2017 was a relatively quiet affair, with participating brands down by 20% and footfall figures expected to be the lowest in quite some time so I’ve taken a different approach for this Baselworld review. I’ll be covering some of my personal notable moments from the event.
Bizarrely, given that this was Baselworld’s 100th anniversary, barely anything was made of it. In its early days, it was not the luxury event it has become. But times are a changing, and even Baselworld is being forced to tighten its bulging belt.
Gone is the Palace, a casualty of these grim economic times. It had been home to Bremont in the past, but this year the English brand chose instead to forgo the fair entirely. They set up shop in England, running their own ‘Basel-on-Thames’ event that has, by all accounts, been a creative and marketing triumph. It’s a telling sign from the plucky Brits, whose new models have been met with general acclaim.
Big Brands Beware – Customer Service Matters
One thing horrified me this year: The lack of knowledge of the staff manning the booths of the world’s biggest brands. I don’t expect all back-office staff to have a working knowledge of the product, simply because it isn’t necessary for them to do their job. But for customer-facing staff to stand toe-to-toe with evermore demanding consumers without adequate preparation is unforgivable.
One of the aesthetically better pieces of the show was ruined for me because nobody on the stand – beautifully presented and flawlessly manicured as they were – could tell me the price. Bemused, I walked away, vowing never to pay that brand any mind in the future.
It’s Good to Laugh
You can’t have a Baselworld review without noting a favourite timepiece. One piece stood out to me, and probably not for the reasons you’d expect. Powered by a slightly modified, yet still humble ETA 2824, the Joker watch from Konstantin Chaykin stole my heart with an imaginative display that has genius in its simplicity. Not even the fact the movement was hidden behind a closed case back detracted from the flawless execution of this concept.
This is an item of pure joy. The Russian maestro has produced some excellent pieces in the past, but all of his previous efforts, however deservedly, cost tens of thousands of dollars.
The Joker retails at a mind-blowingly affordable €6,990. Sadly, for us, it’s limited to just 99 pieces, which, if its reception at Baselworld is anything to go by, will be sold faster than Batman can don the Bat suit.
The Joker watch is said to cycle through over 2,000 facial expressions as the eyes roll madly and the moon phase tongue slides along his wide red lips. When we talk about investments in watchmaking, you need to get one of two returns from your outlay: Either a monetary gain, or an emotional high every time you study your purchase.
Seven grand is a lot for any non-essential item, but for my money this watch from industry upstart Konstantin Chaykin is just about the easiest purchase decision I’ve ever come across, because it makes me smile. And that’s worth a million dollars.
About the Author
Fell Jensen is a Swiss-trained watchmaker working as an industry analyst.