The lure of thousands of beautiful watches took me back to the annual Basel watch fair in Switzerland a couple of weeks ago. I was last there two years ago for my first visit and this year was equally impressive.
Some of you reading this may have heard of this show, others not. It is the global show for many of the worlds top watch and jewellery manufacturers to present their current and new collection to the trade and the public. Most of the main luxury brands are there except for the Richemont Group that own famous brands including Jeager Le Coultre, Vacheron Constantin, Cartier, IWC and Mont Blanc.
The show is vast and manufacturers can spend from thousands to millions of pounds building beautiful temporary showrooms to exhibit their collection.
For the public it is sadly not possible to touch many of the main brand watches however they can clearly see them through the windows of each showcase. The Rolex showcase is magnificent and takes pride of place in one of the exhibition centre halls. I suspect that it is the first place many will go and see what’s new each year. For this year I think the excitement was to see the new 43mm Sea Dweller with it’s red writing on the dial and the Sky Dweller which is now available in steel and significantly more affordable than their all gold models.
Many of your local stores who are retailers for Rolex, Omega, Tag Heuer etc will make their annual visit to the Basel watch fair to view and order their stock for the following year. Each of them will have a meeting arranged with the manufacturer and then onto the next one so no doubt quite a busy event! From the stands I visited there always seems to be copious amount of alcohol on hand so I expect it is a pleasurable experience all the same…. well until they get their invoice for the watches they ordered.
I was not there to order watches but mainly to keep abreast of whats new in the industry and explore potential future options that I think may appeal to my customers. One of these was a visit to a company called Wolf. For many years Wolf have made a range of beautiful jewellery boxes and are now a market leader in watch cases and watch winders. They have a very broad range and are in my view well priced for the market place and is something I will shortly be stocking.
There was a hall titled “Ateliers” and it was here whether you were a trade visitor or a member of the public that you can see and touch some extremely fine and unique watches some with values into the millions. I particularly enjoyed this hall as you could meet the owners, watch makers and absorb the passion behind the beautiful hand made watches.
I spent a day and a half there which is I think a minimum you need to see the show and thats just for watches! There were also many exhibitors showing various accessories like watch straps, machinery, watch cases etc which has given me some more ideas.
I can only imagine that the salaries in Switzerland are significantly higher than here in the UK because it is mighty expensive there. We were certainly not fine dining but had a bowl of pasta, a pizza and two beers…an equivalent to £60!
So if you have not been and love your watches I would really recommend you take a visit next year. You wallet will be reasonably safe as you cannot buy at the show but it could suffer later when your order your dream timepiece!
Here are a few snaps I took from the show.