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Last year’s trends confirmedBASELWORLD 2011: Swiss watch industry is in top gear

The Swiss watch industry is in top gear. Just a few weeks before BASELWORLD opens its doors and with a recovery firmly in place, watchmakers, jewellers and suppliers are unveiling their very latest creations. However, while the economic crisis seems well and truly behind us, it is still too early to celebrate. With their understated, modest and sensible designs, this year's timepieces once again bear witness to an authentic savoir-faire that is truly Swiss.

Trend towards understated luxury

BASELWORLD, the world's leading international watch and jewellery show, will be held this year from March 24 - 31, offering Swiss Exhibitors the perfect opportunity to present the models of tomorrow. For the second year running and still under the influence of the recent economic crisis, the trend is towards nostalgia and the past, far from the extravaganza and excess associated with the early 21th century. So, many 1950's and 1960's-inspired watches appear alongside revamped historical models. This return to sources, for both brands and their clients, has led to models of understated aestheticism, practical functionalism and optimal comfort. In the haute horlogerie sector, the emphasis is on technical and prestigious complications – tourbillons, repeaters and striking-mechanisms, among others – thereby highlighting original Swiss savoir-faire, which is focused as much on the heart of the watch as the exterior.

Everything seems geared to balance. Cases are a more rational shape again - round, flat and slender – and relatively modest in diameter, with 40 to 46 mm for men and 34 to 40 mm for women. The dials, although minimalist, are delicately worked – multi-layered, flat, pierced or 100% openworked – to create an unpretentious appearance. Monochrome and two-tone dials are also popular as are black, white and silver dials, the colours traditionally favoured by watchmakers. Blue, however, has returned to the forefront and found resonance with the public. A guarantee of quality, the blues on offer are produced by special thermal treatment and come in several shades, from subtle to flamboyant.

Strong trend towards neo-classicism

While the brands have drawn inspiration from their past, they have certainly not ignored the avant-garde techniques perfected over the past few years. This skilful combination of retro and contemporary bears all the hallmarks of neo-classicism. As far as materials are concerned, titanium, ceramic, carbon fibre, rubber and derivatives are no longer considered exclusive and have given rise to timepieces that are distinctly heterogeneous. Sapphire crystals, now used for the case middle as well as the dial and either transparent or smoky, are used for new aesthetic ends. Movements, the watch's nerve centre, are being designed with both men and women in mind. Whether they are in-house or not, re-worked vintage movements or recently manufactured, they are meticulously made and decorated, and their ceaseless to and fro motion can often be admired through the transparent caseback.

Sharp recovery in 2010

Following the strong decline in sales in 2009, the watch sector has enjoyed a sharp recovery ever since January 2010. Watch exports in 2009 totalled 13.2 billion francs, but soared to 16.2 billion in 2010, an increase of 3 billion. Growth for 2010 exceeded 22%, a level even higher than that reached in 2007, generally regarded as an excellent year. These figures augur well for the year to come.

All informations about the watch fair: BASELWORLD