Baselworld, time and reason

In a tense geopolitical climate, with customers more likely to think twice before they buy and as inventory accumulates,cheap Breitling replica watches brands are playing safe with classic, functional and consequently more affordable products. The smartwatch “event”, meanwhile, has so far turned out to be not so much a bang as a fizz.

So Baselworld didn’t turn into a showcase for the latest electronic watches. Granted, given the pre-fair hype surrounding the Apple Watch, the dozen or so brands that came to the city-on-the-Rhine with their own connected watches inevitably became a focus of attention. TAG Heuer in particular had everyone on tenterhooks, although many were left feeling somewhat underwhelmed. We now know that the LVMH-owned brand will be working with Intel and Google, who incidentally are also partners to Fossil, but the big reveal stopped there. In a word, the smartwatch revolution we were promised is still a long way off and the leave-’em-reeling effect largely hypothetical. So much for an object which, ultimately, is seen as another piece of consumer electronics.

A “reasonable” offering

For the rest, Baselworld stayed true to tradition which remains first and foremost mechanical watchmaking, a still thriving business although one that has toned down past exuberances. It would, indeed, be difficult to ignore an economic climate marked by a strong Swiss franc, an uncertain future for the euro, falling oil prices and recession in Russia. All of which is weighing on cheap Swiss replica watches exports and causing inventory to accumulate, pressuring brands into finding an adequate response. Which they have. Never before the latest Baselworld have watchmakers been so “reasonable”, putting on a spread that the less well-furnished wallet can afford. This even extends to new in-house movements and complications.

It used to be that whenever a brand developed and produced a movement in-house, prices shot up accordingly. After all, not everyone can claim manufacture status. Not so today. Now when a brand produces a calibre within its four walls, the consequences are more marketing than directly financial. Similarly, watchmakers wanted it to be known that this command of production potentially gave them better market penetration. The product gains in value for the same price. Numerous brands have taken this tack, beginning with Tudor which presented its first in-house movement, and Rolex, on a winning streak with its new-generation calibres. Zenith came with the latest addition to its movement family, the Elite 6150. Further examples include the Heuer 01 from TAG Heuer and the H1950 which equips the new Slim d’Hermès collection, not forgetting Oris which moves up a gear with its Calibre 111, or Omega and its Globemasters. Each of these base movements has its specificities; all show that brands are taking an aggressive approach to the market.

Skeleton and extra-thin

The lesson is that a watch can get noticed without putting on a show. Earlier in the year, in January, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie already demonstrated the power of classicism, which thrives in sober, functional settings. The new “it” watch is round, its case now smaller and slimmer having shaved millimetres from both diameter and height. Bezels keep a low profile or disappear from view entirely. Traditional materials, steel and titanium relegate special alloys to the rank of curiosity. Darker shades set the tone.

Still in the classic vein, one trend to stand out since the year began has been the proliferation of extra-thin timepieces, always a symbol of elegance. The new Slim d’Hermès collection leans in this direction, as do the anniversary fake watches uk in the Bulgari Roma collection, the L.U.C XPS from Chopard, and Shakudo, part of Blancpain’s Villeret collection. Skeleton watches are provoking the same enthusiasm among brands, from Hublot (Big Bang Chrono Perpetual Calendar) to Perrelet (First Class Double Rotor Skeleton), Girard-Perregaux (Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Gold Bridges) or Chanel (J12 Skeleton Flying Tourbillon).

What women want

After a period of lean pickings, the women’s segment is enjoying rich pastures, particularly now that brands have identified this as the most promising market. The artistic crafts are out in force: constantly in search of new ideas, this year they explore scarab beetle elytra, quail egg shell and pigments from butterfly wings. Women’s timepieces are flexing their mechanical muscle too, and are spared the indignity of “making do” with movements carried over from men’s watches. Breguet, Harry Winston and Jaquet Droz are leading the field with features developed especially for a female clientele: moving diamonds at Breguet (B Crazy Haute Joaillerie), retrograde displays from Harry Winston (Avenue Dual Time Automatic) and Fabergé (Lady Compliquée Peacock), automata at Jaquet Droz (Lady 8 Flower), but also an inverted rotor from Dior (Grand Bal Envol) and a rotating dial from Blancpain (Women Jour Nuit).

