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March 27, 2009updated Jul 29, 2015


By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

BaselWorld, the most important trade fair for the global watch and jewelry industry, opened its doors officially today in Basel, Switzerland. Among high-end watch collections that were presented to Elite Traveler editors today, there were high complications, fashion brands delving deeper into watches as accessories, and beautiful bling.

High End Designs

Maximilian Büsser, founder of MB&F, now has three 100-piece limited edition watch collections that each represent the outer limits of movement and case design. The company’s first creation, HM1, is producing the final 20 pieces in the edition (which was launched in 2007), and making these last pieces extra special by opening up the dial for greater visibility into the movement. Ten are made in red gold, and ten are made in white gold blackened with PVD. All will sell for $195,000. In the HM2 collection, 60 new ceramic case versions are entering production, and the price will be $66,000. And the newest design, the space ship-shaped HM3, was presented late last year but begins deliveries this month. It is priced at $74,000.

Munich, Germany-based Chronoswiss enters a new chapter of watch-making this year with the debut of its first model with an in-house manufacture movement. And, the company is proud to say (even on the dial) that it is Made in Germany. The Sauterelle measures 44 mm, and comes as a classic three-hand timepiece as well as a regulator—which Chronoswiss is well known for. The movement inside powers a deadbeat seconds hand (rather than the more common sweep seconds), and the constant “jumping” gives the watch its name: grasshopper. Steel versions start at $16,000 and rose gold begin at $25,000. Chronoswiss is also behind Audi’s new luxury watch, the Tachoscope, which is a variation of Chronoswiss’ Chronoscope model. Only 100 pieces will be made, and the white gold watch will sell for about 24,900 Euros.

De Grisogono, which wowed BaselWorld last year with the launch of its Meccanico timepiece, introduces two exciting new men’s timepieces this year as a follow-up. The Fuso Quadrato, a large square timepiece with soft corners, presents two time zones via two dials. The genius of the design is—compliments of founder Fawaz Gruosi—seen in the stacking of the dials, and separating them by a diaphragm device, similar to an iris. (The device was also used on the Occhio Ripetizione Minuti). On Fuso, the wearer shifts a slide along the case side to open the diaphragm, revealing the second time zone. The watch will be made in white and pink gold, at prices starting at $31,400. Additionally, de Grisogono is enhancing its popular Instrumento Grande Date by opening up the dial to reveal the entirety of the two discs that form the big date feature. This new Instrumento Grande Open Date, will be crafted in rose or yellow gold, and come with a variety of diamond treatments.

Fashionable Times

Several brands that are legendary leaders in the worlds of fashion are refining their timepiece collections to embrace both the trends of the runway and the preferences of watch connoisseurs. Hermes is adding new editions to its line of round Arceau watches. Among them is a new 32 mm automatic timepiece, as well as a Chrono Alezan, featuring beautiful combinations of luxurious leather straps (one Hermes hallmark) with a few dial details in brilliant orange (the house’s signature color). Prices start at $4,750 for this steel watch. The Cape Cod is the company’s top selling watch line, and this year it will see a new case shape: tonneau. And for men, several limited edition pieces are clearly collection worthy, including an 18K white gold skeletonized Arceau, and the Dressage model with a perpetual calendar.

The Marina Chain has been an element in Gucci’s collections of ready-to-wear, accessories, and jewelry since the 1950s. Now, it takes pride of place in the Italian brand’s new watch collection for ladies. Just as the Signoria and Chiodo collections of the last two years marked a clear union between Gucci’s watches and fashion collections, Marina Chain is a perfect addition to the overall collection too. As the name suggests, it is a chain bracelet, but with a belt buckle clasp. Available in two sizes and three metal combinations (steel, gold, or steel with gold), the timepieces will range from $795 to $21,500, with various diamond treatments available.

Versace is also playing up iconic symbols from its fashion collections. The round Eon for women, a new line, features round rings outside the watch’s bezel that playfully rotate to reveal the Versace logo on one side. Available in steel or gold-plated steel, these watches will sell for $3,500 to $5,000. And for men, Versace is producing a new V-Master collection housed in an asymmetrical oval case, which makes for a sophisticated sports watch when made in steel with an open back.

