About Joe Thompson

Joe Thompson, WatchTime’s editor-in-chief, has covered the global watch industry since 1977. Joe is one of the leading watch journalists worldwide and respected as a global authority. He is frequently consulted by the mainstream media on watch matters and has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, Newsweek International, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The International Herald Tribune, Sports Illustrated and numerous other publications. During Joe's tenure WatchTime has won several awards and nominations.

The Apple Watch: Pros and Cons

Apple Watches

Eleven years ago, after Bill Gates personally introduced Microsoft smartwatches at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, I wrote a column in WatchTime entitled “Honk If You Want a Computer On Your Wrist!” The column asked the following simple question: “Does anyone really want this contraption?” … [Read more...]

Audio Exclusive: Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek Talks Smartwatches

Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek

The new Apple Watch smartwatch is now a reality, but is it the wave of the future for the watch business? The September-October 2014 issue of WatchTime, on sale September 16, features editor-in-chief Joe Thompson's exclusive interview with Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek. Among the many topics discussed in the far-ranging interview is Hayek's reluctance to get back into the now-burgeoning smartwatch market, despite the fact that the Swatch watch brand was one of the category's pioneers 15 years ago. … [Read more...]

WatchTime Q&A: Seiko Watch CEO Shinji Hattori on Seiko’s First U.S. Boutique

Seiko CEO Shinji Hattori

Seiko Corporation of America has opened a boutique at 510 Madison Avenue in New York between 52nd and 53rd Street. The official opening was August 19. Seiko has many boutiques in Asia but this is its first one in the United States. On hand for the occasion was Shinji Hattori, CEO of Seiko Watch Corp. and chairman of its parent company, Seiko Holdings Corp., who is the great-great-grandson of Seiko founder, Kintaro Hattori. … [Read more...]

Cartier Gets Serious: The Evolution of Cartier Men’s Watches

Cartier Geneva Seal caliber

In recent years Cartier, the king of haute joaillerie, has begun storming the bastions of haute horlogerie. In this full-length feature from our October 2010 issue, WatchTime's Joe Thompson explores the intriguing origins and bold future initiatives of Manufacture Cartier. … [Read more...]

Buyer Beware: The Rise of Counterfeit Luxury Watches on the Internet

Confiscated Counterfeit Watches

Looking for cheap watches or discount watches on the internet? Better think twice before making that purchase. In this article from WatchTime's February 2013 issue, we explore how sales of these counterfeit watches are hurting both collectors and the watch industry. … [Read more...]

Breguet Sponsors Louvre Restoration

Room Gilbert and Rose Marie Chagoury

Montres Breguet S.A. held a gala dinner at the Louvre Museum in Paris on June 17, highlighting its role as a major sponsor of the restoration of the museum’s Department of Decorative Arts rooms and galleries devoted to the art of French living in the 18th century. Those rooms, encompassing 2,500 square feet of space, had been closed to the public for nearly 10 years during the renovation. The entire area has been revamped and is now reopened to the public. … [Read more...]

Baselworld 2014: 21 Tidbits About Basel

Basel Muenster Cathedral

In March, 150,000 people will flock to Basel, Switzerland, for the world’s largest watch show, Baselworld. Our gang, of course, will be among them. Because of the frenzied pace of the show, most Baselworld visitors don’t get to see much of the city. That’s a pity because there is a lot more to it than the show. … [Read more...]

Audio: Excerpts from WatchTime’s Exclusive Interview with Breguet’s Marc Hayek

Marc Hayek CEO of Breguet

WatchTime's March-April 2014 issue, on sale March 18, features a cover story on Breguet, and its groundbreaking Classique Chronometrie 7727 watch, by editor-in-chief Joe Thompson. The story includes insights from Breguet president and CEO Marc A. Hayek, gleaned from an interview conducted at Breguet's offices in Switzerland's Vallée de Joux. … [Read more...]

The 3 Biggest Surprises at SIHH 2014

Baume & Mercier Clifton 1892 Flying Tourbillon

I know, I know, you are supposed to expect the unexpected. Even so, I did not expect what Baume & Mercier, Greubel Forsey and Cartier unveiled at last week’s SIHH watch fair in Geneva. Here are the three biggest surprises of SIHH 2014. … [Read more...]

