The 38th Baselworld Show has wound up with smiles all round: firstly from the Swiss exhibitors, with confirmation of the signs of recovery recorded in January and February of this year; then from the visitors in their response to the superb pieces created by Switzerland’s watch and jewellery makers; and, finally, with attendance up on last year, from the organisers.
Recovery confirmed for Swiss watchmakers
2010 started out on a positive note, with Swiss watch exports on the rise for the first time in fifteen months (+ 2.7% in value terms in January and + 14.2% in February), and these signs of recovery were confirmed at Baselworld, the sector’s most important barometer. While performance varied from one brand to another, there was one constant, irrespective of markets or positioning: the large stocks that have weighed on retailers’ budgets since the end of 2008 are being absorbed. There is now an urge to buy, made possible by a renewed availability of liquidity.
Another significant feature of the show was the return of American buyers, who had practically deserted it in 2009. Beyond the obvious business perspectives, their very presence symbolises a general upturn, considering that it was in the United States that the financial crisis began before spreading around the world.
Backed by these signs of a lasting recovery, Swiss watchmakers are banking on second-half growth this year comparable to the figures achieved in 2007 and 2008, depending on the region.
Watchmakers opt for a blend of tradition and innovation
This year’s timepieces display considerable mechanical originality, as though Switzerland’s watchmakers wished to pay tribute to the impressive patrimony they all share. While the crisis put an end to any kind of ostentation, 2010’s creations focus on the métiers d’art. Rarely has finishing achieved such heights of sophistication in watches of unpretentious refinement. Discretion, moreover, seems to be a must where elegance is concerned, as testified by the ladies’ watches, with brands opting for small, even ultra-small, models to highlight their precious character. The men’s 2010 models, like those for women, display a refined aesthetics, the guarantee of good taste capable of defying the dictates of fashion.
Results for Switzerland’s jewellers have been more mixed. While brands benefiting from a strong name have skilfully overcome these difficult times, designers with small advertising budgets have had trouble making any impact. Getting people to buy has proved more difficult, especially as stocks remained relatively high, which is not the case in the watch sector.
Despite a certain overcautiousness amongst buyers – Europeans mainly – exhibiting at Baselworld has proved to be an imperative for Switzerland’s jewellers. Getting oneself known, communicating and making contacts today appear to be the determining factors for success tomorrow. True to their values, our jewellers have confidence in the future and are committed to putting quality and reliability above everything else. This year’s Swiss jewellery pieces at Baselworld embody the most striking expression of this philosophy: aesthetic research, new alloys offering original nuances in gold, palladium or platinum and, above all, extraordinarily fine hand-finishing work
Related branches confident in the recovery
Once again, Europe has confirmed its position as the manufacturing centre for the watch and jewellery sector, while South America continues to grow in importance, confirming the trend started last year. There were, however, fewer visitors from the Gulf and Asia at the related branches’ stands. In general, the crisis has prompted a certain wait-and-see policy, shown by a hesitation to invest in production tools. Nevertheless, the recovery in the watch sector should have a knock-on effect in the related branches over the next few months. While this is bound to take some time, there have already been encouraging signs among suppliers on the job front.
A “good show”
Baselworld 2010 will go down as a “good show” for the Swiss exhibitors, even though there was no repeat of the records attained in 2007 and 2008. The size, quality and reputation of the show, the attendance figures and holding it during the first three months of the year have all laid the groundwork for a robust and lengthy upturn for the whole watch, jewellery and related branches sector. See you next year at Baselworld 2011, from 24 to 31 March!
BASELWORLD 2010 in figures
18 to 25 March 2010
100,700 | + 7%
2011: 24 to 31 March
2012: 8 to 15 March
2013: 25 April to 2 May