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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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David Geller

Why David Geller Says You Should Sell Lab-Grown Diamonds

You’re a merchant, so sell the customer what they want.

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ONE OF THE JEWELER pages on Facebook has been discussing whether a store should stock and sell lab-grown diamonds. The dad says no, while the millennial son says, “I think we should try it.” The reader vote is split about 50/50.

Can we talk about making a living here for a moment? And selling consumers what they want?

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Customers want to know their options and make their own decisions. Be their personal shopper.

I started in 1974 as a trade shop. I used to do work for a store at our mall, Wellington Jewels. I sized the gold rings they sold and set stones.

What stones? Strontium titanate. It’s a diamond simulant that has colors like an opal. Hardness on Mohs’ scale? About 5.5! But sparkle, oooh weeee!

The store was mostly black walls and showcases, with bright lights to make the stones pop. They made great money, and these are diamond look-alikes with the hardness of an opal. The mountings were 14K gold with real melee diamonds. They didn’t sell much fashion, which I told them was crazy, because a woman can only buy so many engagement rings.

I became friendly with the store manager and she agreed. So I ordered a dozen at a time in fashion mountings from a catalog, furnished the mountings and diamond melee, and she gave me center stones, which I set. They’d sell most of each dozen I gave them within five weeks.

So let’s talk profits on this product. All merchandise was quadruple markup.

They gave a lifetime warranty on these stones. If the stone scratched or chipped or fell out, they’d replace them for 50 percent of the price (so they still made keystone).

This was junk compared to lab-created diamonds. Remember: a lab-created diamond will last as long as the human does.

What about resale value? Well, they can’t get their money out of what they spent on your natural diamond, so try lab-created, make a better margin and keep that young person from buying it someplace else.

When you quote a price to a customer for anything, you may be thinking, “They aren’t talking. Maybe I should come down on the price. OMG I need to make payroll this Friday.”

They may be thinking: “Darn, my student loan note is due at the end of the month. Maybe I should opt for a lab-created diamond. I can’t tell the difference and we need to save for a house.”

Be their personal shopper, make a customer happy and make some money!

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Editor's Note

These Are The Three Factors Driving Revolution in the Jewelry Industry

All three are technology-based.

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WHEN A BUSINESS REVOLUTION arrives, there’s no stopping it. Your only options are to ignore it and die a slow death, or join it and learn, quickly, how to do business within the new paradigm.

Three powerful pistons are driving revolution in the jewelry industry. The first is e-commerce. Some retailers have complained of manufacturers going direct to consumers, but many are now learning to compete in the online space as well. We just started judging this year’s crop of America’s Coolest Store contestants, and we are impressed not only by how many of the applicants sell online, but also by the quality of their websites. Read about retailers doing e-commerce right in our story, “E-Commerce For Everyone,” beginning on page 74.

The second piston is the lab-grown diamond phenomenon. The category continues to gain traction among consumers, and largely driven by consumer demand, not marketing. Read about Soha Diamond Co., a retailer who sells only lab-grown diamonds and gemstones, in our “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution” story starting on page 63.

The third piston is social media, which offers retailers the opportunity to engage local consumers for very little monetary investment. Social media is where the people are; it’s just a question of how to reach them, and then how to interest them in your jewelry and your store.

A revolution is on your doorstep, whether you like it or not. Will you join it or be left behind?

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

  • During slow times, take photos of all waxes not already in your CAD library and add them. (Manager’s To-Do List, p. 46)
  • Use an aggressive commission to incentivize salespeople to sell old items. (Ask INSTORE, p. 108)
  • Present customers’ kids with gift-wrapped presents to make them feel special. (Tip Sheet, p. 98)
  • Match the percentage of marketing dollars spent on a department with its store performance. (David Brown, p. 112)
  • Make a list of all verbal buying cues and have staff practice their question closes for each. (Sales Truths, p. 112)
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Dave Richardson

24 Verbal Buying Signals Your Sales Staff May Be Missing

Do this exercise to improve your team’s closing ratio.

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WHY IT IS TRUE: The customer will say things that indicate they are ready to buy, but many salespeople talk right through these cues.

PLAN OF ACTION: During a meeting with your staff, write these verbal buying signals on a flip chart and ask your staff if they can think of any to add to the list.

  • Do you take credit cards?
  • I really like it.
  • I think she’ll like it.
  • Do you have a warranty program?
  • Will you gift-wrap it?
  • You provide an appraisal?
  • What if she doesn’t like it?
  • What time do you close tonight?
  • Do you have it in white gold?
  • Will you be able to size it for me?
  • If I buy it, when can I pick it up?
  • I really like the feel of it.
  • I really like the way it looks on me.
  • Can I put it on my store credit?
  • Can you engrave it for me?
  • You have a layaway plan?
  • Since I can’t take until it is sized, do you deliver?
  • Does it come in a box?
  • How can I care for it?
  • Do you have the matching earrings?
  • Can I borrow a calculator?
  • If I buy the ring, will you pay the tax?
  • What is your return policy?
  • What do you think?

Then, divide your salespeople into groups of two or three and have them write the appropriate closing question to each one of the verbal buying signals. Then you can compare the results.

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