration. The steel rectangular case with black PVD treatment frames a silver dial, composed of a central circle with an original guilloché motif surrounded by a skeletonized structure. The tourbillon, located at 6 o’clock, completes the tableau. Sharing the dial is a power reserve indicator at 9 o’clock and, at 11 o’clock, an opening that reveals the differential. Price range: $50,000-$150,000.
In 2015, Frédérique Constant became one of the first Swiss watch companies to launch a smartwatch. Combining a classic design with the latest technology, this new version of the Horological Smartwatch confirms the success of the Geneva firm’s Haute Horlogerie connected watches. Powered by the MotionX® platform, the watch accurately tracks the wearer’s daytime activity and sleep patterns. The smaller dial shows—at 6 o’clock—the percentage of activity or sleep against a pre-defined goal in real-time. This data is synchronized with the MotionX-365® app and displayed with easy-to-understand graphics. The Horological Smartwatch has a battery life of two-and-a-half years. Price range: $1,000-$1,999.
Tempus Terrae 25th Anniversary
Tempus Terrae 25th Anniversary Blue Gold Dial
For 25 years, Andersen Genéve has perpetuated Louis Cottier’s legacy, the man who created the first World Time watch in 1930. The system has remained identical: a ring around the dial is inscribed with city names. Another concentric ring is graduated over 24 hours. The watch’s second crown is used to align each city with its corresponding hour. The center of the Tempus Terrae 25th Anniversary is blue gold with a hand-guilloché pattern. A hallmark of Andersen Genève, this 21K gold watch contains tiny iron particles which, when oxidized, impart a unique blue color. To mark this complication’s quarter-century, the Tempus Terrae comes as a limited series of 25 pieces in white gold, 25 in yellow gold, and 25 in red gold. Price range: $20,000-$50,000.
BaselWorld 2016 took place March 17-24 in Basel. The iconic fair has a long, proud history dating to 1917. It is considered the microcosm of the watch and jewelry industry, where manufacturers showcase their creations and innovations, showcasing the pulse of this fascinating world. ■