Professional Jeweler Archive: Basel: Elegance and Sparkle

June 2002

Timepieces/News


Basel: Elegance and Sparkle

Put on those sunglasses. Diamonds increasingly are a watch's best friend


Swiss Trends, Part 1
This month and next we focus on new watches featured during spring timepiece shows in Switzerland. This issue focuses on trends found at the annual Basel World Watch and Jewellery Show. Next month look for new items displayed at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva. See our New Products pages this month and next month for additional items that debuted at the shows.

Diamonds glittered throughout the watch halls of Basel 2002, the World Watch and Jewellery Show, as if overflowing from the jewelry halls next door. In fact, your watch department may rival your jewelry showcases when it comes to diamonds as the new models reach your store this fall.

Most of this sparkle is on thinner, dressier women’s timepieces. Diamonds have found their way to cases, bracelets, dials, lugs, buckles and even hands (Faconnable has several models with diamonds on the hands).

For men, large models still dominate, based on the models introduced at Basel, but the case is more likely to be rectangular or cushion-shaped, possibly framed in diamonds.

Throughout the show, held April 4-11 in Basel, Switzerland, a conservative outlook generally underscored the display of classic looks with an edge toward elegance over technology.

Here’s a closer look at the trends from Basel 2002.

Ms. Mini

A widespread use of smaller quartz movements allows more companies to add or expand lines of small models for women, among them Longines, Swiss Army, Fortis, Oris, Fendi and Chopard.

More companies also offer timepieces on jewelry such as bangles and pendants, including Alfex and Hermès.

Mr. Big

For men, the 38mm round case that was typical for many years now looks midsize. Round cases often measure at least 40mm – including dressier models – and Swatch extended some of its diameters in plastic and leather lines to 44mm.

Also look for new lines with non-round cases, black or white dials and slim Roman numerals or Arabic numerals that echo an era of Art Deco elegance. Oris, Seiko, Tissot, Festina, Hamilton and Wenger debuted significant lines that are not round but remain classic thanks to the cushion shape (a round-edged rectangular case).

Diamonds for Men

Several major brands – including Omega, Longines, Raymond Weil, Cyma and Corum – place diamonds on larger men’s watches that will be sold to U.S. retailers. Many companies note a rising demand for diamonds after years of selling sportier steel watches. The trend follows the lead of male film stars, musicians and athletes wearing diamond-encrusted models.

Yellow and Rose

While many diamond watches are steel, yellow and rose gold are regaining their top-tier credentials among finer brands. It’s no wonder, given gold’s strong performance as Switzerland’s fastest-growing export watch category (up more than 15% by value in 2001 worldwide, though less for exports to the U.S.). In Europe, gold watch exports from Switzerland jumped an eye-popping 26% in 2001.

Two-Faced

Many debuts sport two faces. Tissot offers a simple solution to those who look for dual time. Its T-Win model is deceptively simple. The Milanese braided steel bracelet is flexible (its gold cousin is used in Tissot’s popular Bellflower model) and can be worn to show one of two dials and bezels. One side is rounded and sporty, the other is tonneau-shaped and dressier.

Jean Perret offers two watches in one. Its Doublette features two dials and movements. One on top flips open to reveal a second. DeGrisogono’s new Doppio places hands on both sides of one movement. The inner case revolves when pulled out of its exterior cradle case.

Dual Time/Dual Time

The more common solution to read dual times – two faces on one dial – is also a popular feature this year. Hermès places dual-time function in two dials on its Cape Cod. Others showed dual-time features can be versatile as fashion and function.

Other trends on models bound for U.S. showcases:
u Brown or “chocolate” straps and brown diamonds.
u Sapphire crystals in varying hues covering women’s timepieces.
u Rubber straps in all price ranges.
u Streamlined pushers on chronographs, creating a thinner, more elegant profile in a sporty watch.

– by Michael Thompson

Jean d’Eve adds diamonds to the uniquely shaped Sectora 2000. It’s sold in two sizes (with 53 diamonds on the large, 45 on the small) and comes with mother-of-pearl dials.

Jean d’Eve, Flemington, NJ; (908) 788-0029, www.jeandeve.ch.

Zenith places diamonds on new women’s watches bearing the company’s famed El Primero chronograph movement. On the Full Diamonds version, look for a row of diamonds on the rotor, visible though the sapphire caseback.

Zenith, Springfield, NJ; (973) 467-1890, www.zenith-watches.com.

Oris expands its women’s lines with Rectangular Lady Diamonds. Many companies have added diamonds to new and existing collections.

Oris, Hawthorn, NY; (914) 347-6747, www.oris.ch.

Tissot’s T-Win allows the wearer to change the look and the time with a quick flip of the flexible bracelet.

Tissot, Weehawken, NJ; (800) 284-7768, www.tissot.com.

Alfex places one of a new generation of small quartz movements in its Smartline, which can be worn as a pendant.

Alfex, New Rochelle, NY; (914) 235-6261, www.alfex.ch.

Hermès updates a petite look from the 1970s and calls it Paprika, after the intensely colored strap. The H-fixtures are movable. Models are sold in steel and steel with 18k gold bezel.

Hermès, New York City; (212) 835-6477.

Cyma places a variety of faceted clear and sapphire crystals over the case in its new Prism collection. Sapphires are also placed in the bracelet, with or without diamonds. Prism is sold in 18k goldplate or steel.

Cyma, New York City; (212) 695-4270, www.cymawatch.com.

Jean Perret has offered dual-face models for several years. This year, the Doublette comes in 23k plated gold, as well as steel shown. The popular European watch will be available in the U.S. this fall.

Jean Perret, Geneva, Switzerland, (41-61) 699-4612, fax (41-61) 699-4613, www.jeanperret.ch.

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications