Whenever visiting Switzerland for business, I am impressed by the rigour and commitment that the Swiss demonstrate towards professionalism, finesse, perfection and their immense sense of pride. With so many luxury brands making up its 41,285 km² it truly is incredible with what this population with its orderly ‘clockwork’ attitude has been able to produce.
It takes a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ to deliver what the Swiss seamlessly manage to do and Baselword is no exception throughout the years of its splendid existence. One hundred years to be exact.
As one of the world’s most unique jewellery and watch shows gets underway, all eyes are on the key players from the sector who contribute to what is arguably, the most brilliant industry in the luxury world.
Maintaining your sparkle in an ever-competing world of priceless gems
One may ask, how is it that this industry manages to thrive in its ever competitive world? The answer is pretty simple in stating but perhaps a little more complex in delivering. Succeeding is reinventing, renewing, adapting, modernising and continuously transforming, constantly reflecting an ever-changing market.
That is why Baselworld presents itself as the most opportune place to be and certainly not everyone makes the cut thanks to extremely stringent criteria that remain locked up behind the closed doors of the show’s secretive committee.
Being at Baselworld is a testament in itself and is by far the most successful PR exercise you could imagine to get your name out in the open. A costly affair for sure but when you compare it with the B2B shows in yachting or aviation for example, I believe that the number of media that attend and actually distribute the news they discover, is by far more impressive with guaranteed ROI.
Mr Eric Bertrand, President of the Exhibitors’ Committee furthered the importance of the show, “it’s an opportunity to present innovations and creations to the most influential and eminent retailers and media around the world.” Over and above that, “we know from experience that the new collections presented as a world premiere at Baselworld will make the news for the next 12 months and that the trends that emerge here will spread throughout the world.”
Uncertainty in the market
Behind the towering exhibition structures, countless kilometres of shine blinding the eye and prim and proper presentation boxes, undoubtedly, the global political and economic context remains difficult today and shows. Several questions raised at the press conference referred to the shaky grounds of confidence since years of peak and troughs in the volatile luxury curb, especially of course for all that shines bright and offers a similarly luminous price tag.
Offering a glitter of hope though, Mr Bertrand added that, “these times offer an opportunity for those who have done their job properly in recent years and who have a solid foundation on the market.” He continued by saying that in the past he was surprised by the enthusiasm for watches by the brands that were foreign to the industry, adding that:
It is therefore no wonder that “some of these brands have had to backtrack, whereas those that have stayed focused and relied on their know-how are still present.” The upshot of this is a consolidation of the market that will benefit the entire branch once the recovery has begun. And Mr Bertrand is confident that “this recovery will enable the best-armed players to gain market share and be more successful than ever before.
When two becomes one
Strategic partnerships too were apparent at the show. Take Moritz-Grossman for example, who have tallied up with RUAG Aviation to deliver the ultimate aircraft owner’s watch. This is a true testament of where tradition meets innovation to pave way through the high waves of competition around them. Innovate to recreate is something I walk away with.
Same with Rebellion Timepieces, who are working hand in hand with über cool Lugaci DriveTime, the exclusive car-as-a-service at it's best to offer each member a limited edition watch that doubles up as the actual key to opening up the car of the dreams for a spin in hard (and sometimes impossible) tracks or road-legal roads.
To then also see the iconic Jean-Claude Biver, CEO and Board Member of Hublot along with my favourite controversial modern day critic, Lapo Elkann, heir to Fiat and Flavio Manzoni, architect and automobile designer for Ferrari stand tall and present their latest collaborations at their press conference, I cannot stop to compare the various industries that Bright Creativity has a foot in the door with. All about working together to tap into the same clientele, just offering more of an experiential marketing offering than the simple look and buy attitude.
So what’s new?
New technology bolsters the durability of “Swiss-made” watches, by enhancing performance and precision. Trends are leaning towards streamlined designs that ensure watches can be worn in different situations. No smart watches though. That’s a big no no according to the organisers (for now at least). Again reminiscing the strictness of their hand-picking attitude.
Between the watch novelties to look out for at the show were among others the OMEGA Speedmaster Moonwatch Automatic Master Chronometer, Breitling Colt Skyracer, Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe, Zenith Heritage 146, Longines Flagship Heritage 60th Anniversary or my ultimate favorite - the Hublot Techframe Ferrari watch.
Exciting times ahead for our wrists then it seems, what's next I wonder...