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This week on the B&J Wound-Up: Is this a wind-up? Hodinkee launches their new travel clock, a blingy Zenith raising money for a great cause and the future of (what was) the world’s largest watch event.
HourUniverse: The New Baselworld?
Since 1917, the Basel watch and fine jewellery trade fair has been the annual highlight for many watchmakers, journalists, industry leaders and enthusiasts worldwide. Since becoming known as ‘Baselworld’ in 2003, the event became the Mecca of haute horology and an annual pilgrimage for the lucky few that can secure a price-gouged flight ticket and hotel room as well as appointments with a handful of the big brands.
This year’s event, scheduled for the end of April 2020, was initially postponed due to the early effects of the Coronavirus but was rescheduled to take place at the end of January. These plans were then cancelled later that same month.
This week, Baselworld’s parent company MCH Group announced their plans for a new watch and jewellery show named ‘HourUniverse’ that will take place in April of next year, in Basel.
The company claim to have spent the last few months communicating with key industry stakeholders in a bid to create an event which will “unite and support a whole community that wants to regroup, make a new start and is receptive to change”. While the included parties and watch brands have not yet been disclosed, it can be presumed that the likes of Rolex, Tudor, Patek, AP and Oris as well as many of the other fan-favourite watch brands will not be taking part in the event after their breakaway from the prior event and following difficulties in refunds for the cancelled show costs.
The goal of the new show is to create a community of businesses and consumers that will engage not just for the three or four days that the primary event takes place, but all year round, either through their digital platform, which is currently still under construction, or through both live and virtual events.
Just because the big brands aren’t affiliated with the new event does not mean that the community’s favourite well-known watches won’t feature. “The new concept is a B2B2C meeting point that places the customer at the heart of its focus, reversing the order of the past. The entire platform is thought out and designed around the customer. This applies to all players of the distribution chain, traditional and online retailers, including those of the CPO (Certified Pre-Owned),” said a statement from the launch. Could we see the large grey-market and pre-owned online sellers present at this event? This is still to be seen.
HourUniverse’s new show in Basel will be just before Watches & Wonders and the Rolex-led show that will take place in Geneva in April – with an aim to ensure people only have to travel to Switzerland once a year.
MCH have said that a detailed concept plan will be unveiled towards the end of August. Whether this new event will merely be an E-commerce tool or, in fact, an active online community of enthusiasts is yet to be seen, however, I for one am excited to see how things unravel for the company. Expect more articles on the event once more information is released.
Zenith Launch a Pink Defy 21 in Support of Breast Cancer Awareness
This new eye-catching piece has been created in association with Pink Ribbon Switzerland (UK branch) who are a global grant-making trust with a mission to fund projects and provide financial support to charities which relieve the needs of people who are suffering from, have been affected by breast cancer, or who work to advance the understanding of breast cancer and its early detection and treatment. Zenith will be donating a chunk of the proceeds from what looks to be a limited run as well as auctioning-off one of the pieces in September’s Pink Ribbon Music Gala in Zurich. Although no production numbers or prices have been detailed thus far, the Pink Defy 21 is similarly specced to the Defy 21 Ref: 32.9000.9004 which costs £28,300, not what you’d call an insignificant sum – good on you Zenith!
The Pink Zenith Defy 21
Specification wise, the Pink Defy 21 features a pink gold case with diamond-studded lugs and 44 pink sapphire stones adorning the bezel. The black and gold skeletonised dial reveals a first in Swiss watchmaking – a PVD-treated pink movement baseplate. The open sapphire case back displays a pink star-shaped oscillating rotor and the legendary 5hz El Primero movement with a 50-hour power reserve and a 1/100th of a second chronograph function. The watch comes on a (you guessed it) pink alligator strap with a matching pink gold clasp. The watch is set to go on general sale in August.
The PVD-Coated Pink El Primero Movement
While stylistically this piece won’t be for everyone, it’s good to see a largely ground-up re-design for a charitable collaboration on a limited edition watch. Often we see brands adding a special case back, bezel insert or dial text to an existing watch that sees it sell at a slight premium to its RRP in its charitable effort. I’m fairly certain that the uniqueness and bold bejewelling of this watch will see it raise a considerably large sum of money for a truly worthwhile cause.
I love what Zenith have done with the Defy. What initially looked to be a dying model in the late 2000s now sits among the best and most loved options in the futuristic and exotic mechanical watch genre at the £5,000 to £20,000 price point. From charitable ventures such as this to their collaboration with Land Rover earlier this year, Zenith are making big moves in the luxury chronograph space.
Hodinkee: The Clockmaker?
On Thursday, Hodinkee launched their Eight-Day Travel Clock, a contemporary version of the classic travel clocks that have been used by grand-tourers and jet setters alike since the 1930s. After allegedly stumbling upon a veritable stockpile of untouched vintage Pontifa 7320 alarm movements during a previous team trip, Hodinkee were inspired to produce their own travel clock in celebration of ‘early pioneers of travel’.
The HODINKEE Eight-Day Travel Clock – Limited to 96 pieces
The Hodinkee Eight-Day Travel Clocks construction is made up of grey PVD-coated steel wrapped in grey goat leather with the traditional design of a dial cover-come-stand integrated into the base of the clock. In terms of dimensions, the clock is a practical 4.5 inches long, 2.5 inches wide and 1.2 inches thick – meaning it will slide easily into that pocket of your suitcase that normally houses your snuff-box, monocle or cigar case. The clock is powered by the aforementioned Pontifa 7320 vintage NOS movement which is capable of 8 days of operation in between winds. The font of the numerals and typeface was created by world-renowned designer Jonathan Hoefler and is inspired by the numerals on vintage wristwatches. The font is called ‘Decimal’ and its conception was documented on the mildly pretentious Netflix series ‘Abstract: The Art of Design’.
The Clock’s travel case and its Hodin-key.
I posted the news of the release of this alarm clock on our Facebook group, Drinking Coffee & Talking Watches, and the general consensus was pretty clear: it looks great, sounds like its pretty premium but that hefty price tag is going to defer the vast majority of the watch community. It was noted in the comments of that post that Hodinkee had limited the comments section of the product Instagram post, likely due to an influx of negative feedback. However, it’s important to bear in mind that Hodinkee themselves describe the product not as an everyman’s must-have travel essential, but as one of their ‘favourite horological creations from the past brought back to life as a design object for today’. The Eight-Day Travel clock is just that, a design object, something not made to be used as a tool but rather appreciated for its design and its movement’s history. Happily, Hodinkee have described every design aspect from the unique ‘Decimal’ dial font to the Pontifa 7320 NOS movement on a beautifully put-together website. Therefore, the buyers of this release are, at least, provided with a plethora of reasons as to why the price tag of this travel clock is so high.
If you’ve been inspired by the design and charm of bedside travel clocks but do not wish to spend the list price of $5,900 on the Hodinkee release, there are alternatives. You can find a plethora of vintage travel clocks from brands such as Seiko, Smiths, Swiza and CYMA listed on eBay in good condition for as little as £50. If you’re looking for more horological clout and have a slightly larger budget of around £500, travel clocks from Jaeger-LeCoultre, Longines, Cartier, Baume & Mercier and Mondaine are regularly available on Chrono24.
What do you think of Hodinkee’s latest release and what do you hope to see from HourUniverse? Let us know your thoughts on this week’s topics in the comments section below – but keep it PG! Join us next week for a full Wound-Up of the biggest industry news over the coming 7 days.