Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Geneva SIHH 2007 Part Trois: Conclusion

This is a report presented in 3 separate parts. If you are interested in viewing the previous reports please refer to the links below:
The first is my general impression of the SIHH, the pieces that moved me as well the general overview of the pieces presented that I had a chance to view.
Geneva SIHH 2007 Part Un: General Impressions
This is followed by my in depth report on the MJLC 2007 new model line up presentation as well a bit of my visit to their Boutique in Place Vendome in Paris.
Geneva SIHH 2007 Part Deux: Manufacture Jaeger LeCoultre
The final part a lighter view of things of my travelogue to the SIHH can be viewed in Geneva SIHH 2007 Part Trois: Travelogue


First let’s initiate with some statistics to start of my concluding thoughts. This year the Show welcomed no less than 13,000 visitors from close to 2,500 of the world’s finest watch/jeweler points of sale. They were joined by some 1,300 international journalists who came to discover the latest creations and collections in huge 24,000 square meters of exhibition space.

The main trends & new talents were revealed showcasing all the new technological innovations & ingenuity with clear spotlight if this 2007 SIHH on mechanical watches (Chronographs in particular), precious metals & increasingly significant reference within HH the women/jewelry watches.

The next 2008 SIHH will be held from April 7th to 12th, in concordance with Baselworld. The interesting novelty is that certain hi-end brands have expressed their interest to join in the next SIHH which should make for interesting outcome. All this should make for an even more appealing visit to Switzerland next year with the opportunity to see both shows in one week.

The few prevalent market trends that I noticed & few of my humble opinions that I would dare to contemplate:

- watch cases are growing and becoming larger due to overwhelming demand by the customers no matter what many do think. Even the most traditional companies are making larger cased watches as they are slowly accepting the fact that the big watch is not just a quick fad, but a demand from today’s customer.
- with larger case sizes (and sometimes even without) the prices are exponentially increasing. If one would really use this parallel comparison seriously it would almost make you wonder how much each mm in size costs ;-)
- precious materials and in house movements are the norm to exclusivity (and again reflected in increasing pricing no matter if indeed valid or just cosmetic)
- beside already mentioned large cases the trend is for stainless steel complications as well resurgence of rose gold as the new IN trend (both for sport/classic and with or without complications)
- daring design experimentation as well usage of new materials (especially in the movement side of things) are the next frontier & reality for the daring few companies on the forefront of horology
- everyone taunts innovation & proficiency of their watchmaking yet only few in reality actually deliver something of a breakthrough
- many companies have issues with timely deliveries. Culpability has been assigned to an overwhelming customer demand which in turn has parts suppliers backlogged as they just don’t have the increased capacity to cope up with that demand.
- one of the largest challenge facing the watch industry is how to sell more watches to a wider-ranging segment of customers as well minor one of making the existing customers buy even more pieces. Doing all this without overflowing the market is the main challenge as it can be very tempting to cash in short term.
- all companies are taking special care in chasing the next big growth area of Emerging markets however that potential is not even close to being fully materialized.
- a lot of companies have inclination to overprice many of the new models due to the favorable demand. Although this might work short term I don’t think this will hold for too long since only the chosen few actually offer value for money.
- today there are many watch companies yet few of those that are doing something unusual if not special.
- the after-sales service has been lacking for some time and needs serious investment in capacity improvements.
- IMHO the horology industry is currently faced with very risky time due to the overwhelming at present success that if not taken with great care can be at the expense of future success.

Lastly no matter what a lot of money will be spent on watches again this year.

My favorite timepieces presented at SIHH & Baselword

To me Manufacture Jaeger LeCoultre was & is the King again this year. Majority of their novelties presented only further reassures how seriously the Manufacture is taking their expression of purest timekeeping & traditional watchmaking ideals united with exceptionally remarkable technical innovations.

Although I was the most smitten by the world first totally lubricant free watch - MC Extreme LAB concept watch (I sincerely think this could be a perfect marriage of innovative hi-end horology with an extreme sports piece) IMHO the launch of the Duometre line is what the year 2007 will be mostly remembered for. As well I found the JLC MC Diver series to be refreshing especially the focal model MC Diver Pro Geographic featuring an all-mechanical depth sensor chamber.

