Timepieces to last a lifetime

Upbeat at Basel

Here, the World’s Top Watchmakers Showcase Their Latest and Greatest:

BASEL, SWITZERLAND-The annual Baselworld watch and jewelry show this spring in Switzerland wrapped up on a positive note, with luxury watchmakers anticipating a solid year ahead. For eight days, 104,300 visitors streamed into the various exhibition halls that comprise Baselworld to visit top-notch watchmakers such as Patek Philippe, Rolex, Hublot, Breitling and the Swatch Group brands.

One of the biggest announcements took place on the evening prior to the launch of the weeklong show, when TAG Heuer held a party to welcome its new brand ambassador, actress Cameron Diaz.

French fashion house Hermès debuted its first in-house movements, the H1837 for men and the H1912 for women. Breitling introduced the first of two in-house movements set for release this year, the Caliber 05, in its new “Transocean Chronograph Unitime.” The next in-house movement, the Caliber 02, released this May. However, TAG Heuer’s introduction of a new female brand ambassador for one of the industry’s biggest brands set the tone perfectly for a show where women’s watches took center stage.

TAG spokespeople announced they would focus on women’s watches in 2012, starting with the new “Link Lady” collection. Hublot introduced the “Tutti Frutti Tourbillon Pave,” its first tourbillon for women. Patek Philippe debuted the “Ladies First Perpetual Calendar,” a first in a women’s watch for the maker.

Another showstopper was Rolex’s unveiling of its highly anticipated Sky-Dweller, complete with dual time zone and annual calendar-a technological first for the brand.

Ed Bridge, president of Ben Bridge Jeweler, has been attending Baselworld for the past 25 years and says the mega event takes over the entire city during that time. “Cruise ships will dock and double as hotels in order to accommodate attendees.”

And although nightly dinners and celeb appearances are happy diversions, seasoned watch buyers know to keep their eyes on the prize. Bridge shares, “You need to be there if you want to get the watches [for your store]; limited-edition timepieces will sell out by the time you make it back to North America.”

– By Michelle Graff