Watch trends revealed at the most influential watch fair, Baselworld in March, show a return to classic styling in contemporary designs that are thinner with clean, simple lines. Many leading watch brands are revisiting their archives to reinvent popular models. Sporty and fashion-forward are the buzzwords, with lots of brands howling for moon phase, and color proving to be a key design element.
“In men’s and ladies’ watches, the trend is definitely toward classics and line extensions, given the uncertainty in major markets and a glut in inventory,” reports veteran watch journalist Carol Besler, watchdetail.com. But she notes that there is always a twist, with greater use of gemstones in ladies’ watches and lots of curious twists and showpieces, usually in limited editions for men.
Gary Girdvainis, publisher of WristWatch and AboutTime magazines, sees the market saturated with too many brands. “There’s a huge host of brands trying to get off the ground. Solid, existing brands are distilling to their core values, rather than venturing into new territories. It’s not the time to take too many chances.”
While classic reigns supreme, fashion is important for both men and women as many watch brands are including more colorful options in dials and straps, bold gold elements, and sporty chic motifs with a hint of glamour, reports veteran watch columnist Roberta Naas, thewatchblog.com. She cites some brands offering his-and-her combinations and unisex styling.
There is a strong trend back to traditional design elements in gents’ watch styles. “We’re focusing on elegance and simplicity in our men’s designs for 2016, in response to the prevalence of smart watches,” shares Alan Grunwald, president of Belair Time Corporation, a Lakewood, New Jersey based private label watch manufacturer. “Last year the trend was larger and thicker, with lots of sub-dial treatments. This year we notice that thin is in again. So, we’re featuring sleek, elegant, classic designs.”
Thinner is better, concurs Samantha Barker, public relations and social media coordinator for Citizen Watch Company of America, New York City. “Nobody wants a big bulky watch on their wrist all day and night. Similarly to seeing smaller timepieces for women, we’re seeing thinner watches for men.” Answering the call for this major trend is Citizen’s latest release: the world’s thinnest light powered analogue quartz watch.
Company President and CEO Toshio Tokura hails the launch a milestone for Citizen, marking 40 years since the brand invented the world’s first watch to use light as a power source, with its proprietary light driven Eco-Drive technology. He describes the model with 2.98mm case and 1mm movement as merging “beauty, wearable comfort and sustainability”.
Bulova, launched many new slim styles, including the world’s first curved chronograph, CURV, in 12 dress and sporty models for men, reports Thierry Casias, creative director for the New York City-based brand. “Black finishes are highlighted as well, in current collections with Bulova’s interpretation to pop yellow and rose gold accents on dress styles and primary color highlights on sportier designs. Bulova also capitalizes on the trend for blue in men’s watches.”
Seiko, based in Mahwah, NJ, launched its first ever tourbillion in its high-end Credor brand Presage collection, based on its ultra-thin mechanical movement, 1.98mm in depth, with the caliber measuring 3.98mm including tourbillion. The design is inspired by the wood prints of the Edo period artist, Hokusai. The watch showcases Japanese craftsmanship in its movement adjustment, metal engraving and lacquer finishing. Only eight pieces will be made for select Seiko boutiques.
Greater attention is being paid to watches for women in many new collections this year. “Ladies’ are once again appearing as smaller versions of great men’s watches, but with subtle embellishments like diamonds, and that’s a good thing,” describes Besler.
Although the trend of boyfriend watches never seems to go out of style (with gunmetal and rose gold looks popular in its Caravelle collection), smaller cases are in, says Casias. Ahead of the trend, Bulova launched last year, slim cases for ladies in its diamond collection, continuing the direction this year with nature inspirations, specifically the soft contours of leaves, and created ergonomic designs. Casias hails moon phase watches a trend for ladies and Bulova’s take features a deep blue dial with sparkle like a starry night sky.
According to Barker ladies watch trends are moving from the large sized models to smaller, more elegant ones. “We would describe these more as jewelry pieces,” she says. “They are great for layering with other accessories and easy to fit into your personal style like our Silhouette Bangle or Silhouette Crystal collections that show off a feminine side for the wearer and usually add a touch of sparkle with Swarovski® crystals or diamonds.”
Seiko also launched smaller, jewelry-inspired solar watches in its solar powered Tressia collection, with new styles featuring diamonds on the bezel, mother-of-pearl dials, and the bracelets are petite links arranged in bold, clean patterns in silver, gold and two-tone designs.
Fashion is key in ladies styles. Grunwald describes Belair’s latest models as fashion-forward, high quality, and affordable and in stainless steel with CZ and crystal accents. “We’re using combinations of color and crystals,” he says, noting that blue is very popular. “One of our latest models combines a blue leather strap with matching blue mother-of-pearl dial. It’s a great example of how we’re mixing crystals and CZ to enhance perceived value with vivid color treatments.”