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Editorial - Basel in full swing

Editorial Basel in full swing

Baselworld 2018 ends with on an overall positive note.

Happy Easter! You’ll notice that we haven’t put all our eggs in one basket. We have been rationing out the mechanical treasures unveiled since Baselworld’s opening day, which this year happened to be the first day of spring. There was an undercurrent of optimism at this year’s Basel international watch fair (from 21 to 27 March), no doubt as a result of the upswing in watch exports since last summer. This warming climate not only left steam on the windows of the world’s top brands holding court in the entrance to Hall 1 (brands belonging to LVMH and Swatch Group, along with Patek Philippe and Rolex); it also infused the rest of the fair, rising even to the three dozen niche independent watchmakers based in the Les Ateliers space. From a pure watch industry perspective, the majority of brands had a successful fair in terms of selling their latest collections to retailers, who were more enthusiastic than last year. Baselworld has therefore proven itself once again, despite criticisms from exhibitors over poor communication on the part of the organisers.

Watches for watch lovers

Basel bat son plein

Some Bulgari new models unveiled at Baselworld © WorldTempus / Brice Lechevalier

From the point of view of the end clients, who can discover the new watches in these pages and see most of them in the shops this summer or autumn, this year’s offerings are more classic, more subdued (in general, watchmakers have reduced the number of references), except for the iconic collections that continue to sell well. Brands are beginning to market these more proactively, with greater variety, more colours, dials and straps, more case sizes and greater choice of materials. This is the case with Bulgari, one of the few brands that stands out from the crowd, not only in terms of design, with the stunning Octo Finissimo Automatic in sandblasted rhodium-plated steel, and its slender rose gold version for women, but also in terms of watchmaking excellence. The Octo Finissimo Automatic Tourbillon has set a new world record: its movement measures just 1.95 mm thick, inside a case 3.95 mm deep. Hublot, a past master in the art of reinterpreting the iconic Big Bang, and an expert in the art of fusion, has taken a new technological step forward with the Big Bang Unico Red Magic. Its R&D department has patented the first brightly-coloured ceramic, which is even stronger than classic ceramic.

Basel bat son plein

Big Bang Unico Red Magic © Hublot

Any visitors to Baselworld hoping to be dazzled by some truly exceptional pieces will have had to be particularly assiduous to hunt out the rare pearls. Among the spectacular watches on view, special mention goes to the Parrot Minute Repeater pocket watch by Jaquet Droz, and two watches from Jacob & Co, which has pulled off a masterful double with the Twin Turbo Furious, a world premiere, and the Astronomia Maestro, another minute repeater with suspended circular gongs. Patek Philippe remains a reliable barometer of haute horlogerie, and there were no dissenting voices when it unveiled 14 new references for its current collection, including the Nautilus 5740 with perpetual calendar (equipped with Patek Philippe’s thinnest QP calibre), which caused a buzz at the Baselworld opening, plus 54 exceptional artistic crafts pieces, which the public will be able to admire at the Salons Patek Philippe in Geneva from 19 to 21 April.

Basel bat son plein

Parrot Repeater Pocket Watch © Jaquet Droz

Basel bat son plein

Nautilus Ref. 5740 Perpetual Calendar © Patek Philippe

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