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GMT Magazine - 2005: A good year for watchmaking

GMT Magazine 2005: A good year for watchmaking

The use of new materials spread as much as did the use of celebrities to promote watches, generating a record number of exports.

Exceeding 2004’s record level by more than 10% and boosted by the luxury segment, exports of Swiss watches passed the CHF 12 billion mark for the first time. The five main markets were the United States (CHF 2.1 billion), Hong Kong (CHF 1.8 billion), Japan (CHF 1.1 billion), Italy (CHF 842 million) and France (CHF 660 million). Buoyed by this euphoria for high-end watchmaking, the brands were firing on all cylinders, with varying degrees of success, as the following years would show. Thus, specialised magazines featured ads for brands such as Ball, Jean Dunand, Dolphin, RSW or Tiret New York.

Anniversaries and beginnings

It was in this stimulating context that the fabulous story of Only Watch began with Antiquorum, bringing together 35 brands at the Monaco Yacht Show and establishing itself over the years as the most important biennial watch auction. GMT immediately followed the cause and contributed to its influence. Another sign of the times: the Vallée de Joux saw the construction of the Hôtel des Horlogers in Le Brassus, instigated by Audemars Piguet. It was also in this village that Blancpain inaugurated its new Manufacture on the occasion of its 270th anniversary. To mark its 250th anniversary, Vacheron Constantin entrusted Antiquorum with the task of organising an auction of 250 watches retracing the brand’s history.

2005, une bonne année pour l’horlogerie*

© GMT Magazine

Just next door, Frédérique Constant inaugurated its new Manufacture in Plan-les-Ouates on four floors totalling 3200m2, in the presence of Carlo Lamprecht. Among other age-old brands, Baume & Mercier celebrated its 175th anniversary with the launch of its Diamond line, arguing that “Every woman deserves a diamond”. Zenith, on a different tone, quoted Shakespeare in its advertisements: “Time does not look the same for everyone”. Entrepreneurs jumped into the fray and created their own brands, such as Maximilian Büsser with  MB&F, Sassoun Sirmakes with Cvstos, Guillaume Tétu with Hautlence, Olivier Muller with Villemont (presenting no less than 24 models at the same time in 3 collections!), or Jorg Hysek imagining HD3 Complication with Valérie Uhrsenbacher and Fabrice Gonet, while the engraver and jeweller Dick Steenman began offering his own watches.

Star system

Which brand was calling on Brad Pitt and Uma Thurmann to showcase its new watches? TAG Heuer, whose Carrera Tachymetric or the new Aquaracer Automatic Chronograph adorn the wrists of these celebrities with the slogan “What are you made of?”. But TAG Heuer also sponsored the first China Team in the history of the America’s Cup in order to get closer to this market, while Girard-Perregaux partnered with the America’s Cup Challenger of Record BMW Oracle Racing, targeting the American and German markets where the brand had just opened new locations. Chopard launched an Elton John Chronograph, Panerai strengthened its partnership with Mike Horn by dedicating its Luminor Arktos to his eponymous expedition, while Audemars Piguet dressed its Millenary in the colours of Maserati and IWC did the same with its Ingenieur in the colours of AMG. On the more glamorous side, Cartier chose Monica Bellucci to relaunch its Tank collection (Tank Chinoise Email, Tank Française, Tank Americaine, Tank Divan Email, Tankissime…).

2005, une bonne année pour l’horlogerie*

© GMT Magazine

And watchmaking created the woman

With its jewellery collection, Possession, characterised by the subtle twist of concentric rings, Piaget became the lord of the rings in the jewellery world, and extended this success to the world of watches by taking the ring from the finger to the wrist. The Possession watch was born. On the Hermès side, it featured its famous Parisian initial with the Heure H, whose case has elongated lugs forming an H. Baume & Mercier stayed subtle with the Vice-Versa collection, featuring bracelet that could can cover the watch case to hide it, as well as Jaeger-LeCoultre with a rectangular and voluminous Ideale collection. Geometric shapes also inspired De Grisogono with its iconic Lipstick collection, showing an entirely diamond-set tubular case. While Rolex did not stray from the beaten track with its new Oyster Perpetual Datejust Rolesor in gold and steel, Patek Philippe pleasantly surprised with its sparkling Aquanaut Luce set with a notched rubber strap and available in playful red, green, blue, white or grey.

