The artistic watch movement
After the foray of artistic activity at the SIHH in January, expectations were high during BaselWorld for even more enamel, engraving, lacquer work, high-jewellery settings, mosaic and the like, but this trend appeared to be largely a Richemont affair. However, there were a number of artistic timepieces that are definitely worth more than a mention.
Chopard presented a small collection of three maki-e lacquer pieces created under the direction of the Japanese artist Kiichiro Masumura, who has been awarded with the title “Living National Treasure” by the Japanese government. The dials are crafted using the urushi and maki-e techniques and are accentuated by the ultra-thin L.U.C XP movements that power them.
DeWitt used a delicate mix of different dimensions and tones of mother-of-pearl to decorate the dials of its new Golden Afternoon Collection. Each dial portrays a garden full of colourful flowers in front of a sky dotted with puffy clouds. The inspiration for the collection came from the Pre-Raphaelite artistic movement which is renowned for its celebration of women, romanticism and the study of nature. (See our cover story in this issue for more on
Rolex created some amazing effects on the dial of its Oyster Perpetual Lady-DateJust. The technique, called ‘Gold Crystals’, magnifies the natural crystal structure of the gold to give a radiant, yellow and grey mottled effect that the brand has named a “Jubilé” motif. There is also an ivory-coloured dial version which has the addition of a sunbeam guilloché pattern.
GOLDEN AFTERNOON COLLECTION by
On the jewellery side, there was a stunning secret watch at Graff in the form of a swan whose wing covered the dial, an incredible peacock timepiece at Boucheron , and a dazzling piece from Breguet, but these highly decorative artistic and jewellery pieces were certainly not as prolific as they had been at the January fairs.
After the recent frenzy of PVD coatings, alloys and in-house gold colours, things had certainly calmed down in the case colouring department this year. Although, there was a selection of fascinating material innovations to be found that were drawing the crowds to the booth windows.
The most interesting was Chanel’s new ceramic colour called Chromatic. Until now Chanel had produced its ceramic timepieces in the brand’s signature colours of black and white. This year, however, there was a new ceramic colour that magically changes tone with the light. Sometimes it looked black, and then under another light it shone like stainless steel. What’s the big deal, you may ask. Well, the real revelation occurred when it was held up to a stainless steel watch. There was no comparison, the Chromatic ceramic looked more like liquid than metal, and yet more like metal than ceramic, if that makes any sense! Lightweight and scratch-resistant, this is a fascinating new development for the watch industry. If you missed our last Special Edition on the Chromatic, take a look on www.europastar.com to find out more.
Gucci presented many stylish pieces in celebration of its 90th anniversary this year. One of our favourites was the 1921 Collection which was named after the year that Guccio Gucci founded the Florentine company. Each watch in the 1921 collection, and there are four female styles and two male models, is distinguished by a unique leather-clad case in a choice of black, dark brown, camel or white calfskin. The straps are either matching or use a complementary colour and feature the iconic Gucci horse bit. The brand’s new Twirl model also has a leather embossed band incorporated into the bracelet that brings a sophisticated and trendy touch to the collection.
At Century, an exciting new collection called the Ballerina was presented by the brand, featuring a new pear-shaped case. Like all of Century’s timepieces, the Ballerina presents a case in sapphire crystal that is cut and polished by Century in-house (see Europa Star’s film entitled Century – a sapphire crystal apart on www.europastar.com). This new collection comes in 18 carat gold, with the new pear-shaped crystal which is cut with 50 facets, and includes 86 snow-set diamonds. The result is resolutely feminine, just like its name.
It seems that everyone is talking about how much stress they are under. But is stress related to a changing, more demanding society, or is it just a ‘word’ trend? Weren’t we only just ‘worried’ or maybe a little ‘anxious’ about things before? Stress was something that happened in machinery, not in humans. Today everyone seems to be fighting against stress, whether it is with the help of massage, spa treatments, sport, therapy or a large gin and tonic at the end of the day! Let’s face it the more we can do to combat the stress of daily life, the happier we can be. So why not let your watch help a little bit too? BaselWorld had a number of solutions this year. Firstly, there was Hermès’s Temps Suspendu (Suspended Time) where you can stop the time by pressing a button at 9 o’clock. The hands go to 12 o’clock and the retrograde date disappears. So when feeling stressed, it is possible to stop the time for a moment until things return to order. Then with another press and the time returns to normal. For more about the amazing mechanics behind this timepiece see Pierre Maillard’s article in this issue.
Another solution could be one of Philip Stein’s Natural Frequency Technology timepieces that provide many health benefits including better overall well-being, increased focus, and improved sleep, or Vo!là’s No. 9 Collection which incorporates elements of Feng Shui, bringing positive energy into the timepiece. The collection has also been designed using the balance of yin & yang and the brand’s signature eight shape design – all supposed to help us keep our inner calm.
