The last year of this decade has been a watershed for the watch industry. Whichever way you look at it, 2019 is the end-of-season cliffhanger that will keep us tuning in for more into 2020 and beyond.
Too much? Perhaps, but consider the evidence.
This year saw the last ever Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie and, for now, the last Swiss watch fair in January. The FHH’s annual gathering becomes Watches & Wonders and moves to the end of April next year. Baselworld, under its brave but still beleaguered new management, moves to early May as the two fairs try and put on something resembling a united front. Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille, Breitling, Seiko and now Casio are among the brands who have decided that in 2020 they can manage without being at the fairs at all.
Meanwhile, the collector market has gone berserk, with record prices at auction thickening the year’s takings for the big houses. The $31m claimed by Patek Philippe’s Grandmaster Chime in steel at the Only Watch charity auction in November is the record of all records, and it may – or may not – be some time before it’s beaten.
And as this decade closes, it’s clear that a future in which the industry has to deal with questions of sustainability, flipping and the rapid growth of the pre-owned market is already here. New challenges for a new era.
But, thankfully, behind all that were the watches themselves, still the beating heart of the industry. There were some landmark launches this year, some of which will shape the market for the next decade and more, others that will remain a signpost of their time. Here, we’ve picked out 10 we think 2019 will be remembered by.