The Monocle Minute

In association with Nomos Glashütte

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 22 March 2016

Image: Marvin Zilm

Watch this space

With the busy weekend behind them, the watch brands showcasing at Baselworld 2016 will be winding down their on-site operations from now until Thursday (the final day of the event). The headlines have been focused on how the major watchmakers are coping with what looks to be a challenging year ahead but it’s worth remembering that the vast majority of the 1,500-odd exhibiting brands are small, here hoping to gain traction and grow their client bases incrementally. Fromanteel is a seven-year-old watch brand based in Amsterdam that is in attendance for the first time. “This 14 sq m stall in a sea of pavilions actually represents our market share pretty accurately,” says Alfredo Silva, the company’s co-founder. “But for us this is huge. We used to come here for ideas and inspiration and always wanted to have our own stall.”

Image: Luca Rubbis

Big Ben strikes back

The UK parliament is not happy about recent guerilla advertising taking place on the clock tower that houses Big Ben. Lee Bridges, the director of external communications for the House of Commons, has warned against unauthorised projections on the tower in an editorial for Campaign magazine. Recent unofficial projections have included a monkey from tea brand PG Tips in February as a Chinese New Year promotion and a swastika from a campaign group in protest of a state visit by India’s prime minister Narendra Modi last November. In order to legally project onto the Houses of Parliament, permission from both the speaker of the House of Commons and the planning department of Westminster City Council must be granted, Bridges points out. “We are not being killjoys [but] the Houses of Parliament, famed for their stunning Gothic architecture, are part of an Unesco World Heritage Site and need to be enjoyed as such.”

Image: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

Mall overhaul

Australia’s dollar might be ailing but it hasn’t deterred those shopping at the nation’s malls. Annual turnover figures recently revealed by Shopping Centre News (SCN) magazine show that Australia’s big malls sold significantly more in 2015 compared to the previous year. As online spending growth slows here, shoppers seem to be to favouring the experience-led retail pioneered in the country. Case in point: Westfield Sydney, with its welcoming interior design from Japanese firm Wonderwall, saw a 14 per cent annual turnover growth with the mall generating AU$1bn (€675m) in sales last year. The centre, which finished second on SCN’s list, has also cleverly assembled a retail mix that places Sydney’s best designer labels alongside top international brands. This has helped to open up the purses of wealthy Asian tourists by turning them on to Australia’s design talent.

Image: Yamil Lage/Getty Images

Cuba calling

US president Barack Obama isn’t the only one touching down in Cuba: the tourism industry is also zeroing in on Havana following the revived diplomatic relations between the two countries. Both Starwood Hotels and Marriott have just agreed deals with Cuban authorities to begin operating in the country; meanwhile, Airbnb has revealed that its fastest growing market is now Cuba. There are also a number of US airlines that are applying for permission to operate commercial flights to the island nation; carriers such as Southwest, JetBlue, American Airlines and Denver-based Frontier have all applied to the Department of Transportation to launch routes into the country. Only 20 flights a day to Havana are available under a new agreement, while 10 flights per day are available to nine other cities. But if tourist enthusiasm matches that of the airline and hotel industries, it seems the boom is only just beginning.

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