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Baselworld: producing the goods when the going gets tough

Roll up, roll up, the new watch releases are in town! EMILY MOBBS visits Baselworld 2017 to discover what’s in store for the local market in the season ahead.

It’s that time of year again when the world’s most famous watch and jewellery show concludes and the local industry eagerly awaits the arrival of hot new product.

Baselworld 2017 took place from March 23 to March 30 and was set against a backdrop of troubling market conditions (see separate story on page 32) but it is in tough periods where the strong is separated from the weak; where those wishing to succeed work harder to reinvent and innovate.

This was a sentiment expressed by the show’s organisers, who pushed the ‘quality over quantity’ mantra during media conferences and press releases throughout the week.

Daniel Wellington - Classic Petite Melrose
Daniel Wellington - Classic Petite Melrose
Daniel Wellington - Classic Petite Sterling
Daniel Wellington - Classic Petite Sterling
Daniel Wellington - Classic Petite Sterling
Daniel Wellington - Classic Petite Sterling

Christian Paul Sydney - Capital Collection
Christian Paul Sydney - Capital Collection
Christian Paul Sydney - Capital Collection
Christian Paul Sydney - Capital Collection


Addressing the media one day before the event officially opened, Baselworld Exhibitors’ Committee president Eric Bertrand said he believed that the challenging times would provide “opportunity for those who have done their job properly in recent years and who have a solid foundation on the market”.

Further, Bertrand stated on the last day of the watch and jewellery show that the quality of product releases on display was evidence that the sector was resilient amidst difficult conditions.

Baselworld remains important for the Australian and New Zealand industries because it provides suppliers with their first glimpse at the latest watch models for the brands that they distribute while also presenting a chance to seek out new distribution deals.

Astron - SSE149
Astron - SSE149
Presage - SSA343
Presage - SSA343
Prospex - SPB053
Prospex - SPB053


Seiko Australia group marketing manager Stuart Smith is one member of the 2017 Baselworld Australian contingent who expresses confidence in his brand’s offering. Speaking with Jeweller at the show, Smith said that Seiko had achieved four years of positive results in a difficult market and the local team expected a similar outcome for the year ahead.

“It [the market] has got its challenges – not everybody reports it as being good and, probably towards the back end of last year, it started to get a little bit tougher – but we’re all quite confident,” Smith stated, adding, “If you’ve got good product releases then you’ll probably have a good year. We’ve had a lot of interest on the new releases at Baselworld already.”

Back on home soil, Smith confirms there are various models that should excite local retailers and consumers. For starters, the Japanese brand has re-imagined the past with new releases in the Prospex collection.

“Both models are contemporary re-interpretations of Seiko’s original 1965 diver’s watch,” Smith says of the two timepieces coming to the local market in November.

The watches echo the original design concept but, as Smith explains, now have the latest specifications required by divers – automatic calibre with 21,600 vibrations per hour; wider hands with longer-lasting Lumibrite for increased legibility; 200-metres of water resistance; sapphire, crystal glass with an anti-reflective coating; larger case size of 42.6 mm.

Henry London - Automatic
Henry London - Automatic
Ice Ola
Ice Ola
Ice Ola
Ice Ola


The brand also invokes glamour with its Presage Collection, inspired by a cocktail bar and released in July.

“This series of mechanical watches has only previously been available on the Japanese domestic market,” Smith says. “Since its introduction in 2010, the series has developed a cult following on the world’s blogs, forums and websites.

The ‘cocktail’ release will see six models introduced in two different calibres – automatic calendar and automatic with power reserve indicator.”

Finally, Smith says Seiko has expanded its Astron GPS Solar series with the Astron Big-Date calibre. The model has stainless steel and titanium case and bracelet options with key features including GPS-controlled time and time-zone adjustment, dual time with AM/PM indication and perpetual calendar to the year 2100.

The series also features a watch designed in honour of brand ambassador Novak Djokovic’s achievement of securing a Career Grand Slam after winning the French Open in 2016. Both Astron models are expected to be available by early September.

