Mar 30, 2015
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Smartwatches and the return of understated luxury defining trends at Baselworld

Mar 30, 2015

Luxury watch show Baselworld wrapped up last week in Switzerland, showcasing the latest trends in upmarket timepieces. We caught up with Jean-Jacques Weber, director of luxury watch distributer Templus, to get an insider's perspective on the industry.

Jean-Jacques Weber, CEO of Templus Templus

How did the smartwatch trend translate to Baselworld this year?

Smartwatches were definitely buzzing in Basel. There were projects presented at over 30 stands, although only one is due to ship by May, from Frédérique Constant + Alpina.  This model is part of a collection of horological smartwatches that look like classic watches rather than gadgets. Frédérique Constant has been working on the project for two years in order to begin shipping this spring. The model tracks the wearer's physical activity by day and night, and it is compatible with iOS and Android.

Are you worried that "gadget" smartwatches by brands such as Apple have a negative effect on the luxury market?

Not at all. Keep in mind that around 30 percent of people under 30 do not wear a watch. What we hope is that these models, which consumers want to purchase because they are "high-tech" or "hype," will make them want to "wear the time." If you buy an Apple Watch, you will start to get in the habit of reading the time on your wrist... and maybe later you will want to wear something more elegant...

Do you think smartwatches will have an effect on the luxury watch market in general?

No, I think it's a very good thing. Clearly, there will always be enthusiasts of nice watches that go tick tock. But in the quartz watch sector, eventually, 30% to 50% of all models will most likely be connected. 

Did you see any particularly extravagant watch at Baselworld that blew you away?

I saw a $1 million Hublot... a block of diamonds. The whole thing was beautiful, but I found it to be too much and a bit extreme.

We always hear about the big brands, but did you see any interesting emerging brands at the salon?

I would mention MeisterSinger, a brand aiming to provide a more "philosophical" notion of time, marked by a single hand. It's very simply and understated. The brand is truly growing its reputation among lovers of watches and philosophy.

What were the design trends at Baselworld this year?

Smaller diameters for men. Previously, 45mm was considered the standard size for men. Now there are plenty of watches of between 30 and 40mm. We are also seeing more and more women wearing men's watches. In terms of design, everything is simpler. We seem to have left the trend of very complicated and extravagant pieces, all of that is over, to some extent. There is less bling. A little like everything else at the moment!

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