If gazing into the proverbial crystal ball was easy, everyone would be doing it. Sadly for all concerned, Nostradamus-like levels of prescience are hard to find, meaning we have to make do with more pedestrian levels of prediction. Still, events like Dubai Watch Week are a great microcosm of the industry writ large, and you can make some predictions about bigger changes on the horizon. With this in mind, this is what we expect to see more of in 2024.
Reading through the tea leaves of Dubai Watch Week, one of the most common themes — in formal debates and panels, as well as more casual conversations, was around the state of the watch market. Opinions, as they are wont to do, ran a broad spectrum, from those espousing the power of positive thinking to those with a more gloomy (if not downright doomy) countenance.
What everyone seemed to agree on, though, was that the coming months and years were going to be a time of change and that the era of hype and high prices was at an end. Of course, the world of watches is hugely diverse, with in-demand indies like Akrivia being relatively insulated from the ups and downs, while larger volume players — especially those priced at more mainstream levels, are more acutely aware of fluctuations. On top of that, the world — while global — is also hugely varied, while something that works in one market might struggle in another.
Of course, alongside this solemnity, there was plenty to be optimistic about, and an area that plenty of people were getting behind was Artificial Intelligence. Leading this charge (of course) was Audemars Piguet's CEO François-Henry Bennahmias, who, as part of his swansong, stepped onto the stage with UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Omar Al Olama to announce a long-term partnership that was as cryptic as it was grandiose. All we know is that AP X AI will be a physical, tangible 'thing', but that it will be separate from the brand's actual watches. While Bennahmias' enthusiasm for AI was the most ambitious, he was far from alone in seeing the power of this new technology. EveryWatch, billed as the world's largest watch market database, is an ambitious and very powerful tool that promises data-driven insight into prices (both current and historic) of a wide number of references, thanks to data from over 250 auction houses and markets. While EveryWatch is far from an AI tool, there are plenty of humans involved in the process. Giovanni Prigigallo, Head of Business Development, was quick to note the power and potential of AI in spotting trends and outliers, and that capability only looks to intensify as the platform evolves. Of course, this should be of no real surprise; AI loves nothing more than a bunch of data to wade through, and platforms like EveryWatch, along with retailers and brands with extensive client lists, have plenty of data to go around. Based on all this, we're confident that we'll be hearing plenty more about AI in 2024.
Finally, we expect to see even more designs referencing the late 80s and 90s in the years to come. Not only does this make sense, given that watches do cycle in and out of fashion, albeit at a much slower pace than other luxury categories. It might be shocking for some, but 1993 was 30 years ago, and the power of nostalgia is not to be underestimated. One striking example of this trend at the high end is Louis Vuitton's revival of the Gerald Genta and Daniel Roth brands, both seen as leading lights in the era. On top of that, Franck Muller, the one-time 'it watch' of the 90s and early 00s, is increasingly finding itself back in the spotlight after many years on the fringes of cool. Of course, this rediscovery of the pre-iPhone era isn't exclusive to watches; we're seeing it across the board — from frosted tips to baggy sweaters. Why should our wrists miss out on all the fun?
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