The Basel World Fair is the major event for watch manufacturers, trade and collectors. As for the last 5 years I joined this years fair to scout new trends and gain an outlook of what the next year holds in stock for us.
What would the world of watches be like without its most important annual fair? Up until 2 years ago I would have said "not much" but with the begin of declining retail turnovers and difficult times for quite a few watch manufacturers my answer to that question has changed. While this fair remains to be the most influential event for the industry I would not consider it a necessity to come and exhibit there. In fact, many companies and brands decided not to and those that did experienced a much slower and quiter fair than in earlier years. Of course - most companies would not openly admit this but it was definetely less busy than before.
On the other hand I have to mention that I saw a lot of new companies exhibiting that had quite interesting ranges and ideas, and some companies that used to have small booths in areas where harldy ever anyone would see them last year or the year before, those companies moved to better spots with much bigger booths. It was quite exiting to see so much developement in just a year.
The big players - Rolex, Patek, Ulyssee Nardin, Swatch Group (Omega, Glashütte Original, Breguet, Rado...), Bell & Ross, Tag Heuer, Breitling where in the same spot as every year and had new stuff to display. It was rather hard to make out a trend though. I would day that black watches are still 'in style', 'bigger is still better' and that automatic and limited editions are very high in demand. Other than that the manufactories continue to develop there unique projects with new materials (silicone in movements for example) or Analogie/Digital Chronographs.
The city of Basel is also worth a visit and you can see some very scenic streets, the rhine, have a coffee in one of the many nice cafe's. If you have neough of that just go back inside and gaze at the impressive displays, I snapped a short video of the Breitling, Hermes and the Porsche Design booth. I took the pictures in this article with my favorite camera: a Hasselblad 501 CM for those of you who are not just into mechanic watches but also into mechanic cameras.
I will close with a few more visual impressions and hope you enjoyed this brief report. Let me know if you have any comments!