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REPORT: Baselworld 2010 Photo Tour>>>>>>>>

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Published on 03-29-2010 11:47 AM

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Basel 2010 Report - A Baselworld Photo Tour

By: John B. Holbrook, II


Baselworld. It's the Superbowl of the watch industry - its most important event. Over 100,000 people - journalists, watch dealers, as well as watch enthusiasts descend upon the Swiss town of Basel. This year I attended the Baselworld Watch Fair from March 17-19th. The following will not only be a photo report on the watches and companies that manufacture them with whom I met, but also an attempt to capture the experience of attending Baselworld. So let's begin with an insiders look at what it's like to attend this most coveted of watch industry events.

If you plan to attend Baselworld, one of the key issues to settle early is "where will I stay?" To say it is a challenge to find hotel accommodations within Basel while attending the show is an understatement. Basel is by no means a small city - particularly by European standards. However, while the city hosts several other trade events throughout the year, Baselworld eclipses them all - by several orders of magnitude. So the city cannot support building enough hotels to accommodate Baselworld traffic during the other 50 weeks out of the year. This means two things - 1)staying in Basel is extremely expensive and difficult to do at any price, and 2)more than likely you will need to find accommodations outside of Basel. Below is a map of Switzerland - as you can see Basel sits right on the Swiss borders of both Germany and France, which is where many opt to find accommodations while in Basel.

Another popular choice for hotel accommodations when attending Baselworld is Zurich Switzerland. On the above map, Zurich appears to be a considerable distance from Basel, but in actuality it's only 40 minutes by train. Hotels in Zurich will be a bit more expensive than what you might find in Germany and France - but for me, the convenience was a huge factor. Trains run between Basel and Zurich every 30 minutes nearly 24 hours a day. I never knew exactly when my day would finish, and didn't want to be limited by trains which only ran at certain times. I secured my journalist credentials from Baselworld well ahead of the event, and one of the perks of having a journalist badge is the ability to purchase a special discounted train ticket each day. For 63 Swiss Francs (about $60.00 US) I was able to purchase a round trip train ticket between Zurich and Basel good for any scheduled train. The ticket also got me free tram rides while in Basel for the entire day.

My favorite hotel while in Zurich is the Central Plaza Hotel:



My familiarity with the hotel and the surrounding area, as well as the hotel's proximity to the Zurich train station made it an easy choice for me. Here's a photo from my sixth floor room which shows the five minute stroll from the hotel along the side walk on the Limmat river bridge to the train station - it's the building with all the cranes as the station was undergoing renovation during my stay.


Another photo from my room of lovely Zurich:


Once inside the train station, I'd purchase my round trip ticket, and then head to the platform to wait for the train to Basel to arrive:


All aboard!


Most of the trains which run between Zurich and Basel are straight through, but some make a quick stop - so the ride was normally between 40 and 50 minutes one way. Once in Basel, the tram stop is located right across from the train station - the #2 tram takes you to the Baselworld convention halls.


Here's a photo of the #2 tram with the Basel train station in the background:


Be prepared for crowded trams during Baselworld - I thought the Subways in Tokyo were crowded!


It's about 5 stops and 10 minutes to the convention halls and the tram stops right across the street from Hall 1:


The sun always shines at Baselworld:


Here's the entrance to Hall 1:


If you look to your right after coming in the entrance, you'll see a stairway leading to the Press Center. Through the doorway to the left, there is an elevator. NOTE: if you arrive with luggage, you can check your luggage right at the top of the stairs.


If you've secured press credentials prior to your arrival, there will be a reception desk up in the press area where you go to pick up your badge. Once you have your badge, you have access to key areas within the press area such as the food area, lockers, and computer work stations. All of which make covering Baselworld much easier as a journalist.

Here's a photo of the modest food resources made available (free of charge) to those with press access. Fortunately I brought some protein bars with me which really helped get me through my meetings over the three days I stayed.


Here's the computer center open to the press. The facilities here were actually very nice - PC's and Mac work stations, as well as stations where you could plug in your laptop. LAN cables and WiFi access to the Internet were provided free of charge - that's a huge benefit. I had to pay $15.00 for 3 hours of Internet access at the hotel. During Press Day, this place was buzzing with activity as myself, James Dowling from Timezone, and Percy from R-L-X were all racing to be the first to get photos of Rolex's new models out on the Web.


In the below photo, you'll see the locker room through the doorway from the computer center. When you check in to get your press badge, ask for a locker key - they'll take a $10.00 refundable deposit. You'll get a lot of press kits and catalogs at Baselworld, and the lockers are handy to stash them until you're ready to leave.


There's also nice bathroom facilities up in the press area which are only open to the press - another handy bonus if you have a press pass.

That pretty well covers all you need to know in order to plan a trip to Basel, and know what to expect. If possible, I highly recommend you secure press credentials prior to the show.