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Salvatore Ferragamo’s collaboration with the Timex Group debuted last year, and for 2009 more models are joining the original lines. Women who love the house’s joyfully-patterned fabrics will embrace the new Gancino Fancy, an ultra-flat round watch available in a rainbow of colors, plus an integrated technical satin strap made from Ferragamo’s signature Toes pattern. Ferragamo offers bespoke fashion and accessories services, so it is only fitting that the company would launch Unique Pieces within its watch collection too. A stand-out is the F-80, a 38-mm titanium watch with white gold bezel encasing 48 baguette-cut rubies.

Valentino also teamed with Timex to introduce watches last year. This year, symbols scene in the house’s haute couture collections take new shape on timepieces for men and women. Seduction, a wide oval watch case that debuted last year, is now available in a “Plisse” version that features a bracelet of steel mesh so fine it feels like chiffon. And new for this year is the Liaison line, which takes the iconic braid shape and employs it as a bracelet for a tonneau-shaped watch. The full collection ranges in price from 6,600 Euros to 40,000 Euros.

Bertolucci, the Swiss-made watches with an Italian soul, is expanding its curved oval Serena Garbo line with a cheerful limited edition model. Mosaic will only be produced for one year beginning in June, and this white watch dazzles with a geometric pattern of rubies and white diamonds on the dial and bezel. The price is $12,300.

Adornment and Shine

Dazzling gem stones were also the most striking elements of other collections. At Hysek, the Abyss Tourbillon that launched last year, is now available in four variations based on the elements: earth, air, water and fire. Each reflects a symbolic color on its dial that is created by a gem mounted in the bezel. Therefore, a ruby gives the Helios model a red glow, Tethys turns blue as the sea from a sapphire, Celeste is cast in a light blue with the help of diamonds, and Gaia glows green from emerald. Each is priced at 120,000 Swiss francs.

Seven-year-old Ritmo Mvndo has two large timepieces at the heart of its high-end line. Persepolis, a 54-mm, two-dial round watch with a case that orbits, or flips, was launched last year but returns in 2009 with an array of diamond treatments. It will also be available in titanium for the first time. Its price ranges form $6,500 to $75,000. The new, massive square Puzzle 44-mm watch features a sliding tile puzzle panel on top, which opens to reveal the timepiece inside. Diamonds decorate the tiles, and the design can incorporate initials, symbols, and other client requests. Available in all black, stainless steel, or steel with rose gold, this masculine timepiece has a sense of humor.

Danish designer Georg Jensen marks the 40th anniversary of its Vivianna Bangle watch with a special edition of 40 pieces of the original design—which has no numbers, no minute or hour hand, and only the second hand tracking time. Shockingly simple, the steel watch is a mirror-like dial. In addition, a new Vivianna is joining the line. This oval version, in steel or 18K gold with options of diamonds set into the mirror dials, comes on a wide range of colorful straps that are easy to change.

Jacob & Co. is introducing a new line of ladies’ watches especially for the breezy spring and summer season. Tentatively called Primavera, the new line is based on an aluminum watch case (though steel versions are also available). The 40- and 47-mm watches are available with a dazzling array of dial and case color options—each a swirling or geometric pattern of pastel colors and mother of pearl. The quartz collection ranges from $6,000 to $10,800. And for the Epic collection, a line that appeals to men, there is a new tourbillion with multiple time zones, available in various metal case combinations and diamond treatments. And Epic scales down in the Epic V2.

Are you giving your watch collection the care and attention it deserves? Buben & Zorweg not only manufactures high-tech watch winders of all sizes, which incorporate high-tech elements like non-heat-producing LED lights, digital programming, and cabinetry of macassar wood, burl, leather, carbon fiber or crocodile. The company creates showpieces that house dozens of watch winders with life’s other necessities like humidors, sound systems, bars, safes, and tourbillon clocks. For safety, many also feature alarm systems, locks, and bullet-proof glass.

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