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Baselworld 2016
By: Diamond World News Service
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Apr 29 2016 2:58PM
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Reference: 12961  

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Baselworld 2016 opened on a dull note after global exports of Swiss watches declined 3.3 per cent – first time since 2009. With interest waning in the luxury watches, it is time for the Swiss watchmakers to adapt to changing trends and make the best of the ongoing action in the smartwatches industry, reports Diamond World. This month, in our CoverStory read all that happened at the world’s premier watches and jewellery show.

As the Baselworld 2016 opened doors on 17th March 2016 in Swiss city of Basel, there was clear sense that smartwatches are here to stay and traditional watchmakers especially luxury watchmakers need to understand the growing popularity of the trend and adapt to the change. After several years of record growth, Swiss watch exports last year fell by 3.3 per cent to 21.5 billion francs ($21.2 billion), the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FHS) said in January 2016. Global shipments of smartwatches outpaced those of Swiss watches in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to figures released by market researcher Strategy Analytics; this clearly indicates how smartwatch have overtaken their luxury counterparts.

Opening Ceremony

René Kamm, CEO of the MCH Group, welcomed Swiss Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga, and said he was honoured to have her open Baselworld 2016. This being a special year for the MCH Group which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its first Mustermesse Basel (Muba), Kamm recounted the history of the fair that marked both the start of the group and the birthplace of the modern Swiss exhibition industry.Paying special tribute to Baselworld, he mentioned his pride and delight in how the show had grown from being a small exhibition of Swiss watches within the Muba, to “evolving to its present status as the premier platform for the entire industry.” He stressed, however, that “maintaining this leadership role is hard fought for and Baselworld continues to consolidate and strengthen its leadership position year after year – a rare quality that needs to be underlined.” He also touched on the troubled economic situation facing the world and the industry, but emphasised his confidence in the industry saying: “Where passion presides, the will to overcome challenges will always succeed. And the watch and jewellery industry has the passion and resilience to deal with these challenges.”

“For eight days a year, Baselworld is the nerve centre for an entire industry that unites here to take the pulse of the business and discover trends,” said Sylvie Ritter, Managing Director of Baselworld. Touching on the reality of today’s gloomy economic and political situation and its uncertainty, Ritter underlined that taking a tour through the amazing corridors of Baselworld would provide all the evidence one needed to realise that “the sectors of watchmaking and jewellery have an outsized ability to react, to take into account new situations and to adapt. In other words, to maintain the momentum that has never ceased to be their own.”

Overview

As Baselworld wrapped up after eight days of intense activity, the first assessments shared by the Swiss brands indicate that despite the slight downturn (-3.3 per cent) in 2015, Swiss Exhibitors remain confident regarding this year’s results. The second semester should counter-balance a difficult start to the year. More than 145,000 strode the aisles of the show during this year’s edition, in order to admire creations and innovations by watchmakers, jewellers and representatives of related sectors. The wealth of the Swiss watch making heritage on display confirmed Swiss brands’ determination to continue cultivating their skills, convinced that they will endure despite a tough international context. Witness the impressive media coverage of the event and the constantly growing press exposure that makes Baselworld a firm focus of interest within the luxury world.This year, the show drew a record number of 4,400 media representatives (+2.3 per cent), and only slightly fewer participants than last year (145,000). Retailers and partners were on hand to admire the latest “Swiss made” innovations presented by the 304 Swiss brands taking part in Baselworld.

Indian Representation

The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council of India (GJEPC India), the apex body under Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, for promotion of exports of gems and jewellery from India, has organised Indian joint participation for the 18th consecutive year at Baselworld 2016, with 14 of its member exporters along with Council’s promotional booth to promote India Pavilion & other Council’s activities. In addition, there were several Indian exhibitors who participated on their own initiative at the Show and have made their presence felt. India, the largest manufacturer of cut and polished diamonds, gemstones, including Tanzanite and Emeralds amongst others, is also the fastest jewellery exporter in the world.

Watches

Baselworld, the world’s biggest watch fair, boasted of some of the leading watch brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Breguet and Omega, alongside high-end jewellers like Graff and Harry Winston. As per the date released by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FHS), global exports of Swiss watches declined 3.3 per cent – first time since 2009. Overall, for the watchmakers the show may not have been greatest of the shows, but it wasn’t bad either. The traditional Swiss watchmakers are facing the problem with the growing popularity of smartwatches. However, industry leaders opine that both can co-exist.

In their bid to connect to the younger generation, a number of Swiss watchmakers are responding to the trend of smartwatches with more established brands like Tag Heuer and this year Tissot joining the bandwagon to connect your watch to your Smartphone. Despite this, meticulously -crafted stunning watches remained favourite at the show. Some of these include Monsieur de Chanel, Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona, Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater, Ulysse Nardin Grand Deck Marine Tourbillon, Jacob & Co. Astronomia Sky Celestial Panorama Gravitational Triple Axis Tourbillon, Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire, etc.

Jewellery

Baselworld is the place where one would find the trendsetting jewellery. This year, too, was no exception. In terms of trends, some of the designs and motifs kept appearing again and again. However, though the earlier motifs and designs were used, the innovative ways in which these were presented, amazed the visitors. Some of the jewellery had celestial motifs while some had quirky animal motifs.

Indian jewellery houses like KGK Entice, Amrapali and Diacolor presented their exquisite jewellery pieces at Baselworld this year. For the 11th year in a row, Entice (Hong Kong), the fine jewellery brand by the century old KGK group, participated in the show. KGK Entice showcased a new range of its masterpieces from its latest collections. Breathtaking diamond and coloured gemstone necklaces, long floral diamond chains and a huge range of chandelier earrings. Amrapali showcased Lotus Legacy collection, which has been crafted in 18K yellow gold, oxidised silver and embellished with rubies and polki diamonds.

Talking about his experience at Baselworld, Rishabh Tongya, Creative Director, Diacolor shared, “Baselworld has always been a very good platform to meet clients who are more like friends and family now. Overall, this year, there was less traffic during the show due to the economic slowdown globally and also it was even made worst by Brussels Bomb Blast. There were few buyers but there was no commitment from them. The demand for Gem Quality gemstones were there as compared to the regular goods.”

Artfully sculpted pieces composed of 18K gold, the striking choker, bracelet and ring in the Jacob & Co.’s Espada Collection featured a gentle, undulating curve reflective of the formidable power of the female form. Inspired by the jewelled splendour of the Imperial Romanov court, Fabergé Imperial Collection evoked the rhythms of the Russian seasons, whether literal or metaphorical. The jewels, in true Fabergé style, demonstrate an intuitive interplay of rare coloured precious gems, diamonds and pearls with superlative hand artisanship, to capture and reflect the changing light, colours and atmosphere of each season. Hong Kong diamond jeweller Coronet proudly announced its accomplishment of its second Guinness World Records title achievement for the most jewels on guitar.The spectacular art piece featuring 16,033 Swarovski Genuine Gemstones and Swarovski Zirconia was unveiled at Baselworld. A new line of Jermaine Jackson Fine Entice yellow gold chandelier earrings Jewelry was also launched at this occasion.

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