X
Stay on top of all watchmaking news ! OK
×

This search is sponsored by Hermès

Search in :
GMT Magazine
GMT Magazine - Watchmaking in the year 2000*

GMT Magazine Watchmaking in the year 2000*

The dawn of the third millennium witnessed a profound metamorphosis, but not everything changed.

While GMT is releasing its very first issue for the Basel trade fair, the famous Messe is not yet called Baselworld, but its slogan isn’t far off: “Date the world”. Almost 2,000 exhibitors are present. Then, it was immediately followed by the SIHH, which celebrated its tenth anniversary, welcoming a little less than 20 exhibitors, including Breguet, which was the only brand to exhibit at both shows having just been acquired by the Swatch Group. In the same year (1999), TAG Heuer was acquired by LVMH and Van Cleef & Arpels by Richemont, while in another corner of the industry Roamer and Rodolphe announced their merger in the form of a holding company, R&R Time Group. In the wake of the year 2000, Bulgari takes over Gérald Genta and Daniel Roth.

Watchmaking in the year 2000

Brice Lechevalier holding the premiere issue of the GMT Magazine in 2000 © GMT

Another era

In advertisements that ran that year, Graham announced that they invented the chronograph, and Bucherer began selling watches in their name, including a steel Bucherer Archimedes Perpetual Calendar for CHF 6’950. The small Geneva-based brand MHR still exists, and Franco Sbarro launches his “empty wheel” in Basel, which is honoured in Geneva by the jury for the International Exhibition of Inventions. Jaeger-LeCoultre extends the warranty for its Atmos to 1,000 years.

In the sector of watch auctions, Patek Philippe sees its first timepieces pass the million CHF mark (with a record of 4 million), led by Antiquorum. Its founder Osvaldo Patrizzi offers a copy of GMT at every publication date to 5,000 of his best customers. For its thematic sale “100 Years of Wristwatches”, he honours Cartier and Vacheron Constantin “who have changed people’s minds through the beauty of their watches”, and awards the winning quartet for innovation to “Jaeger-LeCoultre for its automatic flat movements, Omega for its sports chronographs, Patek Philippe for its complications sought-after by collectors, and Rolex for its reliability.”

Watchmaking in the year 2000

GMT 2000 © GMT

World premieres and style changes

For Audemars Piguet, the year 2000 coincides with its 125th anniversary, where they celebrated with an exhibition of 125 creations since the origin of the brand. The brand’s first adventure in Le Brassus with the Americas’ Cup is symbolised by the Royal Oak City of Sails in steel and titanium, in honour of the Swiss Be Happy Challenge, of which it was a partner. Its illustrious neighbour in Le Sentier presented its first Reverso with a complication on the back, ahead of its time due to its dimensions: the Revero Memory. Jaeger-LeCoultre describes her with the following: “The guardian of personal moments. Its chronograph with a 60-minute flyback counter that runs continuously enables everyone to control time as they wish.” Its unique pusher resets the minutes down to zero. Still in the Vallée de Joux, Breguet offers its chronographs for women with a small automatic Type XX Transatlantique model in steel with column wheel, and for men, enriched by a tourbillon in the Classique collection. The tourbillon appeared for the first time at Frédérique Constant, which chose its High-Life collection and adorned its famous “Coeur Ouvert” concept in gold for the occasion.

Watchmaking in the year 2000

GMT 2000 © GMT

To reinforce the exclusive character of its complicated watches, Patek Philippe placed a Top Wesselton diamond between the lugs at 6 o’clock, as evidenced by its new Reference 5056P in platinum with annual calendar, moon phase and power reserve in a limited series of 250 pieces. The race for complications is in full swing at Roger Dubuis, which presented its bi-retrograde QP simultaneously in two collections: Hommage and Sympathie. Their look has changed radically since. In terms of style, Piaget surprised with its new Protocole XL, which made the front page of GMT that autumn. Available in several gold and bracelet colours, it included a version with an integrated gold bracelet that was rather avant-garde.

Watchmaking in the year 2000

GMT 2000 © GMT

In the same group, Panerai adapted the size of its cases to the trends of the season by delivering its Luminor Chrono 2000 in a diameter of 40mm for the first time (it was previously a minimum of 44mm).

Watchmaking in the year 2000

GMT 2000 © GMT

Two watchmakers at the head of their own brands competed in creativity and revolutionised watch design. François-Paul Journe thus unveiled his invention, Chronomètre à Résonance, in platinum and yellow gold, where everything was brought together for the first time in a wristwatch: two escapements, two independent balances, two indicators enabling two time zones to be set. In a radically different style, Frank Muller announced a world first with his new Long Island Retro-Seconde line, which divided the reading into two arcs of a circle, graduating the seconds from 0 to 30 on the upper part of the dial and from 30 to 60 on the lower part.

The puzzle that was the internet

While no issue of GMT had yet been published and its founders were unknown in the watch industry, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele had happily accepted to be the first CEO to be interviewed for the magazine. In the interview, he detailed: “Chopard produces as many watches as jewellery, a total of 100,000 pieces in 1999. We have noted an upward trend in the value of watches, since their share of turnover reached 65%.” On the subject of the Internet phenomenon that the watch industry was observing with some trepidation (WorldTempus.com had to wait until 2001 to see the light of day), the vice-president of Chopard declared: “The Internet is first and foremost a reality that must be dealt with. We cannot oppose it and I see it rather as an ally. We don’t sell watches on our site, maybe one day we will. For the moment its vocation is to inform and to invite people to meet.... If the physical contact is important, the personalized advice of the seller is just as important. It’s quite an experience, a pleasurable and rewarding process, and therefore irreplaceable.”

In the following issue, GMT gave the floor to a great and discreet lady of the watch industry: Simone Bédat, founder of the eponymous brand with her son Christian (and co-founder of Raymond Weil): “The Internet is above all used for communication, its mastery for a small brand such as ours is not easy: price control, return clauses, stock management, etc. On the other hand, we have taken so much trouble to set up our distribution network that we have no desire to short-circuit it.” There are still a few brands that recite a similar edict.

Watchmaking in the year 2000

GMT 2000 © GMT

Next week: 2001, the odyssey?

*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 Magazinr and WorldTempus with the support of some twenty experts who witnessed this incomparable period in our industry.

Recommended reading

Watch Finder

Search by:

Find your watch >

Brands

Audemars Piguet is one of the few independent family-owned watch businesses and has been based in Le Brassus, in Switzerland's Vallée de Joux region, at the heart of the fine watchmaking industry,...

Find out more >

Breguet’s archives, kept in Switzerland and in Paris, record the developments that have sustained Breguet watchmaking for more than two centuries. The firm is committed to remaining ahead of its...

Find out more >

Maison Chopard epitomises the alliance between watchmaking and jewellery. It has always known how to meet the expectations of its day, relying on four essential values: expertise, tradition,...

Find out more >

Patek Philippe enjoys outstanding renown and rare prestige, due to the constancy with which the Manufacture has applied its philosophy of excellence ever since it was founded.

Find out more >

The Roger Dubuis Manufacture was founded on the desire for independence and watchmaking excellence. With remarkable dynamism, Roger Dubuis quickly ignited the world of Haute Horlogerie and has...

Find out more >