BaselWorld 2017 Report – Day 1

After a number of years of attending BaselWorld as enthusiasts and collectors, this was the first year that we were attending as a business to talk to the brands about working with the BWC. Our schedule was merciless and started on Wednesday with Press Day and ended 6 days later with a lunch at Longines HQ in St. Imier, Switzerland.

We pretty much had appointments throughout the day, every day. It was encouraging that most brands were willing to spend some time talking to us and listen to what we had to offer, from the independents, all the way through to the mega brands.

The show is an incredible mixture of industry people, from retailers, social media marketeers and supporting industries to the watch industry. For us it was the perfect opportunity to talk to a raft of brands all under one roof. I often get asked if the show is worth attending as a watch lover and the answer is quite mixed. It’s a great place to soak up the atmosphere and to peer through the glass at some of the new releases, but it is a business to business show so getting inside the stands to handle the novelties is almost impossible unless appointments were made beforehand. Bearing this in mind, if you love watches, then you’ll love the show.

On our first day of appointments we headed across the street to a nearby hotel to go and talk to Bremont Watches a British brand based in Henley upon Thames. The first person to stride over and say hello as we entered the meeting room was Nick English, one half of the founding brother/brother team. An English gent in the true sense of the word, mild mannered, disarmingly charming and enthusiasm by the bucket load. His brother Giles was more of the same and between the two of them, they gave us the best start at BaselWorld we could’ve hoped for.

The story of the brand is mesmerising. Tragic at first and uplifting for the rest. Steeped in adventure, tradition and a strong sense of history – I urge you to spend some time reading about them here

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The Supermarine S301 proved to be a firm favourite. 40mm case and in my view a great overall size. Ceramic bezel and a hint of red on the dial. The eggshell markers and the chapter ring give the dial a very distinct and very cool vintage look. Retail price on the strap is €3,095 ex VAT, making it a fantastic value proposition.

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The Supermarine S300/BL – awesome blue dial and ceramic insert.

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Works very well on a NATO strap too – model shown here is the S300/BK

Next stop was our first appointment in the great Hall at BaselWorld itself with Hublot. Their stand was incredibly kitted out including a LaFerrari Aperta parked at reception. We were quickly whisked away to a private area to take a look at their new releases.

To commemorate Ferrari’s 70th Anniversary, Hublot released the Techframe Ferrari Tourbillon Chronograph in titanium, carbon and gold. Pictured here is the titanium model and it’s an incredible watch. Limited to 70 pieces.

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We also had the chance to play with the Spirit of Big Bang Sapphire in 45mm. Limited to 250 pieces and dominated by the ground breaking polished sapphire crystal case.

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The guys at Hublot very kindly then invited us to their top floor terrace for a spot of lunch.

Our final meeting of the day was with a true independent of the industry. Last year one of our favourite parts of the show was the Palace. This was a separate area of the show on another part of the complex. The Palace was literally a huge tent that housed all the independants such as MB&F and Urwerk. The atmosphere was always fun and the bar area was busy and the place to be seen. This year however, due to the much publicised fall in watch sales across the board, BaselWorld had lost a lot of exhibitors and had therefore consolidated by closing the Palace and rehousing the independents on the first floor of Hall 1 and renaming it “Les Ateliers”. As we made our way to our next appointment we wondered how this new area would work, if at all.

Kari Voutilainen is a Finnish watchmaker that needs no introduction. His limited creations are coveted by collectors around the globe. He is involved in every process with every watch that leaves his workshop in Motiêrs in Switzerland. He’s a softly spoken unassuming man that is a watchmaker in the true sense of the word. His watches are timeless and very very limited. It was an honour to meet him and to see his stunning pieces.

The first watches that were presented to us were the vignt-8 and the vignt-8 ISO

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The final piece was breathtaking, the Aki-No-Kure. It was hand lacquered in Japan by a master and took over a 1000 hours. You can read more about the watch here

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It turned out that Les Ateliers was not so bad. Not as good as the Palace used to be, but still a great place to discuss all things horology.

Our first day had been fantastic. We’d seen some amazing pieces and experienced some great hospitality. Our four man team were tired and thirsty so we headed off into the cold Basel air in search of sustenance and a quiet place to reflect on the days events. It turned out that a “quiet” place to reflect didn’t exist…:-)

My report continues with Day 2 shortly, stay tuned…….

One Comment

  1. Bart Thans says:

    Thx for the insights, Michael!
    Nice report, looking forward to part 2.

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