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WMR - September 2018

Special Feature

MY BASELWORLD SAGA…

Sunil Karer, Editor, Watch Market Review


My very first day, at my very first Baselworld comes back
to me like it was yesterday, although it was as far back as 1978! At the time, I was the only Indian journalist at the fair, specially invited by the fair administrators, a position that filled me with great pride. What I went on to witness over the next several days was undoubtedly the epitome of Swiss hospitality, and the whirlwind began almost as soon as my flight from Mumbai touched down at Zurich airport. A chauffeur-driven limousine whisked me away to one of Basel’s premiere hotels, and thus began a week of wine, food, conversation and watches that I will never forget!

In the 70’s, the International press at Baselworld was managed by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH), and the invited International media presence was limited to under 20 journalists from around the world, each representing a publication that dealt exclusively with all things horological. Therein, to my mind is the first significant change between Baselworld then, and Baselworld today. Over the last few years, the number of journalists has increased to approximately 4400, and they cover the fair for lifestyle, business and even fashion related publications, as well as for television, radio, and of course blogs! If I needed to be reminded about just how long I have been attending the Baselworld fair, I have no reason to look beyond these figures. 40 years! And it has just flown by.

Even the way information is provided has changed! From bulky paper press kits, to sleek USBs and now email links, he press releases and information about the fair has kept pace with changing times.

Back in 1978, the fair itself was a merry gathering of Swiss brands, a couple of Japanese ones and a few French, German and Italian brands. There were also quite a few clock manufacturers. At that time, all the activity was centered around what is today known as Hall 1.1, and Baselworld showcased some amazing restaurants inside, alongside the novelties. Baselworld saw some phenomenal growth over the years and I recall staggering statistics. 122,000 visitors in 2013. 150,000 in 2014. In 2018, the number was 106,000. With time, the fair has grown to include Hall 2, Hall 3 and beyond, and the restaurants have slowly been sidelined and moved outside the main building, which in a way seems to take away from the more holistic experience that we had during my initial few years at the fair.

The complete feature is in Watch Market Review - September 2018 edition from page no. 10 to 15.