The Buzz on Basel

The upcoming BaselWorld Watch & Jewellery Fair is always much awaited by watch aficionados and the media. It's a mirror of how the next few months will play out in the watch industry. Here is a little murmur on what can be expected at this year's edition!

By: Rahul Kapoor, Co-Founder, Excedo Luxuria

Posted on: March 10, 2011

The upcoming BaselWorld Watch & Jewellery Fair is always much awaited by watch aficionados and the media. It’s a mirror of how the next few months will play out in the watch industry. Here is a little murmur on what can be expected at this year’s edition!

BaselWorld has always been a keen conference for market analysts, but even more pleasurable for watch and jewellery enthusiasts. Remembering my first visit back in 2006, I had gone with the intention to find perfect gifts for close family. The awe-inspiring displays by the likes of Chanel, Ulysse Nardin and Josef became an inspiration for me and many alike.

In the past five years, BaselWorld has evolved greatly, with a larger variety of established independent design houses and manufactures exhibiting with pride. Each year the best known and the most innovative horlogerie brands launch their latest creations, spicing the already luxuriant ambience with musk of fresh beauty and creativity.

With only a few days remaining till BaselWorld Watch & Jewellery Fair 2011, rumoured launches are gaining peak viewings. The past five years have led to over 700 old and new creations being (re)launched exclusively at BaselWorld. Everyone is keen to sight the new horlogerie and jewellery creations!

The 2010 BaselWorld brought a mixed reaction with some of the most important launches happening that year. But in my opinion, the general online interest was low and disappointing even though attendance was up compared to the previous year. 2010 saw the launch of some magnificent pieces and others failed to deliver on the hype, including, but not only, the Tag Heuer Pendulum Concept, Hublot King Tourbillon and Thomas Prescher Anniversaire prototype.

2011 brings back some of the lustre lost in last year due to the economic climate. Honestly though, until the new Halls are built and the Basel Center renovations are completed in 2013, there will be a limited increase of interest compared to previous years. All regular visitors can see there is much work needed at the venue to maintain opulence and deliver on its former ‘reputation’ as well.

2011 should be the beginning of innovation for the watchmaking industry, with new movements and materials defining inventions and evolution. The past years have been somewhat anti-climatic, except for the large displays and champagne-only nights. Very few creations of substance had actually been launched. Where there have been a few great creations launched, the general, not-so-polished collector failed to appreciate the originality or futuristic design. Quite sad really!

Over the next two years, we note that many brands are going to continue to focus in improving their existing watch models rather than launching newer models. Certain brands such as Rolex, have become the staple, safe luxury watch with no modern artistic flair. Rolex will look at bringing back previously ‘no longer available’ models, similar to how the Submarine was relaunched last year, hoping to recapture the success it once had with the previous generation of the Submarine - and maintaining the comfort and interest of its loyal customers.

Many Rolex loyalists have spoken about the return of the Rolex Pepsi (red and blue) bezel for the GMT Master II released in 2008. There has been much anticipation over the past three years and admittedly it would be a pleasant addition for some to see the Pepsi bezel make its return. Personally, I never did quite understand the appeal of the Pepsi bezel.

Omega aficionados will be ecstatic to hear the unveiling of Omega’s first self-made Chronograph movement, which is quite long overdue might I add. Slated to be called the 9300 /9301, it is said to replace the Piguet movement in Omega’s Mens chronograph, bringing a new heart to Omega’s watches. With this move Omega enforces its long-standing dedication to quality and reliability. It has found the perfect solution to one of the deepest pains that had plagued the brand and tarnished its reputation.

Incontestably there are a number of rumoured additions to certain brands’ current stable offerings, all of which will not grace us with their presence, unfortunate as it may be. Due to the limited space I will only cover five different watches launching this year. In my opinion, each one represents a personality of a different person with individual priorities.

DeWitt Twenty-8-Eight Regulator A.S.W Horizons
DeWitt is known for adding the ‘element of surprise’ to watchmaking while maintaining elegance. The new Twenty-8-Eight Regulator A.S.W Horizons watch pays tribute to art deco design ideals. It takes inspiration from the majestic New York of the 1930s and the architectural contrasts of that time. The dial is dominated by an adventurous New York art deco structure made of four columns which graciously flow to embrace the Tourbillon cage, following to present strong foundations on either side. You could just stare at its beauty for months to come.

