Time lords— Basel


Every spring, the world’s watchmakers and horology enthusiasts descend on Basel for the industry’s key fair, where the latest innovations in timekeeping are unveiled. We went along to gauge the mood and pick our favourite launches.

Watches, industry, launch, watchmakers

Recovery, not recession, is on the lips of Swiss watchmakers as they greet visitors to BaselWorld, the industry’s bellwether event held each March on the banks of the Rhine. Brands are buoyed by the latest figures out on Swiss watch exports – the opening months of 2010 marked an end to five consecutive quarters of negative growth.

In the aspirational Hall of Dreams (home to the likes of Rolex and Patek Philippe) inside Basel’s fairgrounds, some speak of the modest upturn in hushed tones; others, meanwhile, have plenty to shout about. “We’ve had the…

Watch my lips- trade talk

“The consumer is pickier than he was before but we’ve kept faithful to our strategy. People are willing to come into our flagships and shop.”
Stephen Urquhart, president, Omega

“You need to go out with a strong product and we see demand for our high-end pieces. People today are looking for real value.”
Thierry Stern, president, Patek Philippe

“In Chinese, crisis is written with two symbols: one means threat, the other opportunity. We read it as the latter.”
Jean-Claude Biver, CEO, Hublot

“We are doing well in Europe, the US and Asia. When there’s a crisis, you need to take advantage of it; you need to permanently innovate.”
Carlos Rosillo, CEO, Bell & Ross

“Bling and useless complications are a thing of the past. We’ve seen a move towards more functionality.”
Martin Bachmann, CEO, Maurice Lacroix

Monocle picks

Bell & Ross: BR 03-92 42mm in olive drab ceramic with luminescent dial.
Chanel: J12 Marine in sandblasted ceramic and steel with rubber strap. Water-resistant to 300m.
Hublot: King Power Unico 48mm in microblasted ceramic with column-wheel chronograph. Only 500 will be made.
Omega: De Ville Hour Vision Annual Calendar in platinum with self-winding movement. Only 88 will be made.
Patek Philippe: Reference 5170 in yellow gold with manual-winding movement and alligator strap.

Best updates

Dior: Christal Mystérieuse 38mm in steel with electro-mechanical movement. Two versions (one with diamond set bezel).
Maurice Lacroix: Pontos Day Date in steel with blue dial and self-winding movement.
Patek Philippe: Nautilus chronograph in rose gold with brown alligator strap.
Rolex: Submariner Date 40mm in steel with self-winding movement and green gold dial.
TAG Heuer: Silverstone chronograph limited edition (1,500 pieces) in steel with perforated alligator strap.

Top trends

01 Colour: Blue (in shades from sunburst to midnight) was popular as watch- makers featured it on bezels and dials, including blue gold hands on Omega’s limited-edition De Ville.
02 Ecological: Brands were eager to promote their green credentials. TAG Heuer teamed up with electric car maker Tesla Motors, Chopard signed up to save tigers with the WWF, and Hublot launched a timepiece to support African wildlife.
03 Downsizing: Watches were slightly smaller at this year’s fair – for example, Dior’s 38mm Christal Mystérieuse.


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