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Watch market demands and modern design trends attest to man's eternal ambition to dominate time.

The international watchmaking market is increasing by 20% annually, a real refuge investment and lifestyle phenomenon. The collector's market share represents 50% of the total worldwide turnover, and has reached almost 150 million euros this year.

Things have changed since the day long ago when the great couturier Yves Saint Laurent demanded perfect invisibility of the seams inside his haute couture models. Now the "seams" of a watch, the mechanisms inside, the most hidden secrets of time in movement, must be tangible and visual. Time, seconds and minutes, must be heard, by introducing an acoustic mechanism, as in the case of the "Jackpot" model by Girard-Perregaux.

This bold new look is forthright in spirit, bringing the "real" watch to the fore. With innumerable slick features proudly displayed about the face, the multifunctional mechanisms and horological brilliance no longer hide. Sophisticated workmanship, derived increasingly from intricate, complex studies, inspires unique models and extremely limited editions, not to mention soaring prices and a lengthy waiting list for watches that could cost nearly half a million euros. As the watch's ego gets a little show, so too do the egos of buyers; the hysterical impatience of certain collectors is on the rise.

What is the face of luxury watch collecting today? According to Geoffroy Ader, Tajan's watch department manager, it is the watchband market and the minutiae of navigation that dominate the international stage. What are buyers seeking? "The rare, the intricate, the unique, and above all - visibility. Up to now, the status symbol was a car, a boat... now it's the watch's turn to become a symbol of 'recognition.'"

The watch is increasingly becoming a revered work of art, a cult object and a barometer of wealth. The timepiece may be well-dominated by man, but man will always be dominated by time.


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