What We’ll Be Wearing On Our Wrists This Year

The premier destination for horologists, Baselworld is the watch industry’s annual display of what they’ve been tinkering with in their Geneva factories for the last twelve months, and what you’ll be wearing on your wrist for the next twelve.

Here are the major trends that broke at Baselworld 2015:

Smartwatches Take Centre Stage

The most discussed watch at Baselworld wasn’t even there. Perhaps wary of the mistakes of the Quartz Crisis, even the most traditional brands reacted in some way to Apple’s smartwatch.

Most notably, Breitling debuted its app-controlled B55 pilot’s watch, which logs flight hours and corrects automatically when crossing time zones, while Mondaine went a step further with its step- and sleep-tracking Helvetica model, ideal for those after smartwatch functionality and traditional looks.

Bling Is Back

The rise of China as a luxury goods market means more brands are encrusting their premium models with carats of precious stones to drive up prices – and margins.

Diamond specialists Graff have been at this for years but now even more typically restrained brands like Rolex are embracing the bling, showing a gem-bezelled Cellini and Oyster Perpetual Datejust Pearlmasters that featured diamonds everywhere from dial to bracelet.

Probably not one to wear to the gym.

Rubber Straps

After Nato and Milanese straps, rubber’s fought its way to the fore as the trendiest way to keep a watch on your wrist.

Surprisingly, Rolex debuted its own version, the Oysterflex – even if the brand claimed that the elastomer filled with titanium blades, for the flexibility of rubber with the strength of metal, was actually a ‘technical bracelet’.

Semantics aside, rubber shrugged off its usual diving confines to lend a sporty air to pilot and driving watches from Breitling to TAG Heuer. If you can’t afford to add to your collection, swapping the strap is a much more affordable way to update your wristwear.

Bespoke Compounds

For all the precious metals – rose gold was especially prevalent, both in solid form housing mechanical movements and as a PVD coating on quartz watches – several brands presented watches in compounds that were designed to be tougher, lighter or more attractive than standard steel, titanium and gold.

Ceramic expert Rado showcased new models in its super durable plasma, which offers the appearance of steel with the benefits of ceramic. And Breitling presented its Galactic Unitime SleekT with a bezel fashioned from tungsten carbide, a material five times tougher than steel. Which means you don’t need to wince every time you catch it on a door handle.

Pocket-Friendly Pricing

The rise of entry-level luxury brands like Tudor, and the impact unpegging had on the value of the Swiss franc, means that starting a watch collection has suddenly become a lot easier.

Yes, there were still a lot of silly price tags on display at Baselworld, from Girard-Perregaux’s £300,000+ minute repeater to Hublot’s Ferrari collaboration, but the likes of Longines, Louis Vuitton and even Rolex all released innovative pieces that came in under the £5,000 mark.

Perhaps most impressive for horologists, TAG Heuer announced an in-house tourbillon for just over £10,000. Not pocket change, but impressive for a complication you’d normally struggle to find for less than the price of a brand new Lotus Elise.