With apologies to David Jones, when it comes to watches, ‘There’s no other fair like BaselWorld’ and that’s why the watch world descends on the Swiss city every year.
This year’s BaselWorld took place from March 8-15 and the mood of the Swiss watch exhibitors was buoyant.
And so it should be as 2011 was a record breaking year for Swiss watchmaking with exports reaching 19.3 billion Swiss francs – an increase of 19.2 percent over 2010’s 16,167 billion Swiss francs.
This impressive growth was fuelled by a whopping 48 percent increase in the Chinese market and a perhaps surprising 16 percent increase in the American market.
And all this positive growth happened while there was nervousness about the European financial situation and while European sales had not yet returned to the pre-crisis levels recorded in 2008.
In terms of markets, Asia continued to dominate with 55 percent of the industry’s market share while Europe and America held onto 29 percent and 14 percent respectively.
The conservative influence of China, which for some brands represents 40 percent of sales, saw watch designs toned downed to appeal to this new and rapidly accelerating market.
Meanwhile at BaselWorld, which attracts over 100,000 visitors each year, it was noticeable that the number of Australian visitors was scant throughout the display halls.
This was a great disappointment of many watch exhibitors (particularly those with distributors in Australia and New Zealand) who feel that Australian jewellery retailers often don’t have a real perspective of the size of some of the so called “smaller watch companies” until they’veactually visited Basel and seen that they often have multi-storied stands similar to their larger and better known counterparts.
Indeed, with more than 600 watchmakers (half of them Swiss) exhibiting at BaselWorld, there is a lot for Australian retailers to see and learn about at the Fair – especially since so many of the brands are not available here.
Therefore if you have never before, then BaselWorld 2013 would be a good one to visit as the Fair is undergoing a major building program costing 450 million Swiss francs which will see Hall 1 enlarged and give the overall Fair a “brand new look”?
The other reason to visit Basel next year is that the Fair will be held later, from April 25 -May 2, when the weather will be far more agreeable for business and pleasure.