Baselworld 2012: A Preview

Will the watch and jewelry fair be a hit, or a Swiss miss?

Visitors to Baselworld 2012, the World Watch and Jewellery Show, March 8–15 in Basel, Switzerland, may notice a less-than-luxurious sight around the Messeplatz: construction. At the end of last year’s show, organizers detailed grand expansion plans: 430 million Swiss francs worth of fairground improvements, including updates to Building 3, which are now well under way. But officials say this year’s affair “will not be affected” by the work, according to a release, and the “customary sectors…will be retained for 2012.”

Some 1,800 exhibitors are again expected to participate. Among them are Swarovski, which is debuting its first men’s watch collection. The crystal brand expanded into the men’s category in 2010 with a jewelry and accessories line, and attendees will notice that its new Swiss-made Piazza Grande watch is a masculine take on the best-selling ladies’ version.

Italian brand Mattioli will bring some of its best-selling earrings with interchangeable components. “Consumers definitely appreciate the versatility factor,” says the firm’s USA director, Danny Bogue. Buyers, he says, will be on the hunt for 2012 trends, but “will also be looking for value that can translate into sales to the consumer.” As for new product, Bogue is remaining mum—partly because he simply doesn’t know. “Most of the time the new designs are kept under wraps until the fair opening,” he says. The move may help build excitement, but, in Bogue’s opinion, the secrecy and hoopla may be for naught: “In my experience, the manufacturers spend too much time and effort gearing up to launch new designs at Basel.” Tell that to the attendees: Each year, Baselworld welcomes 100,000 visitors at the week-long fair.

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