The trade fair that takes place in Switzerland each spring showcases the latest in watch-making design and this year, the venue itself was one of the real stars of the show.
It opened later than usual this year to allow for the organisers’ aspirations to take concrete form, but if any proof were needed of the health of the Swiss watch industry, Baselworld would be it. The chf430m (€350m) revamp of the showground building by architects Herzog & de Meuron is some statement of intent.
Baselworld 2013 was an event that responded to an industry increasingly dominated by luxury conglomerates. Most eyes were focused on the redesigned Hall 1, which René Kamm, ceo of mch Group (which operates the fairgrounds), says is for “watch and jewellery brands that have a global impact and a worldwide reach”. Home to Swatch Group and lvmh subsidiaries Breguet, Tag Heuer and Hublot as well as independents Rolex and Ulysse Nardin and with over 100,000 visitors this year, the pressure to create new and elaborate booths in which to showcase their horological finery was definitely on.
Save for a few traditionalists, new watches are launched on the internet rather than premiering at Basel and retailers will already have an idea what they are buying for the year ahead. But it is the experience of meeting and seeing and the opportunity to discover everything in one place, hear the gossip and meet the players that makes Baselworld more important now than ever.
Having partnered with Japanese architect Toyo Ito, the Hermès Pavilion uses a combination of wood, warm colour and greenery. “With a commitment to work done by hand, the focus is on lightness, provided through harmony of line and proportion,” says artistic director Pierre-Alexis Dumas.
Celebrating its 90th appearance at the event, Zenith commissioned Geneva-based architects Brandstorm to design their three-storey, Swiss-made booth. With its “new generation” aesthetic for store design, the brand has used cream-coloured stone with wenge wood and contrasting smoked glass to create a welcoming refuge for guests and media.
Embodying the status and values of the Swiss watch brand and occupying one of the largest stands at Basel, Rolex has taken contemporary decorative elements inspired by details of the new-release watches alongside aquatic motifs. With walnut furnishings, a bar and a 40-seat restaurant, the stand acts as an elegant base from which to showcase its pieces.
Jaeger-LeCoultre and Hermès have joined forces once again and partnered with Saint-Louis crystal in releasing the stand-alone Atmos clock.
How does the clock work?
It works without a battery, electricity or winding. It operates using a hermetically sealed capsule full of air and gases, the contents of which expand and contract according to the temperature, which powers the clock.
What is the inspiration for the latest reincarnation?
The renewal of a rich collaboration between the two maisons, which lasted from 1928 to 1972, and the work of Saint Louis crystal, it is a demonstration of craftsmanship and creativity.
“This year, we are excited about tomorrow’s icon. We’re building watches that are respectful of the history of Tudor; a synthesis of original spirit brought up to date with modern touches.”
“Consumers are increasingly looking towards Saxon manufacturing as the hallmark for horological excellence. German design and engineering power pervades everything we do.”
“This year has been our strongest ever. With greater demand, we are concentrating on regulating points of sale and keeping a close eye on the grey market.”
Laurent Ferrier Galet Traveller
A lesson in understatement, the Traveller has a dual-time display with “home” time shown in an aperture. The pebble-shaped case houses a micro-rotor movement and time-zone adjustment mechanism elegantly balancing efficiency and neoclassical design.
Having caused waves at last year’s show with its H1, the first mechanical watch to use liquid to indicate the time, this year’s successor employs innovative hydromechanics to power both the hour and minute hands. Features include a fluid temperature indicator and eight-day power reserve.
Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Seconde Mysterieuse
The hour and minute are shown off-centre at the upper right of the face, while the blued second hand has its own display. This rotates around its axis, appearing to levitate between dial and sapphire.
Rolex Oyster Cosmograph Daytona
First launched in 1963, 50 years on this piece is crafted for the first time in 950 platinum, with Cerachrom ceramic bezel in chestnut brown and ice-blue dial.
With big date indicator and power reserve along with a classic time display, the play of polished and textured surfaces works to create an elegant everyday piece