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5 Things to Know as Baselworld Comes to a Close

Organizers offered stats and commentary.

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Baselworld 2017 drew to a close on March 30, and organizers offered statistics and a few parting thoughts on the trade show and the jewelry and watch industry.

1. The numbers were down. There were 106,000 buyers at the event in Basel, Switzerland, which ran March 22-30. That was a decrease of 4 percent versus last year. There were 1,300 exhibitors, representing a 13 percent decline from 2016.

2. “Les Ateliers” was a success. This new space featured 40 independent watchmaking brands exhibiting their latest offering “in an open and welcoming space, laid out in such a way that the stands reflected the daring nature of the creations being presented,” organizers said.

3. Swiss watchmaking and jewelry brands were well-represented. Organizers said 220 such brands exhibited at the show.

4. Swiss watchmaking remains huge despite recent difficulties. Organizers explained: “Buffeted by a challenging context, between a strong Swiss franc and the economic and political uncertainties on the international front, Swiss watch exports have suffered a slowdown in the last two years. Nevertheless, watchmaking remains the country’s third biggest export sector, behind pharma and chemicals and the machine industry. Swiss watch exports finished 2016 with sales of CHF 19.4 billion, almost double the figures of the early 2000s.”

5. The Swiss jewelry and watch industry is evolving. Organizers stated that “much energy has gone into rethinking the entire value chain, from design and price positioning to distribution.” Brands today need to stock brands that are immediately available and offer a range of prices. “As a result, even the most prestigious brands now sell entry-level timepieces at more affordable prices, equipped with simpler complications, or in steel, for example, rather than gold or platinum,” according to organizers.

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