Which leaves complications, although the excitement which inevitably greeted the most complex timepieces just a few years ago has died down. Even so, brands’ creativity in this field remains intact, as demonstrated by Urwerk and its UR-1001 Titan, Melchior the robot-table Clock from MB&F, Christophe Claret‘s Allegro and the Ulysse Anchor Tourbillon incorporating Ulysse Nardin’s innovative escapement. Is it because they prefer not to push this type of product too hard in these austere times? Just as customers seem currently more inclined to choose a simple, classic watch, useful complications and functions take precedence. Think finely-crafted chronographs, such as Breguet’s Tradition Chronographe Indépendant 7077 which, astonishingly, is wound by the chronograph reset function, or Breitling’s Transocean Chronograph 1915 which has a completely new in-house monopusher calibre with a double column-wheel system. Calendars are also in demand, both simple – the likes of the DayDate which Rolex has completely revisited – and annual, such as the Annual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5905P from Patek Philippe. Not forgetting timekeeping indications: the Senator Cosmopolite from Glashütte covers 37 time zones while Louis Vuitton‘s Escale Minute Repeater Worldtime is unusual in putting a world time function inside a striking watch. These same striking replica watches online that appear to have claimed the (unofficial) title of queen of complications. Something we perhaps shouldn’t say too loud!

Ulysse Nardin riding the waves

The “brand with the anchor” is taking to the seas, at a rate of knots, as official partner to Artemis Racing, one of the teams competing in the 35th America’s Cup.

Like many of his compatriots, British skipper Iain Percy is as much a dab hand at humour as he is at taking the helm of his ultra-fast catamaran. The bewhiskered sailor spoke affably about the partnership that now unites Artemis Racing, one of the challengers in the next America’s Cup, and Montblanc rplica watches uk manufacturer Ulysse Nardin, part of Kering group. The two will sail side by side until 2017 under an agreement that will go beyond simply procuring visibility and boosting the brand’s credentials. This, in substance, was the announcement made by Patrik Hoffmann, CEO Ulysse Nardin, at Baselworld where he was joined by Percy and by Loïck Peyron, a member of the Artemis design team.

Ulysse Nardin’s maritime connections are well-known, not least among sailors themselves who are familiar with the quality of the marine chronometers that the brand was, until recently, still producing. That it should take once more to the seas was therefore only a matter of time. However, sound management principles dictated that Patrik Hoffmann and his team wait for exactly the right opportunity. After all, Ulysse Nardin will be more than just a logo placed prominently on a boat that will race in one of the world’s most hotly disputed regattas; it intends being very much part of the action. The craft that compete in the America’s Cup are literally flying machines with hydrofoils that easily take them to speeds of 90 km/h. They are the nautical equivalent of a Formula 1 racing car and, unsurprisingly, demand extraordinary resources in terms of R&D and design. Which is where Ulysse Nardin will step in. The performance of the boat often makes the difference, and Artemis Racing is delighted to welcome onboard these innovators and experts in micro-engineering, as Iain Percy explained.

How did the first meeting with Patrik Hoffmann go?

Iain Percy: We were in Le Locle to discuss a possible partnership and the conversation naturally turned to technology and innovation. Patrik Hoffman is definitely product-focused and so is Artemis. Ulysse Nardin designs and builds complicated replica watches for sale, and we do the same with high-speed sailboats. We each talked about what we do, and realising how much we had in common really made us want to work together.

How will you team up?

Each boat must comply to strict specifications known as class rule. These can disallow the use of certain electronic systems, for example. Our engineers will meet their counterparts at Ulysse Nardin to develop technical solutions that can be used on the boats. We have a great deal to learn from watchmakers, who are well-versed in the art of simplification and use their expertise to create reliable and efficient systems. At sea, we have to be able to move parts quickly and precisely. Ulysse Nardin’s expertise will be extremely useful in developing ingenious solutions.

