Seconds Out Featured

A look at Baselworld 2010 reveals diverse trends among watchmakers worldwide
by 14 June 2010

Last year, the watch-making industry in Switzerland was hard hit when the economy dipped. But by the first quarter of 2010, there seemed to be a small improvement. According to Swiss statistics for 2009, as much as 45% of the watches made were actually exported to Asia, most of which went to the Greater China region. So we can see why the watch brands are eager to get a slice of the Chinese market. At this year’s Baselworld Fair, I noticed two trends: there were watches that are obviously aimed for the emerging market, keeping up with the sector’s leading-edge developments, and then there were watches created for the watch connoisseur.

Despite the economy, the watch industry is eager to push forward with no sign of stopping. To add to the excitement, many brands are still devising new ways of making better movements. For example, Breguet’s new Fusée Tourbillon wristwatch features a Breguet overcoil balance-spring in silicon. This is not only a new patent for the brand, but also a great innovation in the industry. On the other hand, Patek Philippe has come up with its own in-house thinnest chronograph movement to date. I believe all this effort to achieve innovation is a positive sign.

For several years, independent watch makers fared quite well, but a global recession seemed to have eliminated the weak while giving the strong a chance to stand out. This is the case of H. Moser. The brand recruited more watchmakers, and it has been getting a head start on production over the past few years. Overall though, the watch industry is going in such diverse directions that it would be difficult to sum up this year’s Baselworld in just a few clear concepts. Here, I’ve chosen a few examples from the leading brands, and this will give you an idea of where the watch industry is heading.

THE PIONEERS

Breguet – 7047 Fusée Tourbillon
The Breguet overcoil balance-spring in silicon is unique in the world. It is totally anti-magnetic and highly resistant to corrosion and friction, making the platinum, manual-winding tourbillon watch even more stable, and even more accurate. The watch is also equipped with the patented titanium balance wheel. With so many patented innovations, it will definitely be appreciated by watch connoisseurs.

Patek Philippe – Split Seconds Mono-Pusher Chronograph With A Perpetual Calendar
With a movement that measures only 27.3 mm in diameter, this Split Seconds Mono-pusher Chronograph with a Perpetual Calendar has the brand’s thinnest movement, the CHR27-525 PSQ. The watch case is made of 950 platinum. Be prepared for a long waiting list for Patek’s new complicated function timepiece.

THE RISK TAKERS

Rolex – Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date
For the first time, the watch, dial and outer rim, made in Cerachrom, are manufactured in green for greater visibility under water. The movement has a unique, blue Parachrom overcoil balance-spring, greatly improving the movement’s accuracy.

Tag Heuer – Pendulum Concept Watch
Tag Heuer has come up with a concept watch that uses magnetic force, instead of a conventional balance-spring, to propel the balance wheel. The magnetic field is created, and perfectly maintained, by four magnets which create the oscillations. With this innovative design, the watch will run for a few decades at a constant 6Hz per hour, which means it’s even more accurate than an ordinary watch. Don’t get too excited though, because the production schedule has yet to be released.

Chanel – J12
The brand’s famous J12 29-mm watch beautifully combines state-of-the-art ceramic and steel, with a quartz movement and a display that shows hours and minutes. Besides the plain black and white references, there is also a reference with the dial set with eight diamond indexes and white mother-of-pearl, or a reference with the bezel set with 40 diamonds. This iconic collection has never been so glamorous.

THE CHALLENGERS

Maitres Du Temps – Chapter One Round Watch Mix Version

This new model is a brilliant new departure from the original image of the Chapter One collection, while it retains the exclusive rollers system for the patented moon phase display. The manual-wining movement, tourbillon, retrograde with GMT and date display on the dial make this a very valuable item, with just 11 pieces for the entire global market.

H. Moser – Moser Perpetual Moon
This watch features a large perpetual moon phase display, and it is accurate to 0.23 seconds per day. This means that after a thousand years, it will have deviated by, at most, just a single day. Add to this a seven-day power reserve, and a 24-hour display with a small hand. Available in both 18K rose gold and platinum.

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