The new paradigms of luxury
The financial crisis that rocked the world’s economy has resulted in a refocusing of consumer demand on unpretentious, classic models that can be worn on all occasions. For example, ladies’ watches, distinctly smaller than in the past, display a refined, ultra-feminine elegance, while men’s timepieces, following several years of ever-increasing dimensions, appear to have stabilised around 42 to 44 mm in diameter with relatively flat cases. Rather than present a plethora of complications, watch companies have concentrated on practicality, legibility and comfort. We see this in the use of titanium, which is very light and highly resistant to corrosion and which has become a common watchmaking material, as has ceramic, previously reserved for rather exclusive models. As far as displays are concerned, disc systems feature some very original configurations, while digital functions have returned to centre stage, coupled with mechanical or quartz movements.
When understatement goes hand in hand with innovation
While designs have been refined, innovation is more evident than ever. This is apparent in the considerable attention paid to the materials and finishing – especially PVD and galvanic processes – on this year’s models. Sapphire crystals have found new applications as dials and case middles, while composite (high-tech) materials appear in original alloys. Still much in vogue, replicas of legendary models come with technical innovations, while remaining faithful to their original vintage spirit.
This year, prestige complications like repeaters, tourbillons and calendars – annual or perpetual – are most likely to be found in upmarket models, more often than not in 18K white or pink gold cases, confirming the trend of the past few years.
After a year of negative growth – Swiss watch exports in 2009 reached CHF 13.2 billion, down 22.3% on 2008 – encouraging signs of recovery were registered at the end of the year, with November and December recording a single-digit drop for the first time.
The Swiss Exhibitors are confident that this is an indication of a long-term recovery in the watch industry and look forward to seeing you at the Show between March 18 and 25!