Baselworld likes journalists. They take care of them with a shiny new press area, free food and other amenities. They even have a media day a day before the event. Journalists like them too. Four thousand of them showed up for this year’s opening, ensuring that millions of images of the fair streamed throughout the world. These images were in color. This year, I thought i’d change it up and capture the spirit of the fair in black and white instead.
The things they do to sell a watch – Bell&Ross, the purveyor of aviation dashboard aesthetics, have extended their current winning streak with a concept bike. Mind you, all jokes aside, I really do love the BR watch range and this is a very clever marketing move so I approve. From what I understand this is not their first bike but this is certainly the first to catch my attention – They collaborated (again) with Shaw Harley-Davidson Speed and Custom to create a custom motorcycle that is inspired by the speed bikes and experimental aviation of the 1960s. So in other words, something that is half-way between nostalgia lane and futurism.
The B-Rocket Limited Edition watches
Packaged Along side this custom bike are two limited edition wristwatches – The BR01 & BR03 B-Rocket. They’re limited to 500 pieces. Other updates to the brand included a ceramic version of the successful BR series and a heritage edition watch called the WW1 Guynemer which pays tribute to a pilot from the first world war.
Here it is – The Baselworld 2014. This year’s fair is a personal milestone for me. I’ve been visiting the fair annually and this year marks my tenth. That’s like ancient in blogger years which should be reason enough for me to reflect and that’s something I will get to eventually but right now as I type this, I’m moments away from the ribbon cutting for this year’s edition. This year also marks the 42nd edition of the fair which is certainly something. A lot has changed for the fair in the past decade. The biggest milestone being of course, it’s ambitious redesign where it shed its traditional conservative skin.
The redesign was led by Herzog and de Meuron, the Swiss architects behind the London’s Tate Modern and Beiging’s Bird Nest stadium – Both credentials delivering a hint of the ambitions. The final building was just as iconic as it was futuristic – it was wrapped in a metal sheet with patterned cuts featured throughout.
Things have changed in the industry as well. The Japanese (Seiko/Citizen) moved up on their hierarchy of needs and positioned themselves upmarket. The Swiss crown remains challenged as always. The Swatch group squeezed their fists by attempting to close access to its movements. The ripples of its effects were felt everywhere.The smartphone industry exploded and the disposable income pie of the average consumer was further divided. The recession made the industry stumble a little. Companies disappeared overnight and other brands visited the fair peddling their licenses to watch brands.
Personally, I don’t know how long I will continue to write about the fair but hopefully, here’s to another ten years.
Breil is reaching out to the international design community for inspiration for their collection. They’ve teamed up with designboom for a competition where they will be doling out 3000 euros to each of the top three designs. This isn’t one of those hypothetical design fiction competition. They are seeking an attractive, feasible design, analog, stainless steel that they can manufacture. I can’t wait to see what the competition turns up.
I am at Baselworld again this year. First impressions – despite the positive spin taking place here, you can feel the recession. Just like last year, a number of brand withdrew from exhibiting. Some brands seem to have gone desperate imitating the current trend of colorful rubber watches aka the Toywatch train, most notably Haurex.
Due to the natural disaster in japan, japanese brands like Seiko aren’t able to take in orders because their movement supply has been disrupted and overall, the fair feels a little muted.
Anyway, for the next few days, I will be covering the fair. For a direct link to the coverage, hop over to our Baselworld section.
The new Gucci collection
The Hermes booth emphasized their entry into movement manufacture (link)
Haurex pulls a desperate move and moves into Icewatch territory with their own rubber colorful collection. Each of the watches are packed in a can in imitation of the icewatch packaging that uses a lego motif.
Every year, for the past 17 years, the magazine Montres Passion has been awarding the Watch of the year prize by selecting the winners from among forty finalists. These finalists are selected from hundreds of watches that became available in the Swiss market during the previous year and then are further scrutinized by a jury of watchmaking professionals.
For this year, the Octo Bi-Retrograde steel-ceramic by Bulgari was selected as the winner.
The second prize went to the Annual Calendar by Patek Philippe (Ref. 5205) and the third to the Miss Golden Bridge of Corum. The Corum watch also took home the ‘Woman’ Watch Award 2010.
The Special Jury Award went to the Upside Down Number One by Ludovic Ballouard and the winner of an online public voting contest went to the Duomètre à Quantième Lunaire by Jaeger-LeCoultre wins this Award.
Montres Passion is a magazine that has been awarding the Watch of the year prize for the past 15 years. This year, they selected the Altipano by Piaget as the winner.
IWC’s Da Vinci Vintage Automatic
The Da Vinci Vintage Automatic by IWC took second place while Rodolphe’s Instinct Basic 4851 Four Time Zone took third. Ladies had a seperate category -The Ladies’ Watch of the Year award which was won by Piaget’s model “Magic Hour”
Rodolphe’s Instinct Basic 4851 Four Time Zone
The Jury’s also awarded a special prize to Harry Winston’s Diane minute repeater. The watches were short listed from forty finalists which were selected from over a hundred new models launched in Switzerland over a period of a year. The short listed models were also open to votes from the web and the Diamond Flower by Perrelet won the Swiss Public prize.
Sure, On paper it sounds all impressive – World’s largest watch fair has a dedicated section for brands which feature 125 fashion brands from 105 countries blah blah, but the truth is that most of them failed to impress. I did, however, chose to write about a select few:
In the world of watches, Self described modern design entrepreneur Scott Wilson is known for his Presto Digital Bracelets which were a phenomenal success, remain a best seller and have achieved iconic product status. Another of his Nike credits is the Oregon Series Watch Collection, associated with Lance Armstrong’s extraordinary career in competitve cycling.
Wilson now works on design driven projects for major brands through his own MINIMAL design studios which allows him at the same time to work on design-manufacturing projects of his own, such as OOBA, his furniture line. Below are a few quotes from his keynote speech at the Asian Watch Conference held along side the Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair 2008 that I managed to note:
Scott Wilson's Rhino Sculpture, Kera, was live-auctioned for $14,000. All proceeds went to the World Wildlife Foundation.
His personal view on watches
I feel in love with watches when i went to work for Nike as global creative director. They are more personal and intimate with the user; they can define a person’s identity. I’m intrigued by the scale and intricate detail of the watch design.
I am currently developing some watches under the MNML brand and in the future I would love to create a modern classic watch for a true luxury brand.”
Sure, Baselworld is the premier watch event but the Hong Kong watch and Clock exhibition takes the cake for the largest watch fair with more than 760 exhibitors. Primarily a sourcing event for watch producers, the fair has come a long way in pushing forth the importance of design and branding for its local industry and at this year’s edition, they had American designer Scott Wilson headline the event with a keynote address, featured a record 125 fashion watch brands from 105 companies and showcased local talent via their annual wristwatch design event.
Over the next few days, I’ll be posting about the fair. Keep reading.
Chalk graffiti greeted visitors on Saturday morning through out the hall with messages referring to Blood Diamonds, Tibet and the prostitution of Basel. The best was the mock protest sign that read – Time Kills!
Baselworld was overbooked this year so brands like Casio, Kenzo, H Stern etc. had a seperate tent with an extended lounge for visitors to relax in
The Swarovski section in the extension. The lights on the ground are actually spotlit jewelry
Themed car parked outside for Havana inspired swiss made brand, Cuervo Sobrino.
Btw, the coverage continues till the 10th so stay tuned.