By Michelle Graff
Basel--The introduction of more mid- and entry-price watch lines, an affinity for blue dials and timepieces created in the Art Deco style were among the trends observed at Baselworld 2013.

052013 Patek-article copyThe show, which took place April 25 to May 2 in Switzerland after undergoing a $455 million makeover, is among the largest jewelry and watch trade shows in the world.

It is considered a major showcase for watches in particular, as many brands develop their latest innovations on a timetable of debuting them in Basel. One executive described the show as marking the “new year of the watch industry.”

A total of 1,460 brands exhibited at this year’s show, down 24 percent from the prior year, and a majority of those are watch companies. Below are highlights of the top three trends tracked by National Jeweler, as well as links to a photo gallery of watches.

1. High and low
During Baselworld 2013, Swatch Group called a press conference to make a big announcement. As it turned out, the announcement did not involve a highly complicated revelation in watch-making from Breguet or Blancpain.

Swatch Group, instead, revealed that it had created a self-winding mechanical version of its plastic Swatch watch, the Sistem 51. The watch will retail for about $200 or less. Its movement contains 51 parts, less than half the number found in most mechanical watch movements, and is the world’s first movement assembled entirely by machine.

With this watch, Swatch Group is targeting the Asian market, where consumers are “in love with” mechanical watches but can’t always afford them, Swatch Group Chairwoman Nayla Hayek told Reuters.

The same could be said for the U.S. market, where consumers still love jewelry and watches but no longer have the same amount of disposable income (or access to lines of credit) and are looking for lower-priced alternatives of good quality.

“Certainly, the U.S. market appears to be very strong in that sub-$1,500 segment, if not below,” said Jon Cox, the Zurich-based head of Swiss research for Kepler Capital Markets.

Consider recent launch lines in the United States: 88 Rue du Rhone, created by the grandsons of watchmaker Raymond Weil, the U.S.-made Shinola, and Claude Bernard, which launched just a few months ago and makes mechanical watches starting at $575 retail.

Existing brands also are attempting to create lower-price mechanical models, though their price tags don’t dip quite as low as that of the Sistem 51. At the show, Swatch Group-owned Hamilton introduced a skeletonized mechanical watch that retails for just under $1,200.

This does not mean, however, that the high-end watch customer has disappeared entirely. Retailers who took National Jeweler’s year-end survey reported strong holiday sales of top-tier brands including Rolex and Patek Philippe.

2. A case (or dial) of the blues
Color has been omni-present on the fashion runways in recent years as the recession fades and consumers, financially and emotionally, find themselves feeling more upbeat.

Bold hues certainly made their presence known at Baselworld this year, with one shade in particular standing out: blue.

In naming its prominent tones for fall 2013, color authority Pantone picked Mykonos blue, “a bold, meditative blue for a classic and relaxed fall look.”

At Basel, dials, straps and cases could be found in varying shades of the hue, on, for example, TAG Heuer’s limited-edition Leonardo DiCaprio and a new Maestro model from Raymond Weil, which introduced the color into this line for the first time.

Rolex chose a light blue for the dial on its new, all-platinum Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona. The model, which debuted in 1963, marks its 50th anniversary this year.

3. Time for a return
The Art Deco style, which first enjoyed popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, is popular in fashion and jewelry right now. It seems only fitting, then, that the trend extended to a few watch models that debuted at the 2013 Baselworld show.

As for metals, rose gold, or rose gold PVD, remained popular as did two-tone models, with a number of brands introducing stainless steel and gold models into already established lines.

Get the Daily News >
National Jeweler

Fine Jewelry Industry News

Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.