Sporty chic for girls
For those who prefer to blow off steam by running around, sporty watches remained popular for ladies this year and one of the most daring was Chopard ’s Mille Miglia Racing in bright pink. For over twenty years, Chopard has been cel-ebrating this legendary car race from Brescia to Rome and back again with a new timepiece every year, reinforcing the Geneva brand’s sporting spirit. Each piece is immediately recognisable by its rubber strap featuring the 1960s Dunlop Racing tyre-tread motif. This year Chopard has produced a feminine version, which comes in a daring shade of pink to celebrate all the female racing drivers over time. Produced in a limited edition of 1,000 pieces for the non-set version and 250 pieces for the diamond version, the Mille Miglia is equipped with an automatic movement that drives the central hour, minute and second hands and a date at 3 o’clock.
Sporty chic was also the theme for the women’s timepieces launched by the new Codex brand. Founded in 2009, the brand has chosen a strong design identity with the X chromosome, which is present in all of us, thus the name Code - X. The ‘X’ can be found in different places such as on the dial, case, crown and oscillating weight. Photographed here is the 38mm Identity Lady Moonphase in steel with diamonds and an automatic Dubois Depraz 9041 movement with a 42-hour power reserve.
Swarovski is one of the brands that manages to mix sport and elegance with what seems like such ease. The brand presented a new Octea Chrono Purple and new Octea Sport versions this year with first class finishings (uni-directional bezel, faceted hands, Swiss made movements, etc.) and the finest crystals. “There are new colours for the Octea this year, that use semi-metallic effects,” shares Swarovski’s Head of Design and Development Watches Patrice Reynaud, “The effect is called Diamond Touch light and is very mysterious: it allows the colour to shine through but also to sparkle intensively due to the light metallic effect on the top,” he explains. At prices around the 300 Euro mark, the price/quality ration is very impressive and will surely see Swarovski’s watch business increase over the coming years.
Women rock the AHCI
There are always some fun surprises during BaselWorld and this year was no exception. The first was in the form of Eva Leuba, a new female watchmaker who is the latest recruit to the Academie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants, AHCI . Her timepiece took her four years to create due to the complexity of the amazing ‘curved’ movement that fills the 56 mm long curved case. Europa Star will be looking closer at this incredible feat of watchmaking in an upcoming issue, so stay tuned.
Also at the AHCI, we were delighted to see Saskia Maaike Bouvier, who we presented last year with her Summer Time / Winter Time wristwatch. This year she presented a delightful moon phase timepiece which shows the changing face of the moon over a two week period. The watch’s owner can follow the waxing and waning of the moon even when the skies are hidden from view.
There were so many fascinating ladies watches during BaselWorld that we could fill the entire magazine with their names and photos. There were several that didn’t necessarily fit into any new trend category, but stood out by themselves for being great, attractive watches.
The first has to be absolutely everything by Guess. With over 20 full time designers, they can afford to have their finger on every trend as it happens, and they do. The selection, as always, was astounding, from colourful crystals to ceramic, tortoise shell looks, logos that cross the dial and bracelet, quilted straps and three dimensional dials, they have it all. And the prices are so competitive, the brand really should incorporate a shop on its BaselWorld stand so that visitors can buy the watches directly at the show!
A relative newcomer to the world of watches, the lifestyle brand Davidoff has been working hard over the last 12 months with a brand new collection. The inspiration remains from the area of sailing and travelling, both passions of the brand’s founder. For the ladies, one of the highlights was a new 36 mm stainless steel timepiece with a black mother-of-pearl dial and black spinels. On the distribution side, the brand has just opened India and Russia and will be starting in Switzerland this year.
Perrelet was spoiling the ladies again this year. After the original Diamond Flower and its oscillating rotor, the brand is back with a new animated timepiece, the Turbine XS. This new collection has a propeller or turbine on the dial that turns revealing diamonds or a secondary dial beneath. The effect is stunning. The turbine could be used as an automatic rotor, but the brand has decided to keep it as a decorative element this time round. The price of the Turbine XS is also much less than the Diamond Flower which should attract new female clients to the brand who are looking for an original and fun ladies automatic.
Accessorizing with time
As an increasing number of women start to accessorize with watches as well as jewellery, the women’s watch business is just booming. Rare are the brands that don’t cater to the ladies these days, and most are investing in design and development to create exceptional products for women. New trends, colours, materials and complications are abounding, which is great news for women and their watch retailers worldwide.
Source: Europa Star June - July 2011 Magazine Issue