Style / World of Watches (WOW)

BaselWorld 2016 Day 1: Wearable Technology

Straight from Basel, we bring you the highlights of Day 1 that saw smart watch talk from Bulgari and Hublot.

Mar 17, 2016 | By Staff Writer

Do people really want to know more about cars and gadgets than watches? This raised the heat at dinner with an old friend, formerly of Chopard, at BaselWorld last night. It was Day Zero, otherwise known as Press Day, and it came to a nice close at our usual Thai restaurant at Basel, courtesy of Chopard Asia. More on this conversation later. First, we have news from Hublot to reveal with regards to the 10th anniversary of the All Black watch, and a little bit about gadgets, in the way of smart watches from both Bulgari and Hublot.

Watchmaking titan Jean-Claude Biver, President of the LVMH Watch Division, started talking about the Connected watch at the Hublot press conference, forgetting briefly that he was not at TAG Heuer (Biver is also CEO of TAG Heuer)! It was a lively moment but also gave Biver a moment to reflect on why Hublot would not make such a watch. “Hublot is about making yesterday eternal. One thousand years from now your Hublot watch will still work and we will still be able to service it. This is not true of (wearable) technology because technology will kill it.” Wise words to begin BaselWorld 2016 with. He had no issue though with Hublot integrating wearable tech into the strap, particularly because Hublot has a interchangeable strap feature that “even a child can use” as he put it.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black

Oh yes, the All Black watch… Simply put, it is a sapphire case much like the one shown in Geneva except here it has been transformed into a totally black watch. Take a look for yourself right here. Anyway, here is what the press release has to say about it:

“Transcending the materials used in its creation, the Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black is crafted from blocks of sapphire crystal – sapphire that has been coated with metal. Enhanced by black, this sapphire maintains its transparent properties in a subtle balancing act.

Transferring the expertise amassed from machining very hard materials such as Magic Gold, Hublot has developed its industrial mastery of an extremely complex material, one of the hardest, most scratch-resistant and transparent in existence – sapphire. This method of machining sapphire enables Hublot to render this material — which can only be cut by diamond — more accessible, transforming its status as something unique, only seen in private collections, by using it to create a limited edition of 500 pieces. By sculpting sapphire into the complex shape of its iconic Big Bang case, Hublot is achieving a double feat with the Big Bang Unico Sapphire All Black.

Transparency combined with skeleton work allows the workings of the Unico manufacture movement to be laid bare. This complete visibility means that the column wheel positioned on the dial side is now no longer the only feature of the movement which can be seen. Even the strap combines transparency with the signature all black style.”

Moving on to Bulgari, the news is all about the new ultra-thin minute repeater and a new round Serpenti (which you do have to see to understand) but first, there was once more news on smart watches. Jean-Christophe Babin, Bulgari CEO, announced that the Italian firm was indeed moving on industrialize production of the Diagono Magnesium concept, a mechanical watch that is able to handle e-payment safely and securely. Basically this is an NFC-enabled watch that will integrate a microchip within the case, which it will share with a properly Swiss mechanical movement.

Bulgari Serpenti Incantati

Bulgari Serpenti Incantati

Well there is no watch yet to show but we do have images of the round Serpenti so take a look. Here is what the press release says about this very lovely timepiece, on the skeleton Tourbillon in particular.

“Serpenti Incantati gives a new lease on life to this animal symbol. After coiling around the wrist, the snake is now reinvented by wrapping itself for the very first time around the case of a round watch: the reptile literally twines itself around the watch dial, admirably framing an entirely skeleton-worked Manufacture tourbillon calibre. This airily graceful movement is a work of art: the mainplate and bridges are crafted in pink or white gold, the flanks are straight-grained, the rims and sinks are all chamfered and systematically polished. The steel parts are complemented by the kind of surface finishes cherished by Haute Horlogerie: circular graining and snailing set the finishing touches to this precious craftsmanship contributing to a spectacular result.”

As for that minute repeater, we will do another post on it soon. As for the conversation on cars and gadgets versus watches, well, I have a feeling that the gadget/watch dichotomy will loom large over the entire fair.


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