Inversely, how can engineers at Ulysse Nardin benefit from Artemis’ experience?

Today’s boats are replete with high-tech materials that could interest Ulysse Nardin. We’ve also thought about taking cheap replica watches onboard for testing. But no firm decisions have been made as yet.

The partnership with Ulysse Nardin ends with the America’s Cup in 2017. What races are planned between now and then?

The America’s Cup World Series begins this year and will continue into 2016 with events in Portsmouth in Great Britain, Gothenburg in Sweden, Hamilton in Bermuda, and Chicago. These regattas help crews train in real-life conditions in preparation for the America’s Cup. They will be an opportunity for Ulysse Nardin to discover first-hand the world of competitive sailing and share it with its partners.

The Blossoming of Ladies’ Timepieces

In 2008, it was still big news when a ladies’ Swiss replica watches had an automatic movement. The focus of most discussions about ladies’ timepieces was on design and finish. Most movements were still quartz, but ladies’ watches were emerging as the perfect venue for the finishing crafts of watchmaking, and it was an exciting time. Today, not only have ladies’ metiers pieces become entrenched as an important segment of the industry, quartz movements have largely been phased out. They are being replaced mostly by automatic movements, which are the most convenient, with some calibers created especially for women’s collections, engineered with micro-rotors and other elements that make them smaller and therefore more wearable.

The advances made in movements in recent years – silicon, anti-magnetic, non-friction components, ceramic bearings, etc. – were initially applied to only men’s watches in elite collections, but as production capacity increases, they are now being applied to ladies’ watches. Omega’s Co-axial calibers are now used in the ladies’ Constellation and Pluma collections. Chopard’s uber-tested L.U.C calibers are now being made for ladies’ L.U.C collections. The L.U.C XPS Esprit de Fleurier, for example, contains Caliber L.U.C 96.23-L, which is decorated with Fleurisanne engravings, an elaborate relief pattern native to Fleurier, where the watches are made. Other brands, such as Louis Vuitton, Graff and Manufacture Royale, make tourbillon calibers specifically for ladies watches.

Christophe Claret’s exploration

Aside from that, the strongest trend in ladies’ complications is animation: linking the functions of a complicated movement with the crafts of gemsetting, enameling and other metiers, in order to animate decorated watches. It not enough that ladies’ watches are jeweled and enameled; now they rotate, vibrate, orbit and bloom. Christophe Claret was among the first to explore this trend last year when he created the Margot chiming watch, which plays an elaborate game of “He loves me, he loves me not” that combines a chime with the animated “plucking” of petals on the dial. It is essentially a gaming replica watches for women.

Richard Mille followed up in January with the introduction of the Tourbillon Fleur RM 19-02, with a floral automaton blooming over the tourbillon escapement. The cover – consisting of five petals designed to resemble the magnolia flower –  opens or closes automatically every five minutes, or on demand, to showcase the tourbillon. There are two barrels, one of which is dedicated exclusively to the blooming function. The petals, hand-painted over white gold, were made by the Geneva metiers atelier Olivier Vaucher.

At Baselworld this year, several brands followed up with moving timepieces. The Jaquet Droz Lady 8 Flower is also animated with a lotus flower that blooms under a sapphire crystal dome – like an objet d’art in a curio cabinet – on the upper dial. The lower half is set with blue sapphires and diamonds in the shape of a butterfly – another version, in a red gold case, is decorated with red lacquer. The automaton is driven by a mechanism separate from the movement, the automatic Caliber 615.

Peacocks, butterflies and scarabs

Fabergé likewise introduced a piece that moves, in the form of a retrograde minutes indexed by the unfurling feathers of a peacock’s tail. The hand wound Caliber 6901, was created by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht of boutique movement design firm, Agenhor. In addition to exceptional jeweling, the Lady Compliquée Peacock has a jumping retrograde minute function on which the feathers of a peacock unfurl to indicate the minutes. Hours are indicated by the tail; it remains stationary while an engraved mother-of-pearl hour ring rotates. The case is platinum and set with 54 diamonds. On the dial are diamonds, Paraiba tourmalines and tsavorite garnets, in homage to the colors used in a Fabergé “Peacock” egg circa 1908. The peacock is engraved in 18k white gold.

