Baselworld 2015 Review My Favourite Watches
Wednesday - 10 June 2015
by Angus Davies www.escapementmagazine.com
Baselworld, the annual watch and jewellery event, is the highlight of my professional calendar. As the name suggests, the show is located in Basel, the third largest city in Switzerland and an interesting location nestling adjacent the borders of France and Germany.
Baselworld - a brief history
The annual watch and jewellery fair can trace its origins back to 1917 when the first ‘Schweizer Mustermesse Basel’ was held with a special section dedicated to watches and jewellery.
Later, in 1931, the first ‘Schweizer Uhrenmesse-Swiss Watch Show’ was held in a dedicated pavillion in the Muba. The ‘Swiss sample fair’, Muba, is the largest and oldest public exhibition in Switzerland.
In 1973, the inaugural ‘Europäische Uhren und Schmuckmesse’ (EUSM), the European Watch and Jewellery Show, was held. The geographic scope of the exhibition was enlarged in 1986 with exhibitors from outside of Europe being admitted for the first time.
Over successive years the exhibition space available to watch and jewellery brands has increased with new structures being built. In 2003, the brand ‘Baselworld’ came into being and today it is the must-attend event for journalists, retailers and watch enthusiasts from around the globe. Indeed, Baselworld 2015 attracted around 150,000 visitors from over 100 countries.
To say I am a Baselworld addict would be an understatement. I adore Baselworld and savour every minute at the annual fair. My choice of the word ‘adore’ may sound a tad excessive to the casual reader, but I can justify the expression with a brief explanation.
First and foremost, I am obsessed with mechanical wristwatches. I have collected timpieces all of my adult life and there is nothing that I find more alluring than the sound of a Swiss lever escapement or the sight of a hand-bevelled bridge. Baselworld is brimming with new horological delicacies which elicit extreme salivation in any self-respecting watch fan.
This is the key opportunity for many watch brands to put their best foot forward and dazzle the world with their finest work. In an environment where competing brands sit cheek by jowl, there is no room for anything less than absolute perfection, second-best will lead to an empty order book and an opportunity missed. Baselworld represents a significant financial investment for many watch companies, large and small, hence the ‘best foot forward approach’ is an essential requirement for commercial success.
Most years I stay in Basel for eight nights. The cost is eye-wateringly expensive and the physical energy expended is beyond the comprehension of anyone who has never attended Baselworld. This may sound improbable, but typically I will work an average of 21 hours per day, each day. During those waking hours, I will literally run to attend the next appointment on time, such is the sheer number of brands and watches I wish to see. Prior to the show, appointments are carefully planned, however, as the fair gets into full swing, I am then asked by some other brands if I can pop by and spare a few minutes to see them. I am guilty of never being able to say no, hence meals and comfort breaks disappear from my daily agenda, relegated to an out-of hours activity when time will allow.
After retuning from the fair thoroughly exhausted, first on the agenda is a no-nonsense meal of Heinz baked beans on brown toast, no butter. I then retire to my bed and typically sleep for 20 hours in one stint. The physical effort needed to maximise Baselworld shouldn’t be underestimated.
Down to business
Prior to flying to Baselworld 2015, I did have some fears on what the fair would hold in store.
Earlier this year, in January 2015, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) abandoned the cap on the value of the Swiss franc against the euro. This cap was originally introduced in September 2011, but the SNB said it felt it was no longer justified. The value of the Swiss franc soared by as much as 30% in a very short space of time.
This monetary policy caused incredible anxiety within the watch industry. Share prices in some major luxury brands / watch holding companies fell sharply. Worse still, this potentially disastrous event for the watch industry occurred literally only a few days prior to another important trade fair for the watch industry, SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie).
There were clearly some concerned faces amongst the 14,500 visitors attending SIHH. Indeed, some watch brands elected to show only a limited number of new models while other companies held back on releasing prices of new products.
Thankfully the air of pessimism experienced at SIHH soon evaporated and excellent sales figures have been reported by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry so far this year. Indeed, the first quarter of 2015 (January - March) has shown a worldwide increase in Swiss watch exports, up +5.4% (6,743,906 units) by volume and +2.7% (CHF 4,778.9M) by value, when compared with the same period last year.
At Baselworld 2015, several brands released new models which proffered incredible value for money, the likes of which we have not seen for some time. With a vast array of virtuous watches released recently, there has never been a better time to buy a new timepiece. Therefore, without further ado, visit Jura News and discover some of my personal highlights from this year’s fair. Over the coming weeks I will be providing detailed comment on each of these watches for the delectation of my fellow watch fans, however, if you can’t wait here is a list of those watches which piqued my interest in Basel. Until next year…..
My favourite men’s watches
My favourite limited edition watches
My favourite ladies’ watches