This year’s Baselworld was by many considered a disappointing year. Next to the economic slump the industry is currently experiencing there seems to be an even bigger deficiency in regard to the creativity of the mainstream brands.
Let’s start with Rolex, they are the biggest brand and their releases end up being the overshadowing narrative on how a year’s Baselworld is to be remembered. Like every year I couldn’t help myself get all giddy. The Rolex website got updated, the new models loaded in front of me, and I kept scrolling top to bottom feeling like I missed something. Their centrepiece was a sea-dweller 50th-anniversary edition with a red line text, a cyclops, and a slightly bigger case. A watch no one really wanted.
Omega released 141 new watches, and with that at least 100 too many. This shotgun attitude creates a dilution of attention, resulting in a rather forgettable collection. Their highlight was the 50th-anniversary trilogy set, a faithful recreation of their most popular vintage pieces updated with modern technologies. Of course, I won’t deny that these watches please the vintage lover in me, but what does it say about a brand when their highlight is a one to one copy of their own watches from 50 years ago?
Patek, Grand Seiko, Tag Heuer, the list could go on when it comes to unimaginative novelties. Of course, you can’t always expect a year full of ground breaking designs and technologies. The thing is though that this isn’t just one brand for one year, but rather a theme across the industry.
But wait, there is more! After the initial disappointment from the main hall I turned my attention to a small corner of the fair, hidden somewhere at the end of the third floor; Les Ateliers. Rather hidden this proved to be an absolute gem. Crowded in a small space I found the world’s leading independent watch manufacturers presenting true novelties, watches that genuinely excite!
This was my 2nd Baselworld and I had an absolute blast discovering new brands and going full nerd mode with the people responsible for the creations. It is easy to see the watch world as only the big brands, and so it remains important to remind ourselves that there is so much more to this beautiful industry!
Stay tuned to learn about our meetings with Christiaan Van der Klauww, Romain Jerome, Emanuel Bouchet, Haldimann, Lange & Heyne, and Le Rhöne.