Watches Get Smarter at Baselworld

Baselworld Trade Fair Report No1: Watch Tradition Updated

Frederique Constant

The race for smart watches intensified at Baselworld, the annual trade event for the watch and fine jewelry industry held in Basel, Switzerland. Whereas a year ago mostly luxury brands with a masculine look launched a smart watch, this year many brands, such as Fossil, Nixon, Michael Kors and Swarovski among others developed their version appealing to women as well.  All models connected to a cell phone and featured fitness trackers and the like, characteristics one has come to expect. There is no doubt about it, the watch industry has entered the computer era and will expand on it in the future.

Where does this leave the traditional watch market? The general consensus was that despite the current uncertainties in Asian markets there would always be that luxury watch collector who appreciates design in the finest materials.  In addition, the status watch appealing to the man who has everything remains a major opportunity with ever-new design complications and features in the body of the watch. We see leather bands outpacing traditional links for this customer, and this segment of the market is slated to remain strong.

1. Hysek 2. Frederique Constant 3. Angelus

It has always been fascinating to be able to see the inner workings of a watch mechanism, and every year there are new ways to show “skeletons”.  This year’s designs focused on two/tone – two/texture concepts, square faces, and a gutsy over-all look.

4. Bell & Ross 5. Hublot 6. Zenith Heritage

Unrest is all over the world. Thus a military trend remains on the forefront. Desert fatigue taupes, army greens and camouflage patterns can be found anywhere, including new watch designs.

7. M Watch

There is a secret sailor in everyone, and summertime brings him or her out. Nautical stripes in webbed bands tap into the trend for watches creating a carefree, casual accessory, an ideal spectator look on the wrist. 

8. Armand Nicolet 9. Calvin Klein 10. Chronoswiss

Small, graphic designs in subtly raised 3-d tactile patterns got started in the performance textile industry a few seasons ago. The look and feel of these fabrics has been extremely successful. Since then it has crossed over into other materials, such as leather, plastics and now onto watch faces as well.

11. Blancpain 12. Clerc Hydoscaph 13. Chronoswiss

Navy and midnight blue have propelled themselves into year-round core colours in every fashion related item, from head to toe. Watches are no exception. Baselworld was practically awash in a sea of dark blue.

14. Chopard 15. Dietrich 16. Hysek

Real men like gutsy watches with lots of bravura and functions. All black with just a touch of colour qualifies. Techno bands with rubber tire profiles, racing stripes or microdot perforations on chronographs fit the bill.

17. Hermès 18. Longines 19. Tissot

A prevailing retro mood extended clearly into watches as well with elegant leather straps, classic round bevels., Roman numerals and other retro inspired numerals. These understated watches were timeless and will certainly have long-term appeal for gentlemen and ladies alike.


Going to Monza, attending Formula One? Famous luxury cars not only sponsor the races but they are extending their brand into luxury watches as well.

The next edition of Baselworld will take place from March 23-30, 2017 in Basel, Switzerland.