— It is definitely not easy to encapsulate time – especially after a record-breaking year. Here’s my attempt to wrap up an eventful 2013 in the Omega Replica watchmaking industry.
I must confess that I had a lot of trouble finding the right format for a substantive recap of 2013 in the Breitling Replica watchmaking industry. The chronological order is always the obvious choice, but it would dilute several issues that were spread throughout a remarkable year filled with records. Then I thought of choosing 12 main topics, each representing a month of the year. Well, a mere dozen were not enough – I needed a full 24 hours. Here they are, in random order.
01:00. Fair-y Tales
With the 2014 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie already on the horizon, it should be underlined that trade fairs, exhibitions and salons popped up like mushrooms throughout the year. The one named Replica Watches & Wonders, a kind of SIHH offshoot, took place in Hong Kong in late September and symbolized the importance of the Asian market. The success of the SIAR (Salón Internacional de Alta Relojería), held in Mexico, is a proof of the growing maturity of the Latin-American market. Everyone had a jolly good time at SalonQP with more than 70 brands populating London’s Saatchi Gallery, whereas Belles Montres in Paris was the exception to the trend with a decrease in exhibitors. But the SIHH and Baselworld once again proved that they remain the year’s biggest watchmaking summits (even if they provide the worst wi-fi connection of them all…), with a special mention for the updated facilities in Basel spectacularly authored by architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron: 122,000 visitors, 3,610 accredited media, 1,460 exhibiting brands.
02:00. Rise of the Seventies
Never mind the classic looks aimed at a certain Asian clientele: for me, the single most important stylistic trait of 2013 in watchmaking was the increase in 70s-inspired reinterpretations. Being an admirer of the decade’s pop culture and design, I must confess a bit of bias – but most will agree the best re-editions of classic models were indeed modelled after 70s timepieces, from the Vulcain Nautical Heritage Seventies to the recently unveiled Longines Heritage 1973. The revivalist trend we’ve been witnessing in the past years gained such momentum that a dedicated award was created at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
03:00. Raise the Bid, Drop the Hammer
It was yet another extraordinary year for the auction business, with the hammer being hit with gusto throughout 2013 and most spectacularly between September and November: buying an exceptional vintage timepiece has become a favoured way of investing. On the charity side, the Only Watch initiative totalled a staggering 6.225 million Euro for the 33-watch lot presented – but with 3.625 million (that’s 58 per cent of the total!) paid out for the Patek Phillippe Ref 5004T. It only cemented Patek Philippe’s status as champion of the auctions, with Rolex a clear second: the dedicated Rolex Daytona sale amassed almost 10 million euro and raised a lot of eyebrows for the best and worst reasons, as some sales defied common sense. Almost 1.1 million dollars for a not so rare 6263/6239 Paul Newman? A new record for almost every random reference featured? Right afterwards, auctioneer extraordinaire Aurel Bacs stepped down as international head of Christie’s watch department for a well-deserved sabbatical 2014.
04:00. The Russians are Coming
Back during the Cold War era, ‘The Russians are Coming’ was a most feared announcement. In 2013, one Russian watchmaker came into the limelight and impressed many observers: Konstantyn Chaykin. Some critics will label his complications as gimmicks, but I find them quite imaginative and original. The visual and sound effects on the Cinema Swiss Replica Watches are outstanding and the hourglass on the Carpe Diem dial is not too shabby either…
05:00. Luminous Shades
One specific element of style did shine in special fashion: SuperLuminova and its growing array of hues contributed decisively to more attractive dials, especially the military or vintage-inspired ones. Following developments already seen in recent years, 2013 showed dials with indexes and hands remarkably tinted with lume in the most varied colours, even matching them with straps.
06:00 Improved Appendix
Any wristwatch can greatly benefit from the right choice of strap or bracelet, another area of the industry that has been gaining remarkable momentum. Hublot and IWC were on top of the list with fabric (even denim!) inserts on a rubber base. NATO straps went from niche to mainstream. And most quality fake Omega watches are now fitted with leather straps featuring rounded edges between the lugs to better follow the curve of the case.
07:00. The ‘It’ Material(s)
In the year that saw Chanel commemorating a decade of the iconic J12, ceramics was the material par excellence in contemporary watchmaking: it looks good, it’s light, comfortable, resistant, anti-corrosive, anti-allergenic, immune to brutal temperature changes and on top of that it can be polished or matte finished, providing not only a pleasant tactile appeal but also that sporty technological aura or stealthy military spirit some particular Rolex Replica watches UK demand – as seen in new releases from Audemars Piguet to IWC. The other material worth mentioning is silicon: its use in the Aiguille d’Or winning Girard-Perregaux Constant Force L.M. shows how far brands are willing to use it in the heart of their respective movements.
08:00. Rare Crafts
Powerhouses such as Cartier, Vacheron Constantin and Van Cleef & Arpels have been investing hugely in areas ranging from enamelling to engraving and hiring the best contemporary artisans to create absolute masterpieces. Likewise, many other brands showed similar recognition towards decorative handwork showcasing extraordinary dexterity, nurturing older craftsmen and training new ones capable of perpetuating ancestral techniques that a mere decade ago seemed to be a dying breed. Other companies hire small ateliers and highly talented freelancers to devote specific artistic skills to unique timepieces or limited editions. There has also been a wide range of artistic crafts featured lately in dials showing the best of miniaturization including guillochage, marquetry, stone setting, painting, sculpting and enameling, to name but a few.
09:00. Sponsorship Race
2013 was quite an animated year regarding sponsorship by watch brands, especially in the sports department. Rolex played a major role, as always – further cementing its stronghold in tennis (events, players) and surprising everyone by becoming Formula 1’s official timekeeper… but losing out to Longines in the show-jumping discipline. Among the myriad of watch-sponsored events and athletes, it’s worth mentioning the signing of soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo by Jacob & Co., the end of the partnership between Audemars Piguet and Novak Djokovic (who seems to be ‘going Japanese…) and the most relevant weight/price ratio in sports: the 19-gram Richard Mille RM 27-01 Tourbillon that accompanied Rafael Nadal back to the top of tennis.
10:00. Happy Birthday to You
The year brought a string of anniversaries. Jaeger-LeCoultre commemorated 180 years in the best shape ever (1300 employees, a turnover of 600 millions Swiss francs and probably the most complete catalogue in the business); Tissot celebrated 160 years; Seiko became a century-old brand; Emile Péquignet reached the age of 40 after a complicated period; while Chronoswiss turned 30. A number of iconic models toasted significant milestones: Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms (60 years), Rolex’s Daytona (50) TAG Heuer’s Carrera (50), Chronoswiss’s Régulateur (25), Chopard’s Happy Sport (20). And the list goes on…
11:00 Musical Chairs
It almost looked like the offseason in the football scene, with some of the most coveted superstars of management changing ‘teams’ – many within the same luxury congolomerate. The most important moves? At LVMH, Jean-Christophe Babin went from TAG Heuer to Bvlgari, making way for Stéphane Linder. At Richemont, Jérôme Lambert left his position as Jaeger-LeCoultre’s CEO to head Montblanc, succeeded by Daniel Riedo. Corum’s Antonio Calce doubled up as CEO of Eterna (hence also Porsche Design) for a short period of time after the acquisition of China Haidian. They were not alone in the corporate game of musical chairs…
12:00 The Name Game
Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest showed us how important a name can be. Several timepieces were given quite interesting nametags in 2013, but was there one that could literally capture the imagination better than Chaumet’s Attrape-Moi Si Tu M’Aimes Complication Créative? Maybe Boucheron’s Epure Je Pense À Toi.