By Michelle Graff
michelle.graff@nationaljeweler.com
This year marked my fourth trip to Basel and so I give you four thoughts on the experience.

1. My personal thoughts on smartwatches. As I arrived at the show last Wednesday, my inbox was flooded with Google alerts linking to stories quoting various Swatch Group executives on the topic of smartwatches.

I didn’t see many smartwatches at the show, to be honest, as I dashed between appointments and the press room like a madwoman, but I do have both a personal and a professional opinion on the devices. I’ll begin with the personal.

I don’t like gadgets and I am not a big fan of constantly using social media. I think people are becoming too disconnected from other living, breathing human beings and are losing sight of the fact that people have feelings. Put your phone down and pay attention to what’s going on around you. Talk to the people you are with, and don’t worry about “sharing” the experience with thousands of others. Share it, instead, with the person sitting right next to you. Enjoy the concert, or conversation, instead of worrying about recording it.

One of the best quotes I read in a pre-Basel story on smartphones came from Philippe Léopold-Metzger, chief executive of Piaget. “We’re arriving at a stage where people are getting tired of technological machines, because I think they are invasive,” Metzger told The New York Times. “If I go out at night or am invited to a dinner, I don’t take my phone with me.” Amen.

2. My professional take on smartwatches. Professionally, I don’t think smartwatches are going to be the end of traditional wristwatches, just like the myriad of others things that are always allegedly about to bring down the industry haven’t done it quite yet.

I think the person who buys a smartwatch wasn’t likely to invest in a traditional wristwatch to begin with because they just use their smartphones to tell time. Those who appreciate the art behind watchmaking will continue to do so.

Jewelers don’t need to empty their cases of Rolexes and Patek Philippes to replace them with Samsungs and whatever Apple eventually comes out with, if anything. They shouldn’t entirely ignore smartwatches either. People will buy them, but not in enough numbers to put companies such as Patek Philippe out of business.


L.U.C-Tourbillon-QF-Fairmined-black-161929-50063. Product origin will continue to matter. In Basel, Chopard unveiled what it heralded as the world’s first watch crafted from Fairmined gold. Earlier this week, I got an email from Macy’s stating that the retailer was expanding its line of rugs certified by GoodWeave, an international nonprofit that works to improve the lives of children in rug-weaving communities worldwide.

Rugs and jewelry essentially have nothing to do with each other but I think both announcements speak to the fact that consumers today care more and more about the origin of the products they buy. They will choose a product that does good, so to speak, over one with no such proclaimed ties.

According to a presentation given by Chopard at the show, the L.U.C Tourbillon QF Fairmined (pictured here) was made using gold from a mine in the Nariño region of Colombia, where Chopard began supporting the development of the Coodmilla cooperative last year.

Chopard has a partnership with the Alliance for Responsible Mining, the non-governmental organization behind the “Fairmined” standards for artisanal gold mining that works with miners and players in the gold industry to develop cooperatives such as Coodmilla, ensuring that workers are being paid fairly, there is proper training and working conditions are safe and clean.

The 43 mm 18-karat rose gold L.U.C fairmined is powered by Chopard’s L.U.C 02.01-L movement, which drives a tourbillon and power-reserve indicator. Limited to 25 pieces, this watch has a nine-day power reserve.

4. Many shades of gray. I haven’t had the chance yet to go through all of my watch pictures but two trends that immediately come to mind are rose gold and gray.

The rose gold trend--which includes karat gold as well as plating and PVD coatings--is no surprise given that the warmly hued metal is so popular in jewelry right now. Whatever is being used in jewelry, naturally, trickles down to the watch world.

I am a fan of rose gold because it works well with my skin tone, and I also think it looks beautiful with all the shades of gray that are popping up in watches.

032814_Raymond-Weil
On a personal (and gray) note, I particularly loved this ladies’ automatic watch from Raymond Weil (above) with its charcoal-hued strap and lace-like pattern on the dial, though I’d prefer it without diamonds on the bezel. It, to me, is a very smart watch.


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