SIHH 2014: Piaget Altiplano 900P – Updated with Live Photos

Piaget Altiplano 900P - front

For more than half a century Switzerland’s Piaget has specialized in manufacturing ultra-thin mechanical watches and watch movements. Now it has produced what it says is “the thinnest mechanical watch ever.” The new Piaget Altiplano 900P has a total case thickness of 3.65 mm, 9.9 percent less than the thinnest mechanical watch currently on the market, the 4.05-mm-thin Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin Jubilee. … [Read more...]

Swatch Group & Comco: 10 Key Moments

ETA 2892 movement

As we reported in October, Switzerland’s Competition Commission (Comco) has announced a decision to allow the Swatch Group, Switzerland's dominant producer of mechanical watch movements, to gradually halt sales of those movements to companies outside the group in 2020. Here is a timeline of 10 key moments in the ongoing legal soap opera between Swatch Group and Comco. … [Read more...]

Why Did Patek Philippe Create its Own Quality Seal?

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Patek Philippe, the most prestigious firm in the watch world, has thrown down a gauntlet to the Swiss watch industry. After 123 years, the Swiss brand replaced the Geneva Seal with a higher-standard seal of its own. Find out why in this article from WatchTime's May-June 2009 issue. … [Read more...]

COMCO: Swatch Group Can Stop Mechanical Movement Sales in 2020

Swatch Group logo

Switzerland’s Competition Commission (COMCO) has approved a plan allowing the Swatch Group to reduce gradually sales of mechanical movements to companies outside the group over the next six years, and to halt sales completely in 2020. Click here for details on the ruling. … [Read more...]

In Surprise Ruling, COMCO Halts Swatch Group Escapement Cuts

Swatch Group logo

Switzerland’s Competition Commission (COMCO) has ruled that it would be “premature” to allow the Swatch Group to reduce supplies of assortments (i.e. the regulating organ of a mechanical movement: escape wheel, pallet lever, balance wheel and balance spring) that it sells to Swiss watch brands outside the group. … [Read more...]

Million Dollar Club 2012: Watch Advertising at All-Time High

Top Four Watch Advertisers 2012

In an exclusive report in the upcoming May-June issue of WatchTime, we reveal which watch brands are spending the most on advertising in 2012, a record year for watch-company ad spending, and we provide a complete list of the 60 brands that spent more than $1 million on ads. … [Read more...]

Hermès Dressage

Hermes Dressage watch

La Montre Hermès has updated its Dressage watch for men, expanding the diameter of its traditional tonneau case by 1.5 mm to 40.5 mm. The big news for Hermès is what’s inside: the firm’s first proprietary movement. The movement, Caliber H1837, is made for Hermès by Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier, in which Hermès has a 25-percent share; the other 75 percent is owned by the Sandoz Family Foundation, which also owns the Parmigiani watch brand. (Hermès also launched a second movement made … [Read more...]

Family Values: Patek Philippe’s Thierry and Philippe Stern

Thierry and Philippe Stern of Patek Philippe

Geneva’s Stern family has owned and operated Patek Philippe for 76 years. When it comes to making watches, they say, family matters. Click here to read WatchTime editor-in-chief Joe Thompson's up-close-and-personal profile of Philippe and Thierry Stern from our December 2008 issue. … [Read more...]

Roland G. Murphy’s American Way

Roland G. Murphy

Making a watch movement in Switzerland is one thing. Making one in the USA is quite another. Just ask Roland G. Murphy, founder of RGM Watch Company. Click here to read WatchTime's profile of Murphy and his brand as we kick off our "Salute to America" week devoted to American watchmaking and watches that celebrate America. … [Read more...]

Rolex Romps 7 Million Chronometers in a Decade

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Watch enthusiasts know that when it comes to producing Swiss chronometers, there are the Big Three Brands – Rolex, Omega and Breitling – and then there’s all the rest. Just how big the Big Three are in chronometer production becomes startlingly clear when you analyze Swiss chronometer output by brand over the past decade. … [Read more...]

Who are Switzerland’s Top Chronometer Producers?

