Final week, proper earlier than Christmas, I wrote a reasonably private column trying again at crucial issues I’d keep in mind from 2021 – relating to watches and the watchmaking trade, after all. As 2022 is correct across the nook, it’s time for me to share my ideas relating to the longer term. 2021 has been a yr of transition for the trade, with its ups and downs, its good moments and its difficulties. And though 2021 noticed a partial restoration of gross sales, the longer term stays unsure. Right here’s what I’m trying ahead to in 2022.
I actually hope that Watches & Wonders 2022 will occur… However I’ve increasingly more doubts
In my overview of what occurred in 2021, I defined the ins and outs of the decline (if not the just about sure demise) of one of the necessary watch festivals, the occasion with the longest historical past: Baselworld. As soon as once more, the Basel-based present has been cancelled for 2022. Because the truthful’s web site states, “Baselworld, scheduled for spring 2022, will due to this fact not happen.” This leaves us with one international, transversal watch present on the desk: Watches & Wonders. Beforehand named SIHH, the present organised by the Fédération de la Haute Horlogerie is predicted to be a colossal, omnichannel and all-encompassing occasion for the trade with about 40 manufacturers already lined up – together with all of the heavyweights from Richemont, LVMH and types like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Grand Seiko and plenty of extra.
Clearly, that is an occasion I’m extraordinarily trying ahead to attending. For the previous two years, we (the MONOCHROME staff, but additionally our colleagues from the watch media trade and all members of the watch trade) haven’t been in a position to attend this necessary – dare I say, essential – occasion of the yr. Certainly, Watches & Wonders, in its 2020 and 2021 editions, was a wholly digital affair. The one moments when the watch trade has been in a position to collect bodily had been throughout smaller-sized occasions just like the LVMH Watch Week, the Dubai Watch Week and Geneva Watch Days. Certain, these bodily festivals had been nice initiatives, with an especially nice environment and a refreshing casualness the place work and pleasure blended and types benefitted from their presence.
But, nothing can exchange the significance of Watches & Wonders Geneva. With so many watchmakers taking part, it’s the epicentre of the trade, the second when virtually every part occurs: it’s the second when manufacturers current most of their watches; once we can meet with model representatives and CEOs; when traits are noticed; when many of the enterprise transactions and gross sales happen; and once we can provide you, readers, the very best protection of the watch scene. Briefly, W&W (identical to Baselworld up to now) units the tempo of the trade for the yr to come back. On this occasion, I’m sincerely trying ahead to attending what the FHH has introduced to be a mixture of digital and bodily occasions.
Nonetheless, I’ve increasingly more doubts relating to the feasibility of Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022. To offer you an concept of the dimensions of this occasion, the final bodily version of W&W, which occurred in 2019, gathered over 23,000 guests and journalists in a closed surroundings, not what you’d name a small-scale occasion. But, trying on the present scenario of the pandemic, with the rise of the Omicron variant, it appears far-fetched to mix a crowd of this magnitude with strict sanitary measures. Even when the present is modified and restricted to a smaller quantity of holiday makers, its future doesn’t appear very vivid. And this isn’t one thing I’m completely satisfied to share with you… I sincerely want to have the ability to go to this present once more, and shortly.
I hope the trade absolutely recovers from the pandemic, however once more, I’ve my doubts in regards to the timing
Wanting on the state of the trade in late 2021, plainly watch gross sales are on their approach to recovering. Based on the Federation of the Swiss Watch Business (and its report of November 2021), gross sales are anticipated to be greater than in 2020 (which isn’t a shock) however will almost definitely be greater than pre-pandemic ranges, with exports about 2% greater for January-November 2021 than the identical interval in 2019. Altogether, the FHS forecasts gross sales near the document ranges of 2014 buoyed by Swiss watch exports of about CHF 22 million, near the CHF 22.4 million reported in 2014. Nonetheless, these numbers must be interpreted fastidiously as they might additionally signify a correction of the market following the low gross sales of 2020. However nonetheless, the scenario is, in the interim, optimistic.
Nonetheless, for the very same causes we talked about relating to the feasibility of Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022, I’ve doubts/questions in regards to the watch enterprise in 2022. We’re seeing increasingly more drastic sanitary measures across the globe, and even confinements and lockdowns in some areas – comparable to The Netherlands not too long ago. If the Omicron variant isn’t contained appropriately, it might nicely have a robust impression on gross sales in early 2022. The yr to come back will most definitely begin with a great deal of uncertainty, suspending the entire restoration of the trade to a later second.
