Well, here we are, the annual pilgrimage of the whole Horology to the big Messe of Basel is already over.
Or should I say, finally ? A bit like the old Schwarzi movie, I can’t Total-ly Recall.
Because if the very first impact Baselworld has on (mental) health can be expressed with onomatopoeia such as wow (not the game), ho ho ho, huh-huh-huh, sigh, eww, fart after the egg sandwich, fap-fap for some, bloop for others and so on, the extra bonus occurs when at 11a.m you realize that actually, it’s 8 p.m.
No sh*t, sorry, no kidding (let’s stay polite a bit).
Indeed, on top of getting lost in a vast maze crowded with people not too long ago but nowadays full of emptiness, it’s genuinely the notion of time itself that you lose when you go to Baselworld.
Quite paradoxical for a World Watch Show to present fine mechanics as regular as a Swiss Made clockwork while disrupting the Nature Made biological clock, init ?
Baselworld is kinda like a Kanye West soliloquy, you know when it starts, but only he knows when it will end.
Anywayz, this 2019 edition of the watchmaking casino of Las Basel was all the more so exciting as it took place at a turning-point in its history, since no less than 18 famous brands decided to make a break of it this year.
Blame it on a lover’s quarrel between Lady and The Tramp, whose I leave you the choice to assign the roles, embodied by the Swatch Group and the Baselworld executives who fought for the last meatball of the plate of spaghetti.
Two fighting dogs now glaring at each other while tempers are flaring between the horology and its clients as fast as a Gilets Jaune protest a Saturday on the Champs-Elysées.
Damn, everything is falling apart these days !
By starting with a drop-by-drop irrigation-like attendance rate, leaving Baselworld aisles as empty as a leaking bucket of trust.
However, Baselworld Task Force did its best to remake the image of the event for lack of making content.
To fill this wide desert lost in the vast space left by the Swatch Group, Baselworld executives decided to water two of its fundamental’s roots, aka press and customers, by planting right in the middle of the fair a very pleasant, comfy, and relaxing Central Plaza… for about ten minutes.
Well, I’m gonna make my grumpy cat again, but facts are facts.
For if I’ve been extremely susceptible to the charms of this cocooning place offering a few workspaces and very welcomed usb plugs here and there, as well as a free catering service so that press pepz could write a lovely report on it, not only have I regretted, but I’ve absolutely hated this semi open-space co-working thing simply and totally undersized.
I’m fully aware there were surface constraints, but let’s be honest, once Chinese joined the party, there were absolutely no free space anywhere left.
The famous strength in numbers I guess…
Yeaaaah I know I know, each time someone records in portrait mode, a filmmaker dies somewhere. But hey, I did it on purpose for the Insta stories, so f*ck it huh.
Those who attended Baselworld would probably tell me that there was plenty of space (thank you Sherlock) across the Central Plaza at the restaurant next to Chanel, but if you re-read that sentence again, you’ll undeniably understand that I didn’t want to stink food before going to my Chanel appointment.
Albeit the new fragrance of the Chanel stand this year was probably the number 5 of the restaurant menu 3 meters away.
Yeah you read it right.
Chanel Fish and Chips, that’s… well… quite exotic !
You’ve understood it, this Central Plaza sounded like a supa great idea on paper, but in fine, you don’t mix apples with pears, so to speak.
This inappropriate table setting mistake has also been committed at the ¾ length of the main Hall with a fugly Breitling block thing.
Seriously, I don’t know if the architect in charge of the stand’s setup is an absolute fan of Harry Potter or what, but I guarantee you you’d better not jumping through this stand to see what’s behind if you wanted to keep your teeth where they are supposed to be.
Can you see the big fat a*s of the Breitling block at the end of the vid ? Well what an obvious question it is, of course you can, since like the Great Wall of China, you see it from space ! (is that a lolz ?)
By the way, I spent quite a lot of time roaming the Baselworld aisles, and I unfortunately noticed a lot of people were quite confused in front of this Breitling rabbit hutch which looked like a dead end hiding everything that was behind.
Well, everything is a big word, since there were so many cars behind Breitling that it felt like a compensatory session of the Geneva Auto Show.
Not to mention the Moët et Chandon Champaign stand, beautiful but so wtf, which was popping here like a sparkle in a glass of Clos-Vougeot.
Simply put, I felt like I was attending the World Watch and Jewellery… and Auto, and Gastronomy, and Champaign, and so on… Show.
Seriously if you who are reading this are crafting some wooden toys, don’t hesitate to ask for a stand next year, because something tells me that next time it’s also gonna be, And Woodworking Show…
I’m exaggerating it on purpose, but I truly had the feeling that things had to be put here and there at all costs, otherwise people would notice that, well, there’s a lot of emptiness down here.
A curtain = a car. I let you do the maths.
An emptiness nonetheless so welcomed regarding the previous editions of Baselworld where you’d better come with your Crocs shoes (are they really ?) if you didn’t want your brand new Jeffery West pair of shoes to be soiled by people whose “excuse me” doesn’t belong to their vocabulary.
Unfortunately, this emptiness was too clumsily filled, too awkwardly exploited.
So was L’Incabateur, located just above Les Ateliers, a place dedicated to independant watch brands for which I won’t be in reproach since I absolutely loved its cosy, soft, hushed and muted atmosphere.
