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5 Watches I Wish I’d Seen in Basel

If you don’t know some of these brands, they’re worth checking out.

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FOR THE FIRST TIME in four years I decided to skip the costly out-of-pocket trip to the Baselworld watch and jewelry fair in Basel, Switzerland, instead using those funds to make a down payment on that limited-edition Rolls Royce I’ve had my eye on. But the fact I didn’t go doesn’t mean I didn’t want to go. On the contrary, as I clicked through the Instagram stories of my favorite watch brands and my journalist colleagues, I most certainly had that “FOMO” feeling, especially when I saw the sausages (because c’mon, there ain’t no sausage like a Baselworld sausage). So today, in spite of my absence, I’m going to bring you the best of Basel by highlighting five watches that I wish I’d been there to see.

(Note: If you’re looking to read about Rolex, Patek Philippe or Tudor in this article, you’ll be disappointed. Plenty of writers have written about the releases from those brands already, so let your fingers do the Googling if that’s what you came here to see.)

Frederique Constant’s Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon

Adding to their already successful and cost-conscious line of perpetual calendars, this year, Swiss watch brand Frederique Constant presented a limited-edition tourbillon version starting under $30,000 (which is pretty remarkable for a Swiss-made timepiece with complications such as these). The 42mm Tourbillon watch – which is available in both stainless steel and rose gold versions – contains the FC-975 manufacture caliber movement capable of providing a 38-hour power reserve while running at 4 Hertz with its balance wheel beating 28,800 times per hour. (And If all of that makes your head hurt, imagine what I’m feeling writing about it.) What’s special about the perpetual calendar aspect, for those who may not be familiar with the term, is that the watch not only recognizes the number of days in each month, but also displays the year and will automatically adjust itself for the leap year. A perpetual calendar will understand which months have 30 and 31 days, as well as know that there are 28 days in February unless it’s a leap year, in which case it will jump to the 29th. In simpler terms, this watch shouldn’t require any manual correction on the date for roughly 400 years if wound regularly, so if your customers are looking for something to pass down for several generations, this might just be the watch.

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Sinn’s 6012 Frankfurt Financial District Rose Gold Anniversary Watch

If you’re unfamiliar with German watch brand Sinn, there’s no better time than now to familiarize yourself with it. Founded in 1961 by pilot Helmut Sinn, the brand created the first “authorized” mechanical chronograph to be worn in space back in 1985. The reason I’ve used quotations marks there is because an unauthorized mechanical Seiko went to space about 12 years prior.

With so much coming out of Baselworld that left many of us kind of “meh,” I found Sinn’s releases to be refreshingly affordable and wearable — not to mention attractive. I was particularly smitten with the anniversary edition of their Frankfurt Financial District watch – the 6012 – which the company released in rose gold, limited to 50 pieces. The 41.5mm diameter rose and black watch contains the self-winding Sinn SZ06 movement with a 60-second scale for the stopwatch minute, moon phase, full calendar display, and sapphire crystal and case back.

Cyrus’ Klepcys Vertical Skeleton Tourbillon

This is the second tourbillon watch on this list, but it is vastly different from the first perpetual calendar tourbillon written about. While the mechanical concept of Cyrus’ Klepcys Vertical Tourbillon isn’t new – I first saw it in the flesh at the 2018 edition of Baselworld – the skeleton version of it is, and seemingly, it’s spectacular.

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Master watchmaker Jean-François Mojon set out to create piece showcasing the innovative mechanism driving the watch. The tourbillon cage, placed in the middle of the dial, is set on a vertical axis at a 90-degree angle, optimizing precision. This exciting watch exists in a world too often filled with releases that contain little more than new dial, bezel or strap colors, and at a time when younger audiences are noticing the lack of creativity among the Swiss brands.

Breitling’s Superocean 36 Watch

It isn’t often that we see a dive watch designed with women in mind. And I don’t mean when some brand has taken one of its popular dive watches, released it in pink and thrown a diamond bezel on it. I mean a dive watch that looks like a dive watch but maybe in a slightly smaller size. This year, Breitling managed to accomplish that feat with an addition to its Superocean family: the Superocean 36.

Created not just with divers in mind but also those who live an active lifestyle on both water and land, the Superocean 36 is a 36mm sport watch containing a ratcheted unidirectional bezel and available with either a light blue (my pick) or white dial with matching Diver Pro II rubber strap or a stainless-steel bracelet. Oh, and it’s water resistant to 200 meters, so clearly diving is still an option for your sea-dweller customers.

