The Swiss watch industry is seeing the first green shoots of recovery after a long winter. As always, the first big watch show of the year provides both watch enthusiasts and analysts with their first glimpse of market trends for the year ahead and at this week’s SIHH in Geneva the mood is positive. “In 2017 we just had flat growth in Swiss watch exports. Yet since November we have had growth of plus 2.8 per cent and, for 2018 as a whole, we estimate plus 4 per cent,” says René Weber, a watch-industry expert at Zürich-based bank Vontobel. “In 2017 brands such as Audemars Piguet, Rolex and Omega outperformed the market; high-end watches did much better than the low end.” Don’t expect any of that to change in the aftermath of SIHH.
Even though Greece is not yet out of its bailout programme, people are betting on the value of its property – short-term lettings in particular are on the rise. In Athens alone, an estimated 6,500 flats and houses are being advertised on online home-sharing platforms such as Airbnb, up 27 per cent from six months ago. With expectations that Greece will exit the bailout programme this August, foreign investors are braving the country’s red tape in the property market and taking the plunge. Last year a single Chinese investor bought 100 apartments in the capital’s mural-lined Exarchia neighbourhood. The question is whether these short-term lets are beneficial for the country in the long run; cities like Berlin are moving in the opposite direction and restricting such rentals to safeguard affordable housing for their citizens.
The beer might start flowing earlier at Köln’s IMM than at other design fairs (we spotted our first empty bottles at 10.00) but, after observing the suited-and-booted crowd and the line-up of brands, there’s no doubt that this event is growing in international clout. More than 1,000 companies from around 50 countries have headed to Koelnmesse by the river Rhine this week. And while the product releases here don’t come in as thick and fast as at Milan’s Salone Del Mobile, there are plenty of take-homes for interior designers and architects. One of the most impressive launches is the refreshed look of Authentics, thanks to a revamp by the Hamburg-based Studio Besau-Marguerre. The result is a focused collection of products and a tasteful new colour palette. “We’re a German brand and we wanted to show this in one of our most important markets,” says Frederik Flötotto, CEO of parent company Flötotto. “It’s also our first time at IMM Cologne so I’m curious to see the level of export interest we get.”
Milan fashion week men’s wrapped up yesterday, one day earlier than usual. And it’s just as well it was shorter because its line-up was far weaker than in past seasons. The atmosphere felt flat without heavy-hitters such as Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Salvatore Ferragamo, and there were noticeably fewer foreign editors in attendance. Now is a time when brands need to decide what works best for them. For many menswear labels, whose point of distinction lies in details rather than bold silhouettes, it makes sense to eschew shows in favour of quiet presentations or a stand at Pitti (as Corneliani did this season). For others, such as Gucci, it is commercially sensible to combine men’s and women’s collections into one show, which many brands are choosing to stage during women’s week. But where does that leave Milan’s men’s event? The future, perhaps, will see it disappear as the men’s and women’s weeks are integrated into one big event at the start of the year.
Last year gave the world much to protest. Political instability and social injustice led to millions taking to the streets in 2017 and even more to social media to make their voices heard. But as the masses rebel, the authorities clamp down – leading to new and inventive ways of showing discontent. So how has protest changed over the years and where is it heading? Andrew Mueller is joined by Rachael Jolley, Stefan Dickers and Dr Fern Riddell.
The Czech town of Zlín was transformed by a visionary shoemaker who wanted to house his workers in a garden city. We put our best foot forward to explore his functionalist masterpiece.