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GMT Magazine -  2008, no calm before the storm *

GMT Magazine 2008, no calm before the storm *

When the financial crisis exploded, its effects had not quite been felt yet in watchmaking, which continued to innovate and invest, overshadowing Rolex’s 100th anniversary.

In 2008, GMT Magazine joined the Edipresse group and launched its famous XXL special edition in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Romania, but also in France on the occasion of the Belles Montre trade fair. GMT also started a distribution partnership with Christie’s, which had then become the world’s leading auction house under the leadership of Aurel Bacs, and through which the magazine was sent to customers in Europe and in its 40 subsidiaries around the world. While TAG Heuer opened its “TAG Heuer 360” museum at its headquarters, Harry Winston inaugurated its factory in Plan-les-Ouates and replicated it at Baselworld that year with a monumental booth designed by the same architect, Frédéric Legendre. On the opposite end of these years of excess were the clients and suppliers of shooting star brands such as AK Genève and Horus—brands that left without leaving any trace…

 2008, no calm before the storm *

GMT 2008 © GMT Magazine

The 15th to 175th anniversaries 

At the peak of its dynamic watchmaking heights, De Grisogono celebrated its 15th anniversary with the Meccanico, which impressed with its mechanical digital display for a second time zone. Bulgari wisely celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Diagono collection with a limited series of 20 tourbillons, and Antiquorum took the lead by celebrating the 100th anniversary of Rolex (who remained discreet on this subject) through a Rolex themed sale of 250 vintage watches. For its 125th anniversary, Alpina launched the Manufacture Regulator collection, which was distinguished by its automatic calibre with a patented black rotor. For his part, Richard Mille has chosen to honour Boucheron’s 150th anniversary with an RM 018, representing a world premiere: certain wheels of the movement had been replaced by precious and ornamental stones (tiger’s eye, jasper, black onyx). As for Jaeger-LeCoultre, it was in Miami that it celebrated its 175th anniversary and its 1,000 calibres, notably by unveiling an ultra-thin Master Minute Repeater 175th anniversary.

Buzzworthy

On the cover of GMT, Vacheron Constantin was an early bird with the launch of the Quai de l’Ile Day-Date and Automatic Power Reserve stamped with the Poinçon de Genève seal, doubly avant-garde in terms of reliability and aesthetics. Its dial incorporated a concentrate of technology derived from watchmaking and banknote printing with four patents, accompanied by a secure passport and a multimedia case. The watch was customisable to the client’s desires thanks to a configurator, offering 400 combinations. At Baselworld, the buzz came from the Concord stand where the Concord Tourbillon C1 Gravity was visible neither on the dial nor on the back of the watch, but on the sides of the case in a vertical appendix (outside the movement and the case). On the side of the green giant, the Deepsea Sea-Dweller claimed an extreme water-resistance at 3900m. In a darker shade, Chanel joined forces with Audemars Piguet to create an automatic calibre with a black ceramic and rhodium-plated yellow gold rotor, equipping the J12 Calibre 3125.

 2008, no calm before the storm *

GMT 2008 © GMT Magazine

 Cartier transformed its Ballon Bleu launched in 2007 with a 42mm pink gold version for men, and another animated by a flying tourbillon stamped with the Poinçon de Genève seal. Montblanc created its first in-house calibre, the MB R100, housing it in the Star Nicolas Rieussec monopusher chronograph, Rieussex still then regarded as the inventor of the chronograph. Chopard pursued its quest for innovation and strengthened its L.U.C. collection with the Tech Steel Wings Tourbillon and its patented Quattro innovation with four barrels. Ultra-thin was also present with François-Paul Journe, who created an ultra-thin Sovereign Minute Repeater protected by two patents, whose flat gong was mounted under the dial rather than around the movement, reducing the space used but accentuating the strength and clarity of the traditional gong. An expert in creating buzz, Jean-Claude Biver justified Hublot’s sponsorship of UEFA Euro 2008, often criticised by his peers in the industry. “The fusion between football and luxury is defined by the streamlined popularity (from top to bottom) of football today, as opposed to an old idea which claimed that football was popular because of its horizontal stratum (the less fortunate in society),” he says. “There are as many millionaires in football as there are in golf or horse riding!”

Positioning oneself

“January is proving to be very beneficial and brings us back into line with the natural rhythm of our business,” said Jérôme Lambert (then CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre) commenting on the separation of SIHH and Baselworld announced for 2009. “It further enhances the qualitative approach of SIHH because the approach of coming to Geneva is now the result of a choice, as opposed to a systematic habit. We want to strengthen our capacity to be the most inventive player in the very high-end watchmaking sector.”

2008, pas de calme avant la tempête *

GMT 2008 © GMT Magazine

“I imagine that my opinion is shared by the entire profession, but apart from perhaps two or three major players in Basel, the separate dates of Baselworld and SIHH in 2009 is not at all positive, as foreign visitors are penalised by having to make the trip twice,” commented Concord CEO Vincent Perriard, less nuanced. “As far as Concord is concerned, we will certainly take advantage of the Geneva fair to meet our agents for the first time and to take orders before Basel.” “We had to be patient, but now we are reaping the benefits of the investments made,” said Thierry Nataf still at the helm of Zenith. “The GPHG prize, but also the other awards Zenith has won around the world, are really bringing in a lot. We all need love and recognition to continue to create.” For Angelo Bonatti, who had propelled Panerai into another dimension, “It seems difficult to avoid the consequences of the economic crisis that the planet is going through,” he says. “Brands with solid foundations will get through the two or three difficult years ahead of us, while others may find it harder.” Putting himself in the first category, he noted: “I have been CEO of Panerai since 2000, but I started working on the project to launch the brand in 1997. We had a product and we made it a brand. From the beginning we had decided to put substance in the watch while respecting its history, it was a simple and clear strategy that turned into a real dream.”

2008, pas de calme avant la tempête *

GMT 2008 © GMT Magazine

Next week: watchmaking in 2009.

To learn all about watchmaking since the year 2000, order The Millennium Watch Book, initiated by GMT and WorldTempus for their 20th anniversary.

*For its 20th anniversary in 2020, GMT summarizes each week exclusively for WorldTempus the essence of its content published year after year, in 20 chronological chapters. 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 book The Millennium Watch Book produced by GMT and WorldTempus with the support of some twenty expert witnesses of this incomparable period. 

WorldTempus offers you below the GMT of spring 2020 to download.

L’épopée Octo Finissimo

Download GMT #66 for free

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