Good times for luxury watches at Basel
Jewellery Outlook’s Senior Jewellery and Watches Correspondent Christopher Hourmouzios has been writing about jewellery and watches for more than 10 years and has worked for leading trade publications including TJF Magazine and The Basel Magazine.
Baselworld 2010 luxury watches feature: Christopher Hourmouzios feels good vibes from luxury watch brands showing at Baselworld.
BASEL, March, 2010 – “An expensive watch made by a prestigious company with real DNA like Patek Philippe or Breguet is like a painting by a great artist: it is not really expensive. You are buying quality and a signature and an investment that is bound to increase in value.”
Breguet’s Crazy Flower
Thus François Thiébaud, head of Tissot and president of the Swiss Exhibitors’ Committee at Baselworld (March 18-25) where I saw how true his remarks were.
There was a definite feeling of recovery and revival among watch exhibitors who felt confident that demand would increase this year for their high-priced products.
For example, Michel Pitteloud, Graff watches CEO, was sure he would find buyers for his $1.5m MasterGraff Tourbillon for men, set with over 35ct of trapeze and baguette diamonds in a limited edition of only five.
Certainly one for collectors but also for the new super-rich from China, Singapore and other Far Eastern countries. Likewise, the $1m timepiece made by Jacob which says it is very confident about sales in 2010.
Claret’s Dual Tow Nighteagle
Also upbeat is Patek Philippe, one of the most prestigious and highly regarded watchmakers in the world. It produced 31 new models this year, including a white gold version of the Celestial.
This has a blue sky chart with moon phases, or as Patek puts it “a poetic timepiece with heavenly canopy”, incorporating 38 baguette diamonds on the bezel and 22 on the clasp.
Just as romantic is the Ladyhawke tourbillon, the latest product of the partnership between French jeweller Boucheron and Swiss watchmaker Girard-Perregaux. Comprising rubies and 833 multi-coloured diamonds, it features a hawk almost encircling the watch’s oval face. Yours for $500,000.
In similar predatory avian vein is the Dual Tow Nighteagle by master watchmaker Christophe Claret. Not a diamond in sight but a mechanical marvel of horological architecture highly prized by geeks and aficionados.
This single-pusher, planetary-gear chronograph will set them back nearly $500,000.
de Grisogono’s Instrumentino
Another master in his field is de Grisogono’s Fawaz Gruosi, trend-setter and pioneer of black diamonds and stingray straps on his timepieces.
This year, he’s come up with the Instrumentino S31 which in one version boasts 405 white diamonds on the case and bezel, as well as 161 of them on the white rhodium 18kt rose gold dial.
Not to be outdone is Harry Winston’s Cluster of Time, a marquise-shaped pendant comprising round, pear and marquise diamonds concealing on one side a pear-shaped diamond-pavéd watch. Set in platinum, this elegant piece uses 1,038 diamonds weighing 57ct.
Winston’s Cluster of Time
However, for my money – if only I had enough! – the prize for sheer beauty goes to another high jewellery watch, Breguet’s Crazy Flower.
This sculptural design uses springy settings which enable some of the 408 brilliant and baguette diamonds to flutter like flower petals while framing the watch’s concave face.
After all that bling I have to tell you about the show’s most unusual timekeeper.
This is the Artya range which includes one model whose case has been subjected to 1m volts and another which incorporates coprolite or fossilised dinosaur dung!