It’s been less than a year since Swatch Group announced they were severing ties with Baselworld, yet we’re already seeing the ramifications of that departure. Brand attendance in 2019 dwindled to a little over 500 — roughly one third of the total number present in 2016 — with the bulk of the show taking place in Hall 1 (the historic premises in which watch brands are shown). Such developments are certainly cause for concern, but by many accounts are being taken seriously. Parent company MCH used last week’s show to demonstrate their commitment to long-term change: significant improvements have already been made to on-site amenities; while hotels/restaurants wishing to attain “partner” status for the duration of the fair must now meet a set of formalised criteria — enacted by Baselworld in an effort to combat rampant price gouging. These are all necessary first steps if Baselworld is to survive, although the real test will come in 2020 — when the fair shifts from its now-transitory phase into a consumer focused show which will (allegedly) have a tonne of digital programming up its sleeve. But enough of all that, let’s talk watches.
Fortunately for the organisers of Baselworld 2019, anchor tenants such as Patek Philippe, Rolex and LVMH were once again present, leading the charge on a show that was generally quieter than in previous years. Unsurprisingly, many of the big exhibitors focused on iterative, commercially appealing releases — though there was more than enough virtuosic watchmaking thrown in for good measure. From “stealth wealth” tool watches to considered recreations of timeless classics, take a look at 5 of our favourite Baselworld 2019 releases below!