Ventures to Baselworld 2019 & Review

March 29, 2019 6 min read

I’ve traveled to Basel, Switzerland for Baselworldthe world’s premier annual luxury watch show featuring top brands -- for more than 12 years.

Over time the number of exhibitors has dropped considerably, but Baselworld is still the finest show I attend. The excitement and energy is second to none. The “booths” are incredible multi-story showrooms. The most valuable part of the trip, however, is the chance to see the top brands (including Rolex) unveil their new timepieces and models firsthand, talk about them, and try them on.

Many of you have asked me about Baselworld and my trips to the show, so this year I decided to chronicle my experience!

Traveling From Henne to Baselworld

My flight to Zurich left from Pittsburgh at 3PM, with a stop in Toronto. Then I took a one-hour bus ride right to Baselworld (I always try to get there as early as possible). While I was running on just a few hours of sleep, I spent the first day walking most of the show and getting the lay of the land since so much has been changing each year.

There are numerous ways to find accommodations for the show. There are hotels and airbnb options in Basel, and some people like to stay in Zurich and take the train each day while others stay in other small towns. This year I used airbnb and stayed on a lumpy futon in a 7-story apartment building just two blocks from the show, which was a worthy tradeoff.


Baselworld 2019
First-Day Highlights

I always visit the tool and technology area. This year I picked up a device that measures the timing of your watch and can demagnetize it if necessary. (Magnetism is the main reason why watches don’t run accurately.)

The device also connects to an iPad and can show you if your watch is running fast or slow. I am really excited to have this new device right in our store so customers can stop in anytime they’d like to test their watch’s accuracy.

Another great aspect of attending Baselworld is the chance to connect with amazing jewelry brands from across the globe. I visited with Crivelli, a top Italian jewelry brand. I picked up a few new flexible diamond bracelets, which we will have available to purchase in our store.

Later, I met two other retailers for dinner at a local Thai restaurant and was able to get a little preview about Rolex’s new introductions since they had their meetings the first day.

Day Two – Appointments With Nomos, Tudor & Rolex

The second day of the show is when I usually have most of my appointments and spend time with one of my best friends in the industry, Jeff Hamra from Hamra Jewelers in Scottsdale, AZ.

Nomos

Nomos is a super cool niche German watch brand manufactured in Glashutte, Germany. We began carrying Nomos watches in our store about 4 years ago after meeting with Merlin, one of the company’s family members who is running operations in the U.S.

I love their customer service-related mindset. They make everything in-house, which is rare for a relatively smaller brand, and they do it while keeping the watches very affordable ($1,500-$5,000).

Their styling is very minimalistic, with clean lines. They do mostly strap watches, but this year they introduced bracelets as well. I picked up a few of their new pieces, which we will have in our store in the next few months available to purchase.


Tudor

Next up was my appointment with Tudor, which I attended with Jeff Hamra.

Tudor is fully owned by Rolex and was reintroduced to the U.S. in 2013. Henne was one of the first retailers in the country, because we love the styling, quality and value. Tudor timepieces are great because they make many of their own movements but still work in collaboration with other movement manufacturers, resulting in a great quality product at an exceptional value.

This year they introduced:

  • 43mm Black Bay Bronze, which is stunning with a slate grey dial available on a leather bracelet or fabric strap
  • Black Bay Chrono on a steel and gold bracelet, leather bracelet or fabric strap, which has a very sharp black dial with contrasting champagne sub-dials
  • Black Bay P01 which is based on a prototype developed in the 1960s that was proposed to the U.S. Navy
  • Black Bay 32/36/41 on a steel and gold bracelet with choice black or champagne dial

Personally, I love how Tudor handles their introductions. They don’t overwhelm you with tons of new models and changes. There are enough new pieces to get excited about, but the brand remains consistent from year to year.


Rolex

The Rolex ‘booth’ is one of the most amazing showrooms I’ve ever seen. It’s two stories, with multiple showing rooms throughout and lounges on both floors to relax in.

There’s a reception area at the entrance that anyone can go to, and Rolex gladly provides you with a nice white Rolex Baselworld 2019 bag filled with the most current catalogue. The only way to get inside the booth is to have a scheduled appointment as an authorized dealer or member of the press.

Jeff and I attend our Rolex appointment together, which we’ve been doing for years. We got to meet with members of the executive team of Rolex USA, followed by the new introductions.

Just like in years past, Rolex unveiled exciting changes with their introductions, but they never deviate from who they are. They design such classic timepieces that stand the test of time with legendary craftsmanship, yet they are always innovating and improving what they do.

Here are some of Rolex’s introductions from the show:

  • Black and blue GMT with a new movement, redesigned case and jubilee bracelet like the Pepsi GMT from last year
  • Steel and yellow gold 43mm Sea-Dweller, making it a sport model similar to a Submariner in a larger size (already in demand and I believe will be one of the most popular watches from this year’s Baselworld)
  • White gold 42mm Yachtmaster on an oysterflex bracelet (one of my favorite Rolex innovations that has a titanium sleeve on the inside to keep the curvature on your wrist)

These were the three big introductions at the show, but there were lots of improvements to existing models, such as the Day-Date 36, the Datejust 36 and 31. A lot of new dials were introduced, including bringing back some of the most popular dials (the white roman and blue roman) to the Datejust 41. Rolex also introduced a glidelock clasp to the oysterflex bracelet, which allows you to adjust the size significantly.

Additionally, Rolex announced that all steel GMTs M116710 on oyster bracelets have been discontinued, including the all-black bezel model M116710N. This has caused the market for these watches to spike dramatically. If you were fortunate enough to get one in the last few years, it’s worth way more than the retail price.

Lastly, we got to see some of the new limited gem pieces Rolex introduced this year in very special green boxes:

  • Day-Date 36mm with a pavé diamond dial and rainbow sapphire hours markers on a pavé diamond bracelet in yellow, white, and rose gold
  • White gold Daytona with 36 trapeze cut diamonds in the bezel and 243 pavé diamonds on the black lacquer dial designed to mimic animal print (some have called it “The Wild Thing”, priced at $103,100)
  • Rose gold GMT with sapphire, ruby and diamond bezel with diamond lugs and an optional pavé diamond bracelet (with all pavé options tops out at $206,150)

 

Seeing all of the new introductions at the Rolex appointment is such a wonderful privilege. It’s an honor to represent the number one luxury watch brand in the world to our friends and customers in Pittsburgh.

Everything they do comes back to producing watches made with exceptional quality and providing the very best customer service experience.  

From Baselworld 2019 to Pittsburgh

My flight home was long, but the travel is always well worth it. If you’re a watch lover, know that anyone can attend Baselworld, not just members of the trade. It’s the only large jewelry or watch show that I’m aware of that allows consumers the opportunity to attend.
 
Baselworld 2020 will run April 30-May 5, following the SIHH show in Geneva, which will allow many retailers to attend and I think will be really beneficial for the industry and allow the show to begin growing again. Plus it will be a bit warmer, and it’s a great time of year to do some traveling to other parts of Europe.
 
I know so many of my friends and watch customers have expressed interest in attending Baselworld. Maybe I will see you there next year!

Cheers,

John Henne


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