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SWISS EXHIBITORS BASEL 2012 | Press Day, 7 March 2012

BASELWORLD 2012 Press release | Press Day, 7 March 2012  | For immediate distribution

BASELWORLD 2012 : the past remains firmly on-trend for Swiss Exhibitors

Welcome to BASELWORLD 2012! The nerve centre of the watch and jewellery industry and related suppliers, the fair will be literally buzzing for the next eight days with the excitement generated by creations displayed by thousands of exhibitors. Located at the very heart of the historical land of watchmaking, BASELWORLD naturally gives pride of place to Swiss actors on this unique stage where they testify to their know-how and their inventiveness.

When past boosts present

Vintage has been in the spotlight for several years now. Such endeavours require careful handling in order to reinforce the characteristics of historical models, while closely reflecting contemporary design codes. The results show a return to roots radiating a restrained aesthetic appeal. Whether monochrome or two-tone, timepieces appear in black, white, silver-toned versions, and increasingly frequently in royal blue. The cases are more modestly sized and the dials are finely crafted – openworked or skeletonised – while focusing on legibility. Finally, mechanical movements, both self-winding and hand-wound, continue to enjoy ongoing success and development. Associated with various additional modules, they beat at new rhythms and are the object of extreme care in terms of finishing and decoration. The calibres are increasingly conceived and produced in-house, a trend that heralds brands’ ever-increasing desire to achieve autonomy. Far from lagging behind, the tourbillon has rarely been as widely present, performing its revolutions on creations by prestigious brands as well as on less expected models.

Different functions, different worlds

More than ever, watches reflect different worlds, resulting in highly specific functions and sophisticated designs. The automobile, aeronautical and extreme sports fields all show a marked preference for chronographs and tachymeters. Combined with the neo-classical trend, the single-pusher chronograph is making a strong comeback. Meanwhile, modern-day nomads show a marked interest in the flurry of GMT models on the market. Travel has never been so easy as with these models featuring dual or triple time-zone displays and even up to 24 cities with which to keep track! Day/night and moon-phase indications along with perpetual calendars infuse time with new dimensions and enhance the panoply of today’s travellers!

Jewellery as a crisis remedy

Jewellery has achieved the impressive feat of leveraging the crisis. The tough economic climate has witnessed the emergence of some astonishing tendencies, with consumers increasingly turning towards silver, which is moving upscale accordingly. Ethical gold has also made its appearance, propelling environmental issues to the forefront. In both jewellery and watchmaking, gold and platinum are still in great demand, although their upwardly spiralling prices are tending to push certain protagonists towards other materials such as palladium. In this difficult period, more thought goes into acts of purchase, which are based on a desire for pampering oneself and others, yet tempered by a sense of caution in looking ahead. 

Powering the watch and jewellery industry

The related sectors, which are not accustomed to grabbing the spotlight, are exhibiting their products and service in Hall 3. A fertile breeding ground for skills of all kinds, they daily apply themselves to developing new techniques and tools. Representing the driving force that powers the Swiss and international watch and jewellery industry, they certainly deserve this exposure and await your visit. 

Swiss watch exports : A record year in 2011 and good prospects for 2012

The Swiss have once again displayed their strong attachment to the world’s largest watch and jewellery trade event, BASELWORLD, with 441 exhibitors flying the national flag. The prevailing mood is one of optimism and confidence, since the record-breaking year in 2011 and the equally encouraging January results augur well for extremely positive results at this 40th edition.

With exports of nearly 19.3 billion francs, 2011 was indeed a record-breaking year for Swiss watchmaking. This remarkable and highest ever growth lays a new milestone, with Swiss watchmakers exceeding their previous annual growth by 19.2%. The fourth quarter was the most favourable, since it witnessed three of the biggest months in the history of Swiss watch exports, amounting to 5.8 billion francs. These results are a striking exception amid a tough economic context. The results were also penalised by the strength of the Swiss franc, which put strain on both profit margins and selling prices. The 29.8 million watches exported last year (+13.8%) nonetheless foretoken promising prospects for the coming months.

While all price segments have enjoyed growth, the latter is not entirely evenly spread in terms of materials. Gold watches recorded the highest increase in value terms (+26.5%), linked to a 24.2% upturn in volumes, thereby clearly driving up the average export price. Bimetallic timepieces (mainly gold and steel) also enjoyed above average growth with a 24.7% increase. Steel watches – accounting for one in two watches exported – did not see a dramatic rise, but nevertheless showed a positive +12.8% trend to exceed 15 million.

In terms of markets, Asia continues to stand out from the rest, absorbing an unprecedented 10 billion francs worth of Swiss watch exports. By contrast, Europe has not yet returned to pre-crisis sales levels and results are still well below those recorded in 2008. The situation is similar on the American continent, with significant growth (+15.8%), but on a level equivalent to that of 2005.

Nonetheless, the positive trend for watch exports looks set to continue in 2012. The pace will probably slacken, but this should not imply a flattening of the growth curve. Demands for luxury products as well as the strong potential of certain markets are likely to favour the continued development of the Swiss watch industry. 

Swiss Exhibitors Committee