2005, une bonne année pour l’horlogerie*

© GMT Magazine

New materials; the Big Bang effect?

In the very year of its launch, Jean-Claude Biver was awarded “Best Design” for his Big Bang by the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. He described it as the first watch with unanimous recognition for its kevlar inserts, set apart with its its ceramic bezel, tungsten carbide rotor, or its carbon powder-coated dial. The RM009 tourbillon by Richard Mille weighed less than 30 grams thanks to its aluminium case. De Grisogono invented the Browny Brown Gold in PVD treated gold on the Instrumentino and the Instrumento Tondo. For its Project Z2 automatic chronograph in Zalium, Harry Winston used this high-tech material combined with platinum and rubber. Jaquet Droz presented a magnificent Perpetual Calendar with a dial cut out of slate, while Van Cleef & Arpels unveiled its Monsieur Arpels Tourbillon with a diamond-set tourbillon cage and bridges covered in mother-of-pearl. Initially presented in steel, but then integrating all kinds of materials, the new square BR01 collection from Bell & Ross was inspired by the on-board instruments used in aeronautics and left a lasting impression on people’s minds.

2005, une bonne année pour l’horlogerie*

© GMT Magazine

Fine watchmaking still on the rise

With the wind in its sails, Ulysse Nardin unveiled its GMT Perpetual, upheld by three patents relating in particular to the forward or backward adjustment by pressing the pushers (+ or 1) for all the calendar indicators of the perpetual calendar. As for François-Paul Journe, he added personalisation to the savoir-faire, presenting a Chronomètre Souverain, in platinum 950 with a gold movement set in a personalised manner, taking account of the wearer’s habits and place of residence in order to improve its chronometric precision. “The Chronomètre Souverain is the ninth timepiece in my collection, but paradoxically it is also the one I dreamed of from the start: simple and pure,” said Journe. “I have always wanted to create a precision chronometer displaying only the hours and minutes, seconds and power reserve. The latter could only be the culmination of a collection, people wouldn't have understood if I had presented it earlier.”

2005, une bonne année pour l’horlogerie*

© GMT Magazine

2005, une bonne année pour l’horlogerie*

© GMT Magazine

Returning to the Gyrotourbillon, Jérôme Lambert (then CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre) declared in GMT Magazine that year: “The new collections offer more choice, the true grand complications have proven their worth, particularly with the Gyrotourbillon launched in 2004. The capital of tradition is an asset that cannot be invented. The will to innovate makes it possible to distinguish brands that see more than conformism in tradition. As I often say to my American clients: ‘History without a future is just a story’.”

2005, une bonne année pour l’horlogerie*

© GMT Magazine

Still in the magazine’s columns, Marc Hayek talked about his previous experience at the head of his wine and cigar bar: “The lover of good cigars and good wines sometimes finds himself in the shoes of a watchmaking enthusiast. For my part, it is once again a question of sharing a passion and communicating values that are not necessarily obvious. Whether it is a question of exceptional wines or timepieces, the price positioning and the discourse that accompanies it strongly condition its final success. I used to be at the counter with my retailer’s hat on, which now allows me to better understand their problems, motivate them and advise them more judiciously.”

2005, une bonne année pour l’horlogerie*

© GMT Magazine

 

*To celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2020, GMT Magazine will summarise weekly, exclusively on WorldTempus, the essence of its content published year after year in the last 20 years. The information is by no means exhaustive and refers to excerpts. For a more in-depth view of the last two decades of watchmaking, order The Millennium Watch Book produced by GMT Magazine and WorldTempus with the contribution of over twenty experts, each of whom witnessed this incomparable period in our industry.

Next week: watchmaking in 2006.

WorldTempus offers below the Spring 2020 GMT for download.

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