Graff also adds power to flowers this year, with the Disco Butterfly collection. The butterflies’ wings are depicted with marquise cut diamonds, sapphires, emeralds or rubies, all set onto disks that rotate around the dial, a function that is powered by an inner rotor. Each butterfly also rotates on its own axis with the movement of the wearer.

The inverted movement, with the rotor positioned on the dial and decorated, was popularized a few years ago by De Grisogono and Dior. It is an ongoing theme at Dior, which has a proprietary Inversé caliber. This year it performs in the Dior VIII Grand Bal Pièce Unique Envol. The rotor is decorated to recall the spare modernist allure of the haute couture collections designed by Dior creative director Raf Simons. The marquetry on the upper, stationary, part of the dial is made from pieces of actual scarab beetle, which have a natural iridescent reflection. The oscillating weight, which does move, is composed of mother-of-pearl, gold, lacquer and baguette-cut diamonds or gemstones designed in a spiral motif. They combine to create maximum sparkle with every movement of the wrist. There are several one-of-a-kind pieces in the collection.

Even diamonds move

Retrograde movements with rotating disks have also become a popular way to add movement and drama to ladies’ cheap Breitling replica watches. The rotating disks reveal changing scenery, usually over 24 hours for a night/day effect, rendered in gemsetting, marquetry and champlevé enameling to depict night and day scenes, such as the Blancpain’s Day/Night.  Gradations in the color blue deposited on the mother of pearl mark the change from day to night. The moon is composed of 50 diamonds and the sun, with 50 yellow sapphires. Yellow colored mother of pearl dots 14 diamonds represent the stars. It contains automatic retrograde Caliber 1163JN, a flyback chronograph modified for this collection. It has glucydur free sprung balance, two barrels and a power reserve of 100 hours. The day/night disk turns twice per day, with each change taking place over a four minute period. The setting of the time and the Day/Night disk are independent, so, there’s no possibility of the two mechanisms interfering with each other when setting the watch.

And then there were the en tremblant pieces, with diamonds set in ways that allow them to move with the movement of the wearer. It all began at SIHH with Cartier’s Ballon Bleu Serti Vibrant, the dial of which is paved with 123 diamonds that are set on tiny springs. The diamonds thus move when the wearer moves, in the same way as gems that are set en tremblant in jewellery – something Cartier has been doing since the 1920s. The Serti Vibrant contains the manual wound Caliber 430 MC. It is a limited edition of 20 pieces.

Breguet similarly took a page from jewellery setting techniques to create a watch with diamonds that move – in this case on hinges. The flower motif on the B Crazy Haute Joaillerie is created with an astounding 70 carats of baguette diamonds in rows that radiate from the sides of the case. The gold links into which they are set are hinged so that the diamonds move.

The evolution of ladies’ timepieces is not just about these show pieces. Everyday ladies’s replica watches sale are changing too, with more mechanical calibers and less elaborate decorative elements that are toned down for a look that is more classic, with a twist. More on some of these another time.

Marc Hayek: “Show what we’re made of!”

Marc Hayek, member of Swatch Group’s Executive Management Board and the man at the head of Blancpain, Breguet and Jaquet Droz, talks about the drop in average spend on Swiss replica watches sale, and how strategic choices made in recent years are showing their significance in the current climate.

At Baselworld, Marc Hayek gave the lowdown on Blancpain, Breguet and Jaquet Droz, three of the six brands in Swatch Group’s Prestige and Luxury Range under his responsibility.

Has there been any change to the three brands’ segmentation: technical for Breguet, sport-chic for Blancpain, the métiers d’art for Jaquet Droz?

