Around the Web: 2014 Watch Predictions, Tiffany-Swatch Legal Decision, Blancpain’s Chefs and the “Death Watch”

vacheron_thumbnailThe new year has begun, and it is time for our first installment of “Around the Web” for 2014.  As always, WatchTime social media maven Alan Loren updates watch aficionados with what we thought were some of the most interesting watch-related stories and news tidbits of the past weeks, culled from the websites of your favorite brands as well as some of the most popular watch blogs and other media. Here’s what caught our eye on the web this week.

 1. Watch Predictions for 2014

Although the economics of high-end watch production don’t easily accommodate the kind of rapid-fire trends seen in the fashion world, Daily Telegraph Luxury predicts that in 2014, the luxury sector will introduce some trend-inspired watches that veer away from what it calls “pre-crash brashness and bling,” and edge forward from the “ultra-sparse to something a little less Calvinist.”  To illustrate the point, Telegraph Luxury explores the Zenith brand’s evolution from “Thierry Nataf inspired design madness” to the stark simplicity of the El Primero, straight though to the recently introduced El Primero Lightweight.

Zenith El Primero Lightweight
Zenith El Primero Lightweight

Reflecting a less pretentious mood, dials are likely to be less cluttered than a few years ago, according to the report. Omega’s Seamaster Aqua Terra and Vacheron Constantin’s Patrimony Contemporaine Ultra-Thin Calibre 1731 are good examples.

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Contemporaine Ultra Thin Calibre 1731
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Contemporaine Ultra Thin Calibre 1731

Of course, making generalizations about the watch world can be tricky. For every “trend,” there is a “countertrend.”  However, if you have some time, we urge you to peruse the Telegraph Luxury watch forecast for 2014 right here.  Agree or disagree with its observations, it is worth a read.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


2. Court Orders Tiffany to Pay Swatch Group $449 Million

If you haven’t heard by now, Forbes reports that a Dutch arbitration court recently ruled that Tiffany & Co must pay the Swatch Group a hefty “half a billion dollars in damages” resulting from a contractual dispute between the two corporate powerhouses.

Tiffany Boutique
Tiffany’s New York City Boutique

The two companies entered into a joint venture agreement in 2007, which would have created the Tiffany Watch Company Ltd. The Swatch Group was meant to produce and sell the watches under the Tiffany brand name and the profits were to be shared between the two. However, the partnership began to sour in 2011, when Swatch alleged that “the jeweler was trying to block and delay the joint venture.”  Tiffany filed a countersuit and the case went to arbitration in 2012.

Swatch Was to Have Produced Tiffany's Watches
Swatch Was to Have Produced Tiffany’s Watches

The decision has a tremendous impact on Tiffany’s financials, and the legendary retailer quickly “slashed its full-year fiscal 2013 outlook” upon learning the result. Tiffany chairman and CEO Michael Kowalski, said in a statement the company is reviewing its legal options, but has the resources to pay the amount in full.

There are myriad business implications for Tiffany resulting from the ruling.  For an excellent breakdown, you can read the full Forbes story here.

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