Events

March 21, 2012

Baselworld 2012: A Vast Universe of Watches

Patek Philippe
 

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very year for the last 40 years, Baselworld attracts the worldwide watch and jewellery industry to the Swiss city of Basel. It has become the world’s largest and most important event for this industry. It offers a unique overview of everything that the industry has to offer to the retailers, distributors and watch lovers. The world’s most renowned brands showcase their collections exclusively here and do not attend any other shows. Baselworld acts as the sector’s main networking event for information gathering and long-term relationship developing amongst participants coming from all over the world.

The trade show usually takes place in early spring. This 40th edition was set a bit earlier, from March 8th to 15th to give a few weeks more time for the upcoming major modernization and construction works before the next edition in 2013. Baselworld 2012 attracted 104’300 professional visitors from all continents into a huge exhibition area of 160’000 square meters. The 1’815 exhibitors from 41 countries expressed great satisfaction in regards to the business created during the event and the exceptionally high attention received from the media. Over 3’300 press representatives from 70 nations, from specialized press, newspapers, economic and lifestyle magazines, as well as online media, television and radio stations.

This 40th edition of Baselworld represents the third consecutive growth year and this augurs well for positive results in the industry for 2012. Despite the tough environment, the watch industry is holding up well in Switzerland and in the rest of the world. The comments from various brands are similar, “growth”, “luxury products”, “know-how” and “China”. Many exhibitors registered the strongest interest from China, the Russian-speaking countries and the Middle East. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that many had their own Chinese employees to provide assistance.

The trends of 2011 were confirmed at this 40th edition; vintage is back in the spotlight with contemporary design associated with the characteristics of historical models.

TAG Heuer

Link Lady\nCourtesy TAG Heuer

On the press day of Baselworld, the Swiss brand TAG Heuer raised the curtain on the newest brand ambassador. The internationally-renowned actress Camera Diaz takes on an exciting new role of TAG Heuer ambassador and muse for the new LINK LADY collection. The new range is dedicated to beautiful and rebellious women around the world.

Her three-year partnership serves a good cause. It will help raise the awareness for UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. “I am deeply appreciative that TAG Heuer shares my desire to support women who are not free to pursue even the most basic goals, simply because of their gender,” says Ms. Diaz.

Longines

Founded in 1832 in the Swiss town of Saint-Imier, Longines celebrates this year its 180th anniversary. Therefore it presented a limited series of commemorative models on this occasion at Baselworld.

In 1832 August Agassiz joined a trading office established in St. Imier and soon rose to become the manager of a company that took the name Agassiz & Co. He was producing timepieces under the établissage system, where watchmakers worked at home and supplied their products to the trading offices.

Single Push-Piece Chronograph

A network of commercial contact enabled him to sell the watches on other continents, in particular in North America. During the 1850s his nephew Ernest Francillon took over and considered perfecting the manufacturing methods used in watchmaking. His intention was to set up a manufacture where he could assemble and finish each watch, introducing a degree of mechanization. He bought a piece of land in St. Imier on a site locally known as Les Longines and adopted this name for the factory built in 1867.  Jacques David, a young engineer related to him, was taken on to help develop the machines needed for perfecting the manufacture of the timepieces. The manufacture continually expanded and by 1911 the Longines company employed over 1100 workers and sold its products to the whole world. In 1889 Francillion had a trademake copyrighted comprising the name Longines and the now famous winged hourglass. Today Longines is the oldest trademark with logo still in use in its original form registered with the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Longines has been based at Saint-Imier, Switzerland, since 1832. After 180 years of excellent craftsmanship, Longines’ watchmaking expertise reflects a strong devotion to tradition, elegance and performance. It also has generations of experience as the official timekeeper at world championships and as a partner of international sports federations.

The Longines 180th Anniversary Limited Edition Column-Wheel Single Push-Piece Chronograph is specially designed as a reminder of the first chronographs, manufactured by Longines from 1878 onward. It is closely based on the first wrist chronograph, manufactured by Longines in 1913. This model recalls the Agassiz dial of the original version while the moving lugs are part of Longines’ prestigious heritage. This model has been manufactured in a limited series of 180 numbered pieces.

