Friday 12 April 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 12/4/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Watch this space: The Watches & Wonders fair

Image: WWGF

Trade / Natalie Theodosi

All in good time

For years, the watch industry has been guided by a straightforward design principle: the bigger, the better. Brands focused their efforts on extra-large cases, complicated movements and visible logos. Thankfully, those days seem to be over. At this week’s Watches & Wonders fair in Geneva, it was clear that brands had adjusted their priorities to meet the demands of an increasingly sophisticated customer. Watchmakers are putting as much care into design as they are into the movements powering their timepieces. They’re embracing more intricate styles aimed at the female market too. Take Hublot, which launched its smallest-ever watch this week: an elegant, slimmer version of its Classic Fusion model. IWC also introduced three versions of its Portugieser Chronograph in new dial colours, including horizon, dune and obsidian.

This shift has brought more visibility to Paris-based jewellery brands. Cartier has been one of the biggest crowd-pleasers at this year’s event – and for good reason. The house is presenting iconic designs from its existing portfolio, including the art deco-inspired Tank, delicate Baignoire and classic Tortue, the last of which has been reinterpreted by Cartier’s watch-design chief, Marie-Laure Cérède. “Customers’ values have changed,” says Cérède. “They are looking for pieces with history.” Luxury jeweller Van Cleef & Arpels has also made an impression with its romantic, nature-inspired designs that bring together an array of crafts, from enamelling to hand-painting.

Many fashion houses are doubling down on investment in watch design too, opening their own Swiss-based manufacturing facilities and proving that they can live up to the industry’s exacting quality standards. Hermès, for example, made headlines this year with its new Cut collection, which is powered by a custom H1912 movement. As more fashion labels stake a claim in the lucrative sector, watch brands will have to be more creative in order to command attention. It’s about time.

Natalie Theodosi is Monocle’s fashion director. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

The Briefings

Down and out? South Korea prime minister Han Duck-soo

Image: Alamy

Politics / South Korea

In the negative

The leader of South Korea’s ruling People Power Party (PPP), Han Dong-hoon, has resigned after a major defeat in this week’s parliamentary elections. The country’s prime minister, Han Duck-soo, and senior officials from the PPP have also offered to quit. Wednesday’s vote was seen by many as a midterm confidence vote on president Yoon Suk Yeol.

“This makes the Yoon administration the first in South Korea’s constitutional history to face a majority opposition for the entirety of its parliamentary term,” Joon Ha Park, a reporter at NK News, tells Monocle Radio’s The Globalist. “The election results are a wider reflection of the public’s growing negativity towards his administration.” With three years left in his term, Yoon has a lot of ground to make up.

For more on South Korea’s parliamentary elections, tune in to Thursday’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle Radio.

Image: Alamy

Infrastructure / Ukraine & France

Powering up

France’s telecom sector has reached an agreement with Ukraine to aid its reconstruction efforts. Infranum, a federation that consists of more than 200 digital infrastructure companies, will begin work on enhancing the war-torn country’s remaining electronic communications networks, as well as restoring those destroyed since Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022.

Some 3,200 Ukrainian mobile-phone stations and more than 60,000km of fibre-optic cables have been damaged over two years of war; repairs are expected to cost €2.1bn. Meanwhile, Russia has intensified its airstrikes on Ukraine’s power stations and the country’s energy supply is now under threat. France’s investment is welcome but there’s also an urgent need for sufficient air defence too.

Media / USA

Think local

As November’s pivotal presidential election approaches, more than 30 news organisations in Colorado have grouped together to reach out to voters to find out what issues matter to them most. The initiative, called Voter Voices, is led by non-profit organisation Colorado News Collaborative. The idea is rooted in the US’s rich tradition of local democracy. Citizens will help to prepare questions for candidates that cover issues that directly affect them, rather than the well-trodden campaign talking points. This style of ground-up reporting will benefit voters and journalists alike. Let’s hope that initiatives such as this will help some snippets of sense cut through the noise of this election year.

Beyond the Headlines

Image: Getty Images

Photo of the week / Egypt

Food for thought

This week, Muslims across the globe celebrated Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. In this photograph, worshippers gather to pray near the pyramids of Abusir, Egypt.

Image: Blue Apple

Monocle Radio / The Entrepreneurs

Blue Apple Beach

Georgina Godwin heads to the Caribbean coast of Colombia to meet Portia Hart, founder of Blue Apple Beach, a boutique hotel and beach club on the island of Tierra Bomba. Hart discusses her regenerative approach to sustainability and explains how aligning best practice in hospitality with environmental and social responsibility is the right thing to do for both business and planet.


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