With an estimated attendance of at least 100,000 visitors, BaselWorld this year had buyers and retailers looking excited and manufacturers once again looking optimistic. With some makers booking up to 85% of their annual sales at the event, BaselWorld is a critical barometer of the world premium watch industry’s health. The signs in Basel this year were positive.
On display was an industry that had put the excesses of previous years behind them. Many brands returned to classic shapes and forms, extravagance and embellishments made way for pure function. Watches, many makers seemed to admit with relief, were getting smaller, simpler and more representative of traditional brand values.
It was also a year that saw several brands hark back to heritage. Tag Heuer celebrated 150 years of founding. Corum celebrated three anniversaries. Seiko celebrated 40 years of quartz technology with a commemorative edition of the Quartz Astron.
BaselWatch’10 captures the mood at Basel this year through a series of interviews, reports, profiles and a selection of some of the best timepieces unveiled at BaselWorld 2010.
A brief history of Basel
Started in 1917 as part of an industrial fair, BaselWorld now stands at the centre of the watchmaking world. A nutshell retrospective
Perched on the border of three countries—France, Switzerland and Germany—Basel is the third largest Swiss city. And for a week every year, Basel becomes the centre of the world’s watchmaking business. BaselWorld, the annual watch and jewellery show, brings together some of the biggest, most famous and most storied watchmakers in a massive exhibition of the latest models and the most cutting-edge timepiece technology.
In 2010, BaselWorld took place from 18 to 25 March, and brought together 1,900 exhibitors from 45 countries who displayed their wares on exhibition space covering 160,00 sq. m.
In one way or the other, Basel has been attracting watchmakers, buyers and connoisseurs since the first Schweizer Mustermesse, or Swiss Industries Fair, in 1917, when a special section was set apart for watches and jewellery.
The industry got its first exclusive pavilion at the Mustermesse. After focusing on Swiss manufacturers for around two decades, the first European Watch and Jewellery Show was conducted in 1973.
Thirteen years later, the exhibition, now called Basel 86, went global for the first time. Manufacturers from outside Europe, especially Japanese companies booming on the back of the quartz revolution, were allowed to attend.
By 1999, the exhibition expanded enough to move into new premises, the current Hall 1, which allows makers to have booths that can have up to three storeys within. In 2003, the exhibition adopted its current branding and was renamed BaselWorld.
Finally, in 2005, the exhibition was arranged according to the current hall layout.
BaselWorld 2010 had at least 100,000 visitors and was covered by journalists from more than 70 countries.