Here's the view which greets you once through the entrance of Hall 1 - the excitement begins!:


Overall the mood was quite positive and enthusiastic at Basel, particularly as compared to what was reported last year. Many brands have responded to the downturn in the world wide economy by returning to their roots and turning away from the trendy, over the top designs of past years. Many more stainless steel introductions where brought out by several brands at this year's Baselworld, and there was an almost across the board effort to address price sensitivity in these difficult times.

It's worth noting that most of the convention halls within Baselworld are not at all well lit - which is why you rarely see photos taken within the convention halls. It's also why those first day photos of watches from Basel world often are not of the highest quality - the shooting conditions throughout most of Baselworld are extremely challenging. The remainder of this report will attempt to highlight some of the more than 30 watch manufactures I met with over three days at Baselworld, as well as a few select photos I got of the new model watches they had on display.

For three days I ran from booth to booth in a frantic attempt to make all the appointments I scheduled - I returned to the US three pounds lighter than when I left (usually I gain weight when I go to Europe). Here's an over view of everything I saw - let's start with Rolex:





Rolex along with their sister company Tudor have the largest, most elaborate display at Baselworld. Rolex introduced their new 116610 stainless Submariner, and the LV green dial variation, as well as the new larger Explorer among others.







I was hoping that Rolex would unveil a ceramic red and blue "Pepsi" GMT this year - unfortunately, this is still the only model in their current production which sports the classic GMT color scheme using a combination of diamonds, rubies, and sapphires:


Tudor generated an unprecedented level of excitement and enthusiasm with the surprise unveiling of this retro styled model - an homage to one of their most popular vintage models. Tudor also announced that they will return to US with the brand in the near future, though no exact date was set.



To see Rolex's official Baselworld Press Release on all their new models and discuss them in the WATCH TALK FORUMS Rolex Forum, click here.

To read about and discuss my exclusive question and answer session with Rolex USA executives at Basel, click here.




As is their norm, Patek unveiled a slew of new models at Baselworld - here's photos of just a few:






To read about and discuss all of Patek's Baselworld 2010 new releases, please visit the WATCH TALK FORUMS Patek Philippe Forum by clicking here.



I had a fantastic meeting with Ron Stoll, President of Carl F. Bucherer North America, and fellow Dayton, Ohio resident. Ron showed me CFB's newest models, including the fantastic new Patravi EvoTec PowerReserve:





If you don't know much about Carl F. Bucherer, I strongly encourage you to click here to read about their Patravi EvoTec PowerReserve - with an in-house movement designed and manufactured entirely by Carl F. Bucherer.


I actually didn't have an appointment scheduled with Zenith, but when I stopped by to introduce myself, Zenith's North American Brand Director Alain Huy graciously received me and personally showed me their new collection.



Zenith gets my vote for "most improved" brand at Baselworld 2010 with a clear shift in their priorities. I've always had a deep admiration and respect for the brand, and committed to reviewing several models for the WATCH TALK FORUMS community. To read about and discuss Zenith's new Striking 10th in the General Forum of WATCH TALK FORUMS, click here.



I had several back-to-back interviews with the various Brand Managers within the Swatch Group family of watch companies starting with Blanpain:




Blancpain is another brand which really impressed me this year at Basel. You tend to think of Blancpain as an elite brand at an elite price, but this year the brand rolled some interesting models at some very attainable price points. You'll definitely be seeing some Blancpain reviews on WATCH TALK FORUMS in the coming months. To read about and discuss all of Blancpain's 2010 new releases in the General Discussion Forum of WATCH TALK FORUMS click here.

Glashütte Original


Kudos to Glashütte Original for not only introducing some innovative new products this year, but also some affordable, stainless steel options as well. I was treated to a fantastic showing of their entire new model line up:






There's been some interesting restructuring at Swatch's Jaquet Droz brand with none other than Swatch Group Chairman Nicholas Hayek personally taking charge of the brand much as he has done with Breguet. JD's Sales and Marketing Director Michael Nelson met with me and personally acquainted me with the brand's offerings - extremely impressive. I think many in the WATCH TALK FORUMS will be taking note of this traditionally under-the-radar brand, and I'll be doing some JD watch reviews in the upcoming year to make certain they do.


Mr. Nelson showed me one of Jaquet Droz's latest crowing achievements - the $400,000.00 time writing machine:





If there was any brand which moved ahead in 2010 with little regard to what's happening with the world economic climate, it was Breguet. Of course, when you're the manufacturer of some of the finest, most well respected watches known to man, you can afford to do just that.



To see and discuss a complete run down of Breguet's 2010 models, please click here.



Hamilton continued their tradition of quality and affordable products with the widest possible target market.





Head over to the Hamilton at Basel 2010 discussion thread in the OFFICIAL Hamilton Watch Discussion Forum on WATCH TALK FORUMS by clicking here.


Another "unsung hero" of the watch industry is Longines. If you haven't checked out their line up lately, you should - they blew me away this year! Longines is producing some FANTASTIC mechanical time pieces at incredible values.




