Just once, I would like to have an issue go by without outsized world events looming over me. We live in interesting times so more disruptions are likely, but we are grateful that Watches and Wonders Geneva is on track. I will say nothing about economic headwinds on the way in this note, but I cannot ignore it either because the Spring issue takes a long and hard look at the state of the watchmaking trade, as far as 2022 goes. I will also be using this space for a personal message later, regarding the passing of Gerd Rüdiger Lang.
First though, I must put the Spring issue into context, since I see that major business dailies are already touting alternative investments as a reaction to the unfolding banking debacle. Our chief focus this issue was taking stock of the year that was. Technically, this is our first issue of 2023, but it is also the last issue to feature the novelties of 2022 as key highlights. Thus we have settled on Spring as both a medium of renewal and of appraisal, and there is much to appraise. Helping us out with this is an excellent interview with Cortina Watch CEO Jeremy Lim, where he pulls no punches on the state of the trade.
This feeds off our special section on what 2022 signifies, which also includes our picks of the top under-the-radar watches that deserve your attention. Related to this is a development that might surprise you: we are putting the spotlight on British watchmaking, which we think is really making Britain great again. It is all part of a renewed yen for independent watchmaking, because retailers are also doubling down on these smaller brands. To be clear, this goes far beyond such established names as F.P. Journe and the like so that means you should brace yourself for an onslaught of new brands to discover. What’s not to like about that?
As for why this second wave of independent watchmaking is hitting our shores now, well, Lim thinks it all has to do with retailers needing brands to build long-term relationships with, now that some major groups are going their own way. On our side, we question the wisdom of groups moving away from the multi-brand retail experience, especially since there are so many new people interested in watchmaking. The retailers have the right experience to build interest on the ground, as they have demonstrated in the past with major successes such as Panerai and A. Lange & Söhne, to name just two right here in Singapore. In a market where supply of the most popular watches remains tight, this is the moment for retailers to offer other options, for the same perceived value.
On that note, we are deeply gratified to learn that production is ramping up in Switzerland, with Rolex reportedly not only building a new production site and actively hiring, but also creating pop-up manufacturing sites! We have never heard of such a thing, certainly not in watchmaking where pop-up stores are much more common, but we hope this helps you to get your watches sooner. We also get into this in the aforementioned post-mortem on watchmaking in 2022, which also includes some predictions for 2023.
On that note, you will not be surprised to see the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique on our cover — it is the 70th anniversary of the debut of the world’s first dive watch after all. If nothing else, 2023 will be an important year for watch lovers since there will likely be a lot of new dive watches to enjoy, not only from Blancpain!
Finally, on the matter of Lang, we learned that the famed watchmaker passed away recently. Not only did he play a vital role in the revival of mechanical watches in the 1990s, he also gave us all the exhibition caseback… he literally gave this gift to the entire trade because he did not try to hang on to exclusivity for his own brand, Chronoswiss. This says everything you need to know about the character of Lang, and his passion for mechanical watches. The industry owes him a debt of untold proportions, and we mourn his passing.
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