While a poll of readers by jewelry trade publication JCK News showed that over a third of readers are concerned about the American economy, watchmakers and jewelers exhibiting at the Basel and Geneva Jewelry and Watch fairs who cater to the Super Rich had a very optimistic outlook. Mikimoto U.S. President Meyer Hoffman told us his company is seeing significant growth in purchases over $20,000, and a tour of his two-story stand showed an array of offerings well into six-figure territory. Getting deeper into the pockets of Super Rich consumers seemed a major theme of both fairs. Watchmaker Breguet was offering cufflinks made from watch dials – in white gold with diamonds – at around $10,000. Other versions were priced at around $5,000. Ultra-creative DeGrisogono Owner Fawaz Gruosi was taking visitors in his stand to the Board Room where he was unveiling his first-ever collection of accessories for women – handbags starting at $4,000 and going up well into five digits. Damon Dashon watch company Tiret decided to take diamonds beyond its watches by unveiling a line of jewelry, much priced over $100,000. CEO Daniel Lazar claimed despite its high profile with celebrities and athletes, much of the brand’s customer base is Super Rich businessmen and their significant others. Jaquet Droz unveiled a special trunk created with French leather goods company Pinel Pinel designed to hold up to eight watches in a showcase format. An Austrian customer had already ordered one for slightly over $300,000 to house. Geneva-based F.P. Journe, known for its unique dials and numerous awards for innovations, was showing watches well above $50,000, while Michel Jordi was showing off more accessible timepieces from previous collections – starting price: $39,000. Bovet, which offers wristwatches based on its heritage of pocketwatches created for Chinese royalty, offered case after case of concepts priced well over $200,000 and was reporting brisk sales. Showing from the Presidential Suites in the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, Richard Mille noted his brand had grown from 450 watches to 1,800 in just four years with average prices around $50,000 and many watches well over $100,000. Boutique watchmaker Urwerk, which produces 170 pieces a year, has a price range starting at $55,000 and going up to $172,000, while Jorg Hysek’s HD3 is up to 200 watches in only its third year with prices starting at about $50,000 and moving to well over $300,000. Franck Muller, know as the master of complications, showed vitrine after vitrine of watches which routinely price in the mid-five digits and many that go over six digits. The company also announced a collaboration of diamond laden timepieces with British jeweler Backes and Strauss targeting the global Super Rich. So how strong is the market of the Uber Wealthy when it comes to watches? One London retailer told me a banking client who bought a $150,000 Patek after getting his multimillion-dollar bonus bought a second duplicate watch. The reason? He didn’t want any colleagues to buy the same watch when he found out the store had two in stock.
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