Every year for seven days in March, the small but self-assured Swiss city of Basel, nestled in a bend in the Rhine on the border of Germany and France, becomes the epicentre of time. Well without wanting to evoke the anger of theoretical physicists the world over, we should probably say that more accurately it becomes the epicentre of timekeeping.
The normal populace of 171,00 is swelled by an influx of many thousands as the great exhibition centre in the centre of town welcomes nearly 2000 exhibitors from 45 different countries, and 95,000 attendees from every corner of the globe. The brands erect towering temporary homes, many resplendent with fantastic adornments, office spaces, kitchens, and in one notable case, an aquarium. Rather quaintly people still refer to these pavilions of glamour as “Booths” which once upon a time they probably were. This is when the watch industry displays its wares for the coming year, the new models and the novelties, the reimagings and rereleases of much loved design classics.
The booths hum with constant meetings. Brands discussing availability with distributors and retailers, plying journalists and valued collectors with champagne and beautiful branded keepsakes. As reporters of the trade, we at Team Watch Anish absolutely love it.
Retrograde tourbillons and minute repeaters battle with each other for your attention and column inches. People talk passionately about designs and watch making evolutions that may have taken years in research in development to reach this point, the point at which you can see and touch the result of all those thousands of hours of hard work and painstaking attention to detail.
For those lucky enough to be invited in, you can discuss balance springs with the horologist, white coated and touting their loop. You can talk about the evolution of the brand with the Head of Marketing, the progress of Global markets with the CEO.
In the evenings the welcoming bars and nightclubs of the town are swarming with people comparing Speedmasters and Submariners.
Dinners are thrown in honour of watch making achievements and the less well behaved members of this fraternity (primarily Anish) can be seen taxiing home in the early hours, just in time to shower, shave, put on a sharp new suit and get back to the booths to report on the next watchmaking wonder.
It is exhausting, a complete overload for any watch geek, but my God its one of the best weeks of the year!
Baselworld 2017 23rd-30th of March Further information available at www.baselworld.com