The watch welcomes the 2010 launched DW 8014 calibre. Yet this new tourbillon is the first to include the 100 per cent DeWitt regulator movement integrating the tourbillon. With this DeWitt also reveals the patented Automatic Sequential Winding device.

Perrelet Limited Edition Automatic Flying Tourbillon
Perrelet is well-known for the ‘luxury rubber strap’ watch, with the objective of raising the bar in the watchmaking world, while continuing to provide the most classic of styles possible.

Limited Edition Automatic Flying Tourbillon takes a page from Perrelet’s existing style sheet, yet brings about a benchmark in watchmaking, bringing together Rose Gold Tourbillon cage, Black Rubber and steel, resulting in a perfect combination of understated yet modern luxury.  The rare automatic tourbillon is encased in a beautiful 50mm rose gold case, placed with off-center hour and minute luminescent display.

Perrelet continues to carry the Cote de Geneva seal visible along with the Perrelet oscillating weight, brushed and set in crystal with the engraved name, all made possible by the crystal back plate. Collectors note that there will be only an estimated 20 pieces available of this edition!

Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Roue Carrėe Seconde
The name Maurice Lacroix carries immediate connotations of mechanical advances, and understated and simple looks, yet intriguing mechanics.

Roue Carrėe Seconde further develops from the Roue Carree launch last year. Changing the current laws of horlogerie, 2010 saw the launch of the world’s first square ‘wheel’ mechanism in a watch. 2011 will see the introduction of full visible square wheel. The amazing concept of a square     wheel demanded a bespoke set of gear profiles to be created for within the finer works of the watch. It resulted in a perfect mesh of contours and corners, from circle to square.

The result should be hypnotic with focus on the small seconds display, which comes alive through smooth rhythmic movements - a true benchmark.

Armin Strom Racing Chronograph
Armin Storm has been specialising in skeleton watches for over three decades with the last five years seeing the brand develop beyond the skeleton watch.

The Racing Chronograph is an association between Armin Storm and Marussia Virgin F1 racing stable. The materials are sculpted out of race cars to bring true authenticity and the craze of racing to the wearer. This timekeeper cannot go unnoticed at any paddock. With the official Marussia Virgin F1 colours, the first sight reminds you of disc brakes and satin black tyres. Bezel and fascia bring to light the agility and strength of a car. The black PVD titanium case has a slightly imposing diameter.

The watch brings alive the Sunday Grand Prix. With only 400 pieces being offered, you will be left with a pleasant warm feeling, similar to     winning the Grand Prix I imagine!

Obaku V140G
Obaku Denmark has always focused on bringing the best of Danish minimalist designs to the watch world with an emphasis on ‘Less is More’.

V140G, perhaps the slimmest sports watch in the world, brings to light the concept of Obaku as a traditional Japanese action, of ridding the excess items in your life and focusing on the least required. Obaku has brought the V140G to project a sense of Danish design tradition and Japanese Zen. Designed in stainless steel, the watch should be strong and resilient to the normal treachery of sports and with the low profile bezel, having a watch which intrudes beyond a slight bend of the wrist is a nightmare of the past.

The clean design and straight forward simple concept tackles the problem for many, offering us an alternative to wearing our Thomas Prescher watch for a jog, thus bringing piece of mind to many (and our insurance companies). An incredible idea!

In my next column I will guide you on how to choose the perfect watch by hopefully simplifying the technologies currently available. In the meantime, enjoy the world of Horlogerie and remember luxury itself is meaningless without innate desire.

Rahul Kapoor, co-founder of Excedo Luxuria, works with exclusive boutique brands including Thomas Prescher Haute Horlogerie. Aided with experience in bespoke creations, Excedo Luxuria has also created the first all-services bespoke and customized accessories boutique for the ‘media-shy’. An avid watch collector, he loves scrutinizing and talking about watches as well.

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