Basel world is perhaps the one of the best trade shows I attend worldwide. Perfectly organised, beautifully art directed, a global melting pot of watch obsessed people, and somehow the sun always seems to be shining!
The expected Swiss efficiency is on steroids with armies of helpers and assistants, even with over 100,000 people per day, over ten days it seems to run like clockwork.
With the tough year of 2016 behind the the watch business, the buzz was back albeit less than the glory years. The industry still turns over some 10 BN CHF, well down on previous years, but a sense of reality has taken hold. New marketing initiatives abound, with social media placement and blogging saturating the digital channels. The industry means business and will continue to grow again.
Brand is still king and the overwhelming scale of Rolex, Patek Philippe, Hublot and TAG continues to dominate Hall 1, the power brand alley. I noticed more brand partnerships, with Hublot pushing Ferrari and Zenith with Landrover
The challenger brands in other halls (1.2) use stunts, such as robots, free coffee or artists to draw customers into their tiny booths. The start up watch brands pitch their wares in nearby hotel lobbies and coffee shops.
Key learnings for us are the sheer commitment from the 1800 or so brands making their pitch; big or small, each has a story to tell. There is a constant innovation in design from brands like MB&F, LYTT labs or Edleberg.
The power of networking and promoting Swiss products on a global scale does leave you with a sense of Swiss determination to punch way above their weight, maybe a lesson here for Brexit Britain as it seeks new markets outside the EU.