Wrist Battle at Baselworld Last March

Posted by Kirhat | Saturday, May 09, 2015 | | 0 comments »

Baselworld 2015
Has anybody noticed anything spectacular during the Baselworld Watch and Jewellery Show last 19-26 March 2015? For one, browsing through the 141,000 square meters of stalls it is hard to make out whether the industry is one step ahead or behind.

Barely a week before the event kicked off, Apple captured world attention by unveiling its eagerly anticipated timepiece, stealing the 90-year old fair's thunder somewhat.

Baselworld is a trade show of the international watch and jewellery industry, organized each spring in the city of Basel, Switzerland.

Ask the chief executives present what they make of the challenge and some shrug apathetically while others become animated about the "opportunities" it creates. Everyone's strategy seems to be different.

"It's a fight for the wrist," says 38 year-old Edouard Meylan, CEO of family owned H. Moser & Cie.

"How smart watches will affect Swiss watchmakers remains to be seen but you can't ignore the trend."

Moser, a 55 strong firm, making just 1,000 watches a year spooked rivals by announcing it would soon create a smart watch of its own.

The resulting product "Funky Blue" was anything but digital.

However in a joking nod to today's new technology, the firm branded it the ultimate "smart" watch, extolling its virtues of not needing to be charged after 18 hours like Apple's and an interface so simple "our grandmother could use it."

The message: the mechanics of Swiss watches, a craft honed over three centuries, are already so advanced they don't need to play second fiddle to anyone.

Among those expressing stronger reservations: Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, co-president of Chopard.

"When it comes to a higher end watch, I really, strongly believe in mechanical movements and the beauty of these movements is that they last for generations and you don't have to worry about batteries and recharging," says Scheufele.

However, Scheufele also concedes that in the long-run if Apple's watch encourages the younger generation to wear a wristwatch at all – rather than check the time on their phones – that is a good thing for watchmakers worldwide.

"This could feed a chain of aspiration. So somebody who has made some money would like to spend some money on themselves (...) they might graduate to a Chopard watch or Chopard piece of jewelery," he adds.

While the technology behind smart watches might be new, this isn't the first time Switzerland's watch industry has had to adapt to innovation from abroad.

Back in the 1970s the advent of affordable Japanese quartz shaved millions off of their sales.


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