Marc Alexander Hayek: No, and nor will there be. Breguet is about history. When I was a younger man, Breguet invariably put me in mind of Napoleon, who was one of the watchmaker’s greatest admirers. I fully intend to respect these historical roots which are reflected, for example, in the finely executed guillochage on a Breguet watch. Of course, Abraham-Louis Breguet possessed a genius for mechanical watchmaking which greatly benefited from his inventions, and we are determined to carry on this spirit of innovation, as evidenced by the watches we presented at this year‘s Baselworld.

“Sport-chic” suits Blancpain well. The brand was, for some considerable time, sport-oriented, then entirely classic. A combination of the two, something one might call “mechanical elegance”, is an apt description. As for Jaquet Droz, the brand is indeed destined to distinguish itself in automata and the métiers d’art. The quail eggshell mosaic that we showed this year is an excellent example, as is the Charming Bird, which is the first ever singing bird automaton in a wristwatch. Since unveiling the initial prototype two years ago, we have worked hard to improve the sound of the bird’s chirping, as a result of which the Swiss replica watches online is now fully ready and will be made as two limited editions of 28 pieces.

Last year you talked about synergies between the brands. Have they grown at all?

Blancpain and Breguet retain their individual identities and therefore their own technical developments. To give one example, the magnetic regulator belongs to Breguet and no other brand within the group. Of course, any progress we make in an area such as materials, and I’m thinking specifically of silicon, will be shared. Similarly, while ceramic is characteristic of Blancpain, we wouldn’t rule out using it in Breguet’s Type XX collection, a model originally designed for France’s naval airforce. Blancpain supplies movements to Jaquet Droz and develops specific mechanisms for it, such as this year’s Grande Seconde Deadbeat. They are designed, you could say, exclusively for the brand. It’s a logical approach; setting up Jaquet Droz to manufacture its own movements would make no sense.

What lies ahead for the brands in today’s more strained markets?

Obviously we’re seeing the impact of earlier strategic decisions. For example, we pushed Breguet in Russia where it is feeling the consequences of the falling rouble. Blancpain, on the other hand, is more exposed to the slowdown in China, given its stronger presence in the region. Blancpain has never had the same success as Breguet in India, to name a third market, although sales there revolve almost entirely around the Reine de Naples. The point being that it’s impossible to make any kind of sweeping statement, given the often substantial differences between markets. What we are witnessing, from a more general perspective, is a drop in average price as customers are turning to less expensive products. Does this mean no more Breguet watches with gold dials for certain markets? Definitely not. It’s at times like this that we need to show what we’re made of!

So the group will continue to hire and invest at the same rate?

Yes, which doesn’t mean investing for the sake of investing. At Swatch Group we take a strictly pragmatic approach governed by stringent cost management. We wouldn’t have expanded the workforce or maintained investment at such a high level these past years if this hadn’t been exactly what was needed. In this respect, then, nothing’s changed. There are vacancies at the three brands I manage, for example. At Swatch Group, we expect sales for the year to grow in line with 2014, when for the first time gross sales exceeded CHF 9 billion, gaining almost 5%. So even if average prices fall, as I mentioned earlier, we aren’t expecting any drop in the quantity of watches sold. On the contrary. Group-wide figures for the first months of the current year show a rise in sales.

One final question on the smartwatch. Do you think it will take off?

It’s a difficult market at the present time. Apple is throwing millions at its product for the launch, which is fine by me. It has more marketing dollars than the entire cheap Swiss replica watches industry put together, and as long as it’s using them to talk about watches, who are we to complain. But as far as I’m concerned, the smartwatch belongs in the consumer electronics category and offers more drawbacks than advantages, particularly compared to the smartphone on which it depends. I think this explains the rather lukewarm reception it’s had so far.

Bulgari Diagono Magnesium

100% Swiss, 100% security, 0% gadget: the Diagono Magnesium concept launched by Bulgari as an exclusive world première is the complete opposite of everything the world of so-called connected replica watches uk is able to offer. A self-winding mechanical watch incorporating all the codes of luxury, as well as an electronic passport connected to the watch and its wearer, whose confidential data now enjoys total protection. This veritable intelligent “wrist-vault” is the result of a partnership between the luxury brand and WISeKey, a leading Swiss company in digital security and data storage.