Longines Lépine 180th

Longines has also brought out an elegant anniversary ladies’ model made of gold and set with diamonds. The Agassiz 180thAnniversary Limited Edition watch is a contemporary addition to the collection launched in 1982 as a tribute to founder of the brand. This model has an ultra-slim rose gold case with a diameter of 25.50 mm set with 180 diamonds and is limited to a series of 180 pieces.

During this anniversary, Longines has gone back to its origins for inspiration and has produced a limited series of 180 numbered pocket watches in yellow gold. Fitted with a manually wound mechanical movement, Longines Lépine 180th Anniversary Limited Edition recalls the first pocket watches produced by Auguste Agassiz. This exceptional model has a guilloché back cover which opens to reveal an engraved case back also in gold.

Mühle Glasshütte

The German Mühle Glashütte is a family-run watchmaker now in the 5th generation.

History of the company

The company’s history begins with Robert Mühle who founded a “Rob. Mühle & Sohn” company 1869 in Glashütte which manufactured precision measuring instruments for the local watch industry. At that time, his measuring instruments were considered leading edge technology. The Glashütte manufactures no longer used the traditional measuring unit, the Paris line; but rather the metric system which had recently been introduced into the watchmaking industry. Robert Mühle made an important contribution to Glashütte’s good reputation as the center of the German watchmaking industry.

Mühle mechanism\nCourtesy Mühle Glashütte

Thanks to this excellent reputation, Rob. Mühle & Sohn were able to extend the manufacture of measuring instruments to a different field. In the decades after 1920, the family-run business supplied car makes such as Horch and Maybach with car clocks and speedometers.

During the occupation of Germany by the Soviet forces in 1945, the company was expropriated and dismantled. Parts of the company were annexed under the name “Messtechnik Glashütte” to the Zeiss factory in Jena. Hans Mühle, grandson of Robert Mühle, founded a new company producing measuring instruments for the photo and film industry taken over in 1970 by his son Hans-Jürgen Mühle. Just two years later, the company was expropriated again.

After the German reunification, Hans-Jürgen Mühle set up the new “Mühle-Glashütte GmbH nautische Instrumente und Feinmechanik” in 1994 to produce marine time systems. The company launched the first wristwatch in 1996. Tilo Mühle has run the family business since 2007. Today, the company counts 49 employees and produces 8’000 – 10’000 watches per year. The family tradition of creating measuring instruments translates into watches with excellent readability, precision and reliability.

Woodpecker regulation\nCourtesy Mühle-Glashütte

The patented woodpecker neck regulation

In order to meet the accuracy and reliability requirements, Mühle finishes the mechanisms with a number of private developments, such as the typical Mühle-rotor and a fine regulation called woodpecker neck regulation. This fine regulation was developed in 2003 to ensure the accuracy of the mechanisms even under the harshest conditions. This patented fine regulation equips every Mühle watch, even those which do not have to prove themselves in risky rescue operations.

The watches

With the experience of producing marine instruments and the know-how regarding accuracy and reliability, Mühle builds marine watches designed for extreme conditions.

Terrasport Chronograph

Together with the rescue pilots of the German Navy, Mühle developed the S.A.R pilots’ chronograph, which enables the calculation of flight speeds. It can be used with gloves and can withstand the harshest operating conditions.

Beside this highly specialized watch, Mühle also feature a whole collection of more traditional precision watches characterized by the sober elegant design and excellent readability common to measuring instruments such as the Terranaut I Trail.

 

De Motu

The Finish De Motu is an unusual watchmaker founded in late 2007.

DMG-11

Valdemar Hirvelä, “Mr. Design and Technology” of De Motu Watches, earned his wings servicing aircraft in the Finnish Air Force where his duty was to keep the avionics and instrumentation systems of the jet planes in top condition. Next he found his way in Research & Development projects for TAG Heuer and a Finish watch artisan, Sarpaneva. The aviation industry was irresistible to him. He designed and built a small g-meter and fused it with a generic watch. A g-meter is a classical cockpit instrument of military and aerobatic planes, displaying not only the actual acceleration but recording also the maximums the plane reached. These maximums allow the ground service crew to determine the level of checks required on the planes’ instruments and structures. The service crew is the only one allowed to reset these recordings of the cockpit’s g-meter.

