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Baselworld 2012: reload

23 april 2012

The 40th – jubilee - annual exhibition of jewelry and watches, Baselworld 2012 completed its work in Switzerland. Should we wait another five years and Baselworld may celebrate its another anniversary, this time 100 years passed since the first Swiss watch fair in Basel, which was held in the eventful year 1917.

The exhibition was organized by MCH Messe Schweiz (Basel) AG.

Baselworld started to be held annually as the most prestigious and large-scale event for the watch and jewelry industry since 1973 and now the show unveils major achievement by the world’s best brands.

Watch presentations

The figures suggest that the crisis in 2008 did not only blow over the watch industry, but even served to strengthen it. In any case, 2011 was a record year in terms of sales of luxury watch brands. And this despite the fact that the Swiss franc in contrast to other currencies is getting more expensive, like gold. A prominent role in maintaining the prosperity of the industry is played by China and not the least one by Latin America and Russia. And Basel gives you an opportunity to develop even the most well-known brand, expand markets and acquire new customers from around the world.

As for major brands that are constantly involved in Basle - such as Chopard, Omega, Rolex, Patek Philippe, Longine and Tourbillon - they occupied their usual booths, leased for decades. Virtually every major watch brand presented its new achievements over the past year. First of all, this was true for the big Swiss watch manufacturers. This industry, which is considered conservative, despite its trend towards low-key and monochrome classic products, presented both vintage and new themes - aviation and extreme sports.

Still there is quite a number of jewelry watches, and diamonds continue to grace new watch (male and female) collections of Chopard, Chanel, Dior, etc. - and all this is in demand: for example, women's jewelry watches showcased by Breguet and made of full set diamonds (baguette cut), worth about two million francs were purchased in the early days of the exhibition.

Jewelry collections

Shopard this year completed their animalistic theme in the jewelry collection. Dior introduced a jewelry watch collection of unusual colors for specific outfits from the collections of past years of the same color. A very impressive collection of women's jewelry with very large and very bright jewels was shown by Bvlgari, which occupied a huge space in a pavilion separate from other brands: large necklaces with sapphires, emeralds, diamonds and rubies at times seemed to be created rather for museums than for living beings.

Top global brands courted journalists, customers and those who were eager to take their ads, held meetings and press cocktails and lunches and arranged fashion shows - Chopard offered a round of wine tasting, while Carrera y Carrera even launched a flamenco show.

Less well-known firms repeated collections of major brands, being different, for the most part, by the size of stones.

This year, some of the participants from previous years were absent for various reasons. Some, like Max Voznesensky’s Jewellery Theatre, used their effort to achieve a breakthrough in another direction (by the way, Jewellery Theatre plans to open a boutique in Bond Street in London), while others were barred to come by financial constraints due to the crisis. But there were newcomers - and their performance was praiseworthy, if not sensational.

This year saw a very interesting presentation on the part of SICIS, a jewelry firm from Italy. Being internationally known as a construction company specializing in mosaic, two years ago SICIS headed by its founders and owners turned to the jewelry theme, presenting a very high quality, exquisite collection of micro mosaic jewelry, traditional for Italy, but innovatively used in jewelry, combined with precious stones, including in particular diamonds.

Geneva based firm Shawish drew attention to its booth by an unmistakably effective public relations move: it manufactured a unique ring, the only in the world, made of a whole polished diamond featuring 90 facets cut of a rough diamond weighing 150 carats. Despite being priced at CHF 70 million, it is likely to find a buyer. However, it turned to be a sensation irrespective of its price – people talked about it and came to see it and was really a lure attracting attention of visitors to the entire collection of Shawish, not inferior in design and quality to goods displayed by other world jewelry brands.

Jorg Heinz won visitors’ attention by their transformer pendants. Everyone enjoyed fresh and informal jewelry pieces made by Tamara Comolli. The company has been manufacturing jewelry for twenty years, and during that time it has become a global brand. Comolli jewelry pieces are unique in that they befit young girls in blue jeans and refined respectable ladies - especially that part of the collection, which uses diamonds.

Press luncheon offered by Israeli diamantaires

The annual press luncheon offered by the Israeli diamond industry within the frames of BASELWORLD was attended by the leaders of the IDI, Gaetano Cavalieri, the head of CIBJO, and industry journalists. This year, the meeting raised a subject which was of interest not only to diamond manufacturers and dealers, but also to all the inhabitants of Earth - the guest speaker, Professor David Passig, a well-known futurist and the author of “The Future Code” and “2048,” pointed to what is to be considered among the most important trends in the 21st century - the decline of the population to 5-6 billion people, which will make production of goods and services incredibly changed.

Nevertheless, Eli Avidar, Managing Director of IDI, called the Israeli diamond industry "an island of stability, resting on strong foundations" and cited the results of 2011 as evidence: Israel's polished exports stood at $ 7.2 billion, which exceeds pre-crisis figures in 2007. In contrast to other diamond centers the trade sector of Israel was moving out of the crisis amid shortage of bank loans, reducing their volume from $2.2 billion in 2006 to $1.7 billion in 2011, once again reaffirming its resilience and financial health.