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Rolex, Omega and Breitling once again lead the list of Switzerland’s top producers of chronometer watches. Data recently released for 2009 by Switzerland’s official chronometer testing agency, COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres), shows that the Big Three accounted for 78% of all chronometer certificates issued that year. (A watch is designated as a certified chronometer if its movement passes a series of stringent tests administered by COSC.) … [Read more...]

WatchTime’s New York ‘Inside Basel-Geneva’ Event Sold Out

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WatchTime’s “Inside Basel-Geneva” event in New York City, which will be held on Sept. 14, is sold out. WatchTime is putting names of people wanting to attend on a waiting list, said publisher Wolfgang Blum, but tickets to the event are no longer available. … [Read more...]

Timex to Close Vincent Bérard

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The Timex Group’s grand foray into the high reaches of the luxury mechanical watch market is ending. Swiss media are reporting that Timex is shutting Vincent Bérard S.A., the La Chaux-de-Fonds-based manufacturer of luxury mechanical watches, that it acquired in 2006. While neither Timex nor the Vincent Bérard firm has made any official announcement, sources close to Timex have confirmed to WatchTime that the Swiss reports are true. … [Read more...]

Nayla Hayek Named Swatch Group Chairwoman

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Nayla Hayek has been named chairwoman of the Swatch Group Ltd., succeeding her father, Nicolas G. Hayek, who died of heart failure at Swatch Group headquarters in Bienne, Switzerland on June 28. She was elected by a unanimous vote of the board of directors on June 30. Previously, she was vice-chairman of the board. … [Read more...]

Switzerland Mourns Its Watch “Messiah”

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Switzerland has responded to the sudden death of Swatch Group Chairman Nicolas G. Hayek on June 28 with a rare outpouring of grief, praise, and appreciation. Hayek, 82, was born in Beirut, Lebanon, but grew up in Switzerland and spent his entire professional life there. Hayek has been a prominent public figure in the country for four decades and one of the country’s most famous and, ultimately, beloved figures. … [Read more...]

Watch Sales Down Again for Japan’s Big Three

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Results for the fiscal year ended March 31 show that watch sales at Japan’s Big Three watch firms slumped for the second consecutive year as the Great Recession continued to suppress demand for mid-priced watches. Nevertheless, the watch divisions at Citizen, Seiko and Casio remained profitable. For the companies as a whole, only the Citizen Group reported a profit for year; Seiko and Casio both reported losses. … [Read more...]

What’s the Most Valuable Watch Brand? And Just How Valuable Is It?

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Each year the Millward Brown Optimor consulting firm issues a ranking of the world’s top brands. MBO uses a complex formula to estimate a brand’s worth. Only one brand whose primary product is watches made the list: Rolex. MBO estimates that Geneva-based Rolex is the world’s sixth most valuable luxury brand with a value of $4.74 billion. … [Read more...]

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Watch Company Financial Results for 2009

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For the most part, the Great Recession of 2009 pretty much mugged corporate sales and profits. In the watch sector, for example, the Bulgari and Movado groups reported red ink for the year. But there were exceptions to the battered sales and profits syndrome. Fossil, for one, had its most profitable year ever. Here’s a survey of the full-year results of publicly traded firms who are watch industry players. … [Read more...]

On the Mend

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The Swiss watch industry has not recovered from the Great Recession of 2009. But Baselworld showed that it is recuperating. … [Read more...]

The Man Behind the Brand: George Graham

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Sixteen years ago, two young men born and raised in the Swiss watch town of La Chaux-de-Fonds and working in the watch industry teamed up with the notion of getting their own watch brand. The question confronting Eric Loth and Pierre-André Finazzi was which brand? The Swiss names they wanted, they couldn’t afford. The French brands they could afford, they didn’t want. … [Read more...]

THE MAN BEHIND THE BRAND: Daniel JeanRichard

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(This is the first of a series of articles on historical watchmakers whose names have been revived as contemporary watch brands.) In 1986, Luigi (Gino) Macaluso, a Swiss watch distributor in Italy, bought the rights to the name Daniel JeanRichard from Lemania, the Swiss movement manufacturer. Daniel JeanRichard was not a watch brand. It is the name of a 17th century Swiss watchmaker, who was an extremely important, if obscure, figure in the development of the Swiss watch industry. … [Read more...]