A multitude of changes were readily apparent to guests and press on the Wednesday morning before the 2013 Baselworld Watch & Jewellery Fair (taking place April 25–May 2).
In a nod to the lateness of this year’s show, tulips and hyacinth took the place of fragrant narcissus outside of Hall 2.0. A revamped outdoor space dubbed City Lounge (designed by Basel-based architects Herzog & de Meuron) outside Hall 1.0 aims to serve as both meeting point and architectural highlight, with an oversize funnel of twisted steel elements towering skyward toward a ceiling of open air. Inside the halls, new stand structures offer brands a face-lift, while new layouts ensure that visitors will struggle with the unavoidable challenge of navigating the unfamiliar terrain.
An update outdoor space at Baselworld
Some 1,460 exhibitors from 40 different countries will fill the halls this year, and more than 100,000 visitors from around the globe will descend upon the most significant annual luxury jewelry and watch event in the world. More than 3,500 media representatives from 100 countries—including 500 alone from China—are expected to attend, and 1,000 new exhibition stands (not necessary for show participation, but completed nonetheless by the majority of vendors angling to stand out in the renovated space) will be christened.
The new layout—actually 12 percent smaller in square meters than its predecessor—was developed in cooperation with exhibitors, and reflects the trends of the growing significance of brands as well as the overlap between the various sectors, including watches and fine jewelry. Space names like Hall of Dreams have been abandoned in favor of streamlined numerical references for Hall 1–4, with both watch and jewelry vendors sharing space in the first two; meanwhile, 3–4 are reserved for stones and pearls and machinery and supplies, respectively. Jacques J. Duchêne, president of the Exhibitors’ Committee, said that, moving forward, the show would maintain a preference for “quality over quantity” in terms of exhibitors.
Inside the foyer of the newly renovated Hall 1; the City Lounge space can be seen in the right corner of the image.
At an April 24 press conference, managing director Sylvie Ritter told the media that her organization took great pride in “lifting the veil on a new ultra-modern hall and venue.” She thanked exhibitors for their faithfulness through the years—perhaps a subtle reference to a few of this year’s departures and talk from others of relocating to a competitor’s show next year. René Kamm, CEO of MCH Swiss Exhibition Group (the fair organizer), happily announced that the renovations were “completed on time and on budget”—to the tune of $460 million.
Federal Councillor Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf will oversee the official opening ceremony and ribbon cutting on April 25 at 10:30 a.m. in the Foyer of Hall 1.0 South, where she will be joined by Kamm and Duchêne. Fair hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, save the final day, when the show closes at 4 p.m.