Baselworld - is it worth going? (plus 8 tips for the enthusiast)
I have been rambling about Baselworld for a bit now and I wanted to do a round up a bit differ than other reviewers. We all know that Rolex change the movement and bracelet of the GMT and that TAG Heuer launch an Autavia without a chronograph but my aim was to let you know if going to Baselworld as a watch enthusiast is a good choice, I do mention the word enthusiast because if you happen to be covering the event as press is a must and not a real choice. To put thing into perspective this was my first time at Baselworld and also to the city, there were many factor to take into account and thinking objectively if you are interested in watches as I am, this is the place to be, so yes is worth it ! 2019 was marketed as a transitional year, even if I was not there last year the show felt pretty good, as you might know it's really hard to get into the booth from the big boys ( Rolex, Breitling, TAG and more) but this does mean that you have to visit the more independent brands and here is where the true joy lies. To be fair I did had a press pass ( shout out to Time Avenue Venezuela) but I am sure if you stop by as regular visitor they will be glad to show you their cool pieces, I did pre arrange some of my meetings and the difference between the way brands showcase the pieces is staggering, not to name and names but I did had a meeting with one of these big powerful houses and their attitude was : ''here is the new collection, let us know if you have any questions..''
which to me was a little bid sad as I am a big fan of them but then I head over to the independents and their level of enthusiasm was contagious, it was phrases like please look at the case side or this dial is painted with this new process which took 2 years to develop, meaning that there were plenty smiles and pride which filled the room. I cannot stop that this is the attitude I want to see in the industry and that this is the path that is going to make a difference in the future, what I mean is a more B2C that a B2B approach, it sounds pretty easy right but it's not, I do understands the challenge to showcase watches that cost quite a bit to everyone that comes around, but if there is no enthusiasm from the final customer then you could argue that stores are not going to be interested and fill those orders. It seems that management at Baselworld is trying to evolve the show into a new experience not only for B2B but also for everyone who loves watches, I think the public and the press are going to be easier to convince the real issue is all those brands who are not going like Movado Group or Swatch. Patek Phillipe and Rolex did confirm their participation for next year but if this show is meant to survive they do need to do something more than lowering the prices and create a new Baselworld App. I would definitely go next year and here are some few tips to enjoy the show even more:
Head to the independents, here you will be able to see new cool stuff not only on the brand side but also on the innovation side
German brands are great and welcoming (the people at Damasko, Sinn , Nomos, MeisterSinger and Laco), even if you don't have an appointment they could give you a quick look of all the novelties, they are always welcoming
Head to the Atelier, try to see watches that you wont be able to see in shop windows , you can always see Patek and Rolex ( sometimes) in any big capital or airport, so look at brands like L'Eppee, MB&F or Le Rhone to have a better look at the industry
Bring comfortable shoes, this is a must as is a long walk! I walked 24KM that day!
Basel is not as chic as you might think, people are nice and very warm but Basel a very industrial city, pretty but not what I was expecting, it is the home of Roger Federer so I am sure that there are cool things to see
Cash is king, coming from the UK I am used to pay everything with card, not here unfortunately so buses, food and other bits are usually done by cash
Don't be afraid to walk into a booth, Oris had one of the biggest stands in the show and they were very kind to show me their collection with no appointment, they were a lovely bunch
Try to go the last day when all the releases are out, brands are more relaxed and the show is less busy
Overall I loved the show that I can wait for next year, being surrounded by watches for a full day was one of the coolest experiences I had in this industry so far,
Hope this gives you a different perspective and see you next year! Thanks to Time Avenue Venezuela for the help on this trip!