An interview with industry insider Antonio Cecere, Principal of Cecere Monaco and Founder of Monaco Diamond Exchange, about his time at the world's leading watch and jewellery trade show, Baselworld 2017
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Antonio Cecere, Monaco Diamond Exchange Founder & VP[/caption]
ML: How was Baselworld this year and what are the highlights?
Return to heritage was a key phrase amongst watchmakers. Rolex revisited their Sky-Dweller in white Rolesor – a combination of steel and white gold, with a bright blue sunray dial. Patek Philippe developed a new version of their annual calendar (Ref 5960), but Aquanaut stole the scene celebrating the 20th anniversary with a new 42mm “Jumbo” size (Ref 5168G). Ferrari is also celebrating a birthday, their 70th, and commissioned Hublot to create a timepiece to commemorate it. The result: the Hublot Techframe Ferrari Tourbillon Chronograph in three versions – King Gold, PEEK Carbon, and Titanium – each of which is produced in 70 limited editions.
ML: Would you say your time at Baselworld was insightful?
I was invited to attend the launch of the new Autavia, the iconic chronograph created by Jack Heuer in 1962, which was worn by legendary drivers including F1 champion Mario Andretti and Steve McQueen. Actor Patrick Dempsey, Brand Ambassador of Tag Heuer, who directed a short film to illustrate the features of the watch, presented the contemporary version in Basel. The choice of revisiting a vintage model and turning it into a modern version was the result of an interactive campaign with TAG Heuer fans who voted for the Autavia 2446 Mark 3 as their favourite among historic models during the Autavia Cup in spring 2016.
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During my visit I had the honour to meet and briefly talk to two incredible individuals who have shaped the watch industry. Jack Heuer, Honorary Chairman of Tag Heuer, talked about the history of Autavia and its roots. He also shared an anecdote that took him back to a rally adventure when he misread the dial causing him to want to develop the original version of Autavia.
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Jack Heuer, Patrick Dempsey, and Jean Claude Biver[/caption]
I then briefly met Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of Tag Heuer and President of LVMH Watch Division. His impact on the watch industry and the shift from quartz movements to mechanical movement has been significant. He revived Blancpain after purchasing it in 1981 together with Jagues Piguet for CHF 22,000 and sold in 1992 for CHF 60 million to the Swatch Group. Similarly, he rejuvenated brands like Hublot and Omega.
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Antonio Cecere with Jean-Marc Wiederrecht[/caption]
ML: Who do you think was the biggest innovator?
Without a doubt, for me, Fabergé is doing something special. I met with Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, the man behind their watches; he is undoubtedly one of the most inspiring creators of movement alive today. His ability to unconventionally show the time on a watch defines his work with creations, such as Van Cleef’s Pont Des Amoureux and MB&F Horological Machine No. 2, and his vision granted him to win the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie of Geneva in 2007 – the Swiss watchmaking industry’s highest honour.
Mr Wiederrecht’s collaboration with Fabergé brought great depth to this historical Russian house; testimony to this is the Lady Compliquée haute horlogerie ladies' collection, which won the prestigious 2015 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in the “High-Mechanical” category. The highly original display of the collection features a fan at the heart of the watch. My favourite is the Lady Compliquée Peacock that features emeralds, rubies, sapphires and diamonds, Paraiba tourmaline and tsavorite. It shows the time by using the feathers of the peacock for the minutes and a rotating disc for the hours.
Their new launch for men is the Fabergé Visionnaire Chronograph (centre), which took ten years in the development of the movement by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht’s Agenhor studio – the hours and minutes are read at the periphery of the watch dial while the chronograph function takes centre stage. My favourite in this collection is the black ceramic version.
Another watch that I am particularly interested in would be the self-winding Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ (right). The model displays a never-seen-before aperture at the centre of the dial with the date complication optically amplified where the light is brought into the centre of the case through reflective surfaces.
ML: Was there any one piece that took your breath away?
Fancy colour diamonds are wonders of nature and two polished diamonds, for me, significantly stood out. I viewed a Fancy Intense Pink Diamond oval in shape with Very Very Slight Inclusions over 30 carats in weight. This was really special and I was asked by one of my clients to source it and evaluate it. We are competing with a leading global jewellery brand that also made a bid, but I have reasons to believe that we will win this one. For reasons of privacy, I can’t provide further information about this diamond nor publish the photo.
The other diamond that stayed in my mind during the duration of the show is from one of our favourite suppliers – the “bubble gum” pink diamond over 5 carats in weight and flawless in clarity. Along with my staff, I was mesmerised by the colour and viewing this item through the loupe was a magical journey and I hope it will be one of my clients to own it and cherish such an incredible creation of nature. I could not stop talking about this one.
ML: Did you find a favourite jeweller exhibiting at the show?
Graff is always a favourite for me to visit during Baselworld, particularly because of our common passion for diamonds. I enjoy their interpretation of what a classic jewellery design should be and their ability to keep traditional and yet contemporary.
ML: Can you share any other stand out moments from Baselworld?
I met with Thomas Heindl of Heindl, market leader for over 40 years in luxury bespoke safes. Two safes for me were outstanding; one was produced for HSH Prince Albert II and designed to accommodate whisky bottles – it was originally presented during the Monte Carlo Whisky Festival 2016.
The Gatsby, a safe with a gold plated exterior and high-gloss lacquer, was so elegant that it could be the centrepiece of any house.
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Thomas Hindl and Antonio Cecere[/caption]
Article first published April 4, 2017.