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WatchTime - - Editor’s Letter - — Roger Rueg­ger Editor-in-chief —

— In July, Swatch Group’s CEO Nick Hayek dropped a bomb­shell via an in­ter­view with the Sun­day edi­tion of Swiss news­pa­per Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZAS) that his group would no longer be ex­hibit­ing at Basel­world. In the in­ter­view, he crit­i­cized the show’s man­age­ment over its un­will­ing­ness to accept feed­back or di­rec­tion from the ex­hibit­ing brands af­ter hav­ing been pre­sented with a fi­nal­ized con­cept: “Un­for­tu­nately, we were, once again, pre­sented with a fait ac­com­pli.” For a few hours, this un­prece­dented move left enough room for spec­u­la­tion that it may have been a bold tac­tic from Hayek to bring down cost sig­nif­i­cantly and, at the same time, emerge as the knight in shin­ing ar­mor who saved the strug­gling show af­ter hav­ing re­con­sid­ered his de­ci­sion. But then, Basel­world replied. The show im­me­di­ately is­sued a press re­lease that “con­tra­dicted the rep­re­sen­ta­tion [...] which claimed that the ex­hibitors had not been no­ti­fied about the new con­cept.” René Kamm, CEO of MCH Group (Basel­world’s par­ent com­pany) stated, “The can­cel­la­tion is all the more sur­pris­ing for us be­cause this news reaches us at a point in time when new man­age­ment has ar­rived with a new team, new es­prit and many new ideas.”

What an as­tound­ing rev­e­la­tion on how dam­aged the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the show and Swatch must have been al­ready (at least from Swatch’s per­spec­tive), if your largest client (the group’s an­nual ex­hi­bi­tion bud­get was 50 mil­lion Swiss francs, ac­cord­ing to Hayek) leaves “the world’s most im­por­tant trade show for watches” with­out even both­er­ing to tell you first. And, on the other side of the aisle, how tonedeaf do you have to be to con­tra­dict your client’s state­ment pub­li­cally? Even if true, the client’s al­ways right. This would have been the time to fi­nally ad­mit that mis­takes were made. And, at the same time, ini­ti­ate a di­a­logue and a change process that would ac­tu­ally in­volve all the stake­hold­ers – es­pe­cially since we are talk­ing about a com­pany based in a coun­try that ba­si­cally in­vented the Round Ta­ble, a coun­try that is known for its neu­tral­ity, diplo­matic skills and its peo­ple with an ab­so­lute dis­like for con­fronta­tion. When hum­ble­ness was ex­pected, it al­most felt like the show con­tin­ued to ex­pe­ri­ence delu­sions of gran­deur. Yes, Basel­world has been vi­tal for the in­dus­try for over 100 years, but it is not ir­re­place­able, and if the show ex­pects loy­alty from its part­ners in des­per­ate times, they should be treated as such.

Look­ing back at this year’s Basel­world, one of the most im­pres­sive stands at the trade show was un­doubt­edly the new booth from Cit­i­zen Watch Co. The Ja­panese group cel­e­brated time and, more importantly, its 100th an­niver­sary with an ac­ces­si­ble “time theatre,” and proved to be a tour de force with new watches and the launch of an equally im­pres­sive mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tive. In this is­sue, Lo­gan R. Baker takes a closer look at the group’s past, its fu­ture, “and why Cit­i­zen is big­ger and more in­flu­en­tial than ever.” He also talked with Meis­tersinger about the brand’s “sin­gle-handed ap­proach to time­keep­ing.” Mark Bernardo, on the other hand, in­tro­duces you to a brand “only a rel­a­tive hand­ful of Amer­i­can col­lec­tors are aware of”: Swiss watch­maker Eber­hard, which cel­e­brated its 130th an­niver­sary “of un­in­ter­rupted watch pro­duc­tion” last year and is now ey­ing the U.S. mar­ket. And hav­ing re­cently pub­lished a book about “[Roy] Licht­en­stein’s life through the lens of New York City,” Bernardo was the per­fect fit to write about the in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar part­ner­ships be­tween watch brands and artists.

Last but not least, we tested watches from Rolex, Panerai, Anon­imo, Mont­blanc, Seiko and Oris for this is­sue, and we in­tro­duce you to the thinnest au­to­matic watch cur­rently avail­able, the Octo Finis­simo Tour­bil­lon. We also take a closer look at Baume & Mercier’s new Baumatic col­lec­tion, talked with Vacheron Con­stant in about the retro con­tem­po­rary Fifty six and part­nered with Christie’ s Auc­tion House for a deep dive into vin­tage watches.

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