Modern technology weds traditional craftsmanship

By the time Basel ’84 ended its eight-day run April 12, more than 102,000 visitors had marveled at the gemological and horological “creme de la creme” of 16 nations.

But the quality of visitors transcended their numbers. Trade buyers outnumbered that general public 70 to 30. Americans and West Germans led the influx from abroad; visitors came from 95 countries in all.

The vast array of new and established items on display–from prestigious gem-set pieces to costumejewelry, goldware, writing instruments and lighters–proved enticing to visitors. Some pieces were unusual or unexpected. Among them Miniature decorated gold ingots worn as jewelry, antique and period jeels, and scratch-resistant hard-metal designs. Visitors also scrutinized huge quantities of precious, decorative and man-made stones.

In watchmaking, quartz time-pieces with analog time displays made a stronger showing than ever. New extra-thin movements built into two-tone, multi-colored, paired and scratch-resistant models featured prominently in Basel ’84 spring collections. Luxury watch designers seemed in a more classic mood this year, but opulence in ornamentation and gemstone selection still was evident. Sports and stylishness again met in superbly designed water-resistant models.

Other major styling developments this year included:

  • * The increased importance of dials. They became the focal point of the Tissot automatic watch, around which conflicting trends vied for popularity. Moon phase functions were widespread.
  • * On nearly half of this year’s entries, the bezel was scaled back, sometimes to nothing more than a bevelled edge. Others even did away with it completely–a sapphire crystal might cover the entire top surface.
  • * By contrast, some watches featured elaborately decorated bezels with engraving work, “claws,” studs or even slim metal-cable torsades.

Hard-metal designs abounded, with titanium (even gilt titanium) increasingly in vogue. Pocket watches, moreover, confirmed their success of recent years. New quartz calibres were introduced in 1984, as quartz watches finally outstripped traditional mechanical models in Switzerland, among other nations. Most mechanical designs were clustered either in pocketwaches or at the top luxury end.

Table and wall clock manufacturers likewise had many new models to show…from quartz and electric designs styled with new materials to classic key-wound clocks with a skeleton movement.

A sampling of the dazzling product assortment at Basel ’84 is shown on the following pages.

  1. Jewelry set by GMT, Bienne, includes bracelet watch, necklace and ear pendants. The two-tone 18k white and yellow gold settings are enhanced with diamonds and seven teardrop-shaped blue topazes. The Bulova accutron watch itself is topped by a blue sapphire crystal.
  2. New extra-slim (65x32x8mm) gas lighters join the “Les Dior de Christian Dior” collection. Choice of gadroon or satin-finished decor; both versions come with two-tone styling.
  3. Privilege S.A., Geneva, offers this chain jewelry set composed of a necklace, earrings, ring and quartz wristwatch in 18k white and yellow gold. Diamond baguettes and ruby cabochons are featured.
  4. Here gold ingots themselves become pieces of jewelry. Pamp S.A., Geneva, uses pure 24k gold slabs bearing official assay marks as a pendant and ear drops. The designs are in the likeness of Fortuna, the Roman goddess of Luck, whose emblem is the cornucopia.
  5. A long neckpiece featuring a delicate “chaingang” style chain with square-wire spiralled links. Made in steel and gold or in white and yellow gold, by Gay Freres, Geneva.
  6. Henry Dunay’s “Freedom” necklace, designed to lie like a chiffon scarf around the wearer’s neck. Ribbons of diamond pave hold it in place. Earrings, ring and bracelet with their wire swirls among the pave complete the grouping. Necklace retails for $35,000; ring, for $11,000.
  7. Handpainted enamel on sterling silver butterflies are from Hroar Prydz A/A, Oslo, Norway.
  8. Wideband Jewelry Co, New Rochelle, N.Y., presented this collection of gold coin jewelry, all set in elegantly simple pendants.
  9. New versions of the Omega constellation “claw”watch. More than merely decorative, the claws add to the case’s water-resistance. These models are made in white and yellow or white and pink gold, with diamond pave.
  10. The Breitling Navitimer GMT for pilots–with two time zones, chronograph, rotating bezel timer and independent watch for third time zone display–features world’s smallest QA movement. Selection of all-stainless steel or stainless steel case, goldplated bezel and bi-color bracelet.
  11. Swissdesigner Gerald Genta and his wife presented this astronomical wall clock with perpetual calendar and moon-phase indicator.
  12. Blancpain’s men’s and women’s moon phase cheap Nixon watches. Water-resistant to 30 meters, they come in steel, steel and gold, or 18k yellow gold with leather strap or bracelet.
  13. The futuristic Chrono II from IWC, Schaffhausen. Easy-to-grip push-button controls are totally integrated into a black anodized or chronium-plated case.
  14. 18k gold case and bracelet in Baume & Mercier’s jewel-watch for women are worked entirely by hand. The diamond and emerald model has a high-precision, ultra-thin quartz movement.
  15. The Amadeus collection from Raymond Weil combines classic and modern. These 18k gold electroplated models come with a velvet-black anodized finish; black dial adorned in golden pearls; sapphire crystal and ultrathin (2.5mm) quartz movement.
  16. The new Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar by Audermars Piguet features an extra-flat automatic movement with a central rotor in 21k gold. Mechanically programmed to the year 2100, the Royal Oak indicates day, date, month, lunar calendar and chronological time, as well as Feb. 29 every 4th year.
  17. A world first: The Nepro “Alrin” electronic ring. Add it to a standard quartz movement and you get an alarm-watch movement with a loud and clear signal (man’s version) or a musical sequence (woman’s version).
  18. The “Ascot,” a new series of M-Watches by Mondaine Watch Ltd., Zurich, features a changeable battery, a huge variety of colors and a new “StrapStrap” band.
  19. From left: ETA SA’s patented Combo Delirium; Combo Dichroic and Flatline Combo will be released for name brand marketing later this year.
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