TIME TO FO­CUS

The Peak Selections: Timepieces - - Editor’s Note - LYNETTE KOH

Re­cently, I had the plea­sure of meet­ing master watch­maker Christian Laurent at the Jaeger-LeCoul­tre man­u­fac­ture in Le Sen­tier ( p.62). He re­called the chal­lenge of build­ing the brand’s first minute re­peater within the Rev­erso’s rec­tan­gu­lar case. In the early ’90s, high com­pli­ca­tions were a rar­ity: The quartz cri­sis of the pre­vi­ous two decades had crip­pled the Swiss watch in­dus­try, cre­at­ing a sub­se­quent vac­uum in me­chan­i­cal watchmaking.

He ex­plained: “Dur­ing these years, there were few high com­pli­ca­tions and watch­mak­ers who could make them. We had to learn every­thing our­selves. But this mo­ti­vated me – when I was work­ing on the Rev­erso minute re­peater, I would come to work seven days a week.”

To­day, the in­dus­try faces new chal­lenges, from global so­cioe­co­nomic in­sta­bil­ity to new tech­nolo­gies fight­ing for space on con­sumers’ wrists ( p.116). But it is pre­cisely these tri­als that are lead­ing com­pa­nies to sharpen their fo­cus on what they have to of­fer.

For some, this means cre­at­ing com­pelling timepieces that even in­creas­ingly price-sen­si­tive con­sumers will find hard to re­sist. Our cover star, the Dato­graph Per­pet­ual Tour­bil­lon by A. Lange & Sohne ( p.38), is the kind of time­piece that watch lovers’ dreams are made of. Hand­somely com­bin­ing three high-end com­pli­ca­tions, it brings the muchloved Dato­graph fam­ily to greater heights.

For other brands, seek­ing out new au­di­ences is key. While most ladies’ watches were once sim­ple quartz ac­ces­sories, more brands are putting me­chan­i­cal en­gines in women’s timepieces to court an in­creas­ingly savvy fe­male au­di­ence ( p.126). In 2016, a num­ber of com­pa­nies launched more-af­ford­able steel mod­els hous­ing cov­etable fea­tures such as the per­pet­ual cal­en­dar – good news for pru­dent watch buffs who ap­pre­ci­ate top-flight com­pli­ca­tions.

Yes, times are tough. But the watch in­dus­try has been through worse, and come out stronger for it. For those who see the cur­rent chal­lenges as mo­ti­va­tion to do even bet­ter, there is no rea­son not to look for­ward to a brighter fu­ture.

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