WatchPro editor James Buttery highlights the key trends in the luxury watch market for the year ahead following a jam-packed trade show season…
Identifying trends can often be an arduous task of mentally connecting the dots after being exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of new watches during the opening few months of the year. So far, this year has been slightly different. Watch brands have been far more considered in their launch of new product, leading me to suspect we’ll see more being drip-fed throughout the year.
As such trends are being telegraphed through to such a degree that even the casual observer should be able to play watch trend bingo. I’m often amazed by how quickly trends appear within the watch industry considering how long new product takes to turn around. Sure if you’re manufacturing in China then turnaround on new product can be a matter of just a few weeks, but the Swiss industry works at a slightly more sedate pace.
Late last year saw a revival in interest in moonphase complications. Both Swiss haute horlogerie brand Arnold & Son and Anglo-Swiss Christopher Ward produced centrally mounted moonphase watches with greatly enlarged discs and apertures, making for a much more visual take on the complication. Not everyone has gone with the bigger moonphase variation (the discs can require a lot of torque to turn) but everyone is introducing at least one moonphase watch this year.
Better in bronze
After the occasional dalliance with bronze as a case material from the likes of Panerai, Schofield and Anonimo the watch industry seems to have gone all in this year. Bronze watches tend to be divers watches because of the maritime association with the metal. It also develops its own unique patina, meaning no two watches will look the same given time. In the last couple of months alone Tudor introduced a larger version of its versatile Black Bay in bronze, Oris grew its successful Divers Sixty-Five collection with a bronze tribute and Fossil Group-owned Zodiac created a new brand of cool with a limited edition divers watch.
All about blue
Don’t let anyone tell you that blue is a trend in watches. Blue was a trend two years ago, now if you don’t have a blue dial in your collection in 2016 you are doing something very wrong indeed. The colour has entered the watch mainstream and is now as essential and core as having black, white and silver dial options. As with its use in fashion, blue often provides a more enigmatic alternative to black. For an example of just how breathtaking blue watches can be look no further than Zenith’s new 6150 in blue, a true horological knockout.
Ring in the changes
Interchangeable straps are also playing their part in driving business at both ends of the market and for entirely different reasons. Interchangeable, quick-change straps offer consumers of the volume brands a quick, affordable purchase to instantly change the look of their watch. Such complementary purchases must also boost company turnover and give consumers a reason to revisit their local stockist.
At the other end of the spectrum, hallowed brand Vacheron Constantin unveiled its revamped Overseas collection in January. The remit of the sports watch design was instantly expanded when Vacheron revealed that not only had the watch changed, but it would be presented on a series of proprietary interchangeable straps. This means that the Overseas can switch personalities in a matter of seconds with rubber, metal or leather options attaching to the watch head. This equates to added value in the luxury sector with one watch purchase suddenly having a multitude of uses, from boardroom to beach. With sales down across the Swiss watch industry brands will have to give consumers extra reasons to make expensive purchases with clever concepts such as this.
Of course it could be argued that Hublot has been ahead of the competition for years with the frankly brilliant quick-change strap system on its Big Bang collection.
Whatever trends are revealed over the course of 2016 you can be sure that the watch industry will have made them as easily digestible as possible, with brands looking to produce new watches that sell-through this year in a bid to tackle the growing threats of vintage and grey market sales.
Interested in finding out more?
For 2016, International Jewellery London has launched ‘Ones to Watch’, a brand new initiative developed in collaboration with WatchPro magazine to shine a light on all our valued watch exhibitors, while also offering them a comprehensive package of editorial coverage – both online and in print – social media support and email campaigns.
All of our watch exhibitors will benefit from a profile in WatchPro’s September issue, as well as the opportunity to enter the new watch category for the prestigious Editor’s Choice Awards. We’ve also introduced ‘The Watch Hour’ – a series of talks, seminars and panel discussions that will take place during the three days of IJL.
To find out more, click here.