We’re Officially Back: BaselWorld 2014, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The walkway across the halls as seen from outside BaselWorld.

The walkway across the halls as seen from outside BaselWorld.

This was a particularly long trip f or me. It always is. Basel is an eight-day marathon test of endurance of strength and memory. This year, however, I also went a week early to Europe to celebrate the 130th anniversary of Bulgari (we’ll bring you more about that here soon).  So, two and a half weeks later, we return to the USA – intent on bringing all the news that’s fit to print (and maybe a little that is not).  Here we indulge in giving you highlights of the sheer dimensions and scope of BaselWorld. For those who already know and have visited BaselWorld, we posted an insider’s view a little earlier thanks to a Guest Editorial from watch veteran, Norman Miller and we encourage you to read that, as well.

The Breguet space at BaselWorld 2014

The Breguet space at BaselWorld 2014

Watches: We brought you highlights of the watches unveiled during the show over the past two weeks and will continue to bring special pieces to the forefront as we move forward. Now, however, we want to highlight exactly what it means to go to BaselWorld. Let me start by saying this is the 30th time I have attended BaselWorld. A veteran journalist with three decades of experience – I still am always in awe over the event.

The new Patek Philippe booth at BAselWorld 2014 was a multi-storied work of light and openness.

The new Patek Philippe booth at BAselWorld 2014 was a multi-storied work of light and openness.

Here’s the way the time lays out: To begin with, every day in my world starts with a 6:30 am wake up call, and a night-time  curtain call of anywhere from 11:00 pm to 2:00 am depending on the night – remember—for 8 days straight.

Walking the halls means trekking miles a day.

Walking the halls means trekking miles a day.

Here’s the way the show lays out: As to the show itself, BaselWorld pictures just don’t do it justice! The sheer magnitude of watch and jewelry halls that tower several stories high and span the length of dozens of city blocks is mind boggling from the outside, let alone the inside. The “booths” are exhibition spaces that in some instances are three floors tall. And, by the way, in most cases the Americans get the top floor or penthouse for their meetings – meaning we climb up and down three flights of stairs multiple times a day just to start our watch reviews.  These massive exhibition spaces are accented with such accessories as vintage cars, motorcycles, custom watch cabinets, and even museums.

 

Basel itself is a beautiful city of antiquity.

Basel itself is a beautiful city of antiquity.

Carl F. Bucherer this year dedicated its entire history wall and museum case space to the brand’s century-long dedication to watchmaking for women. Bell & Ross had its custom-designed motorcycle on display, Tissot brought its “shop within a shop” concept in for retailers and visitors to recognize the scope of the brand,  Fendi totally revamped with an all-new look that included geodes, gemstones and fur, and Patek Philippe built an entire new, airy and open watch pavilion to showcase its wares and celebrate its 175th anniversary. Similarly the entire Movado Group –complete with Movado, Concord, Ebel, Tommy Hilfiger, Coach and other brands took over its own space and even brought in a world-renowned light artist’s installation.  In short, in a true test of stamina, we walked miles daily to witness the newest pieces from international companies.

A look over the bridge.

A look over the bridge.

Here’s the way the appointments lay out: In that environment, we saw hundreds of watch brands and thousands of watches – a true test of mind and memory.  During the running around to keep appointments, we were also graced with a few key executive interviews (thank you again to Mr. Urquhart of Omega, Efraim Grinberg of Movado Group, Patrik Hoffmann of Ulysse Nardin – people who are not easy to get in person for any length of time), some fabulous off-site dinners (thanks to Rolex, TAG Heuer, Patek Philippe, the “Independents” and others).

With Ali Soltani of Ritmo Mundo -- a break from the rigor.

With Ali Soltani of Ritmo Mundo — a break from the rigor.

Here’s the bottom line: In short, we have to be honest, BaselWorld is not a marathon of Good, Bad and Ugly. It is a wild ride of friendship, relationships, innovation, and magical moments. We work hard, we laugh hard, we eat decently and we drink just as decently (as long as you stay away from the Swiss wine).  We may complain about “oh, here we go again,” but the reality is: “WOW, here we go again.”  So, folks, here’s to next year.

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