x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Watch out for Oysters at BaselWorld

A look at BaselWorld where time really is money.

BaselWorld is the place to be seen if you are a complicated tourbillon. Fabrice Coffrini / AFP
BaselWorld is the place to be seen if you are a complicated tourbillon. Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

The world of watches is winding up for this year's BaselWorld, the watch and jewellery show that takes place at the end of March in the Swiss city.

It's the place to be seen if you are a split-second single push-piece chronograph with a perpetual calendar or a complicated tourbillon.

So what can we expect to see this year? It is said that you can never be too rich or too thin. It used to be fashionable for watches to be fat, but even they have slimmed down, bowing either to the demands of fashion or the new age of austerity.

Take the Jaeger-Le-Coutre Ultra Thin. This is a watch with two faces, so even when travelling you know what time your children are going to bed. First designed for polo players, who could flip over the watch while playing their chukkas so the face was protected, it has now been around for 80 years.

This year's model has been described as "like a tuxedo for your wrist". We're not sure what this means, but it sounds good.

As well as the move to thinness and military, there is also a move away from the major producers such as Richemont Group, LVMH and the Swatch Group, to independent watchmakers such as Christiaan Van Der Klaauw, Jean Dunand and Valbray.

Valbray caused quite a stir at last year's BaselWorld with its Valbray V0.01. Run by Come de Valbray and Olga Corsini, both in their 30s, the watch boasts a shutter in the dial that transforms a sport-looking watch into something more suitable for the evening. Something to wear with a tuxedo perhaps.

The attraction of independent watchmakers is that you are unlikely to be sitting next to somebody at dinner with the exact same Rolex Oyster. The drawback is that you might have splashed out US$100,000 (Dh367,295) on something that nobody can recognise. And if you leave it in the gym, the janitor might throw it away without appreciating the mastery of its manual wind, hand-finished movements.

 

rwright@thenational.ae