Smaller Looks for Women, More Gold in Basel 2002 Watches


April 10, 2002

Smaller Looks for Women, More Gold in Basel 2002 Watches

Retailers can expect a wave of minis, petites and altogether thinner, dressier women's timepieces in 2002. Clearly the prominent trend among the thousands of debut models here at the 2002 Basel World Watch and Jewellery show, which runs through April 11, these downsized pieces are frequently upmarket.

Many feature diamond-laced bezels, dials and bracelets. Diamonds are seen on many watches here, on larger models and increasingly on men's watches. Diamonds and mother-of-pearl dials are the standouts, which continues a trend, but this year on smaller sizes for women and in precious metals.

Several major brands, including Omega, Longines, Cyma and Corum, among a dozen others, placed diamonds on larger men's watches that will be sold to U.S. retailers. While steel was the focus in recent years for diamond pieces, this year gold is returning to its prominence among finer brands, though far more models remain made in steel.

Yet yellow gold is making the elegance statement that is underlying so many of the debut men's models. It's no wonder, given gold's strong performance as Switzerland's fastest growing export watch category (up more than15% by value in 2001 worldwide, though less in the U.S.). In Europe, gold watch exports from Switzerland jumped an eye-popping 26% in 2001.

Other trends in 2002, on models bound for U.S. showcases:

– Dual-time models. A favorite functional feature this year seen largly as two-dial, rectangular timepieces. Many companies are showing two faces. Simply flip over the case to reveal a second dial and a new look. These are versatile as fashion and in function.
– Small pendant timepieces.
– Large men's timepieces, primarily with tonneau or rectangular cases. Men's pieces remain oversized.
– Brown or "chocolate" straps and brown diamonds.
– Sapphire crystals in varying hues covering women's timepieces.
– Rubber straps in all price ranges.
– Elegant designs for men, fewer sporty debuts.

by Michael Thompson

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