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Best sellling watches - And the stars of 2016 are...

Best sellling watches And the stars of 2016 are...

With both foregone conclusions and surprise hits, 2016’s watch bestsellers were not completely as expected. Watchmakers don’t always know what’s coming. Far from it, in fact! WorldTempus took a closer look.

The client is king. And kings can sometimes be unpredictable! While watchmakers try their best to forecast sales accurately, the results don’t always live up to expectations. And, conversely, sometimes the most unassuming models can be catapulted to the top of the sales charts.

Independent surprises
The contrast can often be the most striking where independent watchmakers are concerned. The reason is that they don’t have the resources of the big groups, who can push a particular model through advertising campaigns, sponsorship deals and special events. Some models sell well, others don’t. The only thing that’s predictable is their unpredictability.

For Lebeau-Courally, for example, the manufacture’s star model is, unsurprisingly, the Moon Phase in red gold. The watch is an in-house creation, featuring two world exclusives (the working locking lever and the moon in grand feu enamel), at a particularly keen price point (EUR 23,300 before tax). It was predictably successful.

But it was a high-jewellery version that really caused a stir. The manufacture had warned that its very exclusive gem-set timepieces would remain a minority factor; and all the more so since this model was first launched in 2014! Women’s models were also behind another pleasant surprise for Roger Dubuis, who admitted that his Blossom Velvet had performed unexpectedly well.

Lebeau-Courally 38mm or gris cadran sertie

Off the beaten track
2016 was also a year for models that made their mark despite deviating from their manufacturers’ usual codes. Over at Graff, for instance, it was an all-black ultra-slim men’s watch (from 2015!) that was the best seller for 2016 – a reversal of Graff’s usual expectations, given that it is known for its extraordinary gem-set creations.

Graff Graffstar Slim

Other horological flights of fancy were also rewarded with success. Laurent Ferrier is savouring the success of the Galet Square Boréal in green. At Carl F. Bucherer it’s the Pathos Diva with its unusual case that continues to confound observers year after year. Louis Moinet has enjoyed a particularly successful launch for the Red Eclipse, the latest iteration of the Memoris limited series. And Bell & Ross is savouring the triumph of the BR03-94 Aero GT, a skeletonised motoring watch that some considered a risk, given the brand’s focus on aviation.

Frédérique Constant was also refreshingly frank, noting that the company had “Absolutely not anticipated the success” of its Quantième Perpétuel. “After Baselworld, we realigned our workshops’ production plans to be able to meet demand,” the company announced.

Frédérique Constant Manufacture Perpetual Calendar

Blockbuster watches
Over at the big groups, the situation is easier to read. TAG Heuer anticipated full order books on the release of its Carrera Heuer 02 Tourbillon. And it was not disappointed: at CHF 15,000 a pop for a tourbillon it’s not hard to see why. The same went for women: they pulled out the big guns for the launch of the Carrera Lady, whose mattress-stitched strap struck just the right note. On a smaller scale, DeWitt also predicted the success of its Out of Time and Blue Empire models, which combine technical innovation with a particularly fetching shade of blue developed by Jérôme de Witt, which is different from any other blue on the market.

In the case of Chopard, all bets were on the Mille Miglia 2016 XL Race Edition, and the wager was confirmed over the course of the year. The 46 mm diameter combined with a vintage strap and manufacture movement made all the difference where sales were concerned. A similar story can be heard at Hysek: “We expected the success of the IO Jumping Hour, because for a few years now the ‘classic’ model [with black dial] has topped sales, a position strengthened by the launch of new variants in blue and gold,” notes the company.

Hysek IO Jumping Hour

There were no surprises for Christophe Claret, with the X-TREM-1: “We’re still selling as many today as we did when we launched it in Basel in 2012. Collectors and watch enthusiasts alike appreciate its originality and innovation. People really like its modern but classic look, and its curved profile,” points out the master watchmaker. The same goes for women: the Margot (2014) won the women’s high mech prize at the GPHG as soon as it was launched, and it remains the company’s best-selling model.

Christophe Claret X-TREM-1

Click on the image at the top of the article to access the slideshow.

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