Baselworld 2018, the 101st edition of one of the world’s premier watch and jewellery exhibitions opened yesterday in Basel, Switzerland, with a smaller number of exhibitors, less floor space, and a shorter duration. The show was inaugurated in the presence of Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard and Christoph Brutschin, member of the State Council of the Canton of Basel-Stadt.
Unlike the traditional eight-day format, this year Baselworld will run for six days only – from March 22-27. With a little over 50 percent of the number of exhibitors (under 700, as against almost 1,300) last year, the show has also reduced the number of exhibitor Halls.
However, René Kamm, Chief Executive Officer of the MCH Group, who delivered the welcome address at the inaugural, emphasized that Baselworld is currently undergoing a process of transformation, but in its core, remains what it has always been: “A unique meeting place for the best in the industry.”
The show brings together companies that account for “the overwhelming majority of Switzerland’s watch exports”, the organizers pointed out, including “five of the six highest-earning Swiss watch companies”, as well as a number of “leading companies in the jewellery and gemstone industries”.
They stress that “changes wrought by online technology… contributed to the drop in the number of exhibitors”, and the show is now less important as a place “to buy and sell, and more oriented toward previewing products, networking and meeting other business partners in person”.
As François Thiébaud, president of the Baselworld Swiss Exhibitors Committee and president of Tissot, said in a statement, “Baselworld is a central meeting place, where all the actors of the sector come together, from production to distribution and even clients, consumers and enthusiasts.”
Yves Vulcan, the manager of the press agency of the Swiss exhibitors, however, stated that the downsized version of the fair also has benefits. He said that the show “was too huge before”, making it “impossible to see everything”, and concluded that this year, “the quality will be better because people will have more time to see the brands.”
In keeping with this emphasis on greater personal interaction, the show has also introduced a personalized “chatbot” news service that will allow visitors to filter information about specific brands or types of products as it comes into their smartphones. In a statement, Sylvie Riter, Managing Director of Baselworld, said that “(this)… allows us to offer more interactive, instantaneous, direct and personalized communication… moving from global communication to direct and personalized communication in real time, which allows us to bring exhibitors and visitors closer together more quickly.