Extreme test flights by the Finish Aerobatic Champion Sami Kontio showed that the generic watch movement was unable to withstand the high levels of g-forces. This prompted him to create an independent watch manufacturer: De Motu Watches Ltd. The company is suitably located directly at Helsinki-Malmi Airport.

This year at Baselworld, the watchmaker launched its DMG-11 Pilot Instrument writing a new chapter in the story of aviation watches. It is the world’s first device to unite a g-meter with a traditional watch. The DMG-11 g-meter watches give the pilots the possibility to record and keep track of their own flights.

The watch is designed and crafted in classic aviation style with the look and feel of a cockpit instrument.  It features a classic large dial with current and maximum g-readings, and a small dial with hours, minutes, seconds and date. The luminous numbers provide legibility in all conditions. The tactile feel of the knobs make sure that the pilots knows, without looking, which function has been activated. The instrument is designed to resist to 11g.

Seiko

Astron GPS Solar\nCourtesy Seiko

The Japanese watchmaker Seiko presented the latest version of their solar powered radio controlled wrist watch introduced in 2005. The Seiko Astron GPS Solar is to be released this coming fall. Unlike the radio controlled watch which needed to be within the range of the atomic clocks in Europe, USA and Japan, this Astron GPS Solar works globally.

Seiko developed and patented a low-energy-consumption GPS receiver small enough to be integrated into a wrist watch. The watch does not only set time and date using the global network of GPS satellites, it also identify all 39 time zones on earth. Once a day, the watch receives the time signal automatically and, on demand, connects to the GPS satellites to determine position, time zone and the exact time. The hands adjust automatically to the correct local time with the precision of the GPS clock. Being solar powered, it never needs a battery change.

Wherever one travels, when stepping off a plane, all he or she needs to do is press a button and the time zone adjustment is done automatically. It takes six seconds for the time to self-correct and thirty seconds for the location.

Miniature painter

Some brands at Baselworld were giving interesting demonstrations at their stands by artisans in the watch industry that showcased some highly artistic jobs. Painters of miniatures require not only a microscope but also an extremely impressive steady hand to bring such a impressive degree of details onto a watch’s dial, such as presented here by Jacquet Droz:

Miniature Painter

Art meets precision

Outlook

In 2013 Baselworld will be writing a new chapter in the history of the world famous trade show. In the period up to next edition, major modernization work is being carried out on the exhibition site of Basel. The project which will result in a gross exhibition surface of 141’000 square meters is being created by Basel-based architects Herzog & de Meuron who designed the famous Bird’s Nest national stadium in Beijing.

Françoise Bezzola, Vice President Communication at TAG Heuer, notes, “Baselworld 2012 was an opportunity for us to introduce Cameron Diaz as a new brand ambassador. On the sales side, we were able to welcome a very large number of retailers, marking an increase of 30% over last year. This show is a not-to-be-missed moment for all players from the world of watches. We will be increasing the size of our stand for 2013 – this will allow us to present our innovations in an even better light.”

For François Thiébaud, Chairman of the Swiss Exhibitors’ Committee, Baselworld was a complete success commenting that, “The 2012 edition has confirmed the success of this unique platform, which brings together the watch and jewellery industry from all over the world. The positive results of the past two years allow us to look into the future full of optimism: we are reckoning with an excellent start to the new Baselworld 2013.”

Baselworld 2012 ran entirely satisfactorily for Hublot also reporting that “The show was wonderful. We took considerably more orders than in the previous year. And we are looking forward to being able to present our innovations in an even more suitable setting next year. Our new stand will match the size of our brand and provide us with excellent framework conditions”, said Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot as the show came to a close.

See you in Basel on April 25th, 2013 to discover this fine architectural achievement housing the latest versions of the world’s most amazing timepieces. The next editions until 2015 are taking place on:

April 25 – May 2, 2013
March 27 – April 3, 2014
March 19 – March 26, 2015

Venue
Messe Basel
Organisers
MCH Swiss Exhibition (Basel) Ltd.
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About the Author

Dominique Schreckling
Dominique Schreckling
IPA Staff ID: 06617 • I live in the french speaking part of Switzerland, near Lake Geneva. I am a freelance photojournalist focusing mainly on events photography (music festivals, sports events and trade shows) and travel photography (especially Africa). An overview of my photographic work over the last few years can be seen under www.pbase.com/tcom.




 
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