Also I rather liked Lange’s two limited & for me unattainable superstars Turbograph “Pour le Merite” & Lange 31 for their sincere innovative spirit.

Although I was quite impressed with AP’s splendid Millenary Seconde Morte & ROO "Arnold's All Stars" Chronograph yet I would not be personally interested in either.

Out of Baselworld others that cough my eye were:
Jacquet Droz: Numerus Clausus Enamel Collection
Rolex: GMT-Master II SS; Milgauss
Ulysse Nardin: GMT+/- Perp WG Silvered dial
F.P. Journe Centigraphe

Besides that most of the other brands left me blasé & perhaps somewhat disappointed with the direction they have taken.

Please do take all this with a grain of salt as this is just an opinion of one watch aficionado. I always believed that pointing out the positives is an easy task (especially in today’s plentiful horological market) while the hard part is voicing ones dislikes while offering constructive criticism.

I thank you again for staying with me through out this report & welcome any comments

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

While on the recent topic of new watches presented at SIHH & Baselworld it got me thinking of the slew of new diving watches. One of them was Blancpain's modern re-edition of their vintage model Fifty Fathoms. Although Blancpain is one of those company whose brand image & models never really attracted me as a whole yet this is one vintage Blancpain line I used to look & pine for. When I started this watch collecting obsessions initially I gotten heavily into vintage watches especially iconic diver & military spec models. So no surprise that Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms was one of those pieces I always admired.

The vintage Fifty Fathoms was produced before the J-C Biver's successful revitalization of Blancpain and its history is documented meticulously at Blancpain Vintage Fifty Fathoms & Dr. Strong's Fifty Fathoms website. IMO it never became a true icon due to the fact several companies were involved (Blancpain, Lip, Tornek Rayville, A. Schild, ETA) producing the watch in various case sizes (35mm, 37mm, 38mm, 40mm and 41mm) and movements (AS 1361, 1700, 1902, 1903, 2063, Lip R23 and ETA 2873) with more then a dozen dial/hands/bezel combo, complicated further due to the use by several countries' military agencies (France, Germany, Poland, USA) in addition to the civilian editions, over more then 27 years of production.

Then I remembered that one of the exciting novelties from Baselworld was the new 50th Anniversary Fifty Fathoms.

Unfortunately (or fortunately for some) Blancpain didn’t just made a re-edition of the vintage piece, but rather an updated reinterpretation. The nicest details to me are: clear legible dial; updated 45mm case; curved sapphire crystal; finely done ceramic looking bezel; raised numerals; anti-magnetic; newly developed 6 day movement. The only relative downside to all this is the estimated US retail of $11,000 which sounds a bit steep yet in today's hot watch market is more then expected.

In addition to the basic diver version there are also versions with complications laden Flyback chronograph and even Tourbillon (probably following the lead of Zenith & RD LOL).

All in all I am happy I remembered Blancpain as it made me remember about their exciting and somewhat forgotten past accomplishments plus the fact that they did pay homage to one of the models that was well deserved to be brought back. I rather like this modern reissue of a proper vintage diving icon.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Geneva SIHH 2007 Part Deux: Manufacture Jaeger LeCoultre

This is a report presented in 3 separate parts. This is an in depth report on the Manufacture Jaeger LeCoultre 2007 new model line up presentation as well of my visit to their Boutique in Place Vendome in Paris. Please follow this link Geneva SIHH 2007 Part Deux: Manufacture Jaeger LeCoultre so you can view the fill report.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Geneva SIHH 2007 Part Un: General Impressions

Due to my current time constraints I will present this report in 3 parts. The first is my general impression of the SIHH, the pieces that moved me as well the general overview of the pieces presented that I had a chance to view. This will be followed by my in depth report on the MJLC 2007 new model line up presentation as well a bit of my visit to their Boutique in Place Vendome in Paris. The final part will be a lighter view of things my travelogue to the SIHH as well a conclusion to all of this.

Please follow this link to Geneva SIHH 2007 Part Un: General Impressions so you can view the full report.

Daily thoughts, musings & interests about anything (mostly horology) that currently makes my soul & grey matter tick.