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What to buy this year

If you are looking to purchase some timepieces this year, what must you look forward to?

A timepiece from the new Drive de Cartier collection.<br />
A timepiece from the new Drive de Cartier collection.

So the first major event in the annual watchmaking calendar is behind us. The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (Sihh) fair in Geneva is by no means representative of the length and breadth of the world wristwatch industry. But it still gives this writer enough pointers to start planning for the year ahead. Broad design and product trends are already emerging. So if you are looking to purchase some timepieces this year, what must you look forward to?

First of all, this is already looking like a good year to buy new interpretations of classic models. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new Reverso pieces are excellent. There are many options for both genders across a variety of price points. Indeed, this looks like a year when many brands are looking to bring out faithful reissues of heritage classics.  IWC’s new pilot watches are a case in point. Gone are the modern, military flourishes of the previous pilot’s models. Instead, we have models that descend directly from older IWC pieces. Very, very good.

Secondly, this is a fantastic year to finally buy your first big, classic brand. Just look at the new Drive de Cartier collection. The watches themselves are delicious, with their cushion-shaped cases (and I love the version with the grey dial). Or if you are looking to upgrade into a new price bracket, there are options there as well, with A.Lange & Söhne’s new Saxonia Thin and some delicious new Parmigiani Fleurier models.

Overall, it looks like 2016 will be an uncommonly good year for aspiring connoisseurs looking to get their first serious mechanical watch. Prices are being held low, brands are unleashing really good entry- level models, and the designs are austere.

The third big trend could be affordable complications. Time and time again brands at Sihh spoke of how their tourbillon or chronograph or annual calendar offered great value. Also keep your eye open for complications or novelties that are innovative but not necessarily super expensive. The skeletonized Clé de Cartier models come to mind. So do a handful of excellent pieces from Montblanc, especially the 4810 family.

Finally, once again, this looks like it is going to be a fantastic year for women’s watches. Not just because there are many good jewellery and “ladies" models, but also because so many models fall safely within the “unisex" category: plain, slim, two- or three-hand models, 38-40mm in diameter (this could well be the workhorse category for the next two or three years in watchmaking).

Readers will note that the key trend overall is value. Prices are low and will probably keep falling through the year. The industry is going through a tough period, largely thanks to a collapse in Chinese demand. No reason why the rest of us shouldn’t capitalize on that. I also suspect that brands will keep launching models throughout the year to respond to market trends. So we should all look beyond the big watch fairs.

Overall, it is a great time for people with a keen eye—those looking to buy into a good brand, or upgrade to bigger brands and complications. Prices don’t often stay as low as they are right now. The smart buyer this year is someone who is patient and prudent.

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