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Editorial - Baselworld debrief

Editorial Baselworld debrief

A look back at an eventful week at the world’s biggest watch fair.

For its 100th anniversary, Baselworld rang in the changes with the Palace replaced by the Ateliers in Hall 1.2 for the top names in independent watchmaking, a new Design Lab right underneath in Hall 1.1 for up and coming jewellery and watch brands, not to mention a welcome improvement in the catering options. On a less positive note, there were fewer exhibitors (1,300, compared with 1,500 last year), among whom fewer Swiss exhibitors. A century on, the poster for the first-ever “Mustermesse” from 1917, which was intended as a way for Swiss industry to show samples of its wares to boost trade, bears little similarity with today’s Baselworld. Textiles are no longer seen, there are ever-fewer machine suppliers (who now prefer to exhibit at the EPHJ in Geneva) and the only place you will find any cheese is at a Hublot or TAG Heuer press conference.

Baselworld debrief

Rumours and trends

Before the show was even over, it was clear that there would be major changes for Baselworld 2018. The biggest shock was the confirmation that Hermès would leave the show for the SIHH in Geneva. Rumours of departures by other brands in the immediate vicinity of the nature-inspired Hermès stand in Hall 1.1 mean that the view at the top of the escalators could look very different next year.

In general, the mood at Baselworld was similar to that at the SIHH in January, with opinions hovering in a grey zone that is somewhere between despondency and euphoria. Some brands targeted market share with aggressive pricing (Eterna, Longines, TAG Heuer…), while others competed for our attention with some mind-blowing talking pieces (Hysek, Jacob & Co., Kerbedanz, Rebellion and Zenith). There was yet more competition in the realm of in-house movements, with Frédérique Constant presenting a sub-4,000 Swiss franc in-house flyback chronograph and Raymond Weil presenting their first-ever in-house movement. As a more general trend, brands showed creativity with new variations in colours, ranging from bright greens, new shades of blue and bolder choices like champagne, greys and bronze. Look back over our coverage of the show for inspiration and see my five favourite watches here.

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