Given its targeted distribution, the Grand Seiko range doesn’t impact heavily upon the Australian and New Zealand markets; however, it should still be noted that it is now to be considered a stand-alone brand, according to an announcement made at Baselworld.

Technology meets adrenaline

Casio Timepieces has a focus on technology too, the brand highlighting its new G-Shock Gravity Master as a key release in 2017.

Available in June and falling under G-Shock’s Master of G range, the watch was developed in response to the specific needs of pilots and is part of G-Shock’s new ‘Connected’ offering, which introduces Bluetooth connectivity with a smart device for simple configuration and data logging.

Danish Design - IQ15Q1182
Danish Design - IQ15Q1182
Danish Design – IQ18Q1182
Danish Design – IQ18Q1182
Vostok Europe –  Lunokhod-2 620A506
Vostok Europe – Lunokhod-2 620A506


Casio has also announced its third release of the limited edition Mr-G Hammer Tone, which Arujunan Gunasingam, national commercial sales and marketing manager of Casio local distributor Shriro, describes as “elegance meets toughness”.

“Limited to 500 units worldwide, each piece is handcrafted by master metalwork craftsman Bihou Asano,” Gunasingam says of the model that will launch locally in September.

Embracing the motorsport spirit is the latest Edifice iteration that has a smartphone link chronograph and was created with input from professional racing-car team members.

“The addition of a smartphone linkage capability has enabled installation of a function for managing individual laps during races,” Gunasingam concludes.

While on high-adrenaline pursuits, Vostok Europe’s latest releases continue the brand’s reputation of unique watches designed for extreme conditions – timepieces are even presented in a waterproof dry box that can be used during activities conducted by people who enjoy living life on the edge.

Ken Abbott, managing director of Vostok Europe’s local distributor Timesupply, explains that one of the brand’s unique selling propositions is the use of tritium illumination tubes – a laser-sealed, gas-filled tube with radio-luminescent material that glows without needing to be charged by an external light source.

Edifice –  EQB800
Edifice – EQB800
G-Shock Gravity Master – GPW2000
G-Shock Gravity Master – GPW2000
G-Shock MR-G Hammer Tone – MRGG2000HT
G-Shock MR-G Hammer Tone – MRGG2000HT


“Vostok Europe buyers are a very mixed demographic, from business men and collectors who want a robust unique watch not designed by a ‘committee’ through to tradies, emergency/police and security services who rely on tritium illumination,” Abbott explains.

Along with a Japanese multi-function movement, 300-metres of water resistance and an automatic helium release valve, the latest Lunokhod-2 model’s tritium tubes are mounted vertically around the dial and horizontally on the hour and minute hand, providing the most advanced illumination without the need to recharge with light.

“The Energia [new release] also has the tritium lighting tubes mounted horizontally on the hands and dial but there is another clever feature to further enhance the brightness of the tritium gas – the hands and dial batons are mirror finished,” Abbott adds.

Seeking tranquillity

Those in search of something a little more relaxed can look to the classic, clean aesthetic of Danish Design, another brand distributed by Timesupply.

“Danish Design is about style, simplicity and quality,” Abbott says, highlighting two new releases. One showcases satin gold ion-plated stainless steel and chocolate-coloured leather strap and the other showcases satin rose gold ion-plated stainless steel with a grey dial and taupe-coloured leather strap.

Bering Slim Solar – 14440-223
Bering Slim Solar – 14440-223
Bering Steel Grey –  11927-309
Bering Steel Grey – 11927-309
Bering Vintage Slim –  13436-166
Bering Vintage Slim – 13436-166


Danish Design marketing director Ronan Weisz also told Jeweller at Baselworld that a new marketing campaign was in the works and expected to be released later this year.

Also renowned for a minimalist style is Bering, a brand synonymous with Scandinavian design. Nils Rasmussen, managing director of local distributor BYMR, points to the brand’s solar watch for men as a key release from the show.

“Combining solar technology with trademark minimalist Danish design, and with a strong belief in environmental protection, Bering has released a striking, black solar watch with yellow highlights,” Rasmussen says of the timepiece that launches this month.