But L’Incubateur… oh-my-goodness !
Classe les Ateliers, non ?
To put it simply, if you didn’t want to go to the loo half a level up Les Ateliers, it was just impossible to spontaneously find all these brands which took their quarters up there.
Quarters, yes, because man, poor fellaz they were. Worms in a can of worms.
When you know the pricy price they had to pay for such a fishmonger display, you also know that it’s not this way these tomorrow’s talents are gonna play in the Major League of Horology.
Fortunately, Le Claqueur de Doigts had to pee, so now he can talk about them ! Jesus…
Oh yeah, and did I mention this invisible mark on the floor for anyone who’s under 10 foot tall, giving the direction to L’Incubateur ? No ? So be it then.
May I finally risk myself to mention the main first floor of Baselworld, the famous Hall 1.3141592 (sorry I never understood how the floors worked in this Penrose building) ?
I shall yes, because I have 0 complaint to make. Absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
Since Swarovski got its charms out of sight (God bless), what an airy, clean, and clear floor, with just what it needs of restaurants and resting spaces.
Here we are, the genuine and beloved Baselworld of yesterday I missing so much today.
Before moving to my feelings about the brands (which I’m not gonna share individually since each brand I met wil have its own dedicated article), let’s conclude on the 2019 World Watch and Jewellery (and Auto, and…) Show setup.
Great efforts and a substantial amount of energy have been put to make Baselworld great again.
There’s indisputably a strong and good will from Baselworld executives, even though without the necessary means you can’t achieve anything, but yet again, too clumsily.
Le Claqueur de Doigts stays nonetheless very optimistic for the next editions, and even crosses his fingers for the executives to draw the consequences and learn from this year few mistakes in order to lend Baselworld 2020 the cachet, the prestige and the credibility it deserves.
WELCOME TO THE DARK SIDE OF THE BRANDS
Concerning the brands now.
Well, I’m mainly gonna focus my speech on this historical turning point they are facing, which is the digital shift.
All in all, the main impression is : so-so, neither fish nor fowl, you got the idea.
In fact, despite a few brands which are recognizing digital as the undeniable medium of their today’s and tomorrow’s communication, marketing, and sales, and thus are embracing it to its fullest, many, too many others, are extremely skeptical and afraid to take the high dive into the digital ocean, probably scared of being out of their depth.
This digital seasickness is especially noticeable amongst the old school (or should I say has been?) decision-makers, who remain (way) too attached to age-old broadcast channels, especially a certain paper press which is, as a lil’ remainder, beats its own records of unsold stocks each year (we’re talking about 50 to 70% of unsold stocks here, with a constant decline of -3% each year.)
This same paper press which made a non-consensual deepthroat to each and every bin of Baselworld.
Not really eco-friendly, don’t you think ?
Okay, let’s take a break to clear our mind…
The fault certainly comes from a too cloudy digital water where, let’s be honest, it’s quite difficult for the ol’-timers to effectively measure a real impact in numbers and figures, despite a humongous plethora of statistics, tracking, and metrics tools available in the digital world.
Influencers, bloggers, and other content creators such as Le Claqueur de Doigts who claims and defend his belonging, are too often sitting at a dinner game table, where their host doesn’t realize that actually they’re holding the guest’s role.
And I’m not even beating the meat, nor trying to make bread here.
Facts are facts, the situation is alarming for this brands who are waiting to see if the locomotive going to Results Town will is gonna start or not.
Well I don’t know about you, but I never risked myself to jump on the bandwagon.
So jumping on one going as fast as the speed of light… Einstein would applause that remarkable achievement.
… breath in through the mouth, and out through the nose… (isn’t it the opposite !?) Anyway wax on, wax off, repeat.
To all these brands who are reading this, please, engrave this in your minds : a move on the virtual chessboard will help you to checkmate in reality.
And remember these prophetic and wise words from the visionnary Maximilian Büsser (high-five Max) : today’s communicators are the retailers of tomorrow, and vice versa.
So don’t neglect the ones who will help you fill up your financial fridge with numbers.
Numbers which seem to suffer from a post-traumatic stress after the watchmaking crisis which de facto keeps on unfolding, especially at the retailing level of the distribution channels.
Starting from Europe which is not only dwindling inexorably, but is also starting to see the rats leaving the ship.
Nowadays, the equation is quite simple : América + Asia + Middle East = watchmaking market.
On the other hand, it would be my pleasure to jump in this Bentley beauty to make a lil’ drag race in the aisles of Baselworld. Oh come on, there’s enough space ! (How naughty I am !).
Don’t get me wrong, it’s really good news for the industry to change perspectives.
I’m simply questioning myself : does it make any sense anymore for Baselworld to still take place in the geographical Europe, tradition aside ?
For it is clear from my point of view that this event taking place in the heart of the Watchmaking Vatican presents all and every attributes of an aging religion struggling to renew itself.
If Le Claqueur de DOigts is optimitic by nature, he is none the less realistic and pragmatic : the future of watchmaking is like the truth of X-Files, out there.
That’s the reason why, from now on, Le Claqueur de Doigts is going worldwide, in order to better respond to the growing willingness about Horology and its culture.
So hello World, here I come !