Blue endured, 38mm was the case size du jour and everyone was resurrecting the past; we take a look at what themes prevailed at Basel
Every year, for eight days, the Messeplatz in Basel gets taken over by a significant number of the world’s jewellery and watch brands. Some you will have heard of, some are so niche they don’t even have an Instagram account but all of them descend on this unremarkable town on the French/Swiss/German border in order to show their wares to journalists and buyers alike.
Despite the vast number of brands from a variety of countries, the hive mind does seem to prevail and trends emerge; these are the ones that we think are going to change what goes on your wrist for 2017.
Blue is still the favourite colour
It’s been a popular hue for the past few years, but this year brands were experimenting with a range of colours from the blue spectrum.
Patek Philippe (below right) went for a powder shade for the update of its World Time Ref. 7130, while Nomos (above) broke out of its pastel palette and opted for a vibrant shade it called Signal Blue for its new Aqua Ahoi. Dior (below left), never one to do things by halves, went all out with this particular trend and used multiple blues to mesmeric effect in its Grand Bal Piece Unique Galaxie collection, which also featured diamond constellations set on a nearly invisible sapphire crystal dial-side rotor.
Just one shade of grey
While blue was the main attraction, slate grey was putting up a bit of a challenge. Bulgari’s record-breaking Octo Finissimo Automatic (above) was rendered entirely in what the brand’s PR referred to as “elephant grey” and Nomos (below right), always one to tap into multiple trends, had gorgeously soft dove-grey straps on one version of its new Club Campus collection.
Oris (below left), meanwhile, opted for a more matte finish for its ChronOris slice of nostalgia.
Blasts from the past
It’s always a surefire bet that there will be some vintage resissues at Basel (it’s a comfort thing for brands, which makes sense when Swiss watch exports are down), but this year it felt like there wasn’t a single brand that hadn’t had a good old rummage through the archive.
Omega (above) wins hands down on this front, launching not just one but three, which can even be bought together – the 60th anniversary tributes to the Speedmaster, Railmaster and Seamaster 300, all of which launched in 1957.
Longines’s (below right) latest addition to its Heritage collection was an authentic remake of something from 1947 and Rado (below left) tried to recreate the colour of radium, which was originally used to make elements luminescent, to keep its Captain Cook looking bona fide.
The new unisex
It seems as though delineating a collection by gender is not the done thing anymore. Brands were showing watches all around the 38-40mm mark and refusing to say if they were men’s or women’s watches.
Zenith’s new Pilot Type 20 Extra Special (above) was in a diminutive (well, for this collection anyway) 40mm version, in a rather wonderful quartet of colours – red, blue, yellow and green, while Blancpain (below left) has reduced its iconic Fifty Fathoms to 38mm. Last year Tudor (below right) brought out a 36mm Black Bay so this year it decided to up the circumference to 41mm for a more ungendered aesthetic.
Straps that were made to be wrapped were everywhere this year. Hermes, the originator of the double tour, had its Cape Cod coated in DLC and put on a black strap edged with red making for a very fierce-looking watch aptly named Shadow (below left).
Bulgari decapitated its Serpenti and put the head on a selection of fine, jewel coloured leather bracelets that were designed to be mixed and matched (above). Gucci updated its G-Frame by putting it on woven lengths in Gucci’s team colours (bottom), while Maurice Lacroix channelled the 1980s and put its bicoloured Aikon on tanned, doubled-up leather (below right).