Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 Brought Renewed Hope For the Luxury Watch Industry

2010 saw the slow but steady recovery of the watch industry. After a huge luxury industry nose dive in 2008 and the gut wrenching descent in 2009, the watch industry entered 2010 with much trepidation. However 2010 proved to bring a sigh of relief to many luxury watch companies with the reports of better earnings. Richemont Group who owns a portfolio of leading international brands such as Jaeger LeCoultre, Piaget, IWC, Baume & Mercier, Vacheron Constantin, Panerai, A Lange & Sohne & Roger Dubois, report a "very convincing six months" and a "strong sales growth". Swatch Group which owns Watch Brands including Breguet, Omega, Longines, Rado, Tissot, Hamilton, Tiffany & Co as well as ETA, a producer of mechanical and quartz watch movements claims a huge resurgence in sales. Bulgari reports "business is picking up, while Hermes reports an excellent first half year. Swiss watch exports show a vigorous recovery in the first half of 2010 as well as heightened confidence of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.

2010 saw a large amount of new luxury watch boutiques worldwide. Omega opened nine new boutiques in the United States alone, and Corum set up shop in china and opened the doors of its very first store in Switzerland. Raymond Weil opened three new stores in India. In 2010, both Ulysee Nardin and Richard Mille opened their first boutique stores in the US.

Although the watch industry, has still ways to go in terms of recovery, the prospects are very good indeed. Watch companies are being more conservative with research and development opting to reintroduce older successful collections rather than an entirely new line of watches. In addition, many watch companies have taken high end expensive watches and made them more affordable by using steel or ceramics rather than gold and diamonds. For example Breguet has taken its high end Reine de Naples timepiece for women, usually crafted in gold, lined with jewels and sporting a complication, and downsized it to more affordable steel version with no jewels and only the time on the dial. Breuget's elegance, craftsmanship and precision still remains whilst the luxury watch becomes more affordable.
Cartier ,as well, opted for utilizing cheaper materials such as steel and rubber for its Roadster Collection. The Roadster S is much more affordable with a definite mass appeal, which is exactly what the high end luxury watch companies need to survive. Mass appeal, that is, without damaging the integrity and quality of the watch brand. At a going rate of $4,600 for the steel version and $4,600 for the combo, this watch is much cheaper than the original Roadsters thereby enabling young aspiring individuals to own a watch worn by millionaires and noticed by all.
Luxury Watch Companies are looking to 2011 with a renewed vigor and hope, and just like the recovery from the Quartz Scare of the 1970's, they have survived.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Inspiration of Van Cleef & Arpels

Whenever I lay my eyes on a Van Cleef & Arpel's timepiece, something catches in my throat triggering an emotional reaction I cannot quite grasp. The work is so fine, almost magical; it is as though Van Cleef & Arpel luxury watches have been crafted by a workroom full of angels.
A collection seeming to stem from a whimsical world of fairy tales is Van Cleef & Arpels "Poetry
of Time"
The latest addition is inspired by Jules Verne's 1863 tale "Five Weeks in a Balloon" where three men float in Hydrogen hot air balloon above darkest Africa. Jules Verne, the father of science fiction, weaves a tale of harrowing adventure, great explorations and remarkable inventions.
The story is depicted upon the dial of this men's rare timepiece where a bright yellow balloon is floating above a thunderous gray cloud. A soaring bird indicates the hours and an anchor tied to a rope indicates the minutes. In 2011, the clouds will part and the "Five weeks in a Balloon" Van Cleef & Arpel's timepiece will appear in the wondrous world of Horology.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Really Safe Watch Winder!

Check out this Watch Winder/ Safe. For around $24,000 this tiny watch winder/ safe can be yours. The Döttling COLOSIMO Safe is fashioned after the early 20th century bank safes when James Colosimo , an Italian American mafia crime boss and bank robber, was ruling the streets of Chicago. It is quite an oxymoron to have a safe named after a thief.
The safe is not just a safe named after a mob boss, it is also a watch winder.
Watch Winders are quite useful when one has two or more automatic watches which require the constant motion of the wearers arm to wind the watch. Invented by the Luxury Watch Company, Perrelet, the automatic watch does not require regular winding of the crown, but has a semi-circular rotor disc which winds the watch with the swinging motion of the wearers wrist. Most mechanical watches nowadays are automatic. An automatic watch requires regular arm swinging motion to keep the watch movement operating; however, if not worn for a long period of time the watch will stop.
In addition, watches with complications such as the perpetual calender or moon phase take some time to readjust after the watch has stopped, thus for watch collectors a watch winder is a worthy investment.

The Colosimo as compact as it is, is a lovely gift for a person who has it all and is in need of something out of the ordinary which won't just take up space but will be useful too. My only concern is that the safe and not the contents may be the object of interest to a would be thief. What would early 20th century robber James Colosimo do? Would he try pick this cute little safe or would he simply pocket it?
Crafted with utmost perfection by the well known German safe maker Döttling, the Colosimo is a work of art.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cartier Captures A Croc

There are a very few watch companies who can create a diamond encrusted crocodile, place it apon a dial, and make the look work. No. Not just work, but absolute mesmerize. Of course you must be wondering about the crocodile. Why would Cartier place a bejeweled crocodile on the dial?
The crocodile is part of the history of Cartier associated with a certain diva, Maria Felix. Maria Felix was a highly popular Mexican actress in the 1940's. It is well known that she adored crocodiles. As legend has it, she strode into a Cartier's Boutique one day and ordered a necklace in the likeness of a crocodile, and if by chance Cartier had difficulty visualizing a crocodile, she had one right ... here. And then much to everyones horrified amazement, she hauled a lively baby croc from her things. Since then she became a creative ally with the house of Cartier. In 2006, four years after her death, she was 87, Cartier created a watch line in her honor - The La Dona Collection.

- Maria Felix wearing her crocodile necklace.

The Crocodile on the black dial is curled around, almost protecting, a flying tourbillon. Sharing the dial with the croc, are two lotus flower resting at the 6 'o'clock position. Cartier's distinctive blued steel hands display the time above Cartier's in house mechanical manually wound movement Calibre 9458 MC which is placed off center to make space for the croc.

If Maria Felix were here today, she would greatly approve of this watch.