Baselworld 2019 Impression.024

Photo Report: Baselworld Without Watches

In a transition phase
Robert-Jan Broer
April 03, 2019
MIN READ
Photo Report: Baselworld Without Watches

Our annual pilgrimage to Basel is behind us, and 2019 marks a new era for Baselworld. Things have definitely changed.

Just like everyone else, we were also curious to find out about the new Baselworld. It looked promising, the new set-up of the halls and a free hotel stay for one week for one person. And true, the Baselworld organisation did their best and while not everything was perfect or most efficient, we see that they are at least making a change and adapt to today’s needs. Swatch Group is dearly missed in the big hall (Hall 1.0) and instead, we found a café (operated by Breitling, but dubbed ‘Café Hayek’) and a new press section.

Hall 2 was closed (the one with the big clock) and the restaurant in the square in front of it, also disappeared.

More Releases During The Year

To be clear, Baselworld was a joy (as always) and it is a week packed with brand visits and catching up with colleagues from other titles and watch initiatives. However, the downside of this year’s Baselworld was the lack of great (new) watches. Especially many of the major brands (“Hall 1.0” brands) disappointed. It shows how important the Swatch Group was to Baselworld (and to journalists) with their releases, but it also shows that brands decided to do more releases during the year. TAG Heuer’s Monaco was missing (while celebrating its 50th anniversary) and Rolex came with nothing really new (and what they showed, they most probably can’t deliver). Exceptions were Chopard’s new LUC Tourbillon and Breitling’s Navitimer 806 re-edition. Many brands announced that they were only showing a few new things, the rest will be released in the coming months. The good thing about this is that these watches get probably more exposure.

Get them back

This year, the interesting releases came mainly from smaller brands. And (Grand) Seiko, let’s not forget that they had quite an impressive line-up. The Les Ateliers hall was a good visit with brands like Urwerk, MB&F, Grönefeld, and so was the Hyperion Hotel (across Hall 2). In the lobby and conference rooms of this hotel, many small brands set up their camp. It would be nice to see those brands (back) inside the Baselworld venue and it would definitely cheer things up and make it fun again (also for them). This is, of course, a matter of the right price that needs to be paid. I am pretty sure that the bar tables that these brands ‘leased’ to show their goods to press and dealers don’t come cheap either (hey, it’s Switzerland!). We saw amazing stuff there, from brands like Minase, Milus, Garmin (not that small) and Holthinrichs, for example, they deserve a beautiful spot inside the venue.

But we’ve shown you a lot of watches from Baselworld already and will keep coming with interesting watches we’ve seen there and worth discussing. What we would like to show you today is that there was a whole different ‘world’ as well, without watches.

..it felt a bit like strolling inside the Dubai Mall

Dubai Mall

There was a fashion show, there were cars from Porsche and Bentley (that’s beside the Rolls Royce, Mercedes-Benz Maybach and Maserati’s parked outside for VIP clients of brands) inside the BaselWorld venue and we found booths with champagne and a venue with 1200 Swiss Francs Poke Bowls. I am guessing that Baselworld wanted to add some luxury and class. Not sure whether the head of non-watch exhibitors did a good job here. At times it felt a bit like strolling inside the Dubai Mall. Oh well, perhaps we sound a bit negative here, but the contrast with previous Baselworld years is just a bit much for us.

Bert Buijsrogge walked around and took some photos of the things that have nothing (or very very little) to do with watches, at Baselworld. Enjoy!

Different

Don’t get us wrong because of this little tongue-in-cheek photo report, Baselworld was a blast and they clearly are in the process of getting things back on track again. According to WatchPro, price reductions of 10-30% will be made for exhibitors in certain areas of the show. This might get some of the brands back (that are now hosting their own exhibition elsewhere). The Baselworld figures showed a decrease: visitor’s reduction of 22% from last year, 20% lesser brands that were exhibiting and -12% of media visits. That said, several brands reported to us they got more visits from media and had more interest from retailers than the previous year. At least we did visit more different brands than we did in the past, and perhaps brands we wouldn’t have visited normally because of time constraints. To put it in Johan Cruijff’s wording: every disadvantage has its advantage.

We are looking forward to visiting Baselworld 2020, which will be held from April 30 till May 5. But first, there’s Time to Move from Swatch Group this coming May, where they will present the novelties from Omega, Blancpain, Jaquet Droz, Glashütte Original, Harry Winston and Breguet.

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Robert-Jan Broer
About the author

Robert-Jan Broer

Ever since he was a young child, Robert-Jan was drawn to watches, even though it were digital Casio and quartz Swatch models at the time. In the mid-1990s, his interest increased when he started to read about mechanical watches in... read more

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