The Essence of Time
Deciphering watch trends at the Baselworld fair, held April 25–May 2 in Switzerland, is no small feat—the show boasts about 500 watch exhibitors, each promoting a slew of novelties. This year, however, a few themes emerged.
The Product: Adventurers’ Watches
Pilots and divers and racers—oh, my! In Basel, the industry’s preoccupation with dive watches culminated in a splashy news conference honoring the 60th anniversary of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, the 20th-century’s iconic dive watch. Elsewhere, brands filled out the sports category with extreme-minded introductions designed to satisfy armchair pilots, automotive fans, and, in the case of Breitling’s new Emergency II model, explorers with a penchant for roaming terra incognita.
The Obsession: Mechanical Accuracy
Carrera MikroPendulum in 45 mm titanium case; CHF35,000 ($37,425); TAG Heuer, Springfield Township, N.J.; 973-467-1890; tagheuer.com
In an age of smart watches, Switzerland’s watchmakers have renewed their commitment to improving mechanical precision and accuracy. To that end, a number of brands touted anti-magnetic models, such as Omega’s new Seamaster Aqua Terra watch, resistant to 15,000 gauss, while others boasted high-frequency movements—TAG Heuer’s Carrera MikroPendulum, or Breguet’s Classique Chronométrie 7727, for example—designed to “keep track of time as accurately as possible,” in the words of a Breguet technician.
The Strategy: Entry Prices
Pontos Day/Date in stainless steel; $2,800; Maurice Lacroix, Princeton, N.J.; 609-750-8800; mauricelacroix.com
“We are back to what Maurice Lacroix has been known for—entry-level, high-end watches at an extremely accessible price point,” said brand president Hartmut Kraft at Baselworld. He wasn’t the only Swiss exec waving the affordability banner. From Claude Bernard, a brand that manufactures quartz models ranging from $200 to $895, to Zenith, the legendary movement maker, watchmakers are eschewing high-priced complications in favor of simple, streamlined value.