Every year we attend Baselworld and report back on the show, the watches, the news, the people, etc. Essentially, we bring you the good, the bad and the ugly of the show. However, this year, we are stepping back a little. Why? Well, because ATimelyPerspective’s founder, Roberta Naas — who has just completed 34 years of Baselworld — just wrote a review of the show for luxury e-commerce giant TrueFacet.com — and bought a couple of hundred thousand readers behind the Baselworld scenes. You can read that story here. In the meantime, though, we still want to address the typical Good, Bad and Ugly of Baselworld 2018.
Baselworld 2018: The Good
First and foremost, let me start by saying this: Baselworld is not dying. it is not going away, it is not on its last leg. Despite the many naysayers in the industry, despite the “doom and gloom” stories we were inundated with before the show, the fact of the matter is that this show still has a nicely beating heart. Additionally, the core brands that comprise hall 1 — Rolex (and Tudor), Patek Philippe, Hublot, TAG Heuer, and the other LVMH brands, as well as the Swatch Group brands such as Breguet, Blancpain, Omega, Harry Winston, Longines and more — are not going anywhere. Because I have known the execs of these brands for many years, it is easy to banter back and forth with them about strategies, thoughts on the future and more, and the one thing I heard time and again was exactly what iI expected to hear: This is the game and we are staying in it.
Yes it’s true that there were hundreds of fewer exhibitors, but honestly, it didn’t feel like it to me. All — or most — of the brands I needed to see were still there and were still excited about the show, the newest watches and jewelry and the coming year ahead. In fact, the newest unveilings are pretty darn impressive — and, of course, we will be bringing you an in-depth look at many in the coming months.
Baselworld 2018: The Bad
Sorry but i have to say that I really missed the Movado Group this year. Every year for the past few years, this Group takes up prime space and dedicates it not only to showcase its brands’ newest products (Movado and all of its licensees), but also to showcase art. Each year, Efraim Grinberg, CEO of Movado and an avid Modern art lover and collector, would find a key artist, sculptor, photographer, or other and install a center court art exhibition. It was the place I could go to get away from the sometimes overwhelming watch and jewelry halls. The brand also had a nice tree-lined lounge in the back that it would let me use to compose my thoughts, have a meeting, have a drink or write. Yes, there is a press room at Baselworld, but this quiet artsy environment was not just serene, it was inspiring. I am happy that Movado recognized it can get so much more out of a summit in Davos with key clients, but I personally found their farewell to the fair a difficult one to swallow.
Baselworld 2018: The Ugly
Ok so there is no getting away from this one. Basel is Basel… you can’t complain that the prices are stupidly high at the restaurants or the hotels. It’s the way it has always been (at least for the 34 years I’ve been attending) and most likely always will be. So while that may be ugly, it is nothing new. For me, the ugly was the daunting concept that too many brands are succumbing to lackluster product releases simply to hit a new lower entry price point. People, the product can be exciting and affordable at the same time. Many of the new collections I saw — wherein we are witnessing a new “opening” price emerge — were unimaginative, bland and just plain hum drum. If you unveiled a steel or titanium watch with a white dial and black sundials ala “Panda” and didn’t capture the cache’ – shame on you. If you unveiled a titanium round watch with a shite or silver dial and no bells and whistles except that you called it by a creative name — shame on you. Mind you, i am not saying that brands can’t introduce a new entry-level price, but they can do it with panache. They can do it with color, with retro styling, with unique dial accents or designs. And I saw that at the show, for sure. But for those who dug through the archives to show me a picture of a steel watch with a white dial and then say the new watch is based on that one (of 10,000 or more previous watches) …. that’s downright ugly.