RETAILERS ATTENDING THE Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva last month were generally optimistic, looking for new ideas and products to further jump-start their businesses as the economy slowly shakes itself free of the global recession.. “The mood is better than last year but there is still a clear understanding that the war is not over,” said Francois-Henry Bennahmias, chief executive with the exclusive timemaker, Audermars Piguet.
A return to classic styling was the main theme of the show, as manufacturers pushed company heritage as a major selling point. Many were even moving away from sports watches, for example, and back to their roots with finely crafted timepieces.
—There was no small amount of social snobbery here, a kind of landed aristocracy emphasis that seemed to say, “If you buy from us you will share our privileged position.”
Watch firms are even taking customers on factory tours so that they will understand what goes into making a watch. This is, on one hand, a long way from the luxury-designed showrooms in which watches are usually sold, but it is also a deeper and more personal experience for the buyer, aimed at creating a stronger form of brand loyalty.
WATCHES ARE A PERENNIAL FAVORITE AS A PERSONAL PURCHASE OR AS A GIFT. HERE ARE SOME RICH CHOICES AT NOT-SO-RICH PRICES:
- Round watch face in silver tone with popular metallic green background.
- Fashion watch face in a variety of rich colors.
THINNESS WAS ANOTHER MAJOR THEME at the Salon. Retailers were obviously excited by Piaget’s offerings in this field, specifically the company’s Altiplano Automatic which has set world records for both the thinnest automatic movement and the thinnest case. Looking at it from the side, the watch looks like a very thin quarter, sleek and complete.
Other firms clocked in with various record-thin offerings, such as the Vacheron Constantin Historique 1955, which the company claims is the thinnest manual-winding watch in the world.
Leading off American offerings and further emphasizing the importance of thinnest at the Show — was Ralph Lauren who introduced six new pieces in his Slim Classique collection.
A considerable number of concept watches could be seen at the Show, along with many interesting novelties (despite some observers’ contention that demand for novelties has slipped somewhat). Missing, however, was an overload of flash and glitz, which until recently has been a lightning rod for most watch firms. Lauren’s Slim Classique 38mm White gold watch did feature a row of brilliant cut diamonds around the face, but only one thin line, very classy-looking, very quiet.
WATCHES AND WATCH ACCESSORIES WITH LESS – INSTEAD OF MORE – EMBELLISHMENT IS THE NEWEST LOOK. PAY ATTENTION TO THESE GREAT PRODUCTS:
- Colored stones watch band. Elegant!
- Colored crystals and beads watch band.
A New Decade
“EVERYONE IS REINVESTING,” declared one watchmaker. “Retailers want to start afresh this new decade.” A certain amount of minimalism was found at the Salon this year, with watches looking like watches, instead of gemstone bracelets. A high level of craftsmanship was also prized, with details highly refined and exquisitely sculpted.
“There is a real flight to quality,” one retailer commented.