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Editorial - Is the Swatch Group an island?

Editorial Is the Swatch Group an island?

By presenting its high-end new releases for 2019 in a separate and limited format, the watch industry world leader is proclaiming its singular stature.

We are currently witnessing the slow disintegration of multilateralism. Events involving stakeholders regarding themselves as neighbours, competitors, allies, cold-war foes or outright x enemies are becoming increasingly rare or are slowly being emptied of their substance. Watchmaking is no exception to this trend. While the consequences are far less serious than in other areas, it remains to be seen whether an approach in which everyone runs their own show and each in their own way will prove superior.

That is exactly what the Swatch Group has just carried out under the title Time To Move. The industrial giant, the world leader in watchmaking, had slammed the door of the world's largest watchmaking exhibition, Baselworld, without an immediate alternative solution. The latter turned out to involve two separate stages. The first was held in Zurich just after Baselworld, in an event reserved for retailers, fulfilling the commercial function of the major exhibition; while the second brought together about 180 international journalists for a three-day working session that has just ended.

Time To Move was reserved for the Swatch Group's top-of-the-range brands, meaning – in no particular order because any such ranking would be hard to establish – Blancpain, Harry Winston, Jaquet Droz, Glashütte Original, Breguet and Omega. The formula adopted was original and indeed unique, with each brand presenting its new products on its premises, on its own grounds, accompanied by a discovery of the brand through its dedicated Manufacture. This was thus all about highlighting products, expertise and operational processes in equal measure. All this with the notable exception of Glashütte Original, based in Germany, which had transplanted a few workshops into a hotel in order to demonstrate its skills.

We could endlessly debate the advantages and disadvantages of the concept, but at the end of the day, it basically only concerns industry insiders. These internal goings-on are of very little interest compared to the raw material, flesh and bones of this event, namely watches. Because the important thing is that they were definitely the stars of the show that did not take place in Basel. And from that standpoint, 2019 was very much like the other years, since none of the group's brands had changed its programme, its launch strategy, its habits or indeed the number of new releases. 

All in all, that added up to a lot of watches – more than 200 references corresponding to around 70 different models – which means we have to decide which of them we should present to you. As always when it comes to appetite and passion, making choices implies renouncing other options. Over the next few weeks, WorldTempus will present in detail the watches that simply could not be ignored. An ultra-thin skeleton tourbillon from Breguet. A chronograph of historical importance by Blancpain. A new-generation automaton watch from Jaquet Droz. A tourbillon never yet seen at Glashütte Original. And from Omega, a Moonwatch celebrating a fine anniversary. Thereafter, this small circle will be progressively widened so as to show most of what was presented during Time To Move. 

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