Four Baselworld trends to watch

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All the right moves

We peek into the world of horology and bring you some of the latest trends spotted in Baselworld.

Watchmakers have outdone themselves this year in their search for the next It material. Breitling’s Galactic Unitime SleekT boasts a bezel of tungsten carbide, which is five times harder than stainless steel, while magnesium, known to be ultra light but strong, is used on Bulgari’s Diagono Magnesium. Corum’s Admiral’s Cup AC-One Bois has a dial of teak wood and H Moser’s Venturer Tourbillon Dual Time Sapphire Skeleton has a sapphire crystal glass case and a 3D-printed transparent rubber strap.

Last year was all about women wearing men’s watches and chunky timepieces for feminine wrists. This year, the industry goes to the other extreme – timepieces that are mostly no more than 30mm in diameter. Blancpain’s Ultra-slim Ladybird timepiece, touted as the world’s smallest automatic movement, is only 21.5mm, while Bulgari’s Serpenti jewellery watches are a modest 26mm. Meanwhile, Hermes showed off a collection that is rather petite overall. Even the men’s pieces from its Slim d’Hermes line do not exceed 40mm.

With Apple Watch becoming a reality just before Baselworld, all were eager to see how the traditional watchmakers would react. They were not disappointed, with Bulgari, Breitling and Frederique Constant all presenting their own versions of the smartwatch. The latter unveiled the Horological Smartwatch, which connects to an app on your smartphone to monitor sleep and activity levels. Bulgari created much buzz with its Diagono M@gnesium – albeit still just a concept – that promises to double as a virtual vault for important personal information. Breitling’s B55 Connected – also a concept watch – can be hooked up to a smartphone via Bluetooth to enhance its functionality as a pilot’s watch.

Sophisticated, safe or sombre – there are many ways to describe the dominant colour scheme running through most of the collections, but bright would not be one of them. Girard Perregaux’s Neo Tourbillon wears a grey shroud in the form of a DLC titanium case, while Blancpain’s Tourbillon Carrousel has a frosted galvanised treatment that turned its base plate and bridges a matte grey. Embracing earthy brown tones is Harry Winston’s Midnight Feathers Automatic 42mm featuring an exquisite marquetry of brown and black goose feathers on its dial. The colour has also found its way into the more fashionable sphere of ladies’ timepieces in Omega’s Ladymatic.

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Published 17th October 2015