Visitors arrive at the main entrance of the Baselworld luxury watch and jewelry fair in Basel, Switzerland, on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. Over 1,400 companies from the watch, jewelry and gem industries will display their latest innovations and products to more than 120,000 visitors at this year's luxury show. Photographer: Gianluca Colla/Bloomberg
Visitors arrive at the main entrance of the Baselworld luxury watch and jewelry fair in Basel, Switzerland, on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. © Bloomberg

Tudor back in Britain

Tudor is to return to the UK after an absence of more than a decade.

Tudor, which was created by Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf in March 1946 with the intention of “making a watch that our agents could sell at a more modest price”, produces about 200,000 watches a year and retails about 90 per cent of its output in Asia, but managing director Philippe E Peverelli says the brand is now set to return to the global market following its 2012 launch in America where it was last available in 1995.

The entirely Swiss-made sports watches will go on sale in the UK in September and it is anticipated there will eventually be more than 100 outlets in London and other large towns and cities. With a price point of €1,500-€4,500 ($2,100-$6,200), Tudor will compete head-to-head with popular brands such as TAG Heuer, Longines, Oris and Maurice Lacroix.

“We want to be global and you cannot be global without being in the UK market,” says Mr Peverelli. “We have the same founder as Rolex and we live under the same roof, but we are aiming for a completely different market segment.”

Chopard leads ‘fair mined gold’ initiative

Chopard has become the first luxury goods company to make products exclusively from “fair trade” gold. The privately owned watch and jewellery house revealed that it had signed a three-year partnership with an NGO called the Alliance for Responsible Mining, which has been established to help small-scale mining villages realise the best possible price for what they produce.

“The idea of the initiative is to help the people working in these villages, which are often very small, to escape poverty and work towards minimising environmental pollution,” says Chopard designer Guy Bove.

“Usually it is impossible to know where the gold in a particular ingot has actually come from – the ARM initiative means we are committed to buying from ‘fair mine’ sources in the hope that, eventually, this will become normal practice.”

To launch the partnership, Chopard unveiled the limited-edition LUC Tourbillon QF, which has a case made exclusively from fair mined gold. Just 25 examples of the SFr128,000 ($145,000) watch will be made, alongside a handful of Chopard high-end jewellery items.

“There is not enough of the gold coming out at the moment to make many products, so we have started with small editions,” says Mr Bove.

“It is also considerably more expensive to produce pieces using it, because we have to use a dedicated manufacturing system and specially cleaned machinery in order to prevent any contamination by gold that has been obtained from conventional mines.”

Patek Philippe marks 175 years with lavish new Baselworld stand

Patek Philippe, which many horophiles believe makes the finest watches in the world, has marked its 175th anniversary with the unveiling of an all-new, multimillion-pound Baselworld exhibition space.

The new “pavilion of light” replaces the old structure, which was inaugurated in 1999, more than doubling the previous 630 sq m area to 1,500 sq m on three levels. Comprising 117 glass elements weighing 70 tonnes, it is supported by 12 tonnes of steel and 400 sq m of Corian backlit by 5km of LED strips.

The space incorporates 16 showcases, 12 sales rooms, conference and meeting facilities, a restaurant and a fully equipped kitchen. Designed by architect Ottavio di Blasi, it is intended to “embody the qualities and craftsmanship” of the Geneva brand, with features such as a curved, semi-transparent wall handcrafted from thousands of metres of leather strips.

A 35 sq m area within the booth is dedicated to displaying some of Patek Philippe’s rarest creations with which visitors can “interact” using a range of high-tech communications systems.

Affordable watches – guaranteed for life

The fledgling, Detroit-based brand Shinola has made a pledge believed to be hitherto unheard of in the watch industry by guaranteeing every one of its products for life – regardless of whether or not they break while in the hands of the original buyer or a subsequent owner.

Every Shinola watch sold will now be supplied with the warranty, which covers every part of the watch excluding batteries, straps and buckles. All the owner needs to do is provide a copy of the original receipt or warranty card and return the damaged watch with a $25 cheque to cover “service and handling” fees. If the watch proves irreparable, Shinola promises to replace it with an identical model or one of a similar style and equal value.

The guarantee has been instigated despite the fact that Shinola watches range in price from just $400 to around $1,500.

“We’re able to offer the guarantee because we source only the best available components and utilise a handmade production process …that results in an exceptional level of quality,” says Steve Bock, chief executive.

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