For those of you who only recognize the word “Basel” as the misspelling of an herb that goes wonderfully between a slice of beefsteak tomato and fresh mozzarella, there is, thankfully, a show called “Swiss Watch.” I like to refer to it as the Poor Man’s BaselWorld, where you find yourself potentially running into celebrities such as Orlando Bloom, only, because it’s Vegas, he’s wearing swim trunks and a tall blond instead of a three-piece Armani suit. Either way, it still counts as a good excuse to take a #stalkie, and either way, you’re still going to enjoy yourself if watches are, you know… your thing. So here’s who I recommend seeing if you’re sober lucky enough to make it up to the suites.
BALL WATCH COMPANY
Let’s face it, not a whole lot of rad things have come out of Cleveland, Ohio ((ducks)). I mean, yeah, Michael Symon is a master chef (some might even say… an “iron” one), and Halle Berry was born in Cleveland (which is pretty much awesomer than the next ten people I might mention being born there put together) but in terms of coolness, Cleveland is about as hip as a Tri-Lamb frat party in 1984.
Ball Watch Company was founded by Ohio watchmaker Webster Clay Ball after an engineer’s stopped watch had caused an 1891 collision between Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway trains in Kipton, Ohio, killing both engineers and several postal workers. Webb C. Ball is credited as the first jeweler to use time signals from the U.S. Naval Observatory shortly after Standard Time was adopted in America. The company was sold by the Ball family in the 1990’s and is now headquartered in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, but their reputation as being one of United States’ leading watch companies remains flawless.
Models of interest:
- DeepQUEST: (because the title reminds me of my trip to Cancun in the 90’s for spring break. IT HAS TO DO WITH SNORKELING, YOU PERVS.) 43mm diameter, titanium single-block case, automatic helium release valve.
- Big Boy: (um, what man doesn’t want a watch by this name?) 46mm diameter, anti-reflective convex sapphire crystal, stainless steel, screwed-in crown.
- Roman: (the name of my son. Or rather, the thing that happened nine months after I experienced *DeepQUEST* with *Big Boy*.) 41mm diameter, automatic caliber, crocodile strap with stainless buckle, shock resistant to 5,000G’s.
I remember 1983 like it was yesterday because of the wonderful and historical events of that year: “The A Team” premiered on NBC, Margaret Thatcher visited the Falkland Islands (awwwwkwaaaard), Hulk Hogan pinned The Iron Sheik to win the WWF title (and pandas around the world erupted in celebration… oh, wait), and French entrepreneur Philippe Charriol established Charriol – a global brand of prestigious timepieces – in Geneva, Switzerland. Yes, at ten years old, those are all things I remember for that year. I swears. For serious.
In any case, Charriol has established itself as a force to be reckoned with among the affordable Swiss watch brands that exist today. When they contacted me for an appointment to come see the line and their newest COLVMBVSTM Cintre Convexe collection, I was more than happy to oblige, since, I dig the name “Colvmbvs,” and honestly, even the name Columbus, because *that* Columbus was from Italy and because his *day* is a national holiday which means I get a paid day off. But even more importantly, I love the fact that Charriol is still a family-run, independent watch company, with husband, wife, daughter, and son all playing pivitol roles in the development, design, and branding of the product. I can’t wait to see what the new collection looks like, but here are some of my “must-see” picks from their existing timepieces.
Models of interest:
- Parisii for Women: (We do so much in this life because of personal experiences, right? Don’t we choose our politicians, cities to live in, and lifestyles that way? Why not our timepieces, too? I love Paris, diamonds, and the women in my life. No further explanation needed.) 28mm diameter, mother-of-pearl dial, twelve round brilliant-cut diamonds.
- St. Tropez: (Charriol calls this design… “delightfully feminine.”) 30mm diameter, steel cable, and a cool chain bracelet attached to the watch, giving off more of a legitimate bracelet look.
If you’re in your forties, you know and I know that Swatch likely brings you back to fond memories of your childhood, except for that time those two girls beat you up on the bus over that fluorescent pink, limited edition Swatch guard you had covering your “Pink Betty” watch. Okay, maybe that didn’t happen to you, but it happened to me, and you get the point. Swatches were are fun, and bright, and hip, and fashionable, and affordable, and cool, and easy to wear. I’m proud to say that I still own the two that I purchased while in Switzerland for my birthday in 2003. I frankly covet this brand of watches and canNOT wait to put my eyes on what fun things they’ll be showing in Las Vegas this week.
Models of interest:
- Caramellissima: (From the “Pastry Chefs” spring/summer 2014 collection.) This watch is an exact replica of those multi-colored candy bracelets we used to get from the tiny corner store next to elementary school on our way home. If this thing doesn’t put you in your “happy place” then you’re a cold-hearted snake and Paula Abdul will be very upset with you. I want one of these so. Freaking. Badly.
- Olaf Hajek Limited Edition Set: (Set includes “Flowerhead” and Nature Man” watches. I mean, how do you not buy a watch designed by a guy named Olaf after all of the popularity of the Disney film, “Frozen?”) German-born painter, illustrator, and graphic designer Olaf Hajek collaborated with Swatch on these vibrant, floral-patterned watches for a Summer 2014 collection.
- Sistem Red: (Released for Christmas 2013, the Sistem 52 collection is 100% Swiss made.) 3Hz self-winding mechanical movement, hermetically sealed, 90-hour power reserve, silicone strap. Oh, and radness.
Thanks to our recent ten-year wedding anniversary, the name Raymond Weil will now go down in the history of my life as the first true Swiss watch brand I purchased for my husband. If anyone from Raymond Weil is reading this, know that he is absolutely enamored with his new Freelancer. I mean, he seriously loves it. Like, I found it under his pillow. Twice. And he just stares at it for hours. It’s kind of creepy, actually. Anywaaaaay, founded in 1976, this Geneva-based brand is still family-run, with Elie Bernheim now overseeing everything that his grandfather – *the* Raymond Weil – created.
Models of interest
- Tango: (Of course I would be interested in seeing a watch named after the sexiest dance invented in the history of the world, and if you’ve never watched the movie “Tango Lesson,” I’m not sure I even want to know you.) 40mm diameter, sapphire crystal, water resistant to 100 meters, stainless steel bracelet and strap.
- Maestro: (Because the word will always remind me of that Seinfeld episode.) 39.5mm diameter, stainless steel case with rose gold plating, 38-hour power reserve, water resistant to 50 meters.
- Freelancer: (Duh.) 42mm diameter, 46-hour power reserve, beautiful silver dial accented by rose hands and indexes, mechanical chronograph with automatic winding.
And there you have it! My first in a whatever-I-have-time-to-write-part series about the upcoming shows in sunny Sin City! I hope you enjoyed this preview of what you will see and should see at the Swiss Watch show and I invite you to read what’s coming up next before you solidify your schedule.
Until next time. TIME. Get it?!?