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Geneva Watch Days - Three Major Trends at Geneva Watch Days 2021

Geneva Watch Days Three Major Trends at Geneva Watch Days 2021

The year’s first physical watch salon in Switzerland presents some interesting conclusions…

 If you think this article is going to be about things like green dials or how many new watches had travel-time complications, you should look elsewhere right now. This isn’t that kind of article. In the first place, I don’t think the trend conversation is ever that relevant to fine watchmaking. Also, this is WorldTempus. We take the wider view over here. So, if you’re into finding out about the kind of trends that tell us where the watch world is going, you’ve come to the right place. 

Three Major Trends at Geneva Watch Days 2021

Gerald Genta Arena Retrograde With Smiling Disney Mickey Mouse © Bulgari

Product Analysis

Are there really any trends to be found at a salon that presented watches as disparate as the Bulgari Gerald Genta Arena Retrograde With Smiling Disney Mickey Mouse (please don’t ask me to type that out again), the Parmigiani Tonda PF, the Breitling Top Time Classic Cars and the H. Moser Streamliner Perpetual Calendar? I’ll give you five seconds to find it. 

Okay, time’s up. Did you get it? I’ll admit there isn’t a lot to go on. We have a fan-favourite revisit of a legendary designer’s iconoclastic watch, a purist distillation of an haute horlogerie brand’s aesthetic codes, a sporty new partnership featuring vintage cars, and a minimalist high complication in a retro-fantastic case design. The thing that unites them all is their unrestrained return to the pleasure principle. It’s 2021; we want to enjoy life again. 

Three Major Trends at Geneva Watch Days 2021

Tonda PF Chronograph from Parmigiani Fleurier © WorldTempus/Jordy Bellido

Take a look at all the watches released during Geneva Watch Days 2021 and name me one safe option. Name me one brand that held back and said, let’s remain cautious and launch something conservative and affordable. The watches themselves may not necessarily have a ton of superficial similarities, but if it’s a common mood you’re looking for, you’ll find it in the new products of GWD 2021.

Market/Audience Analysis

A number of GWD 2021 attendees told me that based on their empirical observations, the watches that they saw being posted most frequently on social media during the salon were the Bulgari Gerald Genta Mickey and the not-an-MB&F MAD Edition 1. Out of the handful of Only Watch timepieces being presented at GWD, the most excitement was generated around the De Bethune x Voutilainen collaboration, and the MB&F HM10 Panda. Outside of the official programme of exhibiting brands, the watch company that received the most traffic in the past week was F.P. Journe. You can’t get any less mainstream than that, even taking into account that the GWD crowd is basically an insiders-only circle. 

Three Major Trends at Geneva Watch Days 2021

Top Time Shelby Cobra from Breitling © WorldTempus/Jordy Bellido

If you think about the propagated cycle of reposts and re-shares, and the KOL (key opinion leader) effect, however, there’s only one conclusion you can reach. Independent watchmaking is ascendant, and even the less conventional watches from bigger brands are gaining in popularity. Underscoring this, the panel discussion hosted by Phillips Watches focusing on independent watchmaking had one of the strongest viewing figures out of the entire programme — ahead of other conversations about the youth market, the overlap between collecting cars and collecting watches, and the digitisation of the watch world.

What we’re seeing here is a diversification and maturation of tastes in the global watch audience. It’s a highly encouraging sign, given that markets tend towards homogeneity and conservative purchasing in times of economic crisis. 

Three Major Trends at Geneva Watch Days 2021

Streamliner Calendrier Perpétuel © H. Moser & Cie.

Industry Analysis

As my colleague Jordy Bellido observed just this week in his first WorldTempus editorial, the watch world is starting to make stronger and stronger statements about the values they wish to stand for. I’m not just talking about values like “preserving tradition” and “dedication to quality” that have always underpinned the domain of fine watchmaking. I mean values like equal representation, eco-consciousness, sustainability — issues that occupy all responsible citizens of the world today.

Three Major Trends at Geneva Watch Days 2021

DB Kinf of Two De Bethune X Kari Voutilainen © De Bethune

Last year, some brands started offering the option to customers to purchase watch straps of non-animal origin, or straps made from recycled materials. This year, we’re seeing brands such as Greubel Forsey, a company that sits undeniably high up in the luxury hierarchy, take the all-vegan route, completely removing straps of animal origin from their product catalogue. An initiative I co-founded in February this year, Watch Femme, dedicated to promoting and amplifying women’s voices in the watch world (whether from the consumer or the industry side), was included in the official GWD programme, with a live-webcast session to present our objectives and vision. If the most influential brands and institutions of fine watchmaking are throwing their support behind such movements, the rest of the industry cannot be far behind.

Three Major Trends at Geneva Watch Days 2021

HM10 Panda for Only Watch from MB&F © WorldTempus/Jordy Bellido

Lecture 1 Comment(s)

14 September 2021
Marc Angebault
Plaisir, diversification des goûts, prise de risque avec des créateurs, recherche de sens , tout cela respire l'énergie de créer et l'envie d'avancer. Bravo pour article motivant

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