The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 18 March 2016

Good times

Baselworld likes to call itself “the one unmissable trendsetting show” of the year and day one of the watch and jewellery event wrapped yesterday with fitting pomp and ceremony. Nothing comes close to Baselworld in scale, with more than 1,500 exhibiting brands and 150,000 visitors from all over the world. This is where watch brands set out their stall for the year ahead – and do most of their business too, as buyers, collectors and analysts gather to take a peek at the latest timepieces. Rolex’s headline-grabbing launch for 2016 is its new Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona, an icon first introduced in 1963, with a Cerachrom bezel in black ceramic that has already set the fair aflutter.

Image: The Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images

Driving seat

Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe has previously said he wants to create “a society in which women shine”. Some might argue that the pace has been sluggish in the three years since that statement but the Ministry of Defense announced this week that it would be opening more posts in the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to women from 2017, including positions piloting maritime patrol aircraft and attack helicopters. Women currently make up 5.7 per cent of the country’s SDF – or 13,000 out of 230,000 personnel. Under the new directives women can now pilot fighter jets and anti-tank helicopters but are still not allowed to sign up for ground-force infantry and tank units that could be involved in close combat.

Image: Hieronymus

Delicately penned

Swiss stationery brand and shop Hieronymus wants to bring back the lost art of letter-writing in a very smart and direct manner by offering to write the letters itself. Hieronymus offers the services of its in-house calligrapher to customers keen to impress, those who may be self-conscious about their spidery handwriting or those who simply crave some Swiss precision. Following a visit to the flagship store in Zürich, the calligrapher composes the requested content in a choice of four contemporary scripts, 15 colours of ink and your pick from four shades of white paper – and can even create place cards and name badges with the flourish of a pen. “Our accelerated, paperless everyday life is leading to a new appreciation of handwritten correspondence,” says Hieronymus creative director Thorsten Traber.

Image: Gaia Cambiaggi

Green house

This year a clear theme at leading real-estate event Mipim has been how climate change is registering in the property market, so it was perhaps fitting that Cannes’ typically sunny trade show turned to heavy downpours and unseasonable winds. Weather aside, the COP21 climate conference had a palpable presence in many exhibitions and discussions this year, particularly when it came to local and city authorities. Oslo hosted a panel on the city’s push to move away from fossil fuels; “Energy-efficient buildings are in demand and that is driving technology forward,” says Sonja Horn, the executive vice-president of Entra ASA, one of Norway’s leading property companies. Meanwhile, Grenoble represented itself with a charming wooden house that was entirely reusable and will be donated to a local housing association after the event wraps today.

From Monocle 24

Image: Tim Sackton

Boston: Jascha Franklin-Hodge

Boston is one of the leading tech cities in the world, with a healthy start-up scene and universities such as MIT and Harvard leading the field in tech innovation. It also has a strong municipal commitment to integrate tech and data into civic life and this particular task is the responsibility of chief information officer Jascha Franklin-Hodge.

From Monocle Films

Perth: opportunity and regeneration

As Perth attempts to shed its reputation for being little more than a mining city, we explore the architecture, art and hospitality initiatives that are shaping the outpost.

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