Watch Trends 2006: Automatics Thrive, Complications Spread

Three decades after being declared obsolete because of the quartz module revolution that changed watchmaking, the mechanical watch business is thriving. That was a clear trend at this year’s Swiss watch fairs in Basel and Geneva. There are more affordable automatic (self-winding) watches, more of them for women, more upper-price brands with their own movements, and more watches—both mechanical and quartz—with “complications” (specialized functions other than timekeeping) once found only in the most costly timepieces. Much of this is driven by consumer demand for watches with a luxury look and by Chinese-made movements that make more affordable mechanical watches possible. Following are closer looks at some mechanical “movements” at the 2006 Swiss shows. MECHANICALS’ RISE Mechanical watchmaking’s niche, once almost extinct, is flourishing, say Swiss and Japanese
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