I had a GREAT meeting with the folks from Longines at Baselworld and will DEFINITELY be highlighting some of the new models in future reviews!

To see and discuss all of Longines Basel 2010 models, click here to visit the discussion thread in the Longines Forum of WATCH TALK FORUMS:



Of course, I had to drop in and find out what our friends at Mühle-Glashütte were up to at Basel! Their booth was really buzzing with activity as this brand is generating some serious interest. You can look for reviews of these and other Mühle-Glashütte models coming SOON to the OFFICIAL Mühle-Glashütte Discussion Forum on WATCH TALK FORUMS!



Please click here to read and discuss complete details on Mühle-Glashütte's Baselworld 2010 new releases in the WATCH TALK FORUMS Official Mühle-Glashütte Forum.


What an exciting year for Ball! They introduced their brand new display booth at Baselworld 2010.


The new booth was absolutely slammed with activity for the entire duration of the show. I only got 3 minutes with my old friend Jeff Hess of Ball Watch USA and got a quick glimpse of the amazing new Orbital. But you can read about and discuss Ball's Baselworld 2010 new models in the WATCH TALK FORUMS ORIGINAL Ball Discussion Forum by clicking here.



The famous "fish tank" at the Breitling Basel booth.


It was great to visit with my friends from Breitling USA a Baselworld 2010. Breitling has several new models for 2010 which Breitling fans old and new will be excited to see!




Please click here to read about and discuss all of Breitling's new models in the WATCH TALK FORUMS Breitling Discussion Forum



Without a doubt, one of my most fascinating and enlightening discussions took place with MB&F's USA Brand President. He took the time to show me examples from all of MB&F's product lines - the first opportunity I've had to personally see and feel these absolute masterpieces of horology.

The HM1 movement:


The HM2 movement:


The HM3 movement:


The HM1:


HM1 back:


HM2 front:


HM2 in sapphire and titanium:


HM2 back:




The mind warping movement of the upcoming HM4 - AKA "The Engine."



If you ever get the opportunity to spend some time with the guys from MB&F, I highly recommend you do so. I've never met people so passionate about what they do who are having so much fun! I find their ability to blend horological magic with pop culture/science fiction whimsy very appealing.

MB&F promises to give WATCH TALK FORUMS a look at the upcoming HM4 as soon as it is ready! I for one can't wait!


Linde Werdelin really made a splash in the media in 2009 - it seems as though every where I looked they were there. I was anxious to meet up with them at Baselworld and get some hands on time with their products.

Here's the new Oktopus Moonphase Complication:


I was extremely impressed with the intricate engraving work on the new Oktopus Tattoo:


I'm looking forward to doing some Linde Werdelin technical reviews in 2010. For more information on Linde Werdelin's Baselworld 2010 new releases, click here for the discussion thread in the General Forum of WATCH TALK FORUMS.


Perhaps the most exciting takeaway for me from Baselworld 2010 was the announcement that Seiko will be bringing their coveted Grand Seiko line outside of Japan with availability in several global markets, including the United States! I was told that it may be toward the end of 2010, and perhaps not until early 2011 that we'll actually see Grand Seiko in the US, but Seiko fans have much to look forward too! Until then, Seiko fans can revel in the new models which Seiko introduced at Baselworld 2010:





To read about and discuss all of Seiko's Basel 2010 new models, click here for the discussion thread in the Japanese & Asian Watch Forum on WATCH TALK FORUMS.



All of Basel was buzzing about the new hairspring-less Tag Heuer Pendulum! Their booth was so busy, I couldn't get in to see anyone - but you can read all about the new Tag Heuer Pendulum by clicking here.


While I wish I had time to visit every brand and photograph every model they produce, it just wasn't humanly possible. But I hope you enjoyed my attempt to bring the Baselworld 2010 experience to you though a photo tour. Every watch enthusiast should, at least once in their life, experience the magic as well as the mayhem which is Baselworld.

I also regret not having more time to spend with friends while I was in Basel. MANY thanks go out to James Elsener of Edouard Lauzières S.A. for a fantastic dinner and fascinating dinner conversation. The online watch enthusiast community is very fortunate to have James as a resource to call upon, and I'm very fortunate to be able to call him a friend.

It was great to see online friends CharlesN, Jocke, NicoH, and former WTF Admin Team Member Harry "Harry_III_UK." I literally got to see these guys for about 1/2 second between meetings. Let's make sure we set a definite time and location for next year's Basel GTG!

Now it will take every day of the 50 weeks until Baselworld 2011 for me to recuperate. See you next year!!

**Photos & Text Copyright 2010 WATCH TALK FORUMS, INC. No part of this report can be reproduced outside of WATCH TALK FORUMS without the expressed permission of John B. Holbrook, II.

This article was originally published in forum thread:

REPORT: Baselworld 2010 Photo Tour>>>>>>>>
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