PLAY THE FIELD

Bespoke - - EMPEROR 1688 -

The Rev­erso was de­vel­oped by JaegerLe­coul­tre as a uniquely ro­bust watch that could be worn by polo play­ers while play­ing the game. 85 years on, it has proved to be way more than a one-trick pony and sales for the watch are stronger than ever. See how the col­lec­tion is chang­ing on p.76. Switzer­land is the world’s lead­ing ex­porter of watches in terms of value and with good rea­son – they’re damned good at it. The in­dus­try goes back over 300 years and, es­pe­cially over the last cen­tury, it has led the way in terms of in­no­va­tions like cal­en­dars, stop-watch func­tions, wa­ter­proof cas­ings and au­to­matic move­ments. But re­cently, the pace has been slower. Case in point, at this year’s SIHH and Basel­world fairs, nearly ev­ery brand pre­sented a smaller lineup of new mod­els and con­cen­trated on up­dates to core-col­lec­tions rather than forg­ing ahead with a slew of new prod­ucts. The rea­son for this con­ser­vatism is of course the gen­eral macroe­co­nomic en­vi­ron­ment. Last year for ex­am­ple, was the first with neg­a­tive growth since the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis of 2009. Over­val­u­a­tion of the Swiss Franc, the sud­den tank­ing of Hong Kong, the slow­down in China, ten­sions in the Mid­dle East, fall­ing oil prices, the low level of the Rus­sian Rou­ble and global ter­ror­ism all played a part in the malaise. But as the say­ing goes, time stops for no one and there are still a num­ber of in­ter­est­ing trends to take stock of. Ti­ta­nium and car­bon seem to be mak­ing their way down to more af­ford­able time­pieces while dar­ing colour­ways are gain­ing in pop­u­lar­ity. Ny­lon Nato-style straps are now abun­dantly main­stream and smart­watches are more im­por­tant than ever. In fact, for the first time, smart­watch sales in 2015 sur­passed those of tra­di­tional Swiss watches. Where Mont­blanc and Bre­itling lead the way with smart of­fer­ings last year, TAG Heuer and De Grisogno have now fol­lowed suit. Pre­sum­ably, many more will be jump­ing on the band­wagon. As a fi­nal ob­ser­va­tion, we saw a num­ber of jew­ellery brands (like Chanel, Graff and Tif­fany) get se­ri­ous about me­chan­i­cal men’s watches. It’s prob­a­bly safe to say that ‘The Times They Are a Changin’.

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