THE WATCH WORLD’S BLOCKBUSTER. Nothing gets brand executives, buyers, retailers and the media as excited as Baselworld, the biggest and most influential trade show for the watch and jewelry industry
Hall 1 at Baselworld
The Breguet Booth
For any given industry, there is always that one trade show or fair that sets the tone for the year to come. There’s the Geneva Motor Show for the auto industry, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) for everything video gamerelated, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) for all the latest gadgets and so on. When it comes to watches though, that one event is Baselworld, and, as expected, this year’s show struck a high note.
Baselworld 2014 was held from March 27 to April 3 in the city of Basel, Switzerland. As always, the show became the ultimate meeting place for every aspect of the watchmaking industry along with its sister fields of fine jewelry, diamonds, pearls and related machinery. This is especially true for Switzerland’s famous timekeeper makers, 95 percent of which was represented at this year’s Baselworld together with leading brands from over 40 countries around the world. So, how big is Baselworld 2014 exactly? Let’s look at the figures.
A Visitor Looking at a Watch Display
BASELWORLD, BY THE NUMBERS
Perhaps the easiest way to understand the scope and reach of Baselworld, particularly the one held this year, is to look at the little details, the (massive) figures and bits of trivia.
First and foremost, the attendees: Baselworld 2014 features 1,500 exhibitors from more than 40 countries. This includes the giants of the industry, such as the entire Swatch Group, Rolex, Patek Philippe, Breitling, all the brands under LVMH, along with just about every other major house, fashion brands and plenty of the auteur high-end brands such as Christophe Claret and De Bethune. Most of the exhibitors from this last group can be found in a separate hall aptly named The Palace.
The cost of attending can be astronomical, though. The largest stand at this year’s Baselword reportedly ended up costing 10 million Swiss Francs (almost 130 billion rupiah) for its structural components alone. Yet, brands large and small alike simply can’t afford not being there and will pull out all the stops to make a lasting impression for the rest of the year.
Browsing through the wares on display are 150,000 visitors from all over the globe, along with 4,000 accredited journalists from more than 70 countries. It is estimated that around six million business cards are exchanged during this event alone.
Unlike its closest rival, the SIHH, Baselworld is open to the general public. In fact, each year when the event is held, the city of Basel practically doubles in population, and hotel ships have to be called in to house the influx of coming visitors.
Still, while the trade show itself was as impressive as ever, the real highlights of Baselworld 2014 are the range of new timepieces making their debut at the show before making their way to dealers all around the globe for the rest of the year.
“Another record broken at Baselworld 2014 is that for the world’s thinnest tourbillon movement”
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon
BASELWORLD 2014: THE SHOWSTOPPERS
Speaking of first-time appearances, there were two notable brands new to the Baselworld scene that quickly caught the attention of attendees. The first one was Bremont, who partnered with aviation giant Boeing to create a line of watches made exclusively with materials used in the construction of the latter’s signature jumbo jets. One such piece is the Bremont Boeing Model 247 chronograph, available in either a stainless steel alloy used by the aerospace industry or aviation-graded titanium. All models in this line feature the unique Bremont Trip-Tick case and is a definite treat for pilots and aviation enthusiasts alike.
Top The Omega Booth
The second big surprise came not from a traditional watch manufacturer, but a diamond importer: Graff Diamonds. The first-time exhibitor opened its first day by unveiling the Hallucination, a ladies watch covered in a 110-carat kaleidoscope of rare colored diamonds. Yes, it would seem that timekeeping is but an afterthought here. Still, at US$55 million, the Hallucination is estimated to be the most valuable watch ever created.
Another record broken at Baselworld 2014 is that for the world’s thinnest tourbillon movement. The record breaker in question? Bulgari’s new OCTO Finissimo Tourbillon, with a movement that is only 1,95mm thin. The entire watch itself measures a mere 5mm in height. This amazing technical feat took Bulgari five years to accomplish and resulted in an ultra-slim format that still manages to house a whopping set of 249 components.
The Tudor Booth
Technical innovation, however, is never a one-man’s game. At the TAG Heuer stand, one of the definite highlights is the TAG Heuer Monaco V4 Tourbillon, created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Monaco V4. This technically impressive timepiece is also the world’s first ever micro-belt driven one-minute tourbillon a concept that started off as the idea for a concept watch back in 2004. This new Monaco V4 Tourbillon is operated by four barrels set on a V-shaped main plate that is further mounted on ball bearings. The overall effect is that of a sophisticated sports car engine, making the watch an excellent choice for car aficionados and fine watch connoisseurs.
Visitors of The Exhibition
“First and foremost, the attendees: Baselworld 2014 features 1,500 exhibitors from more than 40 countries”
Moving on to more traditional looking high-end timepieces, we have the Patek Philippe 5960/1A. The new and revamped watch is basically a steel version of the classic 5960, featuring an annual calendar on three apertures at the top of the dial, a self-winding chronograph and a day/night indicator. The watch is also a marvel of contrasting colors, with a stark white iridescent dial offset by black gold rims, and a dash of bright red for the running chronograph hand, as well as the 60-minute chronograph hand.
A smaller, yet no less significant change to a classic design can be observed from the Breitling camp. For 2014, the brand revealed two slightly revamped versions of its legendary Navitimer model. The first is the extralarge Navitimer 01 46mm, which makes the watch easier to wear over a pilot’s bulky jacket and in keeping with contemporary tastes and trends. Then there’s the Navitimer GMT, which introduces a second 24-hour time zone indicator and is actually even larger at 48mm of case diameter. Both timepieces feature a transparent case-back and come in a red gold limited edition of 200 pieces each.
Baselworld Information Desk
Vistors Beside The Zenith Booth
Omega has, naturally, quite a showing at Baselworld 2014; one of them being the new Omega Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronometer Lunar Dust Ceramic, which is the brand’s second ceramic-cased Speedmaster. What’s interesting about this watch is that Omega uses a unique process called “plasma heat treatment” on the white ceramic base case to give the timepiece its stunning deep grey finish.
Of course, these are only a fraction of the timepieces exhibited at this year’s Baselworld, but they are a clear indicator of what this, the world of horology’s premier trade show, is all about.
Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial
SEE YOU IN 2015
Even now, as retailers and consumers alike are still basking in the afterglow of the 2014’s show, the watchmaking world is already setting its eyes on the next Baselworld. So, come March of next year, we will once again witness a grand parade of the best and brightest timepieces the world has to offer.
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