The must-have guide for the collector of mechanical wristwatches.
Complete information including prices on over 1,400 models made by more than 130 international brands.
The seventeenth edition of what has become a classic for afficionados of fine watchmaking once again looks at the developments in the watch industry. In addition to the A-to-Z section, which features many new entries, industry expert Elizabeth Doerr looks at news from the independent watchmakers. Watchmaker Bill Yao, owner of Mk II watches, contributes his expertise on crowns, and senior editor Marton Radkai explores the business side of the industry, the problem of counterfeiting, and profiles watchmaking’s mavericks. Also included are a glossary and a guide to watch maintenance.
Wristwatch Annual 2015 presents a broad range of wristwatches with exquisite color photographs and complete specifications for each watch. Collectors have a wealth of information close at hand: the book is arranged alphabetically by producer, and within each producer’s section are a brief history of the brand (with contact information), and specifications and materials for each watch, including price, movement, special features, complications, case, dial, band, and variations.
The clear photography, structured layout, and lively writing make this book a pleasure to read or just browse. It is conceived as a handy reference for a broad readership from around the world, from the neophyte to the experienced collector.
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Peter Braun is editor-in-chief of Germany’s renowned wristwatch magazine, Armbanduhren.
One of the goals of Wristwatch Annual is to deliver a snapshot of the trends in mechanical watches. It would be tempting to simply report to you different year, more of the same,” but that would not do justice to the very real dynamism of an industry that continues to expand and evolve.
The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry recorded growth of over 3 percent in April 2014, and expectations are for a prosperous year. The sustained revenue of the past years has driven companies to increase production capacities by building new facilities and hiring more personnel. Some of this expansion is a natural outcome of Swatch’s ETA announcing it would restrict its formerly indiscriminate sale of movements to anyone who wanted to make a watch. The late Nicolas Hayek Senior, sire of the Swatch Group, may well have been right when he forecast that this would lead to a deindustrialization of the watch world. Brands that are too small to build their own movements are becoming good customers of the other firms, such as La Joux-Perret, Sellita, Soprod, Concepto, and Technotime.
This boom has maintained momentum and reached a symbiotic equilibrium between design and engineering.
One of the more notable aesthetic trends falls under the rubric of retro-vintage-classic. For brands with deep roots, this has obviously involved digging around the archives and dusting off old models (see Tudor, for example). Others with less history have had to be creative, while still others have always come up with timepieces our great-grandfathers would have found perfectly acceptable.
This horological redux fits well with the post-recession Age of Reason and the staggering rise of the Asian markets, notably China. Having abandoned their slightly irritating sycophancy vis-a-vis the Middle Kingdom, many brands set out to educate young Chinese consumers by supplying beautiful, classical pieces with discreet complications (Moser’s Endeavors are an excellent example).
The other burgeoning trend is color. More and more timepieces are being spruced up with hands, bezels, or subsidiary dials in strong reds, blues, greens, yellows Timepieces are increasingly offered with boldly colorful straps in traditional leather, rubber, or silicon. Modern materials are important as they often give the new goes greater vibrancy (see Omega’s bright orange ceramic bezel).
Finally, the industry has taken to heart that the sartorial appetite of women extends to watches. The girlish pieces with big roundish numerals and soft edges have their place, but so do robust mechanical watches with complications, with out without precious stones. Look at the female wrists at Baselworld or the SIHH, what do you see?
In sum, there is energy and creativity brewing in an industry that is consolidating into groups and looking to its tradition of excellence and the metiers d’art (enameling, guilloche, marquetry, and so forth) for inspiration. This entropy, as it were, may be reaching a critical level, however, at which point the aesthetics could switch from refreshing to contrived and then fail to satisfy consumers. In addition, the world economy is still very unsteady, not the best playing field for an emotional industry like luxury goods. Or has Swatch, with its extremely simple Sistem51, once again thrown a monkey wrench into the machinery? Food for thought, perhaps.
This is the backdrop for this year’s Wristwatch Annual, in which you will find the big, the beautiful, the brilliant, the bashful, the trenders, the trendees, the trendsetters, and those who chart a very individual course, from the majestic output of Greubel and Forsey to the richly minimalistic Nomos. The excellent developments around American brands are also documented in the work of RGM, Kobold, and Towson, among others.
In the editorial pages, the peripatetic Elizabeth Doerr tours the independents for us (page 12). while I report on serendipitous encounters with professionals and dreamers who are inventing special timepieces (page 22). In this edition we’ll also explore technical or historical aspects of watchmaking to give a better knowledge of the industry and understanding of the product. So in addition to the Glossary and the Dos and Don’ts at the end of the book, you will find an article by Watchonista.com’s editor in chief Joel Grandjean on silicon (page 32) and how it went from substitute material in balances to key player, as in the Girard-Perregaux Constant Escapement L.M. and the new Ulysse Nardin Anchor Escapement. Another article (page 36) under the heading Watch Insights explores the chronograph through the insights of a group of writers, including watchmaker Bill Yao (Mk II), Joel Grandjean, and myself.
Finally, there are many people to thank. First, thanks go to Peter Braun, for his preparation of the German edition, and Ashley Benning, for proofing the copy quickly and expertly, catching errors and tightening rambling thoughts. And my deepest gratitude goes to all the people at the brands who take the time to check prices and information while respecting our editorial independence. Any comments or suggestions are welcome, as they will help us improve the book next year.
As always, bear in mind that the prices given in these pages are subject to change.
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