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BASELWORLD 2017: Day 5 – The bottom line: the price-quality ratio

In a market that everyone would like to see stabilizing slowly, the most important thing is to offer products that have both a great identity and an unbeatable price-quality ratio. Here's a little selection of timepieces that fit the bill.

By Vincent Daveau

When asked about where the right price range is situated today for what one calls the psychological trigger for the average sale, Jean-Christophe Babin answered that, according to him, the key was the price-quality ratio.It gave brands greater flexibility when it came to approaching the market. Under these circumstances, you can no longer simply convince yourself that a timepiece has been given an attractive price, but you also have to determine which devices possess the best sum of assets. Once this has been done, all that remained was to factor in the esthetics, the manufacturing quality, the functionality and the value represented by the brand's actual fame.

Edox Grand Ocean Day-Date Automatic

Place your bets!

That’s all fine and well. And going through a trade faire looking for the most exceptional products was quite motivating.It made one forget the pain in one’s feet after walking around fifteen kilometers a day to get to fifteen appointments. This is what a specialized journalist needs if he hopes to get a good view of the market after eight days at the event.

But it is also important, even essential, to take a closer look at the models considered entry level that will fire the imagination and give the new generation of fans lots of pleasure. Stimulated by this jewel, they will then pay more attention to the timepieces worn by their fellow humans, in particular the richer ones. As one psychologist said, it’s the only way to guarantee market growth, because the sale of high-value references only makes sense to the consumer if the bulk of the people are aware that the one being worn has a high price. And to maintain the public interest in watchmaking, brands will have to make certain timepieces available that are reasonably priced, are esthetically pleasing, and are known for quality.

Rado HyperChrome Captain Cook

Rien ne va plus…

The Swatch Group brands are often ahead of everyone else when it comes to the quality-price ratio in entry-level watches, because most have access to components that are made within the Group, which includes, among others, the maker of movements, ETA. One of the outstanding models in this category is Tissot's Ballade. This 41-millimeter timepiece made in Switzerland is driven by the automatic Powermatic 80 caliber boasting eighty hours of power reserve. Purists looking for a reference with strong visuals will get satisfaction.

Tissot Ballade

A more sportive model is the Ocean Star, which comes in titanium and in a 42.5-millimeter case. It’s bound to attract those who practice nautical sports. Run by the Caliber 80 (based on the 11 ½-line ETA C07.621), this 2017 novelty has a transparent case back and is even water-resistant to 20 atmospheres (20 meters). It comes with an orange rubber strap.

In the same spirit, but with a sailing theme that will thrill fans of the sail, there is the Edox Grand Ocean Phantom of Time. The price of this watch means it is accessible to those who love sailing but do not have endless sums of money at their disposal. With its steel 41-millimeter case, this skeletonized watch is water-resistant to 100 meters (10 atmospheres). It runs on a skeletonized automatic caliber.  Fans of devices with a nautical character that are also boldly vintage will also enjoy discovering the Rado HyperChrome Captain Cook. With its faux Blancpain Fifty Fathoms look, this timekeeper in steel was inspired by a model from the 1960s. Now, it has a rotating bezel with a ceramic insert and is water-resistant to 100 meters (10 atmospheres). It runs on a Caliber C07.611 with a power reserve of eighty hours, which is bound to seduce individuals who'd like to leave the watch in its box during a weekend without having to reset it on their return. The reference is very efficient and comes in a ladies’ version, with the indices on the dial set with diamonds.With vintage watches being in the public favor, Longines has also come up with a number of affordable solutions. The brand has a number of trendy pieces with retro accents, like the Longines Master Collection, which comes with a grey dial and a grey alligator strap. The caliber inside is the L.888.2 (ETA A31.L019). It does not have an 80-hour power reserve like other Swatch Group models. But its 64-hour power reserve also ensures that, if fully wound on a Friday, the watch will still be running on Monday morning.

Longines The Master Collection

Complicated but accessible

Frédérique Constant has always tried to provide mechanical timekeepers at accessible prices in order to attract the broadest clientele possible. This in year, it has decided to put connected quartz movements in some of its contemporary watches, and to use an automatic manufacture caliber ins, the type of watch most appreciated by men. Its chronograph,the Automatique Flyback, developed in-house, might well have been retailing for astronomical prices. But in fact, this tool, which is classically designed, is very accessible, that is, within the range of a simple manufacture watch.

Frederique Constant Flyback Chronograph Manufacture

But it is not the only technical model available. Many other references have been noted for their affordability and could also respond to the demands of pernickety fans.Take the Colt Skyracer by Breitling, for instance. It’ll no doubt start a buzz soon, because besides being very reasonably priced (as in well below 2,000 euros). It comes in a 45-millimeter “Breitlight” carbon case and is driven by a thermo-compensated, COSC-certified quartz movement.  

Breitling Colt Skyracer

Strictly speaking, and without going into details, most companies at the fair are offering watches and chronographs with tried and proven qualities and at prices that most professionals no longer even dreamt of.So the crisis had a good outcome. The brands, which have been more inclined to seek record-breakers ever since they got into the groups, are being compelled back to reason…. It’s a positive development, but let us see how long it will last…  

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