Baselworld 2017: Watchmakers dig up past to secure the future

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series dedicated to Baselworld 2017. Cara Barrett is editor of online specialist watch magazine Hodinkee.

CNN  — 

Each year, just as the snow below the Swiss Alps starts to melt, over 120,000 people descend on a little town called Basel, for the world’s largest watch and jewelry fair.

Collectors, journalists, retailers, and plain old watch geeks, all flock to Baselworld. All of them are packed in to a 1.5 million square foot arena filled with temporary luxury boutiques (where you can’t actually buy anything) showcasing tons of the latest models.

Despite this edition being slightly quieter than previous years, there was still a lot to see and plenty of trends to be examined.

Trending timepieces

Vintage-inspired pieces were everywhere. Omega, TAG Heuer, and Seiko (to name just a few), all released major timepieces with cues from their vintage predecessors.

One that was particularly exciting was the Longines Heritage 1945, a time-only model inspired by the personal watch of Hodinkee founder, Benjamin Clymer.

Longines Heritage 1945

The second most notable vintage-inspired collection came from Omega, which released a trilogy of piece-for-piece remakes of watches that were originally launched in 1957.

The set includes a Railmaster, a Speedmaster, and Seamaster, and collectors were swarming around Omega’s booth from the moment the show doors opened.

Facing a fall in sales

Much like at SIHH in January, it was clear that brands were feeling the burn of declining sales. Consequently a lot of watches we saw had lower price points and offered great value for money.

Grand Seiko SBGW253

One particular star was the Grand Seiko SBGW253 in steel, which features an in-house caliber 9S64 movement and old-school good looks for $5,700.

NOMOS Glashütte, ever the favorite among minimalists, added the Club Campus to its line-up.

Available in either 36mm and 38mm, the watch features an unusual dial with both Roman and Arabic numerals and flashes of bright color. It retails for approximately $1,500, depending on which model you choose.

The world’s biggest horological bonanza had some clear highs and lows. But, despite experiencing some doom-and-gloom of late, the watch industry is looking optimistically into the future.