Fac­ing Chal­lenges

Char­lene Co Sean Li Em­i­lie Yabut-ra­zon

Hong Kong Tatler - - Style -

he watch in­dus­try has been ne­go­ti­at­ing chal­leng­ing times, to say the least. Cur­rency ex­change rates have gen­er­ated nu­mer­ous headaches, as brands deal with ris­ing costs in Switzer­land but di­min­ish­ing pur­chas­ing power in the eu­ro­zone, con­trasted with a sig­nif­i­cant rise in the US dollar. This has had an im­pact on the Asian mar­ket, one of the in­dus­try’s largest; Hong Kong prices are af­fected be­cause of the cur­rency’s link to the US dollar. If that weren’t enough, an­other chal­lenge looms that may have a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect on the mar­ket: the smart­watch, led by Ap­ple’s new de­vice. It was against this back­ground that Basel­world, the globe’s largest watch fair, opened its doors in March.

As I now re­flect on Basel­world, the Ap­ple Watch is in stores, but for demon­stra­tion only, with the first ship­ments about to start. And it seems it will be a few weeks yet be­fore you can walk into a shop and buy one, given the num­ber of or­ders al­ready placed. The ma­jor­ity of the watch in­dus­try will pay the Ap­ple Watch lit­tle heed, say­ing it sim­ply won’t af­fect them. It will be in­ter­est­ing to ob­serve over the next few months and years as the Ap­ple Watch and its ilk evolve. Spec­u­la­tion on the fu­ture cer­tainly drove much talk at Basel­world as the lat­est col­lec­tions were un­veiled.

The new col­lec­tions did not dis­ap­point. Let’s start with Patek Philippe’s Cala­trava Pi­lot Travel Time. It’s a long time since I’ve seen a watch have such a po­lar­is­ing ef­fect. The first re­ac­tion on see­ing an im­age of the Cala­trava is fre­quently one of sur­prise. Many didn’t be­lieve the brand, the very im­age of clas­si­cal watch­mak­ing, would pro­duce such a sport watch and pre­sumed it wasn’t gen­uine. While the Cala­trava grabbed the lime­light at the Patek Philippe booth, the rest of the col­lec­tion was also very im­pres­sive.

Omega con­tin­ued its ex­plo­ration of the dark side of the moon with sev­eral it­er­a­tions of its popular ce­ramic Speed­mas­ter, and the Globe­mas­ter has be­come the brand’s first col­lec­tion to be sub­mit­ted to the Mas­ter Chronome­ter cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Breguet high­lighted the 10-year-old Tra­di­tion col­lec­tion, its first af­ter the Swatch Group took over the his­toric brand.

Women’s in­ter­est in high watch­mak­ing was also catered for, as many brands con­tinue to in­tro­duce me­chan­i­cal watches specif­i­cally for ladies, such as the Ja­quet Droz Lady Flower 8, which fea­tures the au­tom­ata the brand is known for but in a very fem­i­nine, del­i­cate time­piece. Fabergé has also taken the plunge and en­tered the watch mar­ket with its Lady Com­pliquée col­lec­tion.

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