Baselworld 2016: Where Time Keeps Ticking

TEMPTED TO SPLURGE. Just when the going got tough, the watch industry flexed its muscles to entice the global audience again with well-crafted métiers and creativity. Chris Andre reports

 

The entrance of Hall 1

There’s simply no better day than today in the watch world, as the possibility for innovation and reinvention are virtually limitless. This notion was in the air from the very first day until the end of Baselworld 2016, which took place from March 17 to 24 in Basel, Switzerland.

This year’s chilly spring brought with it a lot of anticipation and curiosity prodded by the many changes happening within the industry. Not only did the rise of smartwatches galvanize many “accessible luxury” houses to respond proactively, the more elaborate focus on in-house movements stirred up serious discussion. But even before stepping a single foot in the exhibition venue at Messeplatz, I noticed how everybody else was looking wide-eyed at their smartphones on the side of the road.

 

A vintage Mercedes-Benz car for the Uber x Zenith collaboration

When I opened the Uber app on my phone I finally found out that Zenith launched an exclusive collaboration with the ride-sharing company for this occasion. There were four very special vintage cars dedicated to take Baselworld participants to the venue, free of charge. I luckily snagged a ride in a classic 1960s Jaguar whose interior sported sexy red leather. In this time of economic ennui, don’t we all need a little something to pick us up?

 

Hot Connections

Still hot on everyone’s radar was the arrival of connected watches. Keeping their word to unveil their own take on the trend were TAG Heuer and Breitling. The former actually did way more than that. Before their three-story booth at the entrance of Hall 1 was a showcase of the TAG Heuer Connected watches in multiple colors as well as a Virtual Reality section that allowed attendants to experience driving a Formula One race car.

 

Hublot’s Big Bang Sang Bleu

Interconnectedness seemed to be TAG Heuer’s MO as the brand was the one to really spearhead this particular evolution in the Swiss watch industry. As a matter of fact, the brand pushed the boundaries even further by introducing the most affordable tourbillon watch on the market today: Give a warm welcome to the Carrera Heuer-02T. Priced at only US$15,000, the beautiful timepiece embodied the brand’s directive to be “disruptive”—a mantra often cited by Jean-Claude Biver, the aggressive and ingenious CEO of TAG Heuer.

Guido Terreni, Luke Evans, Jean-Christophe Babin and Olga Kurylenko
at the Bulgari press conference

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