With a historical tradition of daring, Bulgari has always operated in sharp contrast to established codes and ambient conformity. Once again, the luxury brand affirms its difference in an exciting watchmaking debate around the theme of the so-called “connected” watch. All the brands involved in this play with product types hovering somewhere between multi-functional gadgets lacking any real added value, and objects more like a games console than a luxury watch. In contrast to this, Diagono Magnesium makes a clean break and positions Bulgari where one least expects it. This pioneering, tangible product meets the needs of the contemporary everyday wear of tomorrow, in a connected world with increasingly blurred boundaries.

First Intelligent luxury watch

This first proposal for an intelligent luxury watch – the concept of which is being presented at Baselworld – is the result of a major technological and completely new transformation of the interaction between the individual and the watch. While preserving the values and codes of the luxury watch, this is the key that unlocks the door to the functionalities of the age of digital technology and the physical life of the 21st century. Diagono Magnesium has a cryptographic chip and invisible antenna which, using NFC technology (Near Field Communication) enables the watch to transmit a digital certificate to the Bvlgari Vault application that is already downloaded and set up on the telephone (iOS and Android systems). The watch simply has to be placed near the smartphone which itself is equipped with an NFC chip for the application to be activated. Only the owner of the Swiss replica watches has access to the confidential content that is recorded here with banking level security. To date, NFC technology is the most secure in the realm of data transmission to the extent that it requires that the two devices be very close together in order for them to connect, in contrast to Bluetooth or other wireless technologies.

The applications of this technology are potentially just as vast as the digital universe can be, in other words, unlimited: serving to store different codes obviously, make payments and transmit direct marketing, opening doors and car doors, automatic calls, data transfer, transport tickets, etc. The list is far from exhaustive.

Total security

Diagono Magnesium and Bvlgari Vault propose a unique experience in terms of security while simplifying the user experience. The encrypted information is stored on a cloud buried in a Swiss military bunker, somewhere in the Alps. And in the event of loss or theft of the telephone, the parameters of the Bvlgari Vault application will prompt the destruction of the data, making it inaccessible to a third party. It can subsequently be restored using the encrypted backup activated via the Diagono Magnesium.

The possibilities proposed by this concept offer boundless value to members of the Bvlgari ecosystem. In the near future, the cryptographic key will be able to unlock the doors to the car or the house, activate the alarm system of the apartment, or make payments in total security. And in the case of a luxury brand like Bulgari, the application will enable clients and distributors to enjoy a great many advantages: the technical information pertaining to the cheap Breitling replica watches and user manual, certificate of authenticity, activation of the guarantee, automatic registration with the Leonardo Da Vinci Club, traceability of all operations conducted on the watch.

Sustainability rather than obsolescence

“The new Diagono Magnesium perfectly represents the Duality of Bulgari. A luxury watch brand with Italian origins symbolized by the genius of Leonardo da Vinci, artist and scientist, it has a unique manner of melding contemporary design with the best of Swiss watchmaking expertise and the most advanced Swiss technologies such as WISekey. While certain brands offer watches subject to rapid obsolescence, we are offering a self-winding, sustainable luxury watch like all Bulgari luxury watches!” notes Jean-Christophe Babin, President of the Bulgari Group.

Displaced centre of gravity

A Swiss company based in Geneva, WISeKey presented the concept at the World Economic Forum in Davos. It responds to a trend that will see an application like the Diagono Magnesium shift the centre of gravity of the object from applications to the individual, who will control their own personal data. This type of innovative project is plainly part of the framework of the new “internet of things” era.

“The age of using lots of physical and digital keys to gain access is behind us. Diagono Magnesium is the key, and it is always with its owner. Bulgari Vault is a replica watches for sale version that was specially developed based on WISeID Personal Clouds, designed to develop Bulgari Trusted Ecosystem” declares Carlos Moreira, founder and CEO of WISEKey.