Brian M. Afuang

Baselworld 2019 Woos Watch Startups

Program seen to further boost show’s relevance 

IT’S HARDLY a secret that Baselworld (formally called Baselworld Watch and Jewellery Show), as well as all its previous versions dating back to 1917, has been the horology planet’s chosen venue for its latest releases and all manner of significant announcements. And, despite the withdrawal of the Swatch Group this year, not to mention the continued slide in the number of other exhibitors — only around 500 have signed up this year, down from over 600 in 2018 — the show promises to retain its status as quite the important annual watch industry event. 

When Baselworld 2019 opens on March 21, this year’s edition is expected to feature tweaks and innovations to its format as the event seeks to boost its appeal and relevance in the industry and to the public. Certainly, the releases of new pieces from blue-chip brands and independents (and everything else in between) are already a given.

Baselworld 2019
Baselworld 2019

But apart from expanded versions of fashion shows, culinary experiences and other attractions, what is also seen as a major draw, especially for the aspiring, is the inclusion this year of a section specific to startups. 

Called “The Watch Incubator,” the program, according to Baselworld organizer MCH, provides a business and communication platform which small operations can use to announce on an international scale their watch-making projects. Participants have been offered uniformly sized furnished spaces located near Les Atelier, the hall reserved for independent watchmakers. Baselworld explains the move gives startups an “equal opportunity to present their brand and their products.”

Baselworld 2019
Baselworld 2019

“Anyone who keeps abreast of the industry knows that many new and very exciting watch brands are presently being launched. We received numerous enquiries from this sector because these brands wanted to present themselves to a global audience at Baselworld,” says Michel Loris-Melikoff, the show’s managing director, in a news release posted on the Baselworld website. “With The Watch Incubator, we have created a tailor-made format for them. This format can give them the initial boost they need for their international breakthrough. Our goal and our hope, of course, are that new brands evolve from the incubator into brands that fit into either Les Ateliers, or even for Hall 1.” 

Hall 1 is where the major brands exhibit. 

The show organizer notes the new format has already attracted around 20 startup brands, which signed up immediately upon announcement of the incubator program. 

Baselworld 2019
Baselworld 2019

“The purpose of Baselworld is to serve and promote the entire watch and jewelry community with different packages according to the profile and needs of each brand. We are confident that these new watch brands will encounter precisely the right international target audience,” Loris-Melikoff says. 

(Calibre will be reporting the latest news on and other behind-the-scenes developments at Baselworld 2019 direct from Basel, Switzerland, for the duration of the show — which runs March 21-26.) 


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