Are you one of those people who spent the last seven-eight years flipping through luxury magazines wondering who in the world buys such ugly things? Did you walk through airport duty-free “luxury retailing” facilities tapping the side of your head incessantly like those characters from those Asterix comics?
“These high net-worth individuals are crazy…”
Because, and there is no nicer way to say this, what the heck was wrong with people? Who in their right minds buys such hideous shoes, tasteless bags and chunky, chunky, chunky, ugly watches?
But, in fact, many luxury customers did. Look at the last decade or so of luxury watches. Nobody knows when the trend turned—some say it was when Sylvester Stallone started wearing a then somewhat obscure brand called Panerai in the 1990s—but at some point in the early noughts, watches began to get bigger, blinger and bad-assed.
And most watch brands were more than happy to churn out leviathans after diamond-drenched leviathan to cater to this new trend.
Now if you’re not the kind of person who has an annual watch buying budget of half a million dollars, or who buys a tourbillon as a bi-monthly “pick me up”, this trend might seem irrelevant. How does a Russian oligarch’s taste in watches impact my upper middle-class lifestyle, right?
Wrong. Look at all the highstreet and affordable watch brands around you. Look at how big and ugly so many of them are. That is because luxury brands, across all sectors, have a trickle down impact on all consumers. Beats headphones, Chanel J12 watches and Christian Louboutin shoes have all inspired a hundred imitators who take these high-end design concepts and make them accessible to a much broader audience.
So when the high-end slaughters good taste, the blood eventually spatters all over the rest of us.
Which is why this year’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) was such a welcome breath of fresh air. The first major date on the annual watch industry calendar was a trade fair that should gladden the hearts of all watch lovers everywhere. Watches are getting smaller, more minimal, better priced and much, much more wearable.
Mint Indulge was at SIHH this year talking to people, asking questions, spotting trends and picking its favourite watches. We hope you enjoy this special issue. And don’t worry if none of these brands or price tags catch your fancy. Eventually, these refreshing designs will be arriving at a department store near you soon.