Baselworld 2014: Where Time is Told Differently

Amy Fernandes

Trends, movements, complications...the exhibition had something in store for every discerning wrist around the globe, Amy Fernandes reports

Think of your exquisite Swiss watch. It has most likely been conceived by a master craftsman, in a remote place, in Switzerland’s Jura mountains; crafted to precision, put through umpteen quality tests, come out of the fire unscathed, travelled half the globe to rest on your wrist. If nothing else, you deserve to know more, if only out of courtesy to a brilliant watch. And the best place to start is Baselworld. Baselworld is one of the biggest watch and jewellery fairs, which started way back in 1917. Today it is spread over 1,41,000 sq m; the exhibition holds some of the biggest names in the Swiss watch industry—from the entire Swatch group that occupies a huge area to Rolex, which is one of India’s most recognised brands, to the bold and brave brands like Tag Heuer with a Carrerra car at the entrance of the booth to dazzle visitors. Waiting to greet its visitors in hall one were more well-known brands like Hublot, Bulgari, Breitling, and all the names that we’ve seen in the glossy pages of magazines, now a reality. The best thing about Baselworld is that watch enthusiasts are able to forge a one-on-one relationship with brands. This is after all the place where trends for watches and jewellery are cast and presented; where buyers place millions of dollars worth of orders; where the world’s media descends to disseminate information on the trends and forecasts in the world of horlogerie; where watch enthusiasts stay abreast of what constitutes cutting-edge design and precision.

It wouldn’t be Baselworld without the traditional press address by the formidable team comprising: Rene Kamm-CEO MCH Switzerland, Sylvie Ritter-MD Baselworld, Jacques Duchene-President of the Exhibitors Committee and Francois Thieubaud-President of the Swiss Exhibitors Committee. True that Baselworld reflects the changes in the world market habits. Last year’s figures have shown a marginal improvement in some ways over the previous years. For instance, the numbers went up by 1.9 per cent over 2013. Exports, despite seeing a marginal dip, recorded an ‘up’ in mechanical watches from CHF12 Billion to 16 Billion over the last four years; quartz watches remained relatively stable. In the price category, exports of wrist watches in the range of 200 to 500 CHF rose steeply. This bears out the statement made by Jacques Duchene who said that, development in the mid-range segment was high, due to favourable pricing.

India figured. Duchene said that while trade agreements concluded favourably with China, talks are still afoot with India. The topics? Intellectual property and lowering taxes and yes, counterfeit industry, plaguing the industry worldwide. Predicting trends is one thing and creating them, a pressure point. Imagine having to produce one brilliant idea after another, year after year, in the race to the top. Then add to it the feasibility of creating that brilliance, top it with precision, technology and cutting-edge design and multiply that by manifold models. What you then get is an idea of how many upgradations, definitions and innovations are launched during the week at Baselworld. While there were no path-breaking innovations crafted this year, there were certainly a clutch of trends that people will see emerging through the year, and in concurrent issues of these pages. Some significant trends include: the use of aluminium as a light metal in some brands while titanium, ceramic and PVD continued to reign. Solar energy was tapped in a big way by some leading brands like Tissot. Blue, remained the predominant colour on dials and bracelets once again, this year. And while the average millimetre of dials for men ranged between 40 to 43 mm, ladies watches ranged from mini dials to the conventional 38 mm. True, round watches made the rounds, but square watches are emerging as the new rage.

In the next consecutive issues, we will give you an up close and personal look at the brands, the timepieces and the trends. To shred a pun: Watch this space.