2022 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Royal Oak… And I’m anticipating lots
As most of you recognize, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak was launched in 1972. Because of this 2022 will mark its fiftieth anniversary, and, no doubt, AP will have fun this jubilee with panache. We all know for a incontrovertible fact that the cornerstone mannequin, the Royal Oak Jumbo Additional-Skinny 15202 (the closest you will get to the unique 1972 reference 5402), is about to be discontinued, and it is going to be changed by a brand new, up to date mannequin in 2022, a watch that can incorporate an unprecedented in-house extra-thin motion, changing the JLC-based calibre 2121.
However realizing Audemars Piguet, there can be loads of watches lined as much as have fun half a century of the Royal Oak. Should you recall, an up to date Jumbo was introduced for the fortieth anniversary of the RO in 2012 together with a brand new chronograph, an openworked extra-thin self-winding and an openworked tourbillon – amongst others. Now that the fiftieth anniversary is on the horizon, and marking an much more necessary second within the lifetime of the Royal Oak, I’m positive we will anticipate lots from Audemars Piguet. Moreover the rejuvenated traditional Jumbo Additional-Skinny, AP will almost definitely current a full assortment of latest problems, new colors, new supplies…
But, I have to say that I’m additionally a bit involved and sincerely hope that Audemars Piguet will stay true to the unique spirit of the Royal Oak and gained’t be too daring or stray too far-off from the design idea initiated by Gerald Genta in 1972. However I’m positive the query has been debated internally and that we’ll have loads of nice surprises. Wait and see, a brand new mannequin/assortment is coming quickly!
Unbiased watchmaking will proceed to be on the rise, whereas traditional classic might nicely stay secure
2021 can be remembered because the yr when impartial watchmaking boomed. Be it at public sale or gauging by the ready lists, indie watchmakers had been clearly within the ascendant. Names comparable to F.P. Journe, De Bethune, Kari Voutilainen, Richard Mille, but additionally extra historic names comparable to Derek Pratt, George Daniels, Roger W. Smith or Vianney Halter are all benefitting from a robust momentum and an unbelievable rise in costs. Evidently 2021 was the yr when these necessary members of the watchmaking trade gained the popularity they really deserve. And possibly the curiosity of traders too… However that’s one other situation.
This pattern, initiated within the late 2010s and reaching document heights final yr, is definitely not going to wane in 2022. I’m anticipating the identical stage of curiosity in impartial watchmaking within the coming yr, with a rise in collectability for necessary handmade, soul-filled watches manufactured post-2000s. On the similar time, I’m additionally anticipating the classical aspect of the classic market, lengthy dominated by heavyweights comparable to Patek Philippe and Rolex, to stay comparatively secure. We’ve seen this already in 2021, with nonetheless a robust curiosity, however not a lot progress for the traditional classic watches. Costs are sturdy, however not stronger than earlier than.
On-line is king and can proceed to build up energy
And this goes for gross sales of latest watches, gross sales of second-hand watches, auctions, communication, media and sharing the eagerness for watches… Whereas on-line and digital actions have been on the rise for at the very least 10 years, the scenario generated by the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 compelled all the trade to alter its habits and reinvent itself. On-line – which was one device amongst many to promote watches, to speak about watches, to share the eagerness for watches, to evaluation watches and to current new fashions – has change into THE primary instrument for manufacturers, sellers, media and public sale homes up to now two years forcing all of them to embrace digital as a result of a bodily presence is not an possibility.
Being the managing editor of a web-based journal, I’m undoubtedly a robust advocate of on-line actions. For over 15 years now, MONOCHROME has been 100% digital, publishing articles on this web site, posting and sharing on Instagram or producing dynamic video content material on YouTube. When releasing our two Montres de Souscription this yr, we realised the significance of our digital presence: on-line content material actually generates ardour and, in the long run, results in gross sales. These days, this ardour for watches is shared by dozens of notable collectors on social media, video evaluations of watches seem on YouTube or on-line articles comparable to what you possibly can learn on this journal. Digital is stronger than ever and can stay so. And because of this, MONOCHROME won’t solely proceed its actions on-line however reinforce them to be even nearer to you, our loyal readers. And types that wish to succeed and develop can not flip a blind eye to the web world.
Will there be one more closing Nautilus, or will we see a brand new (possibly not-so-new) Nautilus?
OK, this one is right here to finish on a lightweight word. And sure, there can be a brand new version of the traditional time-and-date Patek Philippe Nautilus in 2022, changing the 5711 and almost definitely prepared in time for Watches & Wonders 2022. With all of the reactions generated by the introduction of the Tiffany Blue version of the 5711, you possibly can see how some folks on Instagram acquired actually impressed… Kudos to @bludimelo for these cool mockups.
For now, and from all the MONOCHROME staff, we thanks once more for studying this journal and for sharing your ardour with us. We want you all the perfect this New Yr’s Eve and hope to see you quickly (very quickly) in 2022.