A new annual marketing campaign for 2012 was traditionally announced at the luncheon. To the existing campaign “Welcome to Israel” IDI has now added “where stability reigns.”

Eli Avidar said, “We believe that now is the ideal time to do business with the Israeli Diamond Industry – the one trading center that offers stability in a time of volatility and uncertainty.”

Indo-Chinese Hall of the Universe

The Indian industry was represented in Basel on a broad scale: in addition to India Palace in the second hall there was also an India Pavilion in the sixth hall, or the Hall of the Universe.

As the demand in the U.S., still the world's largest consumer of diamonds, remains weak, the Indian exports of diamonds and jewelry in 2011 increased by 11.65% compared to 2010. Indian diamond exporters are turning to Asian markets; last year, China overtook Japan to become the second largest consumer of diamonds in the world. But Japan remains a "key customer," recovering from last year's disasters.

Connections with the so-called Third World at Baselworld are getting stronger, and who knows how these worlds will be positioned towards each other in the near future. China is now called the "most promising" market for high-end watch and jewelry products. The Chinese authorities have promised to further reduce the tax on imports of luxury goods. Chinese companies are developing their own brands and are encouraged by the government represented by the Council for Trade Development.

All this attracted interest to the Hall of the Universe, where according to the established tradition there were displayed the brands of India and Indo-China. And it should be noted that the flow of visitors to the sixth pavilion was growing every year. The Hong Kong stands, Сoronet Solitaire, А-1, Аble and Асе Jewelry, Ach&Co, С&C, China Diamonds, and J.Stella  enjoyed a busy attention and boisterous demand.

Ralph Chow, Director of Product Promotion at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, pointed out that sales in the most active markets, including Russia and Latin America, were very encouraging, and an even greater success is expected next year.

Nandor von der Luehe, Managing Director of MJM, stressed the success of the Thai exhibitors who presented their achievements in the Hall of the Universe. The sales results produced by the Thai stands, as well as by the China, Hong Kong and India booths, give rise to positive outlooks.

Results

Basel has completed its successful eight days. During this period the exhibition was visited by 104,300 people from all continents and from over one hundred countries demonstrating top class results. Not less than 2,000 companies from various countries had an opportunity to present their goods.  The work of this show was covered by 3,320 journalists.

The participants of the exhibition called it the best place to communicate with vendors and present new collections, where they make most of the contracts, communicating with customers and media representatives.

The owners of stands were quite pleased with the results of sales, but looking forward to the next forum: thanks to the new concept of the halls Basel in 2013 is expected to open a new stage of this professional review.

Jacques J. Duchêne, Chairman of the Exhibitors' Committee, noted the overall satisfaction with the outcome: "Nearly all the brands will now be investing in their new stand for BaselWorld 2013 and enhancing their presence still further. This highlights the fact that we have a great deal of confidence in this event, because the world show will be giving us exhibitors even more opportunities to experience positive development in future."

François Thiébaud, Сhairman of the Swiss Exhibitors’ Committee, noted, “The 2012 edition has confirmed the success of this unique platform, which brings together the watch and jewelry industry from all over the world. The positive results of the past two years allow us to look into the future full of optimism."

Jasmine Steele, International Communications Director at Patek Philippe, also underlined the outstanding level of business saying that Baselworld provided the company with a decent opportunity to welcome its partners and pointed to “an exceedingly positive mood amongst our customers throughout the entire show.”

Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, Co-Chairman of Chopard, underlines the global importance of the event: "All our markets worldwide were well represented this year. In addition, the media presence was at a record level."

Heuer, which has made Cameron Diaz their brand’s face, sid that the number of visitors to their booth increased by almost a third. In the future the company plans to increase the area of the stand to present their innovations in a more favorable light.

Nicolas Beau, Directeur International Horlogerie at Chanel, also noted the intention “to receive our customers and also the media at our stand in an even more optimum manner. BASELWORLD 2013 will enable us to reflect the importance of Chanel watches for the next ten years to come."

Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot, said the show was wonderful and promised to be able to present their innovations in an even more suitable setting next year saying that their new stand will match the size of their brand and provide them with excellent framework conditions."

A large number of positive echoes were to be heard amongst the suppliers of precious stones as well. Bernd Willy Ripp, managing director of Groh + Ripp, summed up BASELWORLD 2012 as follows: "After a highly successful show in 2011 we were able to boost the good result we obtained by a further 25% this time round. The quality of the visitors was exceedingly good. The other precious-stone dealers are similarly highly satisfied."

Working as a Swiss watch, the next Baselworld will take place on April 25-May 2 in the spring of 2013. Sylvie Ritter, Managing Director of Baselworld, is already experiencing nostalgia over the past Basel show and looks forward “impatiently to the new era that will be dawning for this world show” being delighted that Baselworld 2013 will confirm the excellence of the industry presented here.

Galina Semyonova, Rough & Polished, Basel, Switzerland