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Baselworld 2015

Angus Davies reflects on some of the horological delicacies exhibited at Baselworld 2015 that captured his interest.

The self-confessed watch addict reveals his personal highlights from Baselworld 2015 including live images and industry news.

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Grönefeld Parallax Tourbillon 

Baselworld is one of the highlights of my working calendar. It always delivers a heady mix of sublime watches and ubiquitous party spirit throughout the city. This year, the annual watch and jewellery fair in Basel was better than ever.

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Sebastian Marten and Claude Greisler of Armin Strom

The array of imaginative novelties was breathtaking and, at times, quite overwhelming. Indeed, I would liken the situation to being a child in a candy store, allowed to masticate copious quantities of mouth-watering confectionary but simply not knowing where to start.

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

HYT H3 titanium and platinum

Travelling to Baselworld 2015 in itself is not unduly expensive but, after dismounting the train from Zurich, the extreme expense of the city, especially during the annual fair, rears its ugly head. Food, taxis and accommodation can induce palpitations even in the most well-heeled oligarchs such is the extreme cost of everything. It is therefore of vital importance to me that there are numerous examples of watches which merit comment and justify the significant financial outlay incurred when staying seven nights in the Swiss city. Rest assured, this year the monies expended in Basel were more than justified by the abundance of meritorious watches deserving of praise.

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Ludovic Ballouard HALF TIME

The watch industry as a whole

In January of this year, the link between the Swiss Franc and the Euro was removed and the national currency of Switzerland dramatically increased in value against most key currencies. The result was that suddenly the nation’s watches became much more costly in several key watch markets.

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Breva Genie 03 – Speedmeter

Ironically, the shake-out caused by this sudden move in exchange rates was the focal point of discussions earlier in January and I must admit there were many concerned faces at SIHH in Geneva. Moreover, some brands did not know whether to absorb the increased costs in the short term or pass them onto customers. Each brand adopted its own strategy.

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Cabestan Luna Nera

Since January, the American Dollar and the British Pound have returned to pre-January levels, with only the Euro remaining weak against the Swiss Franc. Ironically, while some brands increased prices in January, others announced price reductions during Baselworld 2015. Long term, many brands are choosing to be patient, waiting to see the full ramifications of the contentious fiscal policy revealed in January.

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Sarpaneva Korona KO Northern Lights 

Image – © Cuddsville 2015 – http://cuddsville.com

There is no need to be negative

At Baselworld 2015 some industry commentators kept droning on about the “downturn in demand for watches in China”. While this may fill column inches in the business press, I do not feel it fairly reflects the incredible sales success achieved in China in recent years. To illustrate my point, I refer to figures produced by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Antoine Preziuso Tourbillon of Tourbillons

In 2000, the export of watches to China from Switzerland was CHF 45M. By contrast, this figure in 2013 had risen to CHF 1,446M i.e. an increase of approximately 3100%.

In 2014, exports to China were lower than the previous year but remained huge by any other measure, totalling CHF 1,401M, a 3% reduction. What’s more, with over 1.3 billion individuals living in China alone and a total of 28.6 million Swiss watches exported last year, these figures clearly demonstrate that there remain many wrists in China which have yet to feel the reassurance and beauty of a fine Swiss watch.

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Angelus U10 Tourbillon Lumière

During my time at Baselworld, I was interviewed by the BBC regarding the future of the watch industry – “BBC News; Baselworld – Tough times for watchmakers?” While some watch companies may have experienced a decline in sales, the future outlook for the watch industry continues to remain bright.

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Tudor Pelagos blue dial

Image – © Cuddsville 2015 – http://cuddsville.com

Keen pricing

While there continues to be some incredibly high-end watches, which will forever be beyond my financial grasp, there has never been a better time to buy a mechanical watch in terms of value. This year, several brands released affordable timepieces which proffered sublime styling, wonderful wrist-feel and magnificent mechanical know-how.

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Tudor North Flag on leather strap featuring a manufacture movement

The brands which stood out for me in the £1500 – £3500 price segment include BALL Watch Company, Junghans, Maurice Lacroix, Nomos-Glashütte, Oris, TAG Heuer and Tudor.

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

BALL Watch Company Engineer Master II Skindiver II

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Junghans Meister Telemeter

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Gravity 40th Anniversary

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Nomos Glashütte Minimatik

Image – © Cuddsville 2015 – http://cuddsville.com

Interestingly, manufacture movements are no longer the preserve of the most prestigious practitioners of haute horlogerie. Indeed, an increasing number of brands are becoming vertically integrated and creating more components in-house. For example, Nomos-Glashütte, its own “assortiment” or “Swing-System” as they say in Saxony.

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

TAG Heuer CARRERA (39mm) Calibre 6, COSC certified

Independent brands

While busily running from appointment to appointment, the acts of eating, drinking and comfort breaks are postponed until the evening. Nevertheless, part way through my week at Basel, I did manage to spend a few pleasurable moments chatting with Melanie Feist of watchtime.net and revealed some of the watches which had caught my attention up to this point. These included horological gems from Speake-Marin, H. Moser & Cie, Urwerk and Armin Strom.

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Chopard L.U.C Quattro in platinum (ref 161926-9001)

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Deadbeat

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Speake-Marin Vertical Double Tourbillon

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

H. Moser & Cie Endeavour Perpetual Calendar Funky Blue

Moreover, after recording my selection on film, I discovered numerous other examples of incredible ingenuity and no-compromise creation. Arnold & Son, Grönefeld, HYT et. al also presented pristinely polished horological delicacies which I would dearly love to own.

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Grönefeld Parallax Tourbillon 

 

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Arnold & Son TBTE red gold case

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Louis Moinet Memoris

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Armin Strom Tourbillon Gumball 3000

Baselworld 2015 - a few of my personal highlights by Angus Davies

Manufacture Royale 1770 Micromegas

Closing remarks

With the arrival of warmer, sunnier weather and copious comely creations to pique my interest, this season’s crop of new watches has provided a great vintage for the delectation of discerning watch buyers. Indeed, with copious quantities of material to digest, there is no shortage of delightful watches for me to review.

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