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Countdown to Christmas
Trend Forecaster

Countdown to Christmas

Friday, 07 December 2018
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Mathilde Binetruy
Freelance journalist

“And yet, it moves.”

Galilée

From the 1998 World Cup, her first big event, to SIHH and Baselworld today, she reports from where the action is.

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6 min read

As we ease our way into the festive season, we’ve put together an advent calendar with all the important news and horological highlights of 2018.

December 1st

When it comes to seasonal traditions, the advent calendar is up there with a letter to Father Christmas and decorating the tree. And if there is one thing watchmakers love, it’s symbols. Among the most memorable this year, Rolex stole the show from Longines when it became Premier Partner and Official Watch of the French Open (May 20th to June 9th, 2019). This new partnership wraps up Rolex’s sponsorship of the four Grand Slam tournaments: the Australian Open, the French Open (Roland-Garros), Wimbledon and the US Open. Game, set and match to the brand with the coronet.

December 2nd

It’s been another year of packed salerooms. One of the most surprising lots to cross the block, on November 14th in Geneva, was a diamond ring containing a lock of Marie-Antoinette’s hair, which fetched €400,000. Speculators be warned: France’s last queen was given the nickname “Madame Déficit” because of her lavish lifestyle.

December 3rd

After its new Museum and Hôtel des Horlogers, currently being built in Le Brassus in Vallée-de-Joux, Audemars Piguet has a third construction work-in-progress. The brand is building a new manufacturing facility in Les Saignoles, west of Le Locle in the canton of Neuchâtel.

December 4th

Today is the feast day of Saint Barbara, patron saint of artillerymen and firefighters, so spare a thought for the CEOs appointed in 2018 to put out the fire (or, depending on the situation, rekindle the flame!).

December 5th

Following his heartfelt speech at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, and a standing ovation from the audience, Jean-Claude Biver may want to follow the example of former FLOTUS and now best-selling author, Michelle Obama – currently on her Becoming book tour – with his own recollections. And what better title than All You Need Is Love.

December 6th

December 6th to 10th sees the 16th Art Basel Miami Beach. Curiously, it’s also the place to buy a watch, now that so many major artists are collaborating with a watch brand. British artist Damien Hirst has imagined, with Swatch, a limited edition for Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday. This is his first collaboration with a brand.

December 7th

Take a generous helping of customisation, a hint of green credentials, a sprinkling of pop culture, mix it together and hey presto! Baume, the year’s new brand that Richemont hopes will win the millennial vote. Whether the recipe can rival Gucci remains to be seen. The fast-rising Italian brand is still the reference for super-cool luxury.

December 8th

2018, in case you hadn’t noticed, ends with an 8. For the Chinese it’s a lucky number, which perhaps explains the country’s continued economic growth. China is also where around 30% of Swiss watch exports finish up, making it the third largest market after Hong Kong and the US.

December 9th

Both Carl F. Bucherer and Breitling joined the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie in 2018, bringing to 44 the total number of its partner-brands.

December 10th

Omega has extended the warranty on its watches to five years (for purchases after July 10th, 2018). On the downside, despite sporting a white coat and loupe in the brand’s ads, George Clooney won’t be the one servicing your Speedy.

December 11th

For the first half of its 2018/2019 financial year (to September 30th), Richemont’s profits shot up 131% to €2.2 billion. Sales increased by 21% to €6.8 billion.

December 12th

Old is the new new, and vintage was this year’s big winner, sending brands searching through their archives. To be continued in 2019, of course….

December 13th

After yellow gold, white gold, pink gold, Rolex Everose gold… Chopard puts Fairmined gold in the spotlight. 24k ethical.

December 14th

D -30 before the opening of the 29th Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH, January 14th to 17th, 2019). The 2019 edition will welcome 35 exhibitors, with 18 historic Maisons and 17 independents at the Carré des Horlogers. Bovet makes its debut, replacing Van Cleef & Arpels.

December 15th

So you forgot to post your letter to the man in red? Keep calm and go online! Watch lovers will find their perfect gift on Watchfinder or Alibaba (one acquired by, the other partner to Richemont), Watchbox or Chrono24. E-commerce is another of 2018’s big winners.

December 16th

As part of a drive to promote the Swiss watch industry outside its own borders, the Neuchâtel Tourist Board is working with Zenith to offer a completely new experience: the first ever opportunity for the public to visit a watch Manufacture. Don’t forget to send a postcard of the complications atelier.

December 17th

Smartwatch vs. mechanical watch? Which will come out on top? Answer under the Christmas tree on December 25th, or in 20 years’ time for a quantified analysis.

December 18th

In World Cup year, football had to be watchmakers’ sport of choice. Hublot scored a new ambassador in the person of Kylian Mbappé, while IWC is now partner to the French squad and current world champions.

December 19th

Good news: affordable luxury will be the trend for the years to come, meaning you can buy a watch without cashing in your life insurance policy. The psychological price point: under CHF 5,000.

December 20th

One of the first stops for today’s watch industry entrepreneur has to be Kickstarter. An idea, a concept, a couple of prototypes and a list of suppliers are all it takes to set up a crowdfunding project. Every little helps.

December 21st

With three months to go before Baselworld (March 21st to 26th, 2019), everyone’s asking what will this new edition, sans Swatch Group, be like. Coming soon, a Swatch Messeplatz?

December 22nd

Christmas vacation begins in watchland, although most people are too tired to care after the rush of preparations for the upcoming fairs. But will fairs even exist in the future (see December 21st)?

December 23rd

Pink, blue, yellow, nylon, rubber or sturgeon’s eggs… anything’s possible now for your INTERCHANGEABLE! strap.

December 24th

Dear Father Christmas, could you not get your wires crossed this year? Last year I asked to lose weight and win the lottery. This year I’d like a perpetual calendar, and many more years (centuries) to enjoy it. Happy Christmas.

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