Dollar’s Weakness Hits Americans

With the dollar continuing to sink against the euro, BaselWorld 2005 was no bargain for American buyers. The European pavilions were conspicuously slower than the generally mobbed buildings for Asian, Indian, Turkish, and other national delegations.

European designers responded to the dollar/euro situation either by bringing labor costs down or adjusting their designs to use fewer stones, less metal, or alternative materials. Others had wisely hedged against a currency fluctuation, although this only worked until inventory ran out. The currency issue was of less concern on the higher end.

Quite a few European manufacturers said that while the American market is tough right now, there’s a tremendous emerging market in both Eastern Europe and non-Japanese Asia, and strong buying from both has helped to offset losses of American business.

There was no one single overriding trend. Color was strong, particularly greens, oranges, and anything with a yellow-based undertone, although pinks and blues were still important. Coral seems to be a spring/summer trend in Europe, but it has traditionally been a tough sell in America.

In watches, yellow gold, already evident in popular luxury models last year, was much more widespread this year in both cases and bracelets, in both classical and contemporary timepieces. Pink gold also grew in use.

Fashion watches in pastel shades, colored mother-of-pearl dials, and bright colors abounded. The vintage trend continued, with a number of brands debuting new models based on successful past models. Travelers’ and pilot watches remained popular.

Mechanical movements continued to surge, and more fine brands offered complications, including tourbillons, chronographs and time zones.