Well the dust has settled so to speak on Baselworld 2017. I like to wait a week before I write my wrap-ups because it takes some time to reflect back on the eight-day marathon of endurance and excitement. This year’s Baselworld was an interesting one from many perspectives. Here, we bring you the low-down on Baselworld 2017, by the numbers, the trends and a look at the good, the bad, the ugly and the bright of Baselworld.
Baselworld By the Numbers
This year marked the 100th anniversary of the fair, which started out as a Swiss Industries Fair — a place for Swiss producers of chocolate, cheese, watches, and other goods would gather to show off their wares. Eventually, the show evolved into predominantly watches and jewelry and expanded to exhibitors from around the world.
The 100th edition, unfortunately, was slower than usual — with 200 fewer exhibitors and a thousand fewer attendees. That was fine with me; it was easier to walk the halls and see the watches. If you haven’t been to Baselworld yet, you may not fathom the fact that the interior of the halls — with double- and triple-story high exhibition booths — spans the equivalent of dozens of city blocks. In fact, I averaged about 4-5 miles per day as I traversed the halls, met with nearly 100 watch brands and saw literally thousands of watches. Between the camera and the phone, I returned with no fewer than 1700 images to cull through.
The Fair officially opens on Thursday, but Wednesday has become the new Thursday for press, and I hit the ground running. I had 13 appointments on the day before the official Fair opening, and kept up a pretty rigorous schedule throughout the ensuring seven days. Generally, my 16+-hour days started at 630 am and ended around midnight (with a few nights going into the wee hours of the next day).
Throughout the day, I met with colleagues whom I am fortunate enough to be able to call friends. We looked at watches, clocks, writing instruments and more. Many of the more than 1,000 exhibition spaces were chocked with motorcycles, vintage cars, new-age race cars, a 50-foot x 50-foot aquarium filled with jellyfish and so much more. Throughout this we managed to get in a few very important interviews with CEO’s, including Nayla Hayek of Harry Winston, Jean-Claude Biver, head of the watch division for LVMH (TAG Heuer, Hublot, Zenith), Laurent Dordet, CEO of Hermes, the famed watchmaker Jean-Marc Wiederrecht and others. (You will be seeing many of these interviews here in the weeks to come.) It makes me wonder how I will get as much done next year as I typically do, given the fact that management of Baselworld has announced that next year’s exhibition will be two days shorter. But I will manage just as I have for the past 33 years of attending the exhibition.
Baselworld by the Trends
Throughout the Fair we tried to stay on top of the news, bringing hundreds of watch photos to the forefront on our social media channels, including Facebook and Instagram, and posting (sometimes twice daily) about the news. Still, it could take months to unveil all the great new watches and trends we spotted while there. That is OK, of course, since many of the watches shown at the Fair will not make their way to retail shelves for months to come.
As we expected, we saw a lot more affordable watches this year. On the flip side, we also saw some pretty spectacular complications, and high-end diamond and gemstone masterpieces. Color will be key this year, as will interchangeability, versatile and customization. Expect to see some great two-tone watches making their way to the market — with rose gold and steel as the top choice, although some brands are even using yellow gold with steel. This makes for a great look without the higher-prices of pure noble metals. Additionally, ceramic watches will be strong, and will sell at nice prices in a more affordable range.Women, take note, too. There are a wealth of new designs coming your way — from simple three-hands to tourbillons, calendars, repeaters and more.
So, then, what were the good, bad, ugly and bright of the show, you ask. It’s simple:
The good was seeing great watches and new innovation.
The bad was the grueling hours and lack of sleep (but I can put up with that anytime for the reward of being there). The ugly — well, not every watch is a winner, and a few were, simply put, ugly. More on that to come.
The bright was the best of it all … friends and reinforcing long-time relationships.
Next year go to Baselworld. You won’t be sorry.