Baselworld stands upon the precipice of change this year on the occasion of its centenary celebrations. Faced with a 13.3 percent drop in exhibitors and a 4 percent decrease in fair attendants, organisers have announced that the fair duration for Baselworld 2018 will be reduced from eight to six days, while exhibitor fees will be discounted. These changes are also a reaction to an uncertain market struggling with a two-year decline in sales and profit.
Despite the gloom, 2017 set out to be a year of celebration for many. In addition to Baselworld’s landmark 100th year, Dior and Urwerk celebrated their 70th and 20th birthdays respectively while Chanel toasted to 30 years of watchmaking heritage. Elsewhere Chopard, Patek Philippe, Hublot, MB&F, Omega and Rolex feted the anniversaries of important collections by launching commemorative pieces. While some brands, like Chanel and Patek Philippe, chose to mark the occasion by presenting novel ideas, there were others who looked to the past for inspiration.
With vintage-inspired timepieces being all the rage this year, Omega and Rolex revealed commemorative pieces that referenced creations from the past. Omega’s 1957 Trilogy Limited Editions mark six decades of the Speedmaster, Railmaster, and Seamaster 300, with each new model faithfully taking after the originals from 1957; while Rolex’s Sea-Dweller celebrates its 50th with spanking new features like a new movement, cyclops lens and its name in red emblazoned across the dial — just as it was in the original watch from 1967. Meanwhile, other brands like Seiko, Longines, TAG Heuer and Blancpain revealed novelties that were directly inspired by their vintage predecessors.
Artistically designed watches that shone the spotlight on traditional metiers d’art techniques continue to be popular. Although enamelling, gem-setting and skeletonisation remain the preferred artistic forms, this year saw the emergence of fabric craft as embellishment for the dial.
Harry Winston combines the techniques of silk weaving and embossing while Omega plays with Shantung silk-embossed dials. Dior experiments with gold thread-weaving with a dial that features more than 5,000 handwoven threads. There’s also Hublot, which continues its partnership with Berluti, thanks to a new chronograph watch adorned with the Italian shoemaker’s famous Venezia leather.
Click on the gallery for the 10 timepieces that caught our attention.
First published in Prestige Singapore’s July 2017 issue. Pick up your copy for the full report.