Parting Thoughts (22 Of Them) From Baselworld 2018
As I arrive home exhausted from the extravaganza that was Baselworld 2018, but still running on enough residual adrenaline to get words out, I jot down a few of my thoughts from the fair while they are still fresh.
Look for our team’s traditional post-fair round table in the next days for more in-depth thoughts and see our posts of the last seven days for new watches released at the fair.
1. It is unbelievable how people lose their minds over details sometimes. The release of red-and-blue “Pepsi” bezels on both new Rolex GMT-Master II and Tudor Black Bay GMT models was something I thought was going to end up breaking the internet.
2. . . . right after Patek Philippe cracked it by opening an Instagram account three days ahead of the fair.
3. There must be at least 50 shades of blue if the plethora of new dials is any indication. But no one got it quite like Greubel Forsey did.
4. De Bethune’s “allover” blue is not from this world, however. That had to have been gifted to them from the heavens.
5. Green was right behind the azure hue regarding popularity, but despite Pantone’s predictions blue still ruled the roost (see Baselworld 2018: 5 Trends At The World’s Biggest Watch Fair).
6. Despite case sizes coming down as a general rule, mine is bigger than yours is still alive and kicking.
7. V.H.P. vs. V.H.A. = WTF?
8. “Baselworld is like the last few years of Studio 54,” one retailer said to me. Interpret that how you will.
9. We were told by somebody senior at Mido that it has been the biggest selling watch brand in Mexico for generations. I’d really like to see some stats on that.
10. Dragons are practically gone from watch dials (whew), but one showed up in a five-kilogram gold sculpture adorned with 7,739 diamonds. We’ll take that and like it.
11. Rainbow-gem bezels. Three different models (and brands), only one of which was not a sports watch. ‘Nuff said.
12. Now I know why chronographs have 30-minute counters: it’s so that Swiss servers have enough time to get your gin and tonic ready. #ugh
13. Bronze is still the new gold.
14. Apparently even more divers need tourbillons under water than we – or IWC – thought.
15. A Swiss tourbillon for less than 20,000 retail? Yes, TAG Heuer already showed us that – and continues to do so (see TAG Heuer Fetes 1000th Chronometer-Certified Tourbillon).
16. Breitling should not have previewed just one piece from its revamped collection under new management ahead of Baselworld. The new collection in its entirety is rich; the isolated preview window was confusing and portrayed the new direction badly.
17. You could actually get lunch reservations at the restaurants around the fair same day. And then the restaurants weren’t even full (no matter how much they tried to make you believe they were when you called ahead – “we’ll make an exception for you this time”).
18. Swiss restaurateurs have learned a lot from watch brand managers over the years, but have learned nothing about the risks of not keeping prices in the realm of reality: the “Baselworld” menus still featured schnitzel costing 30 francs and water so expensive it should have gold flecks floating in it. Perhaps they’ll soon be listening to the brand managers here too.
19. While there were so many less exhibitors at Baselworld this year (see Breaking News: Baselworld 2018 Will Be Up To 50% Smaller), we note that 95 percent of those departed were in the jewelry sector. The other 5 percent was more or less the Movado group.
20. I should really know better than to eat fondue during Baselworld no matter what the price is.
21. I love walking around Baselworld on the last day: they let the CEOs out of their cages to freely roam the halls and have interesting conversations. Though I did see Patek Philippe president Thierry Stern at a tram stop one time early in the week . . .
22. Despite all the pre-Baselworld warning signs, I came away from the fair feeling like the industry just may have caught itself in time: collections that made sense, down-to-earth watches, lower prices where it makes sense, continuing extreme creativity among the independent watchmakers, and a positive outlook are what I picked up.
Conclusion: This was not the fair to end all fairs, but it was a solid showing by a large group of watch manufacturers at a variety of retail levels.