Other highlights include a highly-polished steel and grey women’s watch with Swarovski elements as well as a unisex timepiece, which Rasmussen explains, adopts the latest colour trend of black combined with rose gold. Both are out in June.

Speaking of trends, Daniel Wellington has secured a strong footing within the fashion watch category and announced at this year’s Baselworld the appointment of US model and social media darling Kendall Jenner as brand ambassador.

“Central to this relationship was the launch of the new Classic Petite collection, as worn by Kendall Jenner,” explains John Rose, general manager of Daniel Wellington’s local distributor West End Collection.

“The Petite collection [available now] is a new design for Daniel Wellington featuring a 32 mm case and a rose gold or silver mesh strap,” Rose continues. “Following on from the success of the Black collection that was launched in November 2016, the new Classic Petite collection also comes with either a black or white dial.”

Australia represents

Another significant Baselworld announcement for Rose was the presence of Christian Paul Sydney and the launch of the Break Away system.

The brand, distributed locally by West End Collection, was founded in 2015 and was a first-time exhibitor at this year’s show.

Christian Paul CEO and founder Tim Caruana says Baselworld met all expectations and that the Break Away release received a high level of international interest.

Break Away is an interchangeable watch strap concept with a difference. The three-part system allows consumers to assemble a timepiece from three separate components – the face, the band and the buckle. Each of the 86 available components is treated as an individual stock keeping unit (SKU), which allows consumers to mix-and-match the parts to create their own combinations – there are said to about 1,500 style options.

“The feedback at Baselworld couldn’t be any better,” Caruana says. “The test was whether the concept could be easily communicated and understood and, by all accounts, distributors are not only grasping the idea but saying ‘This is what we need.’”

Rose adds that the new system is presented on a luxurious POS display and will be available in Australia by the end of June.

Still on trend-driven designs, the conversation turns to Henry London, which is distributed locally by Ice Australasia.

“For Henry London, the Iconic and the Automatic range are key new releases and are based on feedback from retailers and consumers,” Ice Australasia CEO Larry Porter explains.

“The Iconic keeps the inspiration of the original Henry design – stainless steel case and domed glass; however, it is brought up to date and on trend with the addition of a mineral glass lens, minimalist on-trend dial and colour palettes,” Porter says, adding that an important element includes interchangeable bands in leather and mesh.

According to Porter, the Automatic men’s range is a beautiful evolution of the original Henry watch and now features an automatic movement with a mineral glass lens.

“Given the feedback we have received from our male consumers, we feel this will hit a sweet spot,” he says.

Ice-Watch, also distributed by Ice Australasia, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Porter states that the brand’s major release is the Ice-Watch Ola junior range, based on the brand’s original slimline design with the addition of numbered dials.

“We see this as the key release from Basel, as it showcases the DNA of the brand – silicone and colour – at a highly-accessible price point,” he says.

Watches for children, adrenaline seekers, fashionistas, tech-heads – there’s a new offering for every consumer type imaginable.

To reiterate Smith’s comment, quality of product releases goes a long way to ensuring success in this market and it appears the 2017 Baselworld show delivered on that with plenty of options for retailers.

Baselworld organisers have announced that the 2018 show has been shortened.

A statement by Baselworld organiser MCH Swiss Exhibition confirms that next year’s edition will be held across six days instead of the traditional eight.

Buyer attendance at the 2017 event decreased 4 per cent year-on-year to 106,000, while exhibitor numbers reduced 13 per cent to 1,300.

Commenting on the decision to shorten the show, Baselworld managing director Sylvie Ritter says the industry is undergoing a “challenging phase” and the event needs to adapt.

“Listening to our exhibitors, we have decided to reduce the duration of the [2018] show and adjust prices accordingly,” she explains.

The 2018 event will take place from March 22 to March 27.


Emily Mobbs attended Baselworld as an accredited media representative. Baselworld 2018 is scheduled to take place from March 22 to March 27.

Check out Jeweller's report from Baselworld 2017 here »

Emily Mobbs • Former Editor

Emily Mobbs is editor of Jeweller. She has more than 8 years' experience in trade publishing and reports on various aspects of the jewellery industry.

Ikecho Australia

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