This Week (in Watches) Today, 19 April 2022: 7 things you should know

After the lull that followed the amazing Watches & Wonders 2022, the watch world is slowly picking up again with interesting news and releases. Leading the way is LVMH with it’s continual solid financial results. We also have Watches of Switzerland setting up its management team for further success, Czapek doing the right thing by closing orders, as well great releases from Patek Philippe, G-Shock, Citizen and Grand Seiko. These are the top 7 things in the world of watches; let’s get into it.

LVMH continues strong financial performance

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Photo Credit: WatchPro

LVMH had a pretty stellar year in 2021 financially and that performance has carried on into the first quarter of 2022. Revenue for the group’s Watches & Jewellry business has grown from €1.88 billion to €2.34 billion in the first three months of 2022 vs the same period in 2021. Of course, this result has to be considered in conjunction with the fact that the first quarter of 2021 came with increased lockdowns around the world due to the Delta variant of the padndemic. Still this continual growth is impressive. Europe and USA in particular continued to perform tremendously with double digit growth and Asia’s growth despite being under 10% was achieved while China imposed increasing lockdowns as part of its zero-COVID policy. LVMH’s acquisition of Tiffany & Co last January has seemed to pay off with retailers reporting “an excellent start” to the year. Given how the world has opened up in the past half a year or so, 2022 should prove to an even more successful year for the group.  

Martins of Glasgow Watch Servicing and Repair

Watches of Switzerland’s managerial moves

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Photo Credit: WatchPro

Watches of Switzerland was another group that had a remarkable 2021, and the group has now made moves to reward some of those responsible and further consolidate its success. Craig Bolton, executive director of the group’s UK operations, has been promoted to president of UK and Europe. At the same time, David Hurley, executive director in USA, has been promoted to president of the group’s USA business, as well as deputy CEO of Watches of Switzerland. These promotions are likely a recognition of the internal talent that has fed the group’s growth over the past year while the latter also reflect’s Watches of Switzerland’s focus expansion in USA. Besides these internal promotions, the group has also added talented experience to  its board of directors in the form of Chabi Nouri. Ms Nouri was the former CEO and president of Richemont opened Piaget for four years, besides also having held multiple leadership positions in the luxury space including global head of jewellery, head of retail operations at Cartier. As with LVMH, Watches of Switzerland are well poised to take advantage of the greater opening up of the world, and it will be interesting to see how far these management changes can take the group.

Czapek stops Antartique orders

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At Watches & Wonders, there was an apparent (at least to me) fondness for sports watches with integrated bracelets. Among them was Czapek, with its latest more svelte 38.5mm Antargique. Needless to say, they were good looking watches. They were so good looking that they have all been completely sold out, even those open for pre-orders. Of course that is not surprising given that the brand combines two of the hottest trends right now, the demand aforementioned integrated steel sports watch and the interest in independent brands. What is interesting and, personally, extremely respectable, is the brand choosing to close orders for a year until Watches & Wonders 2023. While that may cause consternation among some, it is far better than any attempt to string prospective clients along, with the carrot of being offered the opportunity to purchase one. It also sends a clear message to retailers that the brand’s watches are not be treated as lotteries to incentivise clients to purchase less popular watches. While it is unlikely, it would be nice to see other brands follow suit.                 

Patek Philippe 1/10th Second Monopusher Chronograph

Patek Philippe Unveils Ref 5470P

Watches & Wonders may have only concluded recently, but Patek Philippe is not done with its releases just yet. The brand introduced a chronograph that runs at 5Hz to enable it to track 1/10th of a second. It is the brand’s first chronograph featuring a high frequency movement though such chronographs are rather common place in Zenith’s catalogue. Still, this release is somewhat differentiated by its ability to track both 12 seconds & 60 seconds simultaneously using two hands, a red for the former and a white for the latter. A 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock completes this chronograph’s functionality. Like the 60 seconds hand, this counter’s hand is also cast in rhodium-steel, as are the hour & minute hands & the corresponding Breguet numerals as well as the small seconds hand at the 9 o’clock. This is set beautifully against a navy blue dial, a colour that Patek does really well, while allowing the red from its 12 seconds hand to pop. As the name of the watch suggests, the chronograph function is activated, stopped and reset by a single pusher at the 2 o’clock. Patek being Patek, has a remarkable 7 patented innovations in the new movement which also makes use of the brand’s proprietary Silinvar silicon escapement system.  The horizontal clutch movement and its wonderful mixed of brushed finishes, polished anglage, Côtes de Genève can be enjoyed through a display case back. All 396 parts of this caliber CH29-535 PS 1/10 was squeezedinto an extremely small package, measuring just 29.6mm x 6.96mm. This translates into a 41mm x 13.96 platinum case, which does not seem small, but is very svelte given the remarkable complication in the watch. Overall, this comes together to present a sporty look, something that the brand has been leaning towards recently, despite retaining much of its luxury and elegance. For those interested, this release costs CHF 380,000.

G-Shock’s new & improved Casiocts

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On the other end of the price scale, G-Shock has just released a series of new and improved Casiocts.  Since its release over three years ago, The GA-2100 and GMA-2100 have proven to be extremely popular, offering a slightly different take on a iconic brand’s offerings. The plethora of colours, and subsequent addition of metal cases have certainly not hurt. This week, the brand released 5 new models with reference GA-B2100 featuring many of the brand’s higher functions that had been missing from the originals. These include the Tough Solar module which lasts 7 months on one full charge, or 18 months with the power save function on. It also has Bluetooth connecitivity via the brand’s Smartphone Link that expands the functionality of the watch exponentially by allowing for auto time adjustments, tracking of 300 time zones, setting of reminders, location tracking, and even helps with finding your phone (even when its on silent mode). You would be hard pressed to find anything with a greater array of functions or value. The new releases come in your choice of black, navy, green or yellow with a matching coloured day sub-dial hand, or a fifth option in black with a red contrasting sub-dial day hand. The yellow is the standout as it embodies carefree fun spirit that I believe these watches are meant to have. No doubt that the brand will over time add a whole range of other colours as well so its only a matter of time before you come across one that you like. For those interested, the price for all the models is US$150 except for the yellow version which costs US$160.

 Citizen Eco Drive

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If the G-Shock aesthetic isn’t for you, but you want something in the same price range, Citizen’s latest releases might just be the ones for you. The brand dropped a grand total of 9 watches, in sets of three, all featuring the brand’s proprietary Super Titanium (40% lighter & 5 times harder than steel) as well as the EcoDrive movement which makes use of any light source to charge its power cells, and can last 6 months on a single charge and has an accuracy of +/-15 seconds a month. While the two sets of CA0810 chronographs and BM7570 pilots’ watches are classic in design, it is the trio of CA7090s that really stand out, with their 70s motorsports inspired aesthetic. The dual vertically arranged sub-dials in particular, would immediately remind you of speedometers on motor cars’s dashboards from the 1970s. And while the circular date window may seem unbalanced on the overall dial, its furtherance of this aesthetic is worth the asymmetry it causes. This design carries on in the sort of tonneau shape cases that flows seamlessly into their integrated bracelets, something that harks back to watches of decades past. Despite the vintage aesthetic though, the brand did not forget to embellish the mostly brushed case with mirror polished bevels and bezel that adds a touch of luxury to the overall look. There are three dials to choose from, black, blue and red, that last of which is my personal favourite. The watches are relatively larger, coming in at 43mm x 11.3mm which make them unsuitable for my wrist, but if you have the wrist for them, you would be getting an amazing looking watch that stands out from the crowd. They are extremely affordable too, coming in at  €329 each.

 Grand Seiko SGBW289

The new 36.5mm Grand Seiko SBGW289 has fans rejoicing at the possibilities beyond this kira-zuri cherry blossom limited edition

One watch that will most likely suit my wrist, is Grand Seiko’s latest SBGW289. It is a watch that comes in as close to ideal proportions as I can ask for from the brand. It features a iconic design in the 44GS case, but in much slimmer, smaller proportions, coming in at 36.5mm x 42.5mm x 11.6mm. It is the first time in modern history that Grand Seiko has released a smaller 44GS case with the usual coming in at 40mm with an extra millimetre of thickness. Even the SLGA013, with the brand’s thinner Spring Drive movement clocks in at 11.8mm thick. There is a trade-off in the movement department though, since this does not feature any of the more interesting movements. Instead, we get a solid reliable manual wind caliber 9S65 which comes with 72 hours of power resistance, and is accurate to +5/-3 seconds day. The watch also comes with a solid case back, though, given the movement choice, there isn’t much to complain about. The dial, which is the brand’s forte, carries a subtle Kira-Zuri pattern which is something like a a rougher more complex linen dial, and has a shade of pink that should be similar to the extremely popular cherry blossom Four Seasons SBGA413. In other words, likely a knockout dial, though it would have to be seen in person to for its final assessment. Overall though, this is well shaping up to be one of the best (for me anyway) releases from the brand this year, as it celebrates the 55th anniversary of the 44GS case. For those interested, the price is €5,400 and has a limited release of only 1,200 pieces, so you might have to jump on it before it completely sold out. Availability is expected to be from June 2022.

 

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So that is it for this week. As always, get in on all the action on the Scottish Watches website, YouTube Channel Scottish Watches and of course, the podcasts on your podcaster of choice. Till next time, take care everyone.