A watch made from a meteorite and a diamond-covered timepiece whose $1.4 million pricetag was out of this world are among the timely attractions at this year's Watch, Clock and Jewelry fair.
The 1,860 exhibitors from 16 European countries, the United States, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore are in Basel until Wednesday to show off their latest collections.It's also a time when manufacturers take stock of new trends.
The consensus this year among watch manufacturers was that consumers are willing to pay higher prices for a watch perceived as unique.
"There has been a clear change in consumer behavior," said Klaus Wehner, president of the German Watch Industry. "The average price has increased and a watch is no longer just an instrument to tell time. It is a fashion accessory."
One that fell into that category was a solid gold watch covered in diamonds that is priced at $1.4 million. It's nearly impossible to see its hands through all the sparkle, but one visitor observed: "It's a watch for people who don't need to know what time it is."
One Swiss manufacturer displayed watches with faces it said were made from a meteorite discovered in Greenland in 1894 by the American explorer Robert Peary, who later went on to discover the North Pole. The company said it only had enough meteorite to make 900 watches, so the series would be limited.
Swiss watchmakers said mechanical watches were making a comeback among wealthy consumers, although quartz brands outnumbered them by nearly 5-1 last year.