Watchmakers presenting their wares at the Baselworld Watch and Jewellery Show this past March bet on a plethora of novelties to beat a prolonged market slump.
But this time, what was new was old: As often happens when times are tough, a classic aesthetic prevailed. On the men’s front, there was a clear trend toward traditional black or blue dials. There was a groundswell of nautical motifs, too: Two brands — Blancpain and Seiko’s Credor — offered watches with facsimiles of “The Great Wave,” the famed print by Japanese artist Hokusai.
Vintage appearances were also popular, with rugged finishes on dials and straps lending timepieces a weathered look.
Brands got a little more creative with their ladies’ offerings, with a number of models featuring fabric textures and complex métiers d’art dials inspired by couture techniques. Dainty watches, such as Bulgari’s circular, diamond-encrusted Serpenti Incantati, made a comeback — though for some makers, they’d never gone away. Case in point: Boucheron’s rectangular fluted Reflet, launched in 1947.