Mechanical watches at the heart of Swiss innovations
The watchword for this year's Show is innovation. A high regard for the last century is apparent in pieces inspired by the art deco of the 1920's and the classicism of the 1950's and 60's, with inspired finishings giving new life to original shapes, from the circle to the square. Mechanical watches are still in the limelight. Hand-wound versions remind their owners that they have to wind them and appeal to the purest of the purists; automatic versions evoke the passing of time with each revolution and can be admired through their transparent back. Emphasis has been put on technical and prestigious complications – tourbillons, repeaters and striking mechanisms – with the moon phase and perpetual calendar making a strong comeback. On the other side of the coin, watchmakers are also promoting three-handed watches, as if to prove that talent is also knowing how to ennoble the very essence of time.
More than ever, watchmaking borrows from, and reproduces, the techniques and savoir-faire of jewellery, a virtuosity that the Swiss Exhibitors express through their jewellery watches. On ladies' wrists they are transformed into jewellery pieces, brand signatures distinguished by precious stones, with colours and shapes that are as varied as they are refined. A classic that has grown in popularity over the years.
Full of surprises
Over and above the timepieces, the booths have been the centre of attention for several months now. Made to measure and sometimes two or three stories high, they have been specially designed for the Show. The protagonists? Renowned architects, international designers, and artists. On offer? Designs that are more innovative, bold and remarkable than the next. And truly extraordinary architectural skills. But for the moment everything is being kept under wraps. Visitors, the press and professionals will all have to wait until the Show opens to discover these new booths. According to BASELWORLD's management, the exhibitors themselves have invested hundreds of millions in their new stands, equal to the amount committed to the Herzog & de Meuron complex (the celebrated architects who designed the Beijing national stadium, known as "the Bird's Nest", for the 2008 Olympics). Further confirmation that the World Watch and Jewellery Show has always been, and will remain, the sector's key event.
Swiss watchmaking weathers the storm
In 2012, watch exports reached 24.1 thousand million Swiss francs. In an unfavourable economic climate, Swiss watchmaking proved that it knew how to weather the storm. 29.1 million wristwatches were exported, a figure slightly down on the preceding year, but way above the average of the past few years, around 25 million. The fundamentals for growth look good so there is every reason to be optimistic. As the rise in 2011 was not sustainable in the long term, a steady but welcome slowdown began in the second half of 2012. This, however, did not prevent the sector from ending the fiscal year on a high. It is on this positive and encouraging note that the Show will welcome the Swiss Exhibitors, almost four hundred of them.
Don't forget the dates: 25 April to 2 May. A new page waits to be written for BASELWORLD and the Swiss Exhibitors.