Haute and Not: The Baselworld 2012 Wrap-Up

Baselworld’s exhibitors aimed to please buyers at both ends of the spectrum

The Baselworld luxury fair, held March 8–15 in Switzerland, played host to not one, but two David Yurman exhibits. The first took place, as always, at a spacious booth in the jewelry hall, where the designer showed his signature collection of baubles and timepieces, while the second occupied an upstairs salon at the historic Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois on the banks of the river Rhine.

The stately hotel provided a fitting backdrop for the debut of Yurman’s new High Jewelry Collection. From a necklace boasting 212 cts. of vivid green tourmalines—rumored to retail around $1.8 million—to a pair of chandelier earrings strung with blazing cushion-cut rhodocrosites, the stones on display represented the culmination of 30 years of collecting. “We’re looking at the best within each category,” said Thomas Sczyrba, the brand’s executive director of high jewelry.

The focus on top-end jewels was a theme at the fair, which is undergoing a major renovation and will debut in 2013 with a new infrastructure designed to spotlight international brands. At Marco Bicego, for example, a new collection of unique sapphire jewels was designed to woo upscale buyers.

Malton 160 Cushion in stainless steel; $640; Marvin Watches at ViewPoint, New York City; 800-237-9477; vpnyc.com

“We see there is an opportunity for higher-end ­jewelry,” said Moise Cohen, president of Marco Bicego USA. He said the brand is also targeting gold buyers. “Gold as a status symbol—that’s our thing.”

A number of brands in the watch hall, however, went in the polar-opposite direction, promoting much more affordable options. At Wenger, chief operating officer Marc Eskridge showed off the new $250 SeaForce dive watch, calling it the “opening price point in the industry for a Swiss-made diver.”

Timepieces that retail for less than $1,000 also featured among the notable introductions at Philip Stein, Marvin, Glam Rock, and the old stalwart, Timex, whose president, Adam Gurian, summed up their appeal: “Over the last five to six years, people have said the watch business is going to die,” he said. “But we’ve found the exact opposite: The younger consumer has time at their beck and call, but they’re wearing more watches today—as a fashion statement.”

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