Seeing as it is my first year as a full-time editor at Chrono24 Magazine, I am really looking forward to the 2019 exhibition season ahead, with SIHH to begin and Baselworld following. Attending and covering these sorts of events, talking to other industry professionals, and seeing novelties first hand are things I have been looking forward to since I started working at Chrono24. Apart from that, it is no secret that I am a passionate collector of wristshots and there are certainly some watches out there I’d like to hunt down in the year to come: a Patek 5270 or Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar would be nice – whether on my wrist or yours! In terms of my private or non-watch-related life, I’m planning to visit the Algarve coast, Budapest, and maybe Dubai before the end of the year. Let’s see what 2019 has to offer; I am ready to explore new things!
I’m sure 2019 will be just as interesting as 2018 as far as the watch industry goes. To start, SIHH will kick off in January and some brands will be attending for the last time. A month later, Baselworld will open its doors. The event will have a much different face this year as Swatch Group has announced that they are pulling out of the 2019 show. This turmoil at both major industry fairs shows that brands are realizing the need to concentrate more on consumers and select media outlets, rather than catering to the masses. In regards to the watches, I’m eager to see if the trend of heritage re-editions will continue. Also, the last few years brought us known timepieces in new color variations: I’d like to see this trend die out. I’m expecting something new from the majority of the brands – more originality and improvements, please.
With the new year coming up, it’s time to think about 2019 expectations. Personally, I would love to see value for money. Recently rising prices mean watch brands have created a gap for the beginning watch collector or enthusiast. More and more in-house movements are finding their way to the market, which is added value that I’d be happy to see continue. Watches in the ‘affordable’ price range, in particular, should phase out the use of (modified) standard movements.
I’m also really looking forward to seeing smaller watches. Last year, we saw a few moves in this direction. One great example is Tudor with their slimmer and smaller Black Bay (if only they made it a full snowflake version) – it looked amazing. Let’s hope this will be a trend in 2019. I also expect more color in the coming year; we’ve seen waves of green and blue and I wouldn’t be surprised if color will play a big role in 2019.
I am most looking forward to seeing whether the big watch brands will able to impress consumers with their new watches. Will brands be able to inspire and impress with new ways of thinking, new designs, and new technical marvels? By new I mean completely new; not a limited edition of a current model, not the newest generation of an already existing family of watches, not a retro inspired re-issue of a classic, but watches that demonstrate a clear vision of future watch design and, therefore, the future of a brand. In my opinion, brand relevance is not created by releasing limited editions if everyone is making limited editions. It is not created by introducing another retro-inspired piece if everyone is going through their archives trying to cough up a re-issue of a classic. True relevance is having a vision for future design and placing innovation (or progress at least) at the heart of your brand.
Is it realistic to expect this? I would not be saying it, if I had not already seen examples of how it can be done. Independent brands, such as MB&F, HYT, Urwerk, and Ressence, are pushing the boundaries of what defines a watch with every timepiece they make. The best example from a larger brand is the introduction of the Bulgari Octo Finissimo. The remarkable design has people talking, and the technical brilliance is showcased by its record-breaking features. For me, that is what makes watch brands relevant and I hope to see more brands embark on similar journeys.
The watch year traditionally kicks off with SIHH and Baselworld. Regardless of which manufacturers are exhibiting, these two events will set the trends for 2019. While I’m personally a big fan of almost every manufacturer’s retro models, I wonder how much longer this trend will carry on. I wouldn’t be against more retro models: I like the combination of heritage designs and modern technology – 50s diving watches and faux patina with sapphire glass, a modern movement and no stretch bands? Totally my thing!
Yet competition depends on diversity, so I’d also be happy to see new ideas. What will Tudor do next with their smaller caliber? Are the 1970s and 80s going to be rediscovered afresh? How will Omega celebrate the anniversary of the Moon landing?
Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing whether my offspring will show the first signs of having inherited the watch gene.
I’m not thinking about which dial color will be in high demand in 2019 or whether the perfect size for a men’s watch is 38 or 38.5 mm. I’ll be paying much closer attention to continued developments in the ‘manufacture movement’ trend, which is giving affordable brands their own unique technical selling points. Granted, words like ‘manufacture’ or ‘in-house’ have been overused for years. Exact definitions and interpretations are debatable.
Does it count as a manufacture caliber if a supplier produces it exclusively for one brand? While this and many other questions are justified, I’m simply delighted that diverse movements are being rolled out. Proven calibers from major brands are unbeatable in terms of reliability and price, but they don’t always satisfy one’s curiosity for technical innovation and variety.
Customers are becoming increasingly better informed, and they are demanding technical competence rather than good advertising and empty phrases. It remains to be seen how the manufacturers will meet these demands in 2019.