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Oris’ Diver’s Sixty-Five Bi-colour

Aside from the “Big Three” mentioned at the beginning of this article, the brand I saw highlighted most coming out of the 2019 edition of Baselworld was Oris. And while I have a personal connection to the brand (Oris and I joined forces on a children’s book that was released in Basel last year), its claim to fame this year has little to do with any Earth-moving releases. What Oris has is something most brands should envy: approachability. The company is hands-on – literally – which is almost unheard of in today’s luxury society. I’ve never known Oris’ North American CEO, V.J. Geronimo, to not reply to a message I’ve sent within an hour or so, and they are one of the best brands in terms of working with collectors’ groups such RedBar and Carolina Watch Club while still channeling their buyers through local watch retailers. So it’s nice to see them getting their due, and with releases like this year’s Diver’s Sixty-Five Bi-colour, it’s easy to understand why.

The Oris Diver’s Sixty-Five Bi-colour has a 40mm stainless steel case with bronze inlay ring and a stainless and bronze two-tone bracelet. The watch is equipped with the Oris 733 automatic movement, domed sapphire crystal and 38-hour power reserve, and it is water resistant to 100 meters.

If you are unfamiliar with any of the brands above, hopefully this list will shed a little light!

Barbara Palumbo is a watch and jewelry industry writer, journalist and speaker. She manages the blogging websites Adornmentality.com and Whatsonherwrist.com.

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Commentary: The Business

Building Something Cool Means Having No Regrets, Says Stephen Webster

The designer pulled out all the stops to stand out with his Beverly Hills boutique.

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PRIOR TO PENNING this column, I looked back at some of the columns written by previous winners of the INSTORE Small Cool and Big Cool jewelry stores in America. Each is a story of passion, dedication and determination (or blood, sweat and tears) to build and maintain stores that never stop compelling and engaging with their clients and communities.

As we all know, building a successful or indeed a “cool” store, no matter what the size, has never been about doing just one thing well. It may start with great product, but that is only the beginning. As jewelers, we have to build trust, offer not only outstanding service but develop almost telepathic relationships with clients, create unique and welcoming environments, and as if that weren’t enough, a brick-and-mortar store owner also has to be as tech-savvy as a 14 year-old, able to navigate the plethora of digital platforms and social channels, apparently without which no one any longer crosses your threshold.

Podcast: A Flash of Cash and Other Meditations on the Value of Jewelry
Over the Counter

Podcast: A Flash of Cash and Other Meditations on the Value of Jewelry

Podcast: Craig Husar Discusses His Career, and His Spectacular New Store, on ‘The Barb Wire’
The Barb Wire

Podcast: Craig Husar Discusses His Career, and His Spectacular New Store, on ‘The Barb Wire’

Podcast: Make Sure You Open the Dang Box
JimmyCast

Podcast: Make Sure You Open the Dang Box

Despite all the above, we love it and continue to strive to be the best and the coolest.

My home is not America; I have, though, traveled across the pond on average every month for the past 25 years, growing not only millions of air miles but also my brand through an incredible network of independent and larger groups of retail jewelers across the USA, witnessing firsthand what it takes to stand out as a store.

When it finally became time to open my own boutique, I wasn’t attached to any one community, so I did what most domestic brands do and blindfolded, stuck a pin in a map of North America, at least I think that’s what other brands do, I might be wrong. My pin landed as far away from my home as it’s possible to get, the “City of Angels”: LA, right bang on the set of Pretty Woman, opposite the Beverly Wiltshire hotel on Rodeo Drive.

I believe there were 25-plus jewelers already on that famous drive, and unlike them, this was my first Rodeo. To stand a chance, the Stephen Webster store had to be different. Our jewelry was already different, so we wanted the environment to look as though the product belonged there.

I’m proud to say that if it was anything, it was different. The etched concrete floor, the crocodile skin (effect) leather covered showcases, graffiti artwork and neons by famous street artists, and up the sweeping staircase on the second floor, the now-legendary NoRegrets lounge, where we showcased everything that makes up the extended world of Webster: chefs, sculptures, conventional and graffiti artists, photographers, a milliner, too many DJs and even a classical trumpet player. The

NoRegrets lounge has earned its title.

Just like every neighborhood store, we earned every one of our clients. Due to the nature of local employment, we never knew who was going to walk through the door, and even though our policy is that everyone gets treated the same, I’m sure one can imagine that some of those Hollywood types do demand that extra mile and a half. Living exactly 6,000 miles away, we like to think we give it. It would be fun to know if any other store owners have such a ridiculous commute; I hope not, for their sakes.

Having our flagship store recognized as “cool” by peers from an industry I love and feel very much part of in a country I really should call home has been such an honor. You have no idea how cool it feels for my team in the US and also back in London, where to say we were voted the coolest big jewelry store in America is massive.

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Shane Decker

What Not To Do During the First 30 Seconds of Any Sale

Huddling at the back is a big no-no.

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HAVE YOU EVER walked into what appeared to be a nice store, only to spin and leave faster than you came in? Or, have you ever walked into a nice place of business and watched two salespeople look at each other, then you, then each other again, like they’re seeing which one of them is going to wait on you?

You’re not alone — we’ve all had this experience, and jewelry stores are no exception. At too many stores, you’re not greeted at all, and sometimes, you can’t even find anyone to take care of your needs. This is one reason the Internet is doing so well.

People today are time-starved, and they will decide within the first 30 seconds of entering your store whether or not they’re going to give you their money.

Let’s begin with the first five seconds: every customer must be greeted — ideally, from the “sweet spot” in your store (15 feet inside your door to the customer’s right as they walk in). When you’re a client and you’re acknowledged, you feel important. It’s a relief subconsciously to realize that the sales associates know you’re there.

Never allow your sales floor to be vacant when clients come in. Many say they are just looking, but that’s an opportunity for you to use your first close by saying, “I always do that before I buy; let’s get started!” or “I’m glad you came in to take care of that today.”

“I’m just looking” means “I’m just spending.” It means “I’m on a mission, and when I find what I’m looking for, I’m gonna buy it.” It does not mean, “Leave me alone.” Like I said before, we are a time-starved nation, and nobody is just looking.

Do not come from the back of the store to the front; you should be there already. When you come from the back, your mind is focused on the busy work you were doing or the donut you were eating.

Never greet a customer from a group huddle. It’s good to laugh in your store, but if you’re all laughing about something when the client walks in, they may think you’re laughing at them.

Do not use canned openings like “Hi, how are you?” or “What can I help you with?” Clients don’t need “help”; they want professional assistance to make a purchase or information about a service needed. Likewise, don’t say, “Good morning, welcome to Smith Jewelers.” That gets old, fast. What if they come in three or four times a year and hear you say the same thing? Keep your greetings creative and make sure they’re welcoming. Your greeting should be professional and make your client feel glad they came into your place of business.

Be present for the start of the sale, and keep it professional. Starting strong allows you to make it to the end (and hopefully close the sale). By doing so, you’ll keep your client from wanting to go to the Internet — after all, we do want to talk to real people, especially when it comes to jewelry.

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World’s Biggest, Heaviest and Most Valuable Coin to Make US Debut

It will be on display at the New York Stock Exchange on July 16.

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THE WORLD’S BIGGEST, heaviest and most valuable coin will make its U.S. debut at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) next Tuesday, July 16.

For only 12 hours — 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. — the “1 Tonne Australian Kangaroo” gold coin will be on public display in Experience Square, just outside the NYSE on Broad Street.

Made from 99.99% pure gold, the coin measures 80 cm (31.5 inches) wide and 12 cm (4.5 inches) thick. It weighs one metric ton, which is equivalent to 2,200 pounds or 35,274 ounces. The coin has a face value of $1 million, but at today’s gold price, the precious metal alone is worth $49.3 million.

The Perth Mint created the “1 Tonne Australian Kangaroo” in 2011 to bring worldwide attention to its popular annual Australian Kangaroo Gold Bullion Coin Series. A year later, Guinness World Records affirmed its status as the world’s largest coin.

The reverse design depicts a bounding red kangaroo surrounded by stylized rays of sunlight. The coin is bordered by the inscription AUSTRALIAN KANGAROO 1 TONNE 9999 GOLD and the year 2012.

The obverse of the coin portrays the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by the inscriptions ELIZABETH II, AUSTRALIA and the monetary denomination of 1 MILLION DOLLARS.

The enormous gold coin has rarely left its permanent display at The Perth Mint’s Gold Exhibition in the Land Down Under. It did embark on a promotional tour across Asia and Europe in 2014, and now it is traveling halfway around the world for the one-day New York exhibition.

The Australian coin is 10 times heavier than the previous record-holder, a 100 kg (220 pound) coin designed by the Royal Canadian Mint.

The Australian coin is 10 times heavier than the previous record-holder. CREDITS: IMAGES COURTESY OF THE PERTH MINT.

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