We left behind the major fairs of 2017. We saw the latest novelties first at SIHH in January and recently at the Baselworld. If you ask me the biggest difference this year when compared to last year, my answer is very simple: "GERMANS"
As HOROBOX team, we are joining the SIHH for the second and Baselworld for the third time. I have personally visited both exhibitions at different times in advance. Although SIHH is experiencing some changes in recent years, it is still not possible to compare it with the Baselworld. From the number of exhibitors and visitors to the time of the fair, all details are very different from each other, but as a watch enthusiast who has been in the world of watches for many years, what catches my attention is that almost all the brands are experiencing panic at different levels.
What is this panic? What is its cause and possible consequences? How will it affect the watchmaking industry in the short term? It’s very simple to explain the panic part. We can see the negative effects of the global economic problems on watchmaking industry as well as on all global sectors. There are different reasons for that panic but what I am about to tell you is enough to explain the main reason. Swiss watch industry’s 2016 exports have fallen by 10% compared to the previous year, staying at $ 19.4 billion, which is surprising for all of you, and at the same time is the best way to explain the situation.
Yes, there is panic. I think that many brands going after “return to heritage” trend is the most striking sign. The brands going back to their old logos, boosting the number of heritage style models in the collections, the sharp ups and downs from the middle price segment, SIHH going public for a day after all those years are all signs of that panic.
Do not think that I take this situation as negativity about the industry. On the contrary, I appreciate all the work done. I personally admire Panerai’s long-awaited legendary model, the 42mm Mare Nostrum, the Breitling’s historic logos, the Longines Flagship Heritage, and even Rolex’s 50th Anniversary "Red Seadweller".
Let’s get to the article’s headline "German Invasion". For many years, the only anecdote that I recall when it gets to Germans is the character Turkish, which was played by Jason Statham in the cult movie of Guy Ritchie “The Snatch”, saying “Ze Germans?” in a lousy German accent. Now, the situation has changed for me. When it gets to Germans I think about A. Lange & Söhne, Nomos, Meistersinger, Glashütte and other German watch brands.
The German mechanical watchmaking, which recovered after the German unification in 1990, gradually began to approach Swiss competitors in terms of both technological innovations and design. Today, "Made in Germany" has a special meaning in the industry. The Germans, who were at least as affected as their Swiss counterparts by the global crisis, managed to keep themselves away from the panic atmosphere. They continued their evolution by technological innovations which are true to the brands’ DNA and their disciplines of management through the years. If we look briefly at the new models introduced at SIHH and Baselworld, things will get clear.
I don’t feel the need to explain what the annual calendar is, but if we ask the watch enthusiasts who own a hand-wound annual calendar watch “what bothers you most..?”, probably they all come with the same answer. To adjust the calendar again! Here, the Saxony brand has become far more aware of this problem by staying away from the panic atmosphere and giving good news to watch aficionados. Now, you can adjust the calendar by pressing the pusher located at 2 o’clock position instead of fiddling around a couple of pushers with a stylus in your hand.
The German-based brand Meistersinger, which achieved a unique fan base with it’s single-hand regulator-styled models, was among the brands that shined at the Baselworld 2017. The new model in the Salthora collection, which has been on the brand’s catalog since 2014, draws attention with its unique design that combines the "jumping hour" complication with the diver’s watch concept. The new model offers a zirconium ceramic alloy diver’s bezel, 200M waterproofing and jumping hour module added automatic mechanism, was highly acclaimed and priced at under 3000,00 EUR.
Nomos, known for its simple yet functional designs, was among the German stars of the exhibition. The brand introduced the latest version of its highly appreciated Club Collection with a totally in-house hand-wound movement. The model, redefining the price / performance balances with a starting price of only EUR 1100.00, offers free engravings on the solid stainless steel caseback which makes it a perfect gift for special occasions.
Glashütte Original, which is among the cult names of the watch world with its classic dress watch designs, superb mechanics and the panoramic date display that became the signature of the brand, was also one of the surprising brands of the exhibition. The brand presented a new version of the Senator Chronograph Panorama Date featuring a black dial with blue accents, 100M water resistance rating and an optional black rubber strap. The new model combines the brand’s DNA with the contemporary sport’s watch design with a pretty affordable price of 14.600,00 USD.