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Trends in vogue

Affordable luxury is no longer just an empty marketing slogan, but is now underpinned by entry-level offerings.

Panerai Lab-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech – A watch that needs no lubrication and comes with a 50-year warranty.

IT LOOKS like the trends that surfaced in the luxury Swiss watch world in recent years are here to stay, as our 28-page supplement shows. Some of the trends are even more visible now.

Take for example the greater focus on the growing ladies’ watch segment. Not only do the big names continue to make from scratch interesting and complex timepieces for women, those which traditionally built their sales on a macho image, producing only masculine watches, are also shifting attention to the female clientele.

IWC Schaffhausen, which once prided itself on making watches “engineered for men”, surprised the market by relaunching its Da Vinci line with a feminine appeal. The bigger surprise was that IWC put the women models at centre stage when it rolled out this year’s new timepieces.

With women watches making a comeback in IWC collections, the only brand left producing timepieces solely for men in Swiss luxury group Richemont’s stable is Panerai. But even this last bastion of masculinity is opening its gate to women. This year, Panerai took a step other watch brands have taken when they started expanding into the female segment: it downsized one of its popular models to fit the smaller woman’s wrist.

Then there’s price moderation. It’s clear that this trend, in both overt and subtle form, isn’t simply a temporary response to a cyclical downturn. Many watch brands have conceded that the sky-high prices of the boom years were excessive and must come down to earth. There’s also the next generation of buyers who are more price sensitive to think of, if the brands want to stay in business for the long haul.

Affordable luxury is no longer just an empty marketing slogan, but is now underpinned by entry-level offerings. Montblanc led the way three years ago when it launched a perpetual calendar watch at an unbelievably low price of S$10,000 plus, half the price of the next cheapest perpetual calendar. TAG Heuer followed up last year with a tourbillon timepiece priced around S$20,000 when such gravity-defying watches normally sell for above S$100,000.

Parmigiani, which in 2015 introduced an entry-level collection with more accessible prices to widen its appeal, continued to expand this collection in 2017.

High-tech watches are also not going away. More mechanical watch brands such as TAG Heuer and Montblanc have jumped onto the computerised watch bandwagon.

Smart watches’ staying power is underscored by the Grand Prix d’ Horlogerie de Geneve. The watch industry equivalent of Hollywood’s Academy Awards for the first time this year opened two of its categories to participation from these watches.

Caution has been the watchword in the Swiss watch industry hit in recent years by falling exports, but it did not stop innovation altogether. Panerai broke new ground in watchmaking material, rolling out a timepiece powered by a movement that requires no lubrication to work smoothly.

Richard Mille pushed on with experiments on materials and succeeded in applying graphene to watchmaking.

This new carbon material is six times lighter than steel and 200 times stronger. Vacheron Constantin presented the world’s most complicated wrist-watch which boasts 23 complications. Patek Philippe’s research lab unveiled a time-only watch that’s as accurate as its tourbillon timepiece.

Yet, watch brands have not thrown all caution to the wind. Most still played it safe by launching reissues of re-worked evergreens that are more likely to sell than entirely new timepieces.

Many brands this year were also egged on to revive old classics to mark the anniversary of iconic timepieces. Omega rolled out an updated version of the original model of three key collections – the Seamaster 300, Railmaster and Speedmaster – to cellebrate their 60th birthday.

Rolex and Patek Philippe respectively paid homage to the Sea-Dweller’s and Aquanaut’s anniversary in like manner.

We hope you will enjoy reading the BT Watch Supplement 2017.

Supplement editor: Chuang Peck Ming

Sub-editor: Vivien Ang

Cover Design/ Graphics: Pradip Kumar Sikdar

Advertising sales: Christopher Chan 96277672; Vivien Cham 97460379; Austin Mek 91255389; Calista Ang 81881471; Chen Huiyi 94